General Questions

When is the application deadline?

The priority deadline is January 15 and the secondary deadline is March 1.  For best consideration, applications should be completed (including all transcripts, recommendations, and test scores), by the priority deadline.  Applications reviewed for the secondary deadline are given consideration to the extent that the class is not full.

Where do I apply to the doctoral program?

All applications are completed through the Graduate Admission online application portal.  All application materials should be uploaded to the online application.

When are students admitted into the program?

Students are admitted annually for fall admission.

How many students are admitted into the program?

The number may vary between 10 to 15 students with some years being less.

Are standardized tests required for admission?

Submission of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is optional for admission. Any submitted test scores should not be more than five years old.  See the Graduate School website for exceptions.

What are the minimal test scores for admission?

Submission of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is optional for admission. Applicants must earn satisfactory scores on the quantitative and verbal sections of the GRE.  Although there is no minimal acceptable score, it is expected that an applicant would have competitive scores taken within the last five years.

Is an interview part of the admissions process?

Interviews are scheduled for selected applicants.  The interview is an opportunity for faculty to learn more about your research interests and career direction as described in your statement of purpose.  Interviews may occur face-to-face or via internet video and usually take about 30 minutes.

Can I transfer credits?

The program accepts up to two courses (6 credit hours) as transfer from a regionally accredited doctoral granting institution.  Only courses where grades of A or B were earned are considered. Transfer credit must be approved by the Graduate Program Director with approval from the Graduate School.  All other Graduate School policies regarding transfer credit apply. All dissertation work must be complete at UNC Charlotte.

Can I enroll part-time?

Yes.  The majority of our doctoral students are enrolled part-time and are able to take two courses each semester (fall and spring).  The program is offered with the working professional, as well, as the full-time doctoral student in mind.

Is this a cohort based program?

Students in the Higher Education and Learning, Design and Technology concentrations function as a quasi-cohort in that they are admitted in the fall and generally will take the many courses together.  There is flexibility in concentration offerings that allow students to enroll in courses that are of professional interest. In addition students are permitted to enroll in these concentrations as part-time or full-time students.

The P-12 Superintendency concentration is a traditional cohort program. The students start in the fall and take courses together throughout the program during the fall, spring, and summer.

When are classes offered?

Courses are offered Monday through Thursday, in the evening, usually beginning at 5:30pm and ending at 8:15pm.

Courses are typically offered Monday through Thursday, in the evening, usually beginning at 5:30pm and ending at 8:15pm. This schedule varies slightly in the summer.

Students in the P-12 Superintendency concentration enroll in two courses per semester that are offered on Tuesday or Wednesday evening at Mallard Creek High School as part of the Distance Education Program.

How are classes delivered?

Courses are offered through a variety of formats including face-to-face, hybrid, and a few are 100% online.

How long will it take for me to complete the program?

The 48 credit hour program is designed for students to complete in approximately four years. The time to degree completion is dependent on factors including course enrollment, applied dissertation topic, and execution of research design. Each part-time student should plan for enrollment in a minimum of two courses each semester.

How much are tuition and fees?

Go to the Niner Central for information regarding tuition and fees.

Is funding available?

Each applicant is strongly encouraged to considered their funding options prior to enrollment.

Niner Central administers several federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs available to graduate students at UNC Charlotte who complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants can also review funding options from the Graduate School.

Full-time incoming doctoral students have the opportunity to be considered for the Graduate Assistant Support Plan (GASP).

Is there a time limit to complete the program?

No course older than nine (9) years may be applied towards an Ed.D. (including transfer credit).  Time begins with the student’s first term in the program.  This would include any courses completed during post-baccalaureate enrollment and were applied to the Ed.D. degree.  The time limit cannot be paused, even if the student takes an approved leave of absence.  Failure to adhere to the time limit may result in the termination of a student’s enrollment.

The Graduate School may consider requests for a single extension of one (1) year in cases with rare, extenuating circumstances.

Who do I contact with questions?

Dr. Cathy D. Howell - General Ed.D. Program Inquiry:

Dr. Ryan Miller - Higher Education concentration:

Dr. Walter Hart – P-12 Superintendency concentration:

Dr. Ayesha Sadaf – Learning, Design and Technology concentration:

masters higher ed

Are test scores (GRE or MAT) required of all applicants?

No. As of fall 2020, GRE/MAT scores are no longer required (pending final university approval). However, submitting the test score still remains an option if you believe it would strengthen your applicating; for instance, if you had some low grades on your undergraduate transcript, you may choose to submit GRE or MAT scores to help substantiate your academic ability and potential.

Can I begin the program in the spring and/or summer?

The M.Ed. program begins each year in the fall. Applications must be received by the priority deadline (January 15) or secondary deadline (March 1) for consideration to enter the program in the fall. Students are not admitted mid-year into the program.

Can I take classes part-time or full-time?

Many students in the program are working part-time or full-time and thus may take classes part-time (2 courses each fall and spring) or full-time (3 courses each fall and spring). Summer courses, when available, can also help students stay on track to graduate in a timely manner. We do not recommend students take one course per semester because it significantly extends time to degree.

Can I take courses in the program as a post-baccalaureate student?

If the instructor provides permission and space is available in the course, yes. However, some courses (e.g. ADMN 6100, ADMN 8110) are intended for students already admitted to the program. Also, taking a class as a post-bacc student does not guarantee or help one’s admissions chances to the program. Priority in course registration goes to current program students and an instructor may ask that you drop a course if you are a post-bacc student and a current program student needs the course.

Can I take more than 9 hours (3 classes) per semester?

According to the university, a course load of 9 semester hours constitutes a normal full semester program for a graduate student. This is lower than the normal undergraduate load because of the extensive reading, independent thinking, and individual research required of graduate students. Generally, graduate students should not register for more than 12 semester hours during a semester.

The program recommends that students start with a course load of 6 hours (if taking classes part-time) or 9 hours (if taking classes full-time) to see how they manage the workload; then they can adjust the course load in subsequent semesters if needed. Because the program requires 30 hours, it is very possible to graduate in a year and a half by taking 9 hours each long semester and one summer class. A year and a half (or more) also affords students opportunities to complete at least one graduate assistantship, internship, etc. that you can make you more marketable for positions in higher education after graduation. This is particularly true for students entering directly after graduation with an undergraduate degree, as graduate assistantships are among the best ways to demonstrate your readiness to enter a professional position once you have your master's degree.

Does this program lead to administrative licensure?

No, this program does not lead to any licensure or certification. Visit the MSA program for information on becoming a licensed K-12 school administrator:

How can I find funds to pay for the program?

Students in the program finance their education through a combination of means depending on their individual circumstances, including through scholarships and grants, employment income (part-time or full-time), employer tuition assistance (including for UNC System employees), and loans. The admissions application is not an application for scholarships, grants, or loans, which must be pursued separately by students. Additional information is available at:

I am currently in another master’s program. Can I transfer specific classes/credits to this program?

If you apply and are admitted to the program, you can request up to 6 hours of credit to be considered for transfer credit if those credits have not been applied to another earned degree (i.e. you have not already earned a master’s degree using those credits) and the courses must apply to the program curriculum and be approved by the program faculty. 

I am currently in another master’s program. Can I transfer to this program?

If you are interested in entering the program, you would need to go through the standard application/admissions process, as there is not a transfer process into the program.

Is it necessary that I work in higher education in a part-time (graduate assistantship) or full-time role?

All students in the program should plan to gain relevant professional experience in higher education by working in the field either part-time (graduate assistantship) or full-time during their time in the degree program. The master’s degree alone without relevant work experience in higher education is not sufficient to be competitive in the job market for positions in higher education post-graduation. Experience as an undergraduate student alone will not make you competitive for positions. UNC Charlotte and other local colleges/universities offer a variety of graduate assistantships each year.

Is it necessary to have a particular undergraduate major to pursue this master’s program?

No; students in our program come from a variety of fields and disciplines.

May I speak with a current student in the program?

Yes, please the program director know of your interest to connect with a current student.

My application is complete; is it under review?

An application is not marked as complete until the Graduate School has received and verified all components of the application package, including recommendations, official transcripts, and test score reports.

My GPA or test scores are too low. Should I still apply?

We review applications holistically, taking into account all aspects of the application package, including transcripts, test scores (optional), recommendations, statement of purpose, and resume. If other aspects of your application are strong and help balance out a low GPA or test scores, we will still be happy to consider your application for admission.

What is the process of applying for graduate assistantships?

Admission to the master’s degree program is a separate process independent of your application to graduate assistantships or any other work opportunities. Once admitted to the program, sign up on a Hire-a-Niner to search for and apply for open graduate assistant opportunities. We recommend you apply for all positions for which you are eligible as graduate assistant hiring processes are highly competitive. Admission to the program does not constitute a guarantee of an assistantship.

What kinds of jobs are graduates likely to pursue?

This program primarily focuses on higher education administration and those wishing to pursue administrative careers in colleges and universities in areas such as student affairs, academic advising/support, residence life, admissions, etc.

When are classes offered? Are any classes offered online?

Most classes are offered one evening a week on the UNC Charlotte campus with a start time of 5:30 p.m. (during the COVID-19 pandemic, many more are courses are being offered online). Some courses are available during the summer. Many classes also include an online component that takes the place of several weekly meetings during the semester. Some other courses students might encounter (for example, as electives) are offered 100% online or may be offered at other time during the day if taken in other departments. In general, there is a strong face-to-face course component in the M.Ed. program, and the program will return primarily to face-to-face course offerings when conditions make this possible.

Will this program prepare me to teach as a faculty member in a college/university?

No. If you would like to teach within a specific field/discipline, it is generally required that you hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree with at least 18 graduate credit hours within the specific field/discipline. For instance, if you would like teach psychology at the college level, you should pursue graduate work in psychology. There is not typically undergraduate coursework in educational leadership/higher education so this degree will not prepare you to teach undergraduates. The one exception is that higher education administrators often teach a general course (such as student success, first-year experience, university 101) in addition to their full-time administrative roles and a master’s degree is required but does not typically need to be in a specific field/discipline.