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Concentration: Community College and Career Education

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development
in Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development (ELPHD)
Delivery Method: On Campus

Apply by Dec.

The Community College and Career Education concentration in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development is designed to offer students the opportunity to study postsecondary and workforce education. The program has a unique emphasis on alignment and connection of education and work, labor market outcomes, improving student success, and creating economic mobility. Based on the public land-grant mission the Community College and Career Education in NC State’s College of Education seeks to develop innovative partnerships and develop applied problem-solving to enhance the talent pipeline for economic and workforce development for North Carolina and beyond. 

Positioned at  NC State, the program seeks to develop graduates who will be researchers and future faculty members, and who will conduct innovative research to advance the fields of community college and workforce development. 

Concentration Description

The Community College and Career Education concentration in the Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary concentration that focuses on postsecondary education and work.  Within the concentration,  the goal is to develop scholars who seek to understand and improve education at the postsecondary level and the intersection between education, careers, and business/industry needs. The program utilizes the lens of education, psychology, economics, and systems theory to develop knowledge that will improve postsecondary education attainment as a talent development pipeline for individuals to enter careers and college. The results of this work will enhance the performance of individuals, improve social and economic mobility for individuals, and improve the performance of organizations. To conduct research in this concentration, theories and frameworks from various disciplines such as postsecondary education, community college leadership, talent development, and workforce development are used. This concentration has the flexibility to prepare individuals for careers as faculty, learning and development professionals, administrators, professional consultants, organizational development leaders, change agents, and economic developers.

Concentration Structure

The program implements a mentorship model that emphasizes research collaborations with faculty to develop skills to identify research areas,  develop research questions, design high quality quantitative and qualitative research, conduct basic and applied research, and disseminate research in a variety of outlets.  Additionally, faculty in the program will work with students to identify their career goals and provide a pathway to the completion of their degree and that aligns with their future career.  Faculty members in the program provide student centered engagement, provide guidance in navigating the doctoral program, and assistant students in establishing a research agenda.  The faculty will provide students guidance in the development of their research skills in specific methods and provide opportunities for engaging in research projects that support their career growth. Students in the program will be encouraged to collaborate with peers at NC State and nationally.  Students will be encouraged to participate in professional development and professional organizations that will lead to career opportunities.  

Students will work with their academic advisor to create a program of work that meets their career needs. The plan will be developed for the individual and will include choices in research methods and concentration courses. Students will be asked to co-create a learning experience that emphasizes developing and applying disciplinary knowledge and a comprehensive methodological expertise to conduct high-quality, innovative research that has a high impact factor. The students will work collaboratively with their academic advisor to select a dissertation chair. 

Our faculty have expertise in a variety of areas including community college, career education, and higher education.  Faculty have been trained in rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods.  Our award winning faculty are engaged in groundbreaking research that draws on different disciplines and utilizes rigorous methods to understand the greatest challenges in education.

This concentration is designed for students who want to improve community college and career education, work collaboratively with faculty in an apprenticeship-like model, and be a part of research projects. This program is ideal for students who desire to be the future researchers, future faculty, leaders in postsecondary education, and the development of talent for the workforce. 

Course of Study

The course of study for the Community College and Career Education concentration is below. Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog.  This program area of study requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond a Master’s degree.


  • Completed online application, department application form, resume and non-refundable application fee
  • Transcripts of all post-secondary education
  • North Carolina residency form if claiming for tuition purposes
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students
  • GRE scores are required for Ph.D. applications
  • Three Letters of Recommendation 
  • Statement of interest including summary of your proposed program goals (what do you expect to get out of the program), areas of interest to possibly study (community college, career and technical education, career education, and/or workforce development), and faculty member(s) from the Community College and Career Education area you may want to work with during your doctoral program. 
  • Personal Statement:  This statement should address applicant’s interest in the field, relevant past experiences, questions you would like to answer with future research, and professional career goals
  • At least 1, but not more than 3, past writing samples of a journal article, white paper, research proposal, or class paper.


We offer both a Ph.D. and Ed.D. in the community college and career education program area. The Ed.D Community College Leadership focuses on the development of leaders to work in practice. The graduates of this program would work as community college executives, workforce development strategist, and those who want to focus on practice. The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development is designed to intentionally develop professionals to become experts and researchers in community college and career education. Graduates of this program will have the preparation and experiences to be competitive for faculty positions, researchers, and policy analysts. 

You must fill out an online application in order to apply for any of our graduate programs. Since the Ph.D. and Ed.D have different goals for the graduates the statement of interest and personal personal statements will have unique requirements. Additionally the Ed.D program has an assessment weekend. 

From the NC State Graduate School admission webpage: Please note that it is by exception only, that the Graduate School will accept a paper hardcopy of a recommendation letter. To be granted an exception, either you or the recommendation provider should email to provide a detailed explanation of why the recommendation cannot be completed online.

If the exception is granted, you will need to notify your graduate program of the change in the submission method. Here is a list of programs and their contacts: The hardcopy letter should be sent directly to the program office, not the Graduate School.

From the NC State Graduate School admission webpage: To pay your non-refundable application fee by check or money order, you can send the payment to the Graduate Admissions office at the appropriate address below. You should print out the payment voucher that appeared after you selected the payment option and include it with your payment. Be sure that your name and date of birth are written on your check or money order. Do not send cash.

Do not mail, fax, or e-mail credit card information to the Graduate Admissions Office. If you did not choose to pay by credit card when you submitted your application, you no longer have that option.  The application fee for United States citizens and permanent residents is $75.00 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank.  The application fee for international applicants is $85.00 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank or from an international bank with a U.S. affiliate.

Yes, we encourage you to send in materials since there may still be openings in our programs, and some degrees have rolling deadlines.

For master programs, please plan to speak with your advisor, after admission to the program, to determine which classes may transfer. NC State does not allow doctoral level courses transfer.

Much depends on the individual’s preferences in terms of pace and program. Graduate classes are generally offered online or in the evening and are scheduled to accommodate the needs of working professionals.  Classes also run during the summer semester. Ed.D. students take approximately 3.5-4 years complete, and Ph.D. students take approximately 4 years to complete.

Unfortunately none of the doctoral degree programs currently offered are designed to be completed entirely online.  The Ed.D. Is in a hybrid executive format and meets one week intensively in the summer for three summers, 2 extended weekends in Fall, and 1 extended weekend in Spring, and 3 to times synchronously for each course. The Ph.D. program is offered in a more traditional format but may offer opportunities from time to time for an online course. 

To be eligible for financial aid, students must be enrolled in Master’s or Doctoral degree programs offered by the University. Unfortunately there is no financial aid available for Graduate Certificate students. Occasionally graduate assistantships are available for full time students in our degree programs. Please check with your advisor about assistantship opportunities. We recommend that you contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to find out what other options are available.

For more questions about application, you can visit NC State Graduate School Ask Us page for more details.

Applications are due on Dec. 1. Only applications with all of the required components are reviewed.

Select students are awarded department-sponsored graduate student assistantships. Students who receive the assistantships are typically eligible for the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP), which provides tuition and health insurance in addition to the stipend funded by the assistantship. All applicants are considered by program faculty for nomination for departmental, college and university fellowships. Some students have also been funded by faculty research grants and assistantships with other units on campus. Review our tuition and fees information and see how establishing residency in North Carolina can significantly reduce your expenses. Apply to become an NC resident for tuition purposes or review information on and procedures for becoming a North Carolina resident.

Faculty in the concentration undertake a holistic review of applicant’s materials. Broadly, our review involves an evaluation of the applicant’s potential for graduate work. Faculty in the concentration consider academic record (including prior coursework, GPA in your master’s program, if applicable, and GPA in your junior and senior years), professional experience and accomplishments, the potential match between your professional goals, research interests and our concentration’s mission and curriculum, a match with a faculty member, and your letters of recommendation.

For more information about international student admissions, read The Graduate School Handbook’s (section 2.4). Also, visit the Office of International Services (OIS), which assists students with immigration regulations and University policies and procedures. OIS also sponsors social and networking opportunities.

For assistance with the application process, please contact The Graduate School. If you have been admitted into the concentration and have questions, please contact your initial academic advisor or Graduate Student Services Coordinator, Ann Van Elsue.

Our Faculty

Devon Graves
Assistant Professor
Follow on Twitter: @DevonLGraves

Catherine Hartman
Assistant Teaching Professor

Audrey J. Jaeger
W. Dallas Herring Professor of Community College Education
Follow on Twitter: @AJJAEGER

Travis Park
Professional, Agricultural Education
National FFA Advisory
Follow on Twitter: @TLC3Park

Affiliated Graduate Faculty

Study at one of the world’s leading land-grant colleges of education


in active research funding among colleges of education in N.C.


ranked college of education in the nation (U.S. News)


ranked university for education and educational research in the world (U.S. News)