Doctoral Programs allow academics to branch out

By Alex Nelson, Staff Writer

October 3, 2012

The first doctoral program in educational leadership at High Point University already has 24 students enrolled, enabling the university to become more prestigious academically.

Last December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools approved HPU to become a doctoral granting institution as part of the School of Education. The educational leadership program’s purpose is to train people who plan on becoming school superintendents or educational leaders.

Dr. Dennis Carroll, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the program, which kicked off in August, follows the executive model. It is a program that meets every other Friday night and every Saturday, because students have full-time jobs as professionals in the educational administrative field.

The program, which will take four years to complete, requires a capstone project, which is a doctoral essay at the program’s completion. The first graduating class of the doctoral degree program will occur in May 2017.

Carroll said, “[Being a doctoral granting institution] puts us on the same court with other schools with which we want to play ball. It also opens up countless opportunities for undergraduate students, faculty and the community.”

Pickett Elementary Principal Gina Spencer, a student enrolled in the program said, “As an educator, the program will further and deepen my educational skills and provide the opportunity for collaboration and research that will help me grow as an administrator.”

The program is rolling smoothly and according to the coordinator, Dr. Vernon Farrington, “The initial feedback from our students has been positive and several have mentioned the wonderful learning environment at HPU.”

Forthcoming doctoral programs include pharmacy and physical therapy, which serves HPU’s purpose to increase the rigor and expand the academics. As undergraduate admission into the university gets more competitive each year, the applicants are increasingly interested in future doctoral programs.

The continued admissions growth at HPU required 24 new faculty positions to be added this fall, maintaining a 15-1 student to faculty ratio. The added faculty members hold degrees from nationally known institutions, such as Yale, Stanford, Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Hiring additional faculty is on the horizon for the highly anticipated undergraduate School of Health Sciences, for which the start date is undetermined. The building will be the most complex on HPU’s campus, with “the latest, most up to date, most sophisticated labs, equipment and technology,” says Carroll.

Carroll says he could not be more pleased with the academic developments of the university and, in reference to these recent changes, said, “We are quickly gaining the prestige, recognition and respect from the best institutions in the country.”

For more information on the doctoral program, please visit