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HALE Ph.D. Handbook

Overview and Objectives

The primary mission of the programs in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) is to prepare individuals for leadership positions in a variety of postsecondary educational organizations. The doctoral (PhD) program focuses on the processes and environments emerging around the globe that are connecting learners with knowledge in new ways.

The program enables students to examine changing perspectives on postsecondary educational organizations, changing notions of postsecondary teaching and learning, and the changing roles of the students, teachers, researchers, and administrators who work and study within these organizations.

Professional knowledge is dynamic, requiring practitioners to be knowledgeable of the "state of the art," but also requiring them to participate in efforts to question and push back the boundaries of professional understanding. It requires scholars to examine the meaning and enactment of effective professional practice. Leaders in educational organizations must be able to support the needs of many types of learners.

Moreover, the administration of complex postsecondary education enterprises requires leaders who possess well-developed personal and educational philosophies, a depth of understanding and knowledge of education as a social institution, a broad range of professional experiences in a number of institutional programs and activities, a sound understanding of human and organizational development theory, and well-developed educational leadership and analytic skills.

The HALE PhD program provides students with perspectives on current knowledge in postsecondary and adult education and on methods of inquiry aimed at improving the quality and ensuring the continued development of postsecondary learning organizations. Through courses and other planned learning experiences, students critically examine current understandings of teaching, learning, administration, organizational functioning, diversity, policy, student development and the leadership process. They also analyze, assess, and conduct research.

The doctoral program in HALE is a result of extensive reflective dialogue among faculty, students, alumni, and employment partners. The product is a graduate experience that is intellectually stimulating, professionally relevant, and that leads to research that supports decision making and problem solving around the key issues facing postsecondary institutions.

To enhance its mission of preparing postsecondary educational leaders for reflective practice, the program maintains active relationships with a variety of colleges and universities, community colleges, and other organizations throughout Michigan and the nation. HALE is the home for a number of faculty-directed scholarly and professional application projects involving doctoral students in many capacities.

We believe in the value of intellectual community, which we label 'Community of Scholars'. Those studying in the HALE doctoral program are expected to engage in the various opportunities provided and/or to create opportunities for sharing of ideas, critically reflecting on practice and collaborating on research. Examples include the Faculty Speaker Series, Graduate Research Colloquim, Ewigleben Policy Seminar, "Brown Bag" conversations, scholarly colloquia, and dissertation proposal and defense presentations. It is also an expectation that doctoral students, as emerging postsecondary education leaders and scholars, will contribute to the field through involvement in professional associations at the state, regional, national and/or international level.

To provide students with grounding in the conceptual underpinnings of the practice of Higher and Adult Education.

To provide students with a broad appreciation and understanding of educational systems in social, historical, and normative perspectives as one basis for the exercise of educational leadership.

To expand students' theoretical understanding of administrative practice through study of one or more disciplines related to Higher, Adult and Lifelong Educational Administration.

To convey inquiry skills useful to the practice of higher and adult education and to the conduct of research in the field.

To provide opportunities to connect theoretical understanding to problems and contexts of practice through field-based experiences.

The program standards represent the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that this degree program aims to develop in students. They apply to students preparing for a wide range of leadership and administrative positions in postsecondary education, faculty positions, policy-related responsibilities, and various postsecondary and system leadership positions held by foreign and international students who enroll in this program. Students work toward these standards throughout the program. The standards serve to guide progress, ground assessment, and supply feedback to students and faculty alike. The standards are intended to influence individual courses and experiences, connections among and across discrete program elements, and the continuing and culminating assessments for graduation from the program.

I. Vision and strategy to promote learning

The first objective of the program is to assist students in developing a philosophy concerning leadership of educational organizations that is grounded in personal values and professional commitments. Over the course of the program, students will:

  • acquire a working knowledge about contemporary approaches to learning of college students, as one basis for administrative leadership. Such approaches encompass cognitive, socio-cultural, and developmental theories as these apply to the learning of adults.
  • elaborate a personal-professional vision for their organization and the larger community it serves; one aim of the program is to encourage students to develop a core set of beliefs that serve to guide their actions as current and future leaders.
  • develop commitment to this vision together with the means for building the vision collaboratively and for communicating it broadly to diverse public and professional constituencies; the program offers opportunities for students to share their beliefs, to consider the beliefs of others, and to work on developing consensus as well as "agreements to disagree," as part of working with others.
  • acquire practical strategies and means for using their vision in decision-making, action planning, and the general exercise of leadership; putting beliefs into action is an integral part of the practical activities making up internships and other experiences in the program.

II. Analytic and reflective capacities related to leadership of learning organizations

The second broad objective concerns both the willingness and the capacity to engage in inquiry and reflection as part of an overall approach to leadership, particularly in an era that requires evidence-based practice. Students will:

  • acquire skills to conduct local inquiries, in postsecondary education institutions and communities, on issues of educational practice and outcomes; the program provides opportunities to use inquiry skills on practical problems of practice.
  • develop capacity to engage in disciplined reflection on their own experiences and practices; skills and the habits of reflection also are emphasized as a core ingredient in effective leadership.
  • gain knowledge and experience in using data of various kinds for decision-making, needs assessment, and accountability; technical knowledge and skills regarding the conduct of responsible inquiry will be provided.
  • acquire substantive knowledge related to their role responsibilities: applied theories of learning and development; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; professional development; organizational functioning; and policy development and analysis.

III. Personal, interpersonal, and political aspects of leadership

The third broad objective acknowledges that leadership involves getting results through other people, drawing on interpersonal skills and sensitivities as well as micro-political awareness and skill. In this regard, students will:

  • increase self-knowledge related to their leadership tendencies, including understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and means for addressing them.
  • develop skills and knowledge around the balance between decisive action under time constraints and the value of collaborative, participatory processes.
  • acquire skills and knowledge in working with others, including attention to active listening and open communication, bargaining and negotiation, conflict resolution, public relations, community development, and leadership of change.
  • understand the political dimensions of their work, including how to lead through the political process in their schools and communities.

IV. Role-related functions and competencies

A fourth domain of competence is grounded in the particular roles and functions that define the work of postsecondary education leaders. In this regard, students will:

  • gain knowledge of the theories and models of organizations and the principles of organizational development.
  • acquire knowledge of the fiscal and legal responsibilities associated with their organizational roles and tasks.
  • learn the use of current technologies that support administrative and teaching functions.
  • develop the capacity for making wise and timely decisions about the allocation of human and material resources.

V. Professional norms and standards for conduct and practice

The final area of development draws attention to the ethical and moral dimensions of leadership, preparing individuals to reason through ethical issues, to be aware of the moral aspects of leadership, and to develop "habits of the heart" in their approach to leadership. In this vein, students will be prepared to:

  • understand the ethical responsibilities associated with their roles.
  • appreciate the broad social consequences and involvements of their leadership duties.
  • develop capacity and commitment to act with integrity.

The HALE doctoral program has been incredibly enriching for me as both a scholar and a practitioner. As a scholar, I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore a variety of innovative and diverse perspectives on key issues impacting the higher education landscape. As a practitioner, I have benefited from the opportunity to consider ways that ongoing changes in higher education impact the work that I do. For prospective students who seek a program with dedicated faculty who are leaders in the field and committed to student learning, fellow students who are engaging and collegial, and a major university to serve as a sort of learning lab, look no further.

John Jobson, HALE Doctoral Candidate and Assistant Director of Student Life at Michigan State University

The HALE program was the most stimulating and nurturing intellectual endeavor I have ever experienced. I was amazed at the accessibility and helpfulness of the faculty and was able to stretch myself as a scholar with their encouragement. My graduate student peers have become trusted colleagues and collaborators. In the program, I was able to build a very solid foundation from which to launch my own faculty career, and I will always call HALE my intellectual home and professional family.

Andrea L. Beach, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, Western Michigan University ,Grand Rapids Graduate Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan

I came to MSU all the way from San Antonio, TX to attend the HALE Ph.D Program because of its excellent reputation and to expand my horizons. Thus far my experience here has transcended any of my expectations I came in with. The HALE program has provided me with so many student development opportunities, I feel that I've been able to custom craft my program to my interests. My only problem has been deciding which ones to pursue. On top of this, the faculty are top notch and have been very supportive during my time here at Michigan State.

Jeremy Hernandez '03, Graduate Assistant

Program Requirements and Policies

Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all graduate students to excel in their particular majors.

Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all doctoral students to excel in their programs of study.

Attendance: Regular attendance is expected. Instructors will inform the students of course attendance requirements and penalties that may be incurred as a result of failure to comply with these requirements.

Grades: A 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in the degree program is the minimum University standard. However, attainment of the minimum grade-point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and the field. The grading system is as follows: 4.0, superior; 3.5, excellent; 3.0, good; 2.5, fair; 2.0 poor; 0/1.0/1.5, failure and in specific courses, P-N (Pass- No Grade). Once grades have been submitted in to the registrar's office, they may only be changed by the course instructor through written application. A student whose semester grade point falls below a 3.0 receives a written warning indicating unsatisfactory academic performance.

Incompletes, Defers, and Extensions

A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition their instructor for the grade of Incomplete (I), Defer (DF), or Extension (ET). A form for this request must be completed by the instructor of the course and contain all information requested, including a description of the work the student will complete and the due date, which cannot be later than the date specified in the academic calendar. The form must be signed by the student, instructor, and department chair (or designee). The last day to request an incomplete and submit the form is indicated in the academic calendar.

The grade of I, DF, or ET shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.

A grade of "I" or incomplete may be given after a student has satisfactorily completed 12 weeks of the course but is unable to complete the work within the allotted time period because of "illness or other compelling reason," and the professor believes that the student can complete the work without repeating the course. The work must be completed and a grade turned in no later than next academic term, whether or not the student is enrolled. (If the student does not enroll in subsequent semesters than s/he has up to a year to complete the course requirements.)

A grade of "DF" or Deferred may be given only to graduate students who are doing satisfactory work but cannot complete it because of reasons acceptable to the instructor. Deferred grades need to be resolved within six months with the option of a six month extension, although the instructor may stipulate a shorter time frame.

Writing Standards

Scholarly writing has its own set of rules and conventions that are different from those of creative or technical writing. As a graduate student in the HALE Program, you will be required to meet rigorous writing standards and APA Style (See Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).

Plagiarism: In essence, plagiarism is the use of another person's words or ideas without proper acknowledgment. It is imperative that writers appropriately paraphrase, use quotation marks (direct citations), and credit their sources both within the text and in a reference/bibliography. An instructor that suspects that a student has committed plagiarism will provide the student with an opportunity to present and explain the origin of the work. In addition, the instructor will explore whether the student understands the relevant standards of academic conduct. If the instructor determines that a minor offense has occurred s/he may require the student to resubmit the assignment or assign a "0" to the paper. However, if an instructor determines that a major offense was committed, procedures presented in the GSSR manual will be followed. Questions about the handling of plagiarism cases should be directed to the Department Chair.


Through the Desire 2 Learn program supported by Michigan State University, Ithenticate, the anti-plagiarism software is available for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students can check manuscripts for unintentional plagiarism before submission. Learn more

The PhD program in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education is structured to assist students in gaining a broad understanding of their field of study through core courses and courses beyond the core that are determined by the student's guidance committee in consultation with the student.

Students in the HALE doctoral program will enroll in a minimum of 45 credit hours, not including at least 24 dissertation research credit hours.

Major Courses - Required of all HALE doctoral students (15 credits)

  • EAD 960 Proseminar in Postsecondary Education (3)
  • EAD 970 Organization and Administration in Postsecondary Education (3)
  • EAD 968 Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum in Postsecondary Education (3)
  • EAD 967 Policy Development and Analysis in Postsecondary Education (3)
  • EAD 966 Students in Postsecondary Education (3)

Required Inquiry Courses (12-13 credits)

  • CEP 930 Educational Inquiry (3)
  • A 900-level course in quantitative methods approved by the student's guidance committee (3)
  • A 900-level course in qualitative methods approved by the student's guidance committee (3-4)
  • EAD 995 Research Practicum in Educational Administration (3) This course is to be taken after the student has completed the three inquiry course referenced above.

Electives (18 credits):

Eighteen additional credits in Educational Administration courses (800 level or above) which deal with issues of postsecondary education. 


Of the eighteen credits, 9 credits are in advanced HALE seminars that deal with issues of postsecondary education and are appropriate for the student's interests.


With the approval of the Guidance Committee, the remaining 9 credits of electives should include courses taken to deepen study in a manner that complements the student's required HALE coursework. Courses can be taken in any university department or unit.

Research Practicum Requirement

All Ph.D. candidates in the doctoral programs in the Department of Educational Administration are required to complete a research practicum (EAD 995). The research practicum aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop systematic inquiry skills, practical knowledge about research, and the experiential perspective on the conduct and reporting of research under real conditions but with support and supervision, through participation in a "community of scholars" experience. It must be completed before the dissertation proposal can be approved.

Before undertaking the research practicum, students should have satisfied the college-wide requirements on educational inquiry (CEP 930 and CEP 932) plus one additional research- methodology course (CEP 933, TE 931, EAD 955B or the equivalent).

Dissertation Research (minimum 24.0 credits, maximum 30.0 credits)

The overall curriculum of the HALE Ph.D. program is represented below as a planning guide:

EAD 960 Proseminar in Postsecondary Education (3) Fall Semester Entry Year-15 Weeks 3.0
EAD 970 Organization and Administration in Postsecondary Education (3) Fall Semester Entry Year-15 Weeks 3.0
EAD 968 Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum in Postsecondary Education (3) Spring Semester Entry Year-15 Weeks 3.0
EAD 966 Students in Postsecondary Education (3) Spring Semester-Entry Year 15 Weeks 3.0
EAD 967 Policy Development and Analysis in Postsecondary Education (3) Fall Semester Second Year-15 Weeks 3.0

The first year major courses are offered one night a week, back to back in Fall and Spring semester. Documentation should be completed by May 15 of each year.


With the approval of the Guidance Committee, electives include 9 credits of advanced HALE seminars and 9 additional credits of courses taken to deepen study in a manner that complements the student's required HALE coursework. Suggested (minimum) 18.0 semester hours

Required Research/Inquiry Coursework

EAD/CEP 930 Educational Inquiry 3.0
QUANT (variable credit) 900-level quantitative course 3.0-4.0
QUAL (variable credit) 900-level qualitative course 3.0-4.0
EAD 995 Research Practicum This course is typically taken after the student has completed the three inquiry courses referenced above.

Offered in the Spring



EAD 999 Dissertation Credits Minimum 24.0 credit hours; Maximum 30.0 credit hours

Total Program Credit Minimum: 69.0 semester hours


The HALE Comprehensive Exam is made up of two parts:

Part One is a written exam designed as an opportunity for students to demonstrate integration of knowledge of topics, issues, and resources in postsecondary education. This part focuses on and reflects completion of the courses in the HALE PhD Core Curriculum. Students are expected to take Part One of the Comprehensive Exam within one year of completing the HALE Core Curriculum. Part One is offered twice annually, at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. More about Part One of the Comprehensive Exam, including Exam registration information, can be found in the HALE Comprehensive Examination Policies and Procedures (May 2016) PDF below. A sample essay for Part One is also linked below. Note: The University requires that students be enrolled at the time they are meeting any exam requirement.

Part Two is successful completion of EAD 995 (“Research Practicum”). In order to enroll in EAD 995 students must pass the written Exam and have the approval of their advisor. The Research Practicum, required of all doctoral students in the College of Education, is the final course in the research sequence. The purposes of the Research Practicum are: (a) to guide students toward preparation of a dissertation proposal and (b) to enable students to engage in a research experience within a community of scholars. Considered as part of the HALE Comprehensive Exam, EAD 995 is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to complete the HALE PhD Program. EAD 995 sample syllabi are linked below.

Students typically enroll in EAD 995 near or at the end of their course work, which is usually Year Three for full-time students but may be later for those enrolled part-time. EAD 995 is also offered twice annually, every fall and spring semester. Approval to enroll in EAD 995 requires that the student provide evidence to the advisor of sufficient preparation for the course and the opportunity to make significant progress on a dissertation proposal. More about Part Two of the Comprehensive Exam can be found In the HALE PhD Comprehensive Examination Policies and Procedures (May 2016) PDF below.

Upon successful completion of Parts One and Two, students will have completed the HALE PhD Comprehensive Exam and advanced to candidacy for the PhD.



All students using University services (faculty consultation included) for graduate work must be registered each semester. Minimum registration consists of one course of 1 credit.


Graduate students may carry up to 16 credits each semester. The maximum number of credits, however, is determined by the department or school. A student load above 16 credits requires approval by the student's dean. Enrollment in doctoral dissertation research (course number 999) credits need not be counted in determining maximum credits.

Full Time Student Status

In order to be considered full time for academic purposes, students must carry the minimum number of credits per semester [excluding summer] as defined below:

Doctoral level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 credits

Note: After the completion of the PhD comprehensive exams, the minimum credit load requirement for full-time status for academic purposes is one credit.

Continuous Enrollment

A student must be enrolled for at least 1 credit each semester while completing the degree. (Academic Programs, p. 58)

Doctoral Dissertation Research Credit Requirements (EAD 999)

All doctoral student must register for and successfully complete a minimum of 24 credits and no more than 30 credits of doctoral dissertation research (course number 999) to graduate.


To request an override to exceed the maximum of 30 credits of 999, students must complete the Dissertation Credit Limit Waiver form available on the Forms for Graduate Students page of the College of Education website.

Residency Requirement

There is a residency requirement for the doctoral program where credits must be earned on the MSU campus. A year of residence will be made up of two consecutive semesters, involving the completion of credits at the level of full-time status (at least six credits) of graduate work each semester. Most doctoral students will complete their residency by completing the first year required core courses.


All dual major doctoral degrees must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. A request for the dual major degree must be submitted within one semester following its development and within the first two years of the student’s enrollment at Michigan State University. A copy of the guidance committee report must be attached. See the Registrar’s Academic Programs information about dual major doctoral degrees for details.

For master’s (Plan A), master’s (Plan B) with research responsibilities, and doctoral students, it is the responsibility of the student to: a) notify their advisor/major professor and faculty of the courses in which they are enrolled of the need for a grief absence in a timely manner, but no later than one week from the student’s initial knowledge of the situation, b) provide appropriate verification of the grief absence as specified by the advisor/major professor and faculty, and c) complete all missed work as determined in consultation with the advisor/major professor and faculty. It is the responsibility of the advisor/major professor to: a) determine with the student the expected period of absence – it is expected that some bereavement processes may be more extensive than others depending on individual circumstances, b) receive verification of the authenticity of a grief absence request upon the student’s return, and c) make reasonable accommodations so that the student is not penalized due to a verified grief absence. Students who believe their rights under this policy have been violated should contact the University Ombudsperson.

This section pertains to the Graduate Student Academic Grievance Procedures utilized by all graduate academic programs in the College of Education.

Students may request a hearing to resolve a dispute with an instructor, but only after trying to settle the matter in conversations with the instructor, the department chair or school director or program director and, in some cases, the associate dean of the college. The student also may consult with the University Ombudsperson at any stage of the dispute. In the event that a student’s dispute remains unresolved a grievance hearing may be necessary. The College of Education outlines the current University policy and procedures for conducting a grievance hearing in the Graduate Student Academic Grievance Hearing Procedures document.

Michigan State University requires that all graduate students be trained in the responsible conduct of research as part of their educational experience. All HALE doctoral students are required to complete five hours of training in the first year, and three hours of training in each subsequent year. The components of the training may be a mixture of on-line and face-to-face educational experiences and include the following topics:

Initial Training Year 1 Refresher Training Annually, after Year 1
Required Hours 5 hours 3 hours
Training Components

Human Research Protection Program (2 hours)

Conflict of Interest (30 min)

Authorship Issues and Data Issues (1 hour)

Additional Discussion of Issues Related to Responsible Conduct of Education Research (90 minutes)

Complete the required recertification for human research protection (~1-2 hours)

Additional Discussion of Issues Related to Responsible Conduct of Education Research

Participate in one of the workshops described under initial certification

Each student is expected to enter the relevant information regarding the completion of this training into the Research Training Tracking System (RTTS).

To support the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirements, the following resources are available.  Students should consult with their academic adviser and/or research supervisor to determine the appropriate training topics.

Click here to view a presentation (PDF) regarding the HALE Ph.D. RCR Requirements.

Research Training Tracking System:

Human Research Protection Program modules:

Workshops offered by the graduate school:

Powerpoint resources through the graduate school:


For the Doctor of Philosophy degree, all of the comprehensive examinations must be passed within five years and all remaining requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years from the time when a student begins the first class at Michigan State University that appears on his or her doctoral program of study.

Application for extensions of the eight-year period of time toward degree must be submitted by the department/school for approval by the Dean of the College and the Dean of the Graduate School. Upon approval of the extension, doctoral comprehensive examinations must be passed again.


Policies regarding transfer credit can be found in the MSU Academic Programs Handbook, Graduate Education, Doctoral Programs, page 3.

With approval of the College and the student's guidance committee, a maximum of 9 semester credit hours may be transferred into the HALE program. These credits may be from a graduate program at another university or from graduate courses taken as a Lifelong Education student at Michigan State University prior to official matriculation into the doctoral program. Transfer courses need to have been completed within the time limits approved for earning the degree (a total of 8 years). Only graduate-level courses in which at least a 3.0 (b) grade was received will be considered for transfer.


Program Procedures

Admission to Michigan State University

U. S. Residents

U. S. applicants who are not already admitted to graduate study at MSU must submit the Graduate Application for Admission. An application fee and college transcripts of all previous academic work must be submitted with this form.

More Information on Admission to the MSU Graduate School Online & Downloadable Application to Graduate Study

International Students

International students who have been admitted to graduate study at MSU are required to submit the International Graduate Application for Admission, proof of financial support, and proof of proficiency in English.

For more information please contact:

Office of International Students and Scholars 103 International Center Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 (517) 353-1720 or email:

APPLICANTS FROM CHINESE UNIVERSITIES: Please arrange for a verification report of your university academic records with the China Academic Degree and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC). The report must be mailed directly to the department  to which you are applying by the CDGDC, rather than by you or any third party.

China Academic Degree and Graduate Education Development Center

Verification Division

B-17, Tongfang Scientific Plaza

No. 1 Wangzhuang Road, Haidian District, Beijing, 100083, P.R. China

Tel: +86-10-8237980

Fax: +86-10-82378718 (24 hours)



Admission to the HALE PhD Program

PhD applicants must possess a master's degree from an accredited institution. ALL HALE application materials are to be submitted through the Online Supplemental Application System (OSAS). Applications should be submitted by December 1 for optimal consideration. Applicants must submit a personal statement/statement of personal goals, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, GRE scores, and official transcripts. All materials are submitted through the online application system, with the exception of transcripts. Send official transcripts to:

Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) Program c/o HALE Admission Assistant Department of Educational Administration Michigan State University 423 Erickson Hall East Lansing, MI 48824-1034

email: Phone: 517/353-5187 TDD/TTY: 517/423-3757 or 800/366-4MSU Fax: 517/353-6393

Regular and Provisional Admissions

Upon admission to a graduate program a student is classified in one of two categories, regular or provisional. Specific criteria for distinguishing between these categories are determined within each college for its own programs. In general, these criteria are:


Students who are considered to be fully qualified to undertake a program toward the graduate degree for which they are admitted.


Students of promise who have some remediable inadequacy of qualification such as a minor deficiency in subject matter preparation, for whom there is incomplete interpretation of available records, or non-native speakers whose records reflect some concern in oral or written communication. Such deficiencies typically require additional intense instruction in English (not counted towards degree requirements), or collateral work in PhD academic courses.

English Language Requirements for International Students

All international students are required to be proficient in English as a condition for regular admission to MSU and HALE. For students whose native language is not English, proficiency must be demonstrated by meeting the minimum standards on any one of the following tests:

  1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  3. Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
  4. English Language Center Placement Test (ELCPT)

Students who have not met the minimum requirements in English are required to take the ELCPT. If the results do not meet the minimum proficiency, students will be required to enroll in English Language Center classes until the University or departmental competence is attained. In some instances, students may be able to take academic courses along with their ESL classes. In such cases, restrictions are placed on the number of academic credits they may take until complete minimum proficiency is met.

Concurrent Applications for Admission

Michigan State University permits concurrent applications for admission to two graduate programs, each with a separate application fee. This option is available beginning with applications for Fall 2014 admissions.

Readmission to Graduate Program

Graduate students whose enrollment at Michigan State University is interrupted for any reason so that they are not enrolled for three consecutive semesters, including the Summer Sessions, must apply for readmission. The Application for Readmission form is available in the Office of the Registrar and at Students must submit this form to the HALE program secretary together with official transcripts of all work taken while not enrolled at Michigan State University, at least one month prior to the first day of registration for the semester in which the student expects to resume graduate studies. The application for readmission is approved first at the unit level and by the Department Chair. Those who have been separated from the program longer than two years may be subject to review by the Admissions Committee, in accordance with the HALE readmission policy.

The conditions of readmission, based on the length of time one has been away from courses and MSU, include the following at a minimum: a) one might need to take some of the core courses; b) one might need to retake and pass Part One of the comprehensive examination. Any student who goes beyond a certain length of time since their exam without completing the degree is required to retake Part One of the exam. The core courses will be instrumental in preparing readmitted students for the exam and reacquainting them with the current process and; c) one might need to reconstitute a dissertation committee to make progress on your proposal and dissertation work. New advisors will be assigned.

Readmission with Change of Program

A graduate student wishing to pursue a degree or program other than the one originally sought, and who has not enrolled for three consecutive semesters, including the Summer Sessions, or who has completed prior courses of study, should file the Application for Readmission form and transcripts as described above. Further, the student should apply to the academic unit administering the proposed new degree or program at least six weeks in advance of its deadline for ordinary applications to allow time to file with that unit any additional information it may need before the deadline.



Upon admission to the HALE doctoral degree program, students are assigned a faculty member who serves as their initial academic advisor (temporary). The student has the right to change academic advisors and should seek the support of the Program Director or the Department Chair if this move is difficult.

Newly admitted students should contact their academic advisor as soon as possible. They should arrange for a personal conference with their advisor to develop a program plan within the first three semesters of his/her matriculation. If the student does not do so, there is no guarantee that credit hours earned prior to the conference will be applicable to the degree. Copies of the program plan will be provided to the student, the academic advisor, and the Student Affairs Office in the College of Education. The HALE program faculty follow the recommendations provided in Guidelines for Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Relationships.

GradPlan:  Committee Membership and Ph.D. Degree Plan

GradPlan was developed for Ph.D. students to lay out their Ph.D. program of study, record faculty approval, and make notes on all the degree requirements as they are completed.

GradPlan will be the only way final degree certification/degree audit will be conducted beginning in Spring 2017. GradPlan replaces the Report of the Guidance Committee, Record of Comprehensive Exam, and the Dissertation Final Defense form and the final certification form.

  • Following approval by a department or college level designee, the Graduate School will certify the acceptance of each dissertation final format.
  • The Office of the Registrar and departments will complete degree certification once a student completes an application for graduation and all degree requirements are met.

GradPlan help guides are available at

Doctoral guidance committees should be formed at the end of the first year or beginning of the second year. The Committee must have at least four regular (tenure stream) MSU faculty or approved (by Graduate School) non-tenured (i.e., temporary/fixed-term) faculty. The Ph.D. Degree Plan should typically be filed early in second year of Ph.D. program. Please use the link below to enter GradPlan to form both your guidance committee and your Ph.D. Degree Plan


Note that CEP 930, CEP 932, EAD 995, and the qualitative methodology course must be labeled as Research Requirement applied in the program plan.


Visit the GradPlan login.


Guidance Committee

Each graduate student admitted to the HALE doctoral program has the responsibility to form a guidance committee with the approval of the advisor. The guidance committee will consist of at least four Michigan State University tenure stream faculty members. The chair of the committee must be a HALE faculty member. In consultation with the student, the guidance committee plans the entire program, and thereafter supervises it, making modifications as needed until the degree is completed.

The guidance committee should be formed no later than the third semester of doctoral study. Within one semester after the committee has met, the chairperson of the guidance committee shall file a Guidance Committee Report with the dean of the college. This guidance committee report, as changed or amended in full consultation between the graduate student and the committee and approved by the appropriate department chairperson and the Dean of the College, shall be regarded as the statement of program requirements.

Any desired or required changes in the membership of the guidance committee may be made by the student with the concurrence of all the committee members, unit chairperson or director or designated representative, or by the unit with the concurrence of the graduate student in accordance with University, college, and unit policy.

The guidance committee is responsible for insuring the adequacy of the overall program, in keeping with the general policy that three or more academic years of study and research beyond the master's degree are required.

GradPlan is the electronic documentation of guidance committee membership and program plans for students who started in Fall 2010 to current.  For Doctoral students who started prior to Fall 2010, please use the Forms prior to FS10 admits.

Written evaluations shall be communicated to the graduate student at least once a year, and a copy of such evaluations shall be placed in the graduate student's file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the Department of Educational Administration.

The academic advisor and academic unit are jointly responsible for evaluating the student's competency (as indicated by, e.g., grades in core and other courses, portfolio development, and development of professional skills) and rate of progress (as indicated by, e.g., the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred). Download the Progress to Degree form at


A 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in the degree program is the minimum University standard. However, attainment of the minimum grade-point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and the field. The grading system is as follows: 4.0, superior; 3.5, excellent; 3.0, good; 2.5, fair; 2.0 poor; 0/1.0/1.5, failure and in specific courses, P-N (Pass- No Grade). Once grades have been submitted in to the registrar's office, they may only be changed by the course instructor through written application.


Students whose cumulative grade-point average falls below a 3.0 will be placed on academic probation the following semester. The student will work with her/his academic advisor to be restored to good standing. Students on academic probation should regularly meet with the academic advisor. Students shall have the right to appeal in accordance with the GSSR guidelines.

Incomplete or Deferred Grades

A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition their instructor for the grade of Incomplete (I) or Deferred (DF). A form for this request must be completed by the instructor of the course and contain all information requested, including a description of the work the student will complete and the due date, which cannot be later than the date specified in the academic calendar. The form must be signed by the student, instructor, and department chair (or designee). The last day to request an incomplete and submit the form is indicated in the academic calendar. The grade of I or DF shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.

  • A grade of "I" or incomplete may be given after a student has satisfactorily completed 12 weeks of the course but is unable to complete the work within the allotted time period because of "illness or other compelling reason," and the professor believes that the student can complete the work without repeating the course. The required work must be completed, and a grade must be reported to the Office of the Registrar, no later than the middle of the student's next semester in attendance (summer session excluded) if that semester is within one calendar year following receipt of the I-Incomplete.
  • A grade of "DF" or Deferred may be given only to graduate students who are doing satisfactory work but cannot complete it because of reasons acceptable to the instructor. Deferred grades need to be resolved within two years, although the instructor may stipulate a shorter time frame. The required work must be completed and a grade reported within six months (190 calendar days from the last class day of the term of instruction), with the option of a single six-month extension (190 calendar days).


Several student-initiated forms related to the dissertation are available from the College of Education website ( These include:

  • Dissertation Director & Proposal Approval
  • Notice of Doctoral Dissertation Oral Examination

Dissertation Committee
Dissertation committees consist of four MSU tenure stream faculty members. Two members of the committee, including the chair, are HALE faculty. One member is from a different unit. The fourth committee member is either from HALE or another unit. Upon identification of committee members, the student must submit the Dissertation Director Approval/Dissertation Committee Approval form for unit and departmental approval, before it is officially filed with the SAO.

Changes in the membership of the dissertation committee, including change of dissertation chair, may be initiated by the student with concurrence of the department chairperson and acknowledgement of committee members by filing a new Dissertation Director Approval/ Dissertation Committee Approval form.

The Doctoral Dissertation
A doctoral dissertation is a substantial scholarly product based on original research that makes a contribution to knowledge. Only single authored papers may be considered, that were published, for inclusion in the dissertation if approved by the student’s dissertation committee.

Dissertation Format
Students should review the Theses and Dissertations formatting guide, which can be viewed at the following site:

Dissertation Proposal
A dissertation proposal is prepared by the student with the dissertation director and with approval of the director submitted to each member of the guidance committee prior to a meeting called to review and examine the proposal. At least 3 members of the committee need to be present at the proposal meeting and an approved proposal requires signatures from all committee members before the student is authorized to proceed with the research. The Dissertation Proposal Approval form must be signed by the guidance committee members and filed with the HALE program secretary.

It is necessary to obtain institutional review and approval through the University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) prior to initiating any research involving the use of human or animal or hazardous materials.

Dissertation Defense
After the dissertation director indicates that the dissertation is acceptable for examination, the student will distribute hard copies of the dissertation and abstract to the dissertation director, other guidance committee members, and, if necessary, to any appointed examiner. Dissertation defenses can be scheduled throughout the term, unless the unit sets more limited restrictions. However, the term of official degree completion concludes with the submission of revised copy of the dissertation approved by the guidance committee to the Graduate School.

The dissertation defense consists of two parts: a final oral presentation by the doctoral candidate and a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Final Oral Presentation
The oral presentation portion of the examination is open to other interested faculty members and members of the public without vote. An announcement of the final oral presentation is publicly posted after the student voluntarily completes the Notice of the Doctoral Dissertation Exam Form and submits it to the Student Affairs Office.

Final Oral Examination
The final oral examination in defense of the dissertation is conducted and evaluated by the guidance committee and, at the discretion of the dean of the college, by one appointed faculty member whose voting status is determined by the college. The Final Oral Examination is conducted after the final oral presentation. Other interested faculty members may attend the examination without vote. The dissertation and the student's performance on the final oral examination must be approved by at least three-fourths of the voting examiners and with not more than one dissenting vote from among the regular faculty members of the guidance committee.

The final oral examination must be scheduled for a date not earlier than two weeks after the dissertation and abstract have been submitted to the chairperson of the guidance committee, other guidance committee members, and any appointed examiner. The student must be enrolled during the semester in which the final oral examination is taken.

Submitting your Dissertation
Following the successful defense of the dissertation, students must submit an electronic copy of the completed dissertation to the Graduate School. Instructions for Thesis and Dissertation Electronic Submissions are available at When submitting the dissertation to ProQuest, a student has the option to open the document using Google, Google Scholar, and Google Books. The option to block such searches is also available.

MSU allows optional supplemental files (audio, video etc.) to be submitted to ProQuest and/or the MSU library. Please note that only those files approved by the major professor or committee, as denoted by the Graduate School approval form, are allowed. The supplemental materials will not be reviewed by the Graduate School for formatting. Items submitted to ProQuest must be acceptable by ProQuest and comply with ProQuest criteria and storage limits. Items submitted to the MSU library should be directed to the Assistant Director for Digital Information, currently Shawn Nicholson (

Students who have applied for graduation will have access to an exit survey. The survey asks questions about educational experiences in MSU graduate programs, as well as about immediate professional plans. The identity of all respondents will be kept confidential and only aggregate (group) information will be made available to faculty and administrators. Students will receive an email message from the dean of the graduate school with a link to the survey, or students may access the appropriate survey through the following websites:

Each student must apply for graduation with the MSU Registrar's Office, online (preferred) or in person at room 150 Administration Building. Application should be made during the first week of the semester one wishes to graduate. This will produce a Final Certification form that is to be completed and signed by the academic advisor and submitted to the HALE Administrative Assistant.

Commencement information will be sent to each degree candidate midway through their final semester. Commencements are held Fall and Spring semesters. Summer degree candidates may participate during the Fall or Spring ceremonies.

For further information, visit the Commencement website.

There is no central information source about assistantships at MSU.

The MSU Graduate School has a funding page with information about many sources of funding (internal and external to MSU). This page also includes a link to assistantship opportunities in the Division of Student Affairs.

The MSU Human Resources employment page includes job postings for faculty, staff and student positions.

In addition to opportunities that may be available within the HALE department or the College of Education, there are occasionally opportunities in other offices and departments around campus. These opportunities are typically advertised through various departmental list serves and HALE Happenings.

Graduate Assistant (GA) is a generic term referring to a graduate student who is supported on a graduate assistantship. Graduate assistants are in one of three categories as they relate to policy in this section: research assistants, teaching assistants represented by the Graduate Employees Union (GEU), and teaching assistants not represented by the GEU.

Graduate assistantships are available only to graduate students who are actively pursuing graduate degree programs and who are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees, including maintaining at least a 3.00 grade–point average. Colleges, departments, or schools may set higher or additional standards.

Work Related Policies

Faculty in the HALE program regularly appoints qualified doctoral students as research assistants on a variety of research initiatives. The nature of the assistantship (e.g., length of appointment, work load expectations, available resources, necessary proficiencies, travel, and so on) will be defined by the hiring faculty member. The processing of assistantships through the university is conducted by the Educational Administration Department's Administrative Assistant. The faculty, program, and department adhere to the guidelines set by the MSU Graduate School Graduate Assistantships policy.

GA Appointment Levels and Appointment Periods

Graduate assistants are appointed on a quarter–time, half–time, or three–quarter time basis. The academic year encompasses two appointment periods: August 16—December 31 and January 1— May 15. During each appointment period a graduate assistant's duties to the University require an average of:

10 hours per week for a quarter–time stipend.

20 hours per week for a half–time stipend.

30 hours per week for a three–quarter–time stipend.

Summer appointments cover the period from May 16—August 15. The appointing unit is responsible for informing the graduate assistant of the distribution of duties that are related to the summer appointment.

Minimum and Maximum Credit Loads for GA's

Graduate assistants must be registered each semester in which they hold assistantships. The minimum and maximum credit loads are as follows:

For a quarter–time GA, minimum enrollment is 6 credits for master's degree students and 3 credits for doctoral students (including credits in courses numbered 899 or 999); maximum enrollment is 16 credits (excluding credits in courses numbered 899 or 999).

For a half–time GA, minimum enrollment is 6 credits for master's degree students and 3 credits for doctoral students (including credits in courses numbered 899 or 999); maximum enrollment is 12 credits (excluding credits in courses numbered 899 or 999).

For a three–quarter–time GA, minimum enrollment is 3 credits (including credits in courses numbered 899 or 999); maximum enrollment is 8 credits (excluding credits in courses numbered 899 or 999).

Deviation from the minimum enrollment requirements listed above is permitted only during summer session, when a 3–credit minimum enrollment is allowed for all types of assistants; and the semester in which the degree is granted, when all types of assistants must enroll for at least the number of credits required to complete the degree or meet the University minimum registration requirement.

Any deviation from the maximum enrollment requirements listed above must have the approval of the dean of the college prior to enrollment.

In meeting the credit requirements, graduate assistants should be enrolled in courses that are recognized as being of graduate level unless the student's department or school has granted written permission for course work constituting an exception to this rule. Visitor credits may count as part of a graduate assistant's credit load, if approved, in writing, by the student's department chair or unit director and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Students are expected to uphold the principles and standards set forth in university policies that maintain the integrity of academic work. Academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records are considered serious violations and may result in disciplinary action.

In addition to their dissertation research, doctoral students are often engaged in forms of research for courses, in independent studies, or when working with faculty and colleagues on independent projects. A brief introduction to the standards for integrity in research and creative activities to which MSU and therefore, all HALE graduate programs subscribe is presented here.

Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities

The conduct of research and creative activities by faculty, staff, and students is central to the mission of Michigan State University and is an institutional priority. Faculty, staff, and students work in a rich and competitive environment for the common purpose of learning, creating new knowledge, and disseminating information and ideas for the benefit of their peers and the general public. The stature and reputation of MSU as a research university are based on the commitment of its faculty, staff, and students to excellence in scholarly and creative activities and to the highest standards of professional integrity. As a partner in scholarly endeavors, MSU is committed to creating an environment that promotes ethical conduct and integrity in research and creative activities.

Innovative ideas and advances in research and creative activities have the potential to generate professional and public recognition and, in some instances, commercial interest and financial gain. In rare cases, such benefits may become motivating factors to violate professional ethics. Pressures to publish, to obtain research grants, or to complete academic requirements may also lead to an erosion of professional integrity.

Breaches in professional ethics range from questionable research practices to misconduct. The primary responsibility for adhering to professional standards lies with the individual scholar. It is, however, also the responsibility of advisors and of the disciplinary community at large. Passive acceptance of improper practices lowers inhibitions to violate professional ethics.

Integrity in research and creative activities is based not only on sound disciplinary practice but also on a commitment to basic personal values such as fairness, equity, honesty, and respect. These guidelines are intended to promote high professional standards by everyone, faculty, staff, and students alike. For additional information, please consult the Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities.

Human Research Protection Program

The Human Research Protection Program is the home of MSU's Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Federal and University regulations require that all research projects involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by an IRB before initiation. Under the regulations, research is defined as a formal investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. For full information on MSU's Human Research Protection Program, and instructions for submitting research projects for review, please go to the website.



Conflicts, disagreements, and issues sometimes arise during the course of a graduate program. If you find yourself in this situation and have exhausted the internal resources for resolving the issue, you may contact the Office of the University Ombudsperson.

The Office of the University Ombudsperson provides assistance to students, faculty, and staff in resolving University-related concerns. Such concerns include: student-faculty conflicts; communication problems; concerns about the university climate; and questions about what options are available for handling a problem according to Michigan State University policy. The University Ombudsperson also provides information about available resources and student/faculty rights and responsibilities. The office operates as a confidential, independent, and neutral resource. It does not provide notice to the University - that is, it does not speak or hear for the University.

Contact the Ombudsperson at any point during an issue when a confidential conversation or source of information may be needed. The Ombudsperson will listen to your concerns, give you information about university policies, help you evaluate the situation, and assist you in making plans to resolve the conflict.

Contact information:
Office of the University Ombudsperson
129 N. Kedzie Hall
(517) 353-8830

Within the HALE Department, the guidelines for Graduate Student Appeals of Allegations of Academic Dishonesty (GSAAD) establishes the right of graduate students to appeal allegations of academic dishonesty. For complete listing of rights and responsibilities, please see Article 5 of the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document at Michigan State University (GSRR). For a detailed explanation of grievance procedures consult the Graduate Student Academic Grievance Hearing Procedures document in the College of Education. 

Note: All students will have these and other documents on file in the HALE office. Students may, at any time, challenge the accuracy of the contents of their student files. This may be as simple as writing a letter to be put in the file.