Top Tier Journals in Higher Education

Academic journals are the primary way that scholars communicate with one another. Since the beginning of academic publishing over a century ago, the journal manuscript has become the primary academic currency. In recent years, it has become difficult to measure the quality of journals with the proliferation of the number of journals being published now. In today’s post, I want to provide a list of the top tier higher education as a resource for higher educations scholars and graduate students.

top tier journals in higher education

Photo credit: Alex Proimos

Former colleagues of mine, Nathaniel Bray and Claire Major, wrote an article that provides a useful reputation-based measure of higher education journals. They identify the top tier journals in higher education that I think identifies the top tier pretty accurately. Below are each of the six top tier journals as well as brief blurbs from the publishers about the aims of each journal.

Journal of Higher Education

Founded in 1930, The Journal of Higher Education publishes original research reporting on the academic study of higher education as a broad enterprise. We publish the highest quality empirical, theoretically grounded work addressing the main functions of higher education and the dynamic role of the university in society. We seek to publish scholarship from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and disciplinary orientations. Articles appearing in the Journal employ an array of methodological approaches, and we welcome work from scholars across a range of career stages. Comparative and international scholarship should make clear connections to the U.S. context. Manuscripts not appropriate for submission to the Journal include purely theoretical papers, methodological treatises, unsolicited essays and reviews, and non-academic, institutional, and program evaluations or reports.

Review of Higher Education

The Review of Higher Education provides a forum for discussion of varied issues affecting higher education. The journal advances the study of college- and university-related topics through peer-reviewed articles, essays, reviews and research findings, and by emphasizing systematic inquiry–both quantitative and qualitative–and practical implications. Considered one of the leading research journals in the field, The Review keeps scholars, academic leaders, and public policymakers abreast of critical issues facing higher education today.

Research in Higher Education

Research in Higher Education publishes studies that examine issues pertaining to postsecondary education. The journal is open to studies using a wide range of methods, but has particular interest in studies that apply advanced quantitative research methods to issues in postsecondary education or address postsecondary education policy issues. Among the topics of interest to the journal are: access and retention; student success; equity; faculty issues; institutional productivity and assessment; postsecondary education governance; curriculum and instruction; state and federal higher education policy; and financing of postsecondary education. The journal encourages submissions from scholars in disciplines outside of higher education, and studies from outside the United States that address issues that are of interest to the readership. The journal will on occasion publish short notes of a methodological nature, literature reviews of topics pertaining to postsecondary research, and “research and practice” studies illustrating how postsecondary research can inform decision making.

Journal of College Student Development

The Journal of College Student Development (JCSD) is one of the world’s leading journals on higher education. Subscribers include the members of ACPA-College Student Educators International, individuals (subscriptions available through Johns Hopkins University Press), and academic libraries (as JCSD or Project Muse subscribers). JCSD is included in numerous research databases including the Social Science Citation Index, where JCSD is one of only five U.S. and international higher education journals indexed.

Higher Education:  Handbook of Theory and Research

Published annually since 1985, the Handbook series provides a compendium of thorough and integrative literature reviews on a diverse array of topics of interest to the higher education scholarly and policy communities. Each chapter provides a comprehensive review of research findings on a selected topic, critiques the research literature in terms of its conceptual and methodological rigor, and sets forth an agenda for future research intended to advance knowledge on the chosen topic. The Handbook focuses on a comprehensive set of central areas of study in higher education that encompasses the salient dimensions of scholarly and policy inquiries undertaken in the international higher education community. Each annual volume contains chapters on such diverse topics as research on college students and faculty, organization and administration, curriculum and instruction, policy, diversity issues, economics and finance, history and philosophy, community colleges, advances in research methodology, and more. The series is fortunate to have attracted annual contributions from distinguished scholars throughout the world.

Higher Education

Recognized as the leading international journal on higher education studies, this publication examines educational developments throughout the world in universities, polytechnics, colleges, and vocational and education institutions. It reports on developments in both public and private higher education sectors.

Higher Education features contributions from leading scholars from different countries who tackle the problems of teachers as well as students, and of planners as well as administrators. It presents authoritative overview articles, comparative studies and analyses of particular problems or issues.

While each higher education system has its own distinctive features, common problems and issues are shared internationally by researchers, teachers and institutional leaders. Higher Education offers opportunities for the exchange of research results, experience and insights, and provides a forum for ongoing discussion between experts.