A rewarding field that is expected to grow significantly, higher education offers many opportunities for professionals with strong leadership skills and expertise. From administrative and executive roles to professions in student services, a career in higher education is not strictly limited to just teaching or research. Whether you’re looking to advance your career in education, or just looking to enter the field, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education is a great option.
A graduate degree program in higher education can be very beneficial. Completing the program will enable you to assume leadership positions in higher educational institutions, as well as non-profit organizations and government agencies. By preparing students for niche areas of their professions such as admission, technology, and pedagogy, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education opens several career doors for graduates.
A master’s degree is considered the educational minimum for careers in higher education; some positions, including as a professor, will usually also require a doctoral degree.
What’s more, the typical entry-level education for a college administrator is a master’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With a firm understanding of educational leadership, administration, education technology, and other essential skills, pursuing graduate-level education in this field will be a challenging yet rewarding experience.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education online. From the best online degree programs to the kinds of online courses you can expect to take, CareerKarma has got you covered.
Choosing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Program
Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their master’s degree in higher education fully 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.
However, online programs offer several benefits over their offline counterparts as they are often less expensive and more convenient. Below are some factors you should consider before choosing the right program.
You should pursue a program that is affordable and doesn’t require arbitrary fees, such as graduation fees. An online program trumps a traditional program in terms of cost because you do not have to pay for other services such as commuter fares or boarding fees.
It’s also important to make sure you’re well-equipped with the equipment needed to complete your courses. Are you familiar with the software you’ll be using and the hardware you require? Are you aware of how to access message boards and how to attend online meetings? Make sure you’re familiar with the resources and equipment you’ll be using to study online.
Furthermore, you should research whether your program is asynchronous or not. A self-paced course will be beneficial because you can complete it on your own time instead of worrying about deadlines. Most universities offering programs including asynchronous courses are considered more convenient than their traditional counterparts. If you have a part-time job, take care of a family member, or are located far away from any reputable institution, then online classes are your best bet.
You should also research whether the school whose program you’ve enrolled in is reputable. You can visit school websites, check reviews of the programs and individual instructors, and contact schools directly for further information. It is also important to make sure your program is accredited and legitimate so that you don’t face issues down the road like when it comes to transferring credits or seeking employment.
Knowing the answer to these questions will aid you in the long run, so do your research. Now, let’s look at some of the courses you can expect to take when pursuing your Master’s Degree in Higher Education.
Master’s Degree in Higher Education Courses
A Master’s Degree in Higher Education places emphasis on administrative roles regarding higher educational institutions. Therefore, a typical curriculum in this program would begin with an overview of the administrative systems of colleges and universities. From student services to practices regarding effective management, students should expect to learn information from a variety of different subjects.
A program may also require leadership courses, which examine the theories and practices behind organizational change, management and problem-solving. Courses on research methods are also common, teaching students how to apply experimental methods, conduct literature reviews and perform statistical analyses.
Earning your Master’s Degree in Higher Education may also require classes in finance, which cover methods of fundraising, accounting policies, tuition, and financial aid.
Here are some courses you can expect to take to earn your Master’s Degree in Higher Education:
- Foundations of Higher Education
- Philosophy and History of Higher Education
- Higher Education Laws and Regulations
- Financial Management in Higher Education
- Enrollment Management and Marketing
- Contemporary Issues in Higher Education
- Leading Change in Higher Education
- Data-Driven Decision Making in Higher Education
Furthermore, some concentrations that you can choose from include:
- Education Administration
- Academic Advising
- Community College Leadership
- Enrollment Management
- Online Education and Distance Learning
- Educational Technology
- Global Higher Education
- College Program Planning and Evaluation
Depending on which concentration you select, you will have a plethora of career paths to choose from upon graduation. Whatever you decide, make sure you think hard about what you want to do in your profession rather than how much you want to make. This mindset will allow you to perform at a high level and open you up to bigger and better opportunities.
Best Master’s Degree in Higher Education Programs
Based on factors such as cost, accreditation, convenience, and reputation, these featured programs and schools offer the best online Master’s Degree in Higher Education programs.
Boston University (Boston, MA)
This excellent part-time program made our list for several reasons. For three decades, Boston University’s dynamic curriculum featuring hundreds of university administrators has been considered one of the best higher education degree programs in the US. Now, it is available online, allowing learners to maintain their work/life balance and still graduate in 18 months.
Students here delve into the best theories and practices regarding higher education governance and administration. Featuring an in-depth learning experience involving administrative roles in student services and career advisement, this may be the best program for you. Graduates are prepared to work as admissions counselors, financial aid advisors, and alumni relations specialists.
Prerequisites: Applicants must submit a statement of qualifications, a resume/CV, and two recommendations. The program does not require GRE scores for admission.
Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
With a flexible and meticulous approach to learning, Georgetown University offers a great Master of Science in Higher Education program online. By completing this 33-credit program in as few as two years, students will be equipped with an arsenal of skills and applied knowledge to create positive change in education. Degree-seekers will also have several opportunities to connect with the nation’s leading higher education experts and organizations during this program.
During foundational coursework, students explore higher education laws, ethics, and administration in the US and abroad. Though students can choose one of two concentrations (administration and student affairs), they can also formulate their own concentration.
Prerequisites: Admission requirements include a statement of purpose, a resume/CV, and two recommendation letters. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
University of Wisconsin La Crosse (La Crosse, WI)
One of the most reputable and affordable online programs around, UW-La Crosse’s MS program is another excellent choice among prospective students. With an excellent placement rate of practitioners worldwide, around 10,500 students enroll in UW-La Crosse’s online programs each year. Designed for working professionals, this program uses Canvas to deliver coursework asynchronously and does not include any on-campus requirements.
Featuring a 36-credit curriculum that deals with organizational theories, student affairs, and social justice, students gain hands-on skills and critical knowledge for their future careers. Moreover, students gain more real-world experience through a required practicum, along with optional study abroad trips. The program culminates in a capstone research project centered on student affairs administration.
Prerequisites: Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 2.85 to be considered eligible. Moreover, they must submit a resume, two recommendation letters, and a two- to four-page personal statement.
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
Through the adaptable Desire2Learn platform, MSU delivers a terrific online Master’s Degree in Higher Education. With this flexible program, you will gain invaluable knowledge and skills in areas such as higher education policy, curricular development, and finance management. Focused on higher, adult, and lifelong education, you will also learn how to serve students in contexts beyond the higher education sector.
Program graduates can begin careers as administrators and curriculum developers for higher education institutions, community-based organizations, and private corporations. The completely online program features two core courses, eight electives, and a final project connecting theory to practice.
Students can design the curriculum according to their interests and professional goals through eight electives. Elective options include program planning and evaluation, concept of a learning society, and budgeting and finance administration.
Requirements: Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 may apply for provisional admission. MSU strongly prefers candidates with professional experience in postsecondary education. The program does not require GRE scores for admission.
Florida International University (Miami, FL)
FIU’s faculty are nationally and internationally recognized scholars, exercising leadership and journalism roles among first-rate professional organizations. Powered by the Canvas platform, their online Master of Science in Higher Education program is an excellent choice for prospective students. You can enroll in a fully online master’s program that takes full-time students 12 months to complete.
Throughout a 36-credit curriculum, students gain the research and leadership skills needed to oversee registrar, admissions, and student affairs offices. Core courses include college student development theory, access and choice in US higher education, and foundations of academic advising. Students also examine pertinent issues related to diversity and social justice. All learners complete a practicum before graduating.
Prerequisites: Candidates must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a personal essay, a current resume, and two recommendation letters. The program does not require GRE scores for admission.
According to the NCES, roughly 20,515 undergraduate and graduate students attended a post-secondary educational institution in 2016. This number represents a 34 percent increase in overall enrollment since 2000. These numbers are also expected to grow by 13.5 percent in the next eight years.
This means pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education is a wise choice if you’re looking for a filed with future job security.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.