Best Online Master’s in Higher Education Programs of 2022

With a master's in higher education, college administrators can impact the next generation. Review our list of the top 10 online higher ed degrees.

portrait of Staff Writers
by Staff Writers

Published on April 7, 2022 · Updated on May 3, 2022

Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Between 2000 and 2018, enrollment at postsecondary institutions in the U.S. increased by 26%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. During their time on campus, these college students are supported by many administrators. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of higher education administration will support almost 200,000 jobs by 2029.

Earning a master's degree in higher education can be crucial for graduates looking to work in this steadily growing industry. In higher education programs, students study how institutions facilitate optimal learning, manage resources, and design programs to benefit students and alumni.

Many graduates with a master's in higher education find work in admissions, financial aid, and other administrative areas. For students looking to pursue this degree with greater flexibility, many accredited schools offer excellent online programs

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Higher Education Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Higher Education Program?

Many master's in higher education programs require around 30-36 course credits and take full-time students about one year to complete.

A master's degree in higher education may appeal to students skilled in organization, interpersonal communication, and problem-solving. Although requirements vary, most online master's in higher education programs require around 30-36 credits and take full-time students about one year to complete. Many schools require students to complete internships or practicum hours; these opportunities let participants network and gain real-world experience. Schools may also require students to complete a capstone project to facilitate independent learning.

Careers in postsecondary education are varied and students can take elective courses that align with their intended roles, such as career counseling or enrollment management classes. Learners pursuing an online master's in higher education might also be able to choose a concentration that aligns closely with their projected career paths. Some common examples include:

Adult education Higher education leadership Teaching and learning Enrollment management Online and distance learning

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Higher Education Programs

When assessing applicants, higher education programs frequently require a minimum undergraduate GPA — usually between 2.0 and 3.0, depending on the competitiveness of the program. Applicants typically need to submit undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, resumes detailing work experience, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Programs might take a more personalized approach, requesting interviews to further evaluate an applicant's credentials and career goals.

Check out our graduate admissions guide to learn more about the overall graduate admissions process.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Best Online Master's in Education Programs Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs Best Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Higher Education Program?

In online master's in higher education programs, many courses explore ways that schools can optimize postsecondary education. In these courses, students learn what constitutes an exceptional education and how postsecondary institutions can facilitate better learning environments. Although curricula depend on a student's chosen concentration, many programs require courses that resemble those described below.

Learning and Development

Student learning is the utmost priority of any institution, and professionals in administrative roles explore ways that the college learning experience can be optimized. This course outlines how students learn, and what techniques and environments create the best learning outcomes.

Managing Financial Resources

Many higher education administrators are tasked with managing money. Managing a departmental budget or university endowment has a significant bearing on a school's ability to meet educational goals. In this course, students learn how institutions secure necessary funding, evaluate program needs, and use allotted funding to meet these goals.

Program Planning and Assessment

For many postsecondary institutions, high-quality graduate and undergraduate programs are a cornerstone of success and marketability. This course outlines the ways that specific programs are structured and evaluated. Here, students learn how institutions invest in these programs, and what strategies generate student and alumni success.

Student Affairs: Orient to Profession

This career-oriented course closely details the role of student affairs professionals. Students explore how those working in student affairs support schools' academic missions and effectively spark students' intellectual, social, and moral growth. In this course, learners interested in pursuing student affairs positions explore their personal philosophy and how they plan to apply these ideals.

Diversity and Social Justice in Higher Education

Academic institutions are frequently looked upon to act as leaders in embracing socially aware policies and values. This course explores how schools can more effectively promote inclusivity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and social class. Participants explore how increased student diversity creates a more enriched learning environment for the entire student body.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Scholarships for Education Majors Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students Calculating the True Cost of an Online Program

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Higher Education Degree?

Graduates with a master's in higher education can pursue a variety of rewarding, in-demand careers. Professionals with this specialized degree often work in postsecondary education, assuming administrative roles in student affairs, financial aid, or admissions. Many of these positions are lucrative and offer growing employment opportunities.

The BLS reports that postsecondary education administrators earn a median income of $95,410, and this field is projected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029. Similar roles, like administrative services managers, boast a median annual salary of $96,940 and a projected growth rate of 6% over the same time period.

Learn more about careers in higher education and see where a master's in higher education can take you.

true Postsecondary Education Administrators

This umbrella term refers to professionals who manage designated departments within an institution. Administrators often work in specialized roles, taking on positions like registrar, provost, dean of students, or dean of academic affairs. These individuals are some of the most influential figures at postsecondary institutions and help shape academic and administrative policy.

Administrative Services Manager

Like postsecondary administrators, these professionals oversee administrative functions within institutions. Administrative service managers work in more for-profit spheres, managing clerical staff and organizing department affairs. These individuals may oversee record-keeping, advise policy modifications, and assess adherence to regulations to help organizations meet their goals.

Principal

School principals manage K-12 institutions, influencing curriculum changes, hiring teachers, regulating resource distribution, and overseeing school budgets. Often, public school principals must lead in accordance with district, state, and/or federal requirements. Professionals in this diverse, hands-on role often become community leaders, communicating with parents and students.

Admissions Officer

In college or university admissions, these professionals often assess applicant transcripts and other credentials, applying school parameters to admit appropriate students. Admissions officers may also be involved in recruiting targeted student groups to build a diverse and skilled student body. Often, admissions officers travel to different regions to market their institution in person.

Postsecondary Teacher

Many professionals who earn a master's in higher education find that their skills are best exercised in a classroom setting. Postsecondary teachers conduct classes at universities, community colleges, professional schools, and other higher learning institutions. Many educators who work in specialized fields pair their teaching with research or writing. Most of these positions require a doctorate, although master's degree-holders may qualify for teaching roles at some schools.

Higher Education Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Social Work Careers Teaching Careers Counseling Careers

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Higher Education Programs

Is a master's in higher education worth it?

For those looking to work in postsecondary education, a master's degree in higher education can lead to a wide array of opportunities. Many jobs in this field require specialized knowledge of higher education's inner workings. Positions like school principal or postsecondary administrator require a relevant graduate degree and years of specialized experience — earning an online master's in higher education can be an essential step to finding professional success.

What can I do with a master's in higher education?

Students with this degree can pursue administrative careers like college dean, financial aid officer, registrar, or admissions officer to aid in the operation of a postsecondary institution. Other graduates may prefer a more hands-on, student-focused role, like school principal. Additionally, some graduates may find that their skills are transferable to less education-centered fields, like public relations.

Is it better to have a master's in education or master's in higher education?

Some master's in education programs are better suited for those looking to work with K-12 students in a classroom setting. Individuals who earn this degree might earn a state-issued teaching certification along the way. Alternatively, higher education programs may be a better fit for those looking to work in postsecondary education and do not necessarily intend to work in a classroom environment.

How much money can I make with a master's in higher education?

There are a plethora of well-paying careers in higher education. However, salary prospects vary by position and institution. For example, school and career counselors earn a median salary of $57,040, while the median wages for school principals is $96,400 a year.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in higher education?

Some specialized roles in the field of higher education are especially lucrative. According to BLS data, postsecondary education administrators earn a median annual salary of $95,410, while administrative services managers earn a median salary of $96,940.

Feature Image: Peathegee Inc / Tetra images / Getty Images

We've ranked the best online master's in education programs. Learn how you can advance your career by earning a master's in education online. With an online master's in educational leadership degree, you can lead teachers and students to success. Take the first step with one of these programs. Aspiring educators can access multiple online programs to earn a master's in teaching. Learn about the top schools and admission requirements to get started today.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.