The professional field of higher education refers to college professors and faculty members, deans, student administrators and other personnel who work at colleges, universities and other postsecondary learning institutions. Jobs in higher education have grown in recent years to match the rising number of U.S. college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), roughly 20,515 undergraduate and graduate students attended a postsecondary institution in 2016 ― representing a 34% increase in overall enrollment since 2000. These numbers are also expected to grow by 13.5% in the next eight years.
The vast majority of professors, administrators and other postsecondary education personnel begin their careers at the college level. A master's degree is considered the educational minimum for careers in postsecondary education; some positions, including professors, will usually also require a doctoral degree. The master's degree in higher education pathway prepares students for niche areas of the profession by allowing them to build knowledge and skills in areas like educational leadership, administration, community college teaching, education technology, and distance learning. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their master's degree in higher education online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, often leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The flexible, study-from-home schedule are ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other important commitments.
Learn more about what you can do with an online master's degree in higher education and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Master's degrees in higher education are designed to build on the foundational studies of undergraduate programs while introducing more advanced concepts, theories and approaches to educating and accommodating college students. The curriculum will also cover ethics and laws specifically related to the way postsecondary education is delivered, financed and evaluated. Those who pursue master's in higher education degrees for teaching or administration should also expect to take part in practicum courses, or on-site training sessions;. Capstone projects are often required, as well.
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online master's degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college learning. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors ― all from their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi devices. For added convenience, students can usually coordinate practicum courses at schools and other locations that are reasonably close to their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S DEGREE IN HIGHER EDUCATION?
Job eligibility for those with a master's in higher education will largely depend on their areas of emphasis as a graduate student. Students who focus on educational leadership or administration will be prime candidates for roles in student affairs, housing, course registration, finance, and other key facets of college life. For aspiring professors, the master's degree will typically be a stepping-stone toward doctoral or Ph.D. programs; however, some postsecondary educators ― such as community college teachers ― are often considered for jobs once they have completed their master's program studies.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's degree in higher education programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master's in higher education, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Masters in Higher Education Programs
Stony Brook University
|Stony Brook, NY||
Stony Brook University, located in Stony Brook, New York, offers a master of arts in higher education administration. Students complete this 36-credit program in as little as 16 months. Although students can complete the degree entirely online, learners can also take some classes in a face-to-face format in order to build connections and meet peers. This degree is ideal for students who wish to work in school administration positions.
Classes for this master's in higher education online include foundations of higher education administration, leadership in higher education, and research and assessment in higher education.
Students must also choose six elective courses. Learners can pick from classes such as technology in higher education, community college administration, external regulations in higher education, and comparative university systems.
The university offers optional study-abroad learning opportunities, including a trip to Italy in which students visit six higher education institutions in nine historic cities, and a trip to China in which students visit five universities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing.
Stony Brook University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Georgetown University offers an online master of professional studies in higher education administration. Although learners can complete all of the courses online, they may choose to attend face-to-face classes at the university's campus in Washington, D.C. Georgetown designed this 33-credit program with working professionals in mind. Even on-campus classes take place outside regular working and teaching hours. Full-time students complete their degree in as few as two years, while part-time students take up to five years.
Classes for this master's in higher education administration online follow an asynchronous format, so students can complete assignments at their own convenience within a set timeframe. Courses include ethics, American higher education, global higher education, organization and administration in higher education, and student affairs: orientation to the profession.
Learners must also choose five elective courses from classes such as higher education policy, budgeting and financing in higher education, faculty governance and academic administration, and multicultural student communities. This master's in higher education online program also requires a capstone project. Students take this course during their final semester and work closely with a faculty adviser to develop an in-depth research paper.
Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Michigan State University
|East Lansing, MI||
Although Michigan State University's (MSU) campus sits in East Lansing, Michigan, students can earn a master of arts in higher, adult, and lifelong education from the university from anywhere with Wi-Fi. This 30-credit program remains fully online and typically takes students 2-3 years to complete, depending on how many classes they take per semester. Most learners consider the program flexible, as it follows an asynchronous format. As long as students complete work before assigned deadlines, they can complete discussion boards and quizzes at their convenience.
This master's in higher education online provides students with knowledge and skills that help them thrive in higher education administrative positions. Course topics include higher education policy, curricular development, and budgeting. Students must complete two core courses, eight electives, and a final project connecting theory to practice. Core classes include inquiry in postsecondary education and a proseminar in adult and higher education. Learners can choose elective classes that cover topics such as leadership and organization development, administration in higher education, the concept of a learning society, and adult learning.
Applicants need a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. MSU regularly receives audits from a third-party organization to ensure quality. Employers recognize degrees from regionally accredited universities as legitimate.
Michigan State University is a public university that is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
University of Central Florida
Even though the University of Central Florida (UCF) is in Orlando, Florida, students don't need to live in the Sunshine State to earn a master of arts in educational leadership with a track focused on higher education/student personnel from the school. Students typically complete this 30-credit online program in just two years. UCF charges the same affordable online rate for both in-state and out-of-state students.
Some classes in this master's in higher education online follow an asynchronous format, while others move in a synchronous format. This means that certain classes require scheduled online class sessions, but most of these live class sessions occur outside of normal business hours. Courses for this online master's in higher education administration include fundamentals of graduate research in education, statistics for educational data, legal aspects of school operation, and educational financial affairs. Students must also demonstrate independent learning by completing a research report.
During their studies, students can receive help from a UCF success coach. In addition to the general UCF admission requirements, program applicants must provide an official transcript in a sealed envelope from each college attended, as well as GRE or MAT scores.
University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Mississippi College (MC) offers a master of higher education administration. However, students don't necessarily need to live in Clinton, Mississippi, to earn a degree from the college thanks to this program's convenient online format. Earning a master's in higher education online from Mississippi College prepares students to work as enrollment administrators, financial aid directors, and admission directors. Students typically complete this 31-credit program in just two years.
In order to receive admission to this master's in higher education online, students need at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA and must submit GRE or GMAT scores. If an individual hasn't taken the GRE or GMAT, MC might allow a substitution with another standardized test score. Thanks to regional accreditation, students can easily transfer Mississippi College credits and employers recognize a degree from this school as legitimate.
This master's in higher education online follows an asynchronous format, which means students can complete classwork at their convenience within a certain time frame. Asynchronous classes don't maintain scheduled meeting times. Usually, professors pre-record lectures and discussions occur on a virtual discussion board rather than a live chat. Courses explore topics such as basic understandings in higher education administration, higher education law, finance, theory, ethics, and research. The program also requires a practicum in which students gain hands-on learning experience. Upon degree completion, students possess the knowledge to find solutions to many common education problems.
Mississippi College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Founded in 1839, Boston University (BU) honors New England's rich history and tradition. This historic school boasts a master of education in educational leadership and policy studies with an emphasis in higher education administration. However, students don't necessarily need to reside anywhere close to the original 13 colonies in order to earn the degree. Classes take place entirely online, and BU offers the same tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. Students who earn this degree complete 36 credits. Learners can complete the program in 1-2 years, depending on whether or not they enroll full time or part time.
This program is ideal for individuals who already possess a teaching license, as the program doesn't lead to state licensure. Classes cover topics such as education history, decision making, strategic planning, student affairs, and research. These seven-week classes include perspectives on higher education, contemporary issues in higher education administration, strategic planning and administration, and legal issues in higher education.
Applicants must submit a statement of qualification, an equity and inclusion statement, a resume or CV, unofficial transcripts from all previous institutions, two recommendation letters, and a $95 nonrefundable application fee.
Boston University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The University of Nebraska Lincoln allows students to earn a master of arts in educational administration with a higher education administration focus entirely online. This program is perfect for working professionals and busy parents, because it follows an asynchronous format. Students watch pre-recorded lectures or read through slide presentations rather than attend live classes. In order to complete the degree, students must take 36 credits. Learners can expect to complete the degree in about two years.
The master's in higher education online program offers a broad overview of higher education that provides a solid knowledge base for students to apply to real-world scenarios. Classes include administrative theory, higher education in America, higher education environments, and finance in higher education. Students can also take an adviser-approved elective during their studies. Upon graduation, individuals can earn jobs as enrollment directors and college administrators.
University of Nebraska Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC receives permission from the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools throughout the Midwest, meaning the organization grants regional accreditation. Employers view schools with regional accreditation as more prestigious than schools with national accreditation. In addition, students can easily transfer credits from schools with regional accreditation to other universities and colleges with regional accreditation.
Appalachian State University
Located near scenic mountains, Appalachian State University offers an online master of arts in higher education; however, even students who live far from North Carolina can benefit from the 36-credit program. Like most flexible online higher education master's degrees, this program includes many asynchronous classes; although, some classes follow a synchronous format, which means learners must occasionally attend live online classes and engage in live chats. Since Appalachian designed the program with working professionals in mind, most classes occur outside of normal business hours.
Classes include research methods, adult development and learning theories, college and university teaching, and American higher education. This program also requires a thesis and comprehensive exam, and students get to choose six elective credits; however, an adviser must approve each elective credit.
In order to receive acceptance into this online master's degree in higher education leadership, students need a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies and must submit GRE and GMAT scores, three references, a resume, and official transcripts from each college previously attended. Graduates commonly pursue academic advisement positions and supervisory roles in admissions and institutional research.
Appalachian State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
|La Crosse, WI||
Students can earn a master of science in education with an emphasis in student affairs administration in higher education from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UW-La Crosse). While several classes take place online, students must occasionally commute to campus to engage in face-to-face classwork. This program is ideal for Wisconsin residents, as these individuals can easily commute to campus and take advantage of nearly half off tuition. Most learners complete this 36-credit program in just two years, even while working full time.
Some classes follow an asynchronous pace, while others move in a synchronous pace. Regardless of the class format, most work takes place outside of normal business hours. Classes include professional and ethical foundations in student affairs, student development theory, higher education values, philosophy, and history, and student affairs practicum.
In addition to taking classes, UW-La Crosse highly encourages students to engage in ongoing supervised practice. This can be a full-time job, a graduate assistantship, or an internship. Applicants must submit an online application, resume, essay, and two reference forms. The school requires a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA for students to receive acceptance into the program.
University of Wisconsin La Crosse is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
University of Rochester
At the University of Rochester, located in New York, students can earn a hybrid master of science in educational administration with a specialization in higher education. Rochester also offers two concentrations for this degree: an advanced certificate in program evaluation or an advanced certificate in online teaching. The program includes 36 credits, and each credit costs the same amount for both in-state and out-of-state students. Classes follow an asynchronous and synchronous format, meaning some classes require scheduled class meeting times.
Required classes include master's research methods, leadership management in higher education, college students and student development theory, and contemporary issues in higher education. Students choose two courses to take from a list of seven foundation courses. These courses feature topics such as diversity and equity in higher education, higher education law, and fiscal issues in higher education. Learners then must choose two courses from a list of 19 practical skill courses. These courses include college retention, communicating and counseling, decision making for educational leaders, administration of student affairs in higher education, and academic support services.
Students' ability to choose their own classes allows them to tailor the program to fit their career goals and interests. Rochester encourages students to choose their classes with career goals in mind.
This online master's in higher education and student affairs from the University of Rochester is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Dallas Baptist University
Located in Texas, Dallas Baptist University (DBU) provides students with a master of education in higher education program. This program takes place entirely online, and DBU offers the same online tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. In order to receive admission into the program, applicants need a 3.2 minimum undergraduate GPA and satisfactory scores on the verbal and quantitative or analytical sections of the GRE.
This program requires 36 credits. Core curriculum classes include college and university administration, legal aspects and finance in higher education, practicum in higher education, and biblical servant leadership. In addition to core classes, students must also choose classes that vary depending on their chosen track. Tracks to choose from include community college leadership, distance learning specialization, leadership studies specialization, student affairs leadership, and interdisciplinary studies. Regardless of the degree path, students learn about useful technology, best practices, history, current issues facing the higher education field, and how to best serve students with diverse backgrounds.
Dallas Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). This means students can easily transfer the school's credits and employers recognize degrees from DBU as prestigious. The program's professors are scholar-practitioners, meaning they have earned several years of experience in higher education or a related field. Professors offer useful experience-based knowledge that students can apply to fieldwork.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University (WVU) offers a flexible master of arts in higher education administration that students can complete from anywhere on their own schedule. In fact, WVU offers the same affordable tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. The program features 10, three-credit classes, making it easy to complete the degree in just two years. In order to qualify for this program, students must obtain an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
This program is synchronous, so students must attend live online classes. In addition to completing a capstone project, students must also take history of higher education, higher education administration, contemporary issues in higher education, college student development, and introduction to research and program evaluation. Learners must also choose 15 credits of elective courses covering topics such as college and student affairs, higher education planning and budget, and community college leadership. However, students may substitute elective courses for different education-related courses with adviser approval. The capstone class requires an internship, monthly group discussions, weekly journals, and portfolio development.
By earning a degree from an accredited university like WVU, students can rest easy knowing that the school receives regular quality assessments from a third-party organization. West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Thanks to this honor, employers recognize degrees from WVU as legitimate. Graduates earn jobs as postsecondary education administrators, education professors, and instructional coordinators.
Located in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul University offers a master of arts in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education, and a master of education in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education. Students can also choose a concentration in Catholic leadership, higher education, physical education, principal license, and teacher leadership. This program requires 52 credits, which most full-time students can complete in just two years.
This program is ideal for students who live in Chicago because some classes have face-to-face requirements; however, several classes take place online. DePaul also offers the same affordable tuition rate for Illinois and non-Illinois residents alike. DePaul University offers scholarships and encourages every student to apply.
This degree requires three core courses, 10 concentration-related courses, and two internships. Students must also complete a thesis or capstone project. Students must earn at least a C grade in each course and maintain a 3.0 overall GPA. In order to receive acceptance into the program, individuals must submit an online application, official transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a copy of their teaching license. DePaul maintains a strong alumni network, which provides graduates with a way to stay connected and continuously learn from like-minded professionals.
DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Texas Tech University
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University is a public institution in Lubbock, Texas. The school boasts over 150 undergraduate degrees, over 100 graduate degrees, and more than 50 doctoral programs. Additionally, graduate students at Texas Tech can pursue over 40 online programs, including one of the top online higher education master's degrees.
Students can complete Texas Tech's master of education in higher education entirely online. The program is delivered in a cohort model, and students finish the curriculum in two years. They take six credits during the fall, spring, and summer terms through asynchronous and synchronous coursework. The school uses Blackboard to administer synchronous sessions, which take place in the evening. Before beginning online coursework, students must attend a one-day orientation on campus in late July.
Students complete 36 credits from 12 courses to earn this master's in higher education. The curriculum includes a course in the history of higher education in the United States, which examines major developments and trends in the higher education system. Learners also take a college student development course that explores developmental theories related to college-aged students, as well as a higher education research seminar, where students learn to craft research proposals, grant applications, and manuscripts. Students must also complete a higher education internship.
Applicants provide three letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and responses to four writing prompts. The College of Education prefers applicants with experience at -- or access to -- a higher education institution or a higher education-related federal agency.
University of Houston
Founded in 1927, the University of Houston is a public university with 108 undergraduate majors and minors, 104 master's options, and 46 doctoral programs. With over 46,000 students, UH is one of the largest higher learning institutions in Texas. The school boasts many online graduate options, including several education-focused master's degrees.
Students complete the M.Ed. in higher education in two years through a cohort-based curriculum. UH delivers online courses through Blackboard, which requires students to have a webcam and headphones to participate in the online program. As they work through the curriculum, students can also take advantage of 24/7 technical support, a writing lab, and many other resources for distance learners.
UH designed the master's in higher education curriculum based on educational guidelines from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education and the Association for the Study of Higher Education. The 36-credit program includes courses on educational policy, administration, and the cultural foundations of higher education.
Students must also complete a three-credit, semester-long internship where they apply knowledge from their coursework to a professional environment. Students may work with an adviser to select an internship that best fits their career aspirations. Alternatively, learners can choose from some established internship options.
Applicants must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA, or a 3.0 in their last 60 credits of undergraduate study.
Drexel University is a private research institution based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school was founded in 1891 and now enrolls over 24,000 students -- ranking it among the largest private universities in the United States. Students can choose from over 200 degrees at 15 colleges and schools. Drexel began offering online programs in 1996, and today the school boasts over 140 web-based degrees and certificates.
Drexel's online MS in higher education requires 45-46.5 credits in core courses, concentration classes, and a capstone. All students complete five core courses and four classes through the higher education administration concentration.
Additionally, students take a research methods course to fulfill the capstone requirement, and choose from three two-course capstone sequences. Students can complete a master's thesis, an instructional design project, or a practitioner project such as a grant proposal, policy analysis, or program evaluation.
To complete the master's in higher education, students select any three electives or opt for a secondary concentration. The program boasts seven optional concentrations including community college administration, educational policy, global and international education, and enrollment management. A unique specialization in neuroscience, learning, and online instruction explores the basics of neuroanatomy, cognitive processing, and learning theory.
Distance learners can access online library resources and chat with librarians. As they near graduation, students can also take advantage of career services tailored specifically to online learners. The career development center provides additional resources on resume writing, personal branding, interviewing, and networking.
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
|Baton Rouge, LA||
Established in 1860, Louisiana State University is Louisiana's flagship university. The Baton Rouge-based public university enrolls around 30,000 students and boasts 14 academic schools and colleges. LSU Online, the school's distance learning division, offers several master's programs across disciplines like business, social work, and education.
Students can earn a master of arts in education with a specialization in higher education administration entirely online in as few as 15 months. The 36-credit curriculum builds management and leadership skills, and examines the inner workings of the field. Courses are delivered in seven-week modules.
Education students who specialize in higher education administration learn to manage a variety of higher learning institutions through coursework that covers admissions, financial aid, Greek life, alumni relations, and student development. Additionally, students explore the financial and legal aspects of higher education administration. The curriculum can be completed with 12 three-credit classes.
At the end of the program, students take a written comprehensive final exam. Students can opt to write a reflective essay or compile a portfolio of their professional work and other accomplishments.
Applicants to LSU's graduate programs need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. They also need at least a 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate work or a 3.0 in their last 64 credits. The School of Education requires GRE scores of at least 153 on the verbal section and at least 144 on the quantitative section.
University of South Dakota
Founded in 1862, the University of South Dakota is the oldest university in the state. The school enrolls over 10,000 students and offers 276 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distance learners can pursue their degree online or at three off-campus education centers. USD boasts over 40 web-based programs, including an online master's degree in higher education and leadership.
The 32-credit MA in educational administration and leadership features a course in adult learning theories, where students develop techniques for teaching, motivating, and evaluating adult students. Meanwhile, a course in social justice and cultural issues in adult education examines concepts including social justice, community empowerment, and social change. Two more core courses explore the higher education system and university administration.
Learners can select a thesis or non-thesis track. Students who opt for the thesis track complete four credits through their research, while non-thesis learners take extra elective credits. In either track, students take a graduate research and design class that covers skills for conducting and analyzing research, as well as quantitative and qualitative research.
Applicants need a cumulative undergraduate GPA above 2.7 for consideration. Alternatively, students with some post-baccalaureate credits can apply with a graduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Prospective students must also provide three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume demonstrating work experience.
Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is a Jesuit college serving over 17,000 undergraduate and graduate learners. Through 11 schools and colleges, the university offers over 80 undergraduate majors and more than 140 graduate, professional, and certificate programs. Loyola introduced online programs in 1998, and today students can choose from 21 online graduate programs.
The online M.Ed. in international higher education is a collaborative effort between Loyola's higher education and comparative international education programs. The degree introduces students to global trends in higher education and readies them for careers in fields like higher education policy, international student affairs, and administration. The 36-credit, cohort-based program can be completed mostly online.
The curriculum of this master's in higher education online includes some in-person components. Learners take a blended international higher education class that includes a five-day residency at Loyola's Vietnam campus. During the residency, students visit local universities and learn about higher education systems in China, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America.
Learners also complete a course on cultural immersion at the university's center in Rome. Students complete the cultural immersion class entirely in-person during a two-week intensive that explores the purposes, goals, and outcomes of study abroad programs. Additionally, students complete an international education internship at a local college, university, or international education agency.
Applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA for full admission. Students must submit three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming is a public land-grant university established in 1886. The school educates over 12,000 students through 80 undergraduate programs and 90 graduate options. Distance students can choose from numerous online and hybrid programs at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels.
The school's 33-credit master of arts in higher education administration prepares learners for management positions in adult education centers, postsecondary institutions, and nonprofit organizations in the field. Students complete 11 required courses such as higher education staffing, program budgeting, and workforce training. The program also incorporates coursework on higher education systems and community college administration.
Students complete this master's in higher education online program through asynchronous and synchronous courses, with the latter including live audio conferencing. Learners can complete the entire curriculum online aside from the capstone course, which must be defended on campus.
Students can access several online resources, including online research consultations, access to a librarian, and a bookstore. Learners can also take advantage of online tutoring, synchronous and asynchronous writing help, an online job board, career services, and advising.
The School of Counseling, Leadership, Advocacy, and Design requires master's candidates to possess a 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also submit a personal statement, an academic resume, and three letters of recommendation.
|Berrien Springs, MI||
Founded in Michigan in 1874, Andrews University is affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The university enrolls over 3,000 students through seven schools and colleges, including a theological seminary. The School of Distance Education and International Partnerships offers dozens of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including options for its master's, doctoral, and specialist degrees in higher education administration.
Students can complete the 36-credit online master's in higher education administration in two years. Courses may use an asynchronous format based on media like podcasts or videos, or a synchronous format that includes web conferencing, audio conferencing, or room-based videoconferencing. The program is not self-paced, and students must complete assignments according to specific deadlines. Additionally, the MA in higher education at Andrews facilitates frequent communication between instructors and students.
The higher education master's requires 15 credits from core requirements, 17 credits in the concentration, and four credits from a research component. Courses explore topics like leadership, higher education finance, and organizational dynamics. A course in philosophical foundations for professionals studies the philosophical and theological foundations of major worldviews such as naturalism and postmodernism. The curriculum also includes a six-credit global education study tour, in which students travel to international universities and learn about higher education issues abroad.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution along with a 2.6 GPA. They must also submit two recommendations, a resume, and a statement of purpose describing their personal, professional, and academic aspirations.
University of Louisville
Established in 1798, the University of Louisville is a public institution based in Kentucky. Of the school's over 22,000 students, close to 8,000 take at least one online course. UofL serves distance learners through 32 fully online programs.
The 36-credit master of arts in higher education administration features core coursework in higher education organization, research methods, and program development. Advanced classes explore areas such as educational resource management, diversity, and legal issues. Students also complete an internship that requires at least 105 contact hours at a higher education-related organization.
UofL delivers online courses asynchronously through Blackboard. UofL's online programs are not self-paced, and students must complete readings and assignments on a weekly basis. Students earn their degree in as little as two years and can take advantage of accelerated eight-week courses along with weekend intensives.
Applicants need at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA or a 2.75 in their last 60 undergraduate credits. They also submit acceptable GRE results; students must score in the 36th percentile on the verbal section and in the 22nd percentile on the quantitative section. UofL waives the GRE requirement for students who possess a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or a 3.5 graduate GPA. Admitted students may transfer in up to six graduate-level courses toward a master's degree.
Established in 1939, Endicott College is a private school based in Beverly, Massachusetts. The school serves more than 5,000 students through over 80 programs spanning business, management, education, arts and sciences, and other fields. Endicott's Van Loan School oversees nearly 30 online programs.
The M.Ed. in higher education leadership trains professionals to transition to roles as advisers, administrators, and department heads. Through a course on professional communications, students learn to produce effective presentations, lead meetings, and write important documents like technical papers and memos. A class on ethical leadership explores how an individual's personal beliefs can affect their ability to lead effectively in the higher education field. Additionally, students take a core course on professional and personal development, which teaches them to promote growth through their leadership. This course also examines adult development in relation to higher education.
The 36-credit curriculum includes coursework on higher education organizations and systems, as well as the history of the American higher education system, and budgets, finance, and operations in higher education institutions. To conclude the program, students submit a master's thesis that surveys current research in the field and includes original research.
Students in this master's in education can take advantage of real-time online writing help. They can schedule a 30-minute or 60-minute session with a writing tutor who can help them improve their writing, organization, and ideas.
Hofstra University is a private nonprofit institution based in Long Island, New York. Established in 1935 as an extension of New York University, today Hofstra is an independent university offering well over 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can pursue a degree in a variety of disciplines including business, communication, human services, and education.
Hofstra's School of Education offers a fully online MS.Ed in higher education leadership and policy studies. The 27-credit program features coursework in higher education leadership, six credits from electives, and three credits from a capstone. Through interdisciplinary coursework, the program explores fundamental policy issues in education along with basic higher education leadership skills.
Learners take nine concentration courses that deal with various aspects of higher education leadership, such as legal and ethical issues, governance, and economics in higher learning institutions. Additionally, students explore assessment and accreditation of colleges and universities.
Along with required courses, students complete two electives. A class on the philosophy of education explores the role of morals and values in schooling and education, while an elective on counseling introduces students to the basic techniques of interviewing and mental health counseling. Master's students finish the higher education leadership program with a three-credit independent study.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. They also must submit three letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a statement of professional goals.
Bay Path University
Located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path University is a private nonprofit college offering women-only undergraduate degrees along with coeducational graduate programs. The school serves around 1,300 graduate students through more than 30 programs that span fields such as counseling, management, communications, and education.
Learners who pursue the online MS in higher education administration take 36 credits over 12 courses. They can choose from four concentrations: enrollment management, institutional advancement, online teaching and program administration, and general administration. Each specialization includes eight core courses and four electives.
Through an advanced management capstone seminar, students complete a research project on a higher education management issue and present their findings. Additionally, students compile a portfolio that demonstrates completion of the program's learning outcomes.
Students complete the online master's in higher education administration through accelerated eight-week courses. Courses start every February, June, and October, and students typically earn the degree in 1-2 years. Distance learners can take advantage of many online resources, including online tutoring through Bay Path's Writing Program. The Sullivan Career and Life Planning Center also boasts an online job board, personal career coaches, and mock interview tools.
Bay Path prefers master's applicants to possess at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students must provide a resume and two letters of recommendation. They also must submit a 250-word essay describing how the MS in higher education administration will help them achieve their professional and personal goals.
WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HIGHER EDUCATION?
|Timeline||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs||$8,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||Educational Leadership, Education Administration, Educational Technology, Community College Leadership, Enrollment Management, Online Education and Distance Learning, College Program Planning and Evaluation, and Global Higher Education|
WHAT TO EXPECT AS A STUDENT IN AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAM
The curriculum for a master's in higher education degree online program will cover a wide range of pertinent topics. Students should expect coursework in areas like educational laws and ethics, finance in higher education, educational technology, research in education, student affairs, and classroom management. Some programs allow students to earn a 'specialization' for their master's in higher education degree in fields such as community college or higher education administration. In most cases, however, 'higher education' will serve as the specialization for a master's in education degree pathway.
Practicum experiences are common in master's of higher education degree programs online. These on-site opportunities expose students to the realities of working at colleges and universities, and allow them to receive hands-on training from professors and faculty members, administrators and other postsecondary personnel. Many programs also require capstone projects, which allow students to use the knowledge and skills they have gained to address contemporary trends and issues in college learning.
It's important to research the accreditation status of a master's in higher education degree program before fully committing to it. In the U.S., online higher education master's programs receive accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). In addition to programmatic accreditation, make sure that the college or university has received regional or national accreditation.
JOB PLACEMENT: MASTER'S DEGREE IN HIGHER EDUCATION
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook is very favorable for postsecondary educators and administrators. Jobs for professors and other teachers are expected to rise by 13% ― or roughly 177,000 positions ― between 2014 and 2024. Likewise, jobs for college administrators are projected to increase by 9%, or 15,200 positions. Both of these growth rates are higher than the national projected average for all occupations, which currently sits at 7%.
How do postsecondary teachers and administrators stack up against other educators in terms of projected job growth? The table below features looks at the number of jobs and expected growth for six different education-related occupations.
|Occupation||Current Number of Jobs||Projected Job Growth (2014-24)||Projected Job Increase (2014-24)|
|Kindergarten and Elementary Teachers||1,517,400||6%||+87,800|
|Middle School Teachers||627,500||6%||+36,800|
|High School Teachers||961,600||6%||+55,900|
|Elementary, Middle and High School Principals||240,000||6%||+14,000|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||175,100||9%||+15,200|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
As the table indicates, projected job growth is stronger for postsecondary teachers and administrators than any of the other occupations listed.
EARNING A LIVING
In addition to outlook and job growth, those with a master's degree in higher education also enjoy higher earning potential than their counterparts in elementary or secondary education. The salary expectations for postsecondary employees is largely tied to their area(s) of master's degree study. Using data from the 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report, the following table features earning estimates for four different education majors at two early-career benchmarks.
|Master's Degree Field||Median Entry-Level Salary (Less than 5 Years)||Median Mid-Career Salary (10+ Years)|
|Higher Education Administration||$43,600||$65,100|
The average wage premium (or salary growth) among the four fields listed was a 41.95% increase in earnings between the entry-level and mid-career stages. In addition to degree specializations and areas of study, the salary potential of a higher education professional will also vary by specific job title. Other important factors include experience level, employer size and city/state of employment. The next table looks at salary projections for four common career paths for higher education master's recipients.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Professor (Postsecondary/ Higher Education)||$60,182||$71,601||$85,712||$98,786|
|Dean of Students (University)||$87,000||$80,000||$104,000||$120,000|
All four occupations experience a salary growth rate of at least 37% after 20 years on the job. College administrators reported the highest growth rate: an 80.5% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Professors ranked second with 64.1% salary growth, followed by admissions counselors with 42% growth.
Students who graduate with a master's in higher education will be well-positioned to enter the workforce and seek jobs in administration, or advance to a doctoral degree program and train to become a college professor.
According to the BLS, most postsecondary teachers require a doctoral degree. However, community college professors and professors at certain four-year colleges and universities may be able to land a job with a master's in higher education. Roughly 76% of postsecondary teachers work for "colleges, universities, and professional schools", while another 20% are employed at junior colleges.
Regardless of what kind of courses they teach, postsecondary teachers earn a median annual salary of $72,470. However, salaries for professors will depend on their subject area. Check out the table below for a detailed breakdown.
|Postsecondary Teaching Field||Median Annual Salary (2017)|
|Anthropology and Archaeology||$91,940|
|Art, Drama and Music||$81,050|
|Foreign Language and Literature||$73,750|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
As the table shows, the difference between the highest salary among postsecondary teachers ($125,430 for health specialties) and the lowest salary ($70,260 for education) is more than $55,000 per year.
Postsecondary Education Administrators: In addition to professors, many students who graduate with a master's in higher education will go on to pursue administrative careers. These personnel include deans, academic advisers, housing officials, registrars and financial officers.
|Profession||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Postsecondary Teachers||$72,470||13% (+177,000 jobs)|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||$88,580||9% (+15,200 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to higher education is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for higher education teachers and administrators. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- American Association of University Professors: Founded in 1915, the AAUP is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The organization's branches include the AAUP-CBC, a labor union that advocates for postsecondary personnel; and the AAUP Foundation, a public charity that provides grant-funded support to colleges and universities across the country.
- Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education: This organization (abbreviated NAPSA) currently represents more than 15,000 members at 2,100 postsecondary institutions worldwide. NAPSA has spearheaded a wide range of initiatives targeting predominant issues in higher education, including equity and diversity, violence prevention, technology and mental health.
- The National Educational Association: Working to improve public education from preschool to graduate-level studies, the NEA provides resources on current regulations, strategies for securing financial support and tools for creating high-quality lesson plans. Membership opportunities are available for working employees, retired professionals and students.
Financing Your Online Master's Degree in Higher Education
Despite the relative affordability of online master's degree programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.
Finance -- the study of money and asset management -- is one of the most popular degree concentrations for MBA students. Learn about the best schools for this area of study with our comprehensive degree guide.
Another popular specialization field for MBA students, human resources (or HR) focuses on hiring, new employee orientation and other administrative needs. Visit our guide to master's degrees in HR for more information.
Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.
Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.
- Best Online Master's in Higher Education Programs of 2018
Rank School Location 1 Boston University Boston, MA 2 Georgetown University Washington, DC 3 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 4 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 5 University of Rochester Rochester, NY 6 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 7 Appalachian State University Boone, NC 8 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 9 Northeastern University Boston, MA 10 Mississippi College Clinton, MS 11 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX 12 DePaul University Chicago, IL 13 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse, WI 14 Mercer University Macon, GA 15 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 16 University of Houston Houston, TX 17 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 18 University of Louisville Louisville, KY 19 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA 20 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 21 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 22 Endicott College Beverly, MA 23 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 24 Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 25 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA 26 University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA 27 Marywood University Scranton, PA 28 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA 29 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA 30 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, MO 31 Columbus State University Columbus, GA 32 University of Mississippi University, MS 33 McKendree University Lebanon, IL 34 Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI 35 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL 36 Messiah College Mechanicsburg, PA 37 National University La Jolla, CA 38 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, MO 39 Saint Peter's University Jersey City, NJ 40 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX 41 University of Wyoming Laramie, WY 42 North Park University Chicago, IL 43 Abilene Christian University Abilene, TX 44 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI 45 Geneva College Beaver Falls, PA
- Best Online Master's in Higher Education Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Stony Brook University Stony Brook NY 2 Michigan State University East Lansing MI 3 Mississippi College Clinton MS 4 Drexel University Philadelphia PA 5 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse WI 6 University of Houston Houston TX 7 University of Louisville Louisville KY 8 Andrews University Berrien Springs MI 9 Hofstra University Hempstead NY 10 Sam Houston State University Huntsville TX 11 University of Mississippi University MS 12 Abilene Christian University Abilene TX 13 North Park University Chicago IL 14 McKendree University Lebanon IL 15 National University La Jolla CA 16 Bay Path University Longmeadow MA 17 Tiffin University Tiffin OH 18 Adams State University Alamosa CO 19 New England College Henniker NH 20 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls SD