United States Higher Education Graduate Programs
What Is a Higher Education Degree Program?
Higher Education Graduate Programs prepare students for leadership roles within universities and colleges. Graduate programs typically explore many facets of post-secondary institutions including administration, leadership, management, student affairs, curriculum development and educational policy analysis.
Courses may also cover a wide array of topics from finance to student admissions and recruitment. In addition to coursework, some graduate programs in higher education may provide research opportunities, allowing students the opportunity to contribute to the higher education field.
GradSchools.com Top Schools with Higher Education Degrees*
Start Date: 01/14/2019
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 10,861+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 1:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 44,560+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 18:1
Format / Location - Hybrid
Total Enrollments - 5,526+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 13:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 26,149+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 17:1
EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.
Higher education settings include colleges, universities and higher education systems. For those looking to help guide and administer post-secondary institutions, Higher Education programs could be a perfect fit.
About Higher Education Administration?
Higher education administration includes many types of leadership roles within universities and colleges. The role of university administrator varies, but might take on several themes.
On the financial side, post-secondary administrators are responsible for finance, financial aid or scholarships. They manage student records, student affairs and athletics.
Higher education administrators may also have their finger on the pulse of instruction and curriculum. Schools need directors of admissions, recruiting, marketing, and, policy (according to ONet).
If you feel you have a propensity for one type of work, look for higher education administration graduate programs that use your strengths.
Potential Courses in Higher Education Grad Programs
Higher education graduate programs differ among schools. One of the ways to choose is to read through schools' course lists. You may want a structured program or you may want one with more room for electives. Keep in mind as well, that many programs entail fieldwork so that you may learn through experience in addition to textbooks, lectures and research.
There may be some really interesting courses that surround the principles and practices of leadership for postsecondary settings. Look out for possible topics such as those listed below. iii
- Higher education economics and finance
- Higher education policy and planning studies
- Curriculum and instruction
- Applied research on higher education
- Faculty and labor relations
- Higher education law
- College student services
- Institutional research
- Marketing and promotion
- Student evaluation and assessment issues
Available courses vary. Contact each graduate program for higher education to see a full course list.
Tailor Your Higher Education Program with a Concentration Area
Most higher education graduate programs will have a set of core courses. However some also allow students to pursue a concentration track.
If you prefer to work with students, you might want to focus on academic advising or student affairs graduate programs. You might also see specializations in Pre K-12 Schools and districts leadership or enrollment management.
Ultimately, a concentration gives you the opportunity to develop more expertise within a broader field. Looking for a higher education administration graduate program with this option may be a great way to tailor your classes to your specific interests.
DID YOU KNOW? When surveyed about their education level, 54% of Academic Affairs Deans reported they had a Master’s degree, 22% reported having a Doctoral degree (according to ONet).
What Types of Higher Education Degrees Are There?
Graduate higher education degrees are found at the masters and doctorate levels. The entry level education is typically a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Some higher education programs may also require applicants to have professional or research experience under their belts.
Masters in Higher Education Programs
Masters in Higher Education programs are designed to help individuals develop leadership skills. Some prepare current teachers to seek the 'high school principal' licensure required by most states. A masters of higher education degree might also provide a platform for further study in a PhD Higher Education or other doctorate program.
Most full-time students need approximately two years to complete a masters in higher education program. That said, program lengths and requirements vary.
Higher Education masters degrees might include either of three different options.
- Master of Science in Higher Education (MSEd), Master of Science in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA): The Master of Science in Higher Education program typically offers a more scientific or analytical approach to higher education administration. Students might choose a specific concentration such as student affairs or curriculum and instruction.
- Master of Arts in Higher Education (MA): The Master of Arts in Higher Education is an academic masters degree. Students who choose this track might pursue continued education. Academic degrees also prepare students to pursue potential career paths such as faculty university professors, or higher education researchers.
- Master of Education (MEd) in Higher Education: The Master of Education degree (M.Ed., MEd) is a professional graduate degree. It is usually designed for students who want to pursue mid-level administration positions or advanced professional graduate study. Some schools offer the Master of Education and the Doctor of Education.
While the above provides a general outline of potential master in higher education programs, it's important to note that every school defines their programs differently. Therefore be sure to read details about individual programs and contact an advisor with any questions.
Popular Higher Education Graduate Programs
Education Specialist – General Education
Master of Education – Leadership in Higher Ed.
Master of Science in Higher Ed. & Student Affairs Administration
Master of Science in Higher Ed – Online College Teaching
Master of Science in Higher Ed. – College Teaching
Master of Arts in Education – Higher Ed.
Doctor of Education – Leadership in Higher Ed.
Doctor of Education – Higher Ed. & Adult Learning
Doctor of Philosophy in Education – Leadership in Higher Ed.
Doctor of Management – Private Sector Higher Ed. Leadership
Higher Education Doctoral Programs
Doctorate in Higher Education programs include both academic and professional doctorate degrees. These are often designed for individuals who want to pursue potential careers in senior-level college or university administration. Typically there are in-person experiences (residency), comprehensive examinations and dissertation requirements.
- Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Higher Education: The EdD degree is a post-master's professional practice degree. It is typically structured to prepare students for potential careers in leadership and applied research in higher education. Doctor of Education degree programs might take approximately three years to complete, however, this may vary.
- Higher Education PhD Programs: The PhD in Higher Education Administration is commonly a highly research-oriented academic degree. It is designed for individuals preparing for potential careers in basic research or college-level instruction. Emphasis may be placed on educational theory, research methodology, basic studies, and in-depth knowledge of education and a chosen field of study.
- Doctor of Management (DM) in Higher Education Programs: The Doctor of Management degree is both a research doctorate, as well as a professional doctorate. Students may therefore focus on practical applications of management theory, as well as applied research. Due to their dual nature, these programs may suit those looking to pursue both positions in teaching and research, as well as administration.
Potential Higher Education Careers
Upon earning a higher education administration degree, students may go on to pursue roles as postsecondary education administrators. These positions typically require at least a master’s degree. Employers may also prefer candidates who have experience working in the field, particularly for occupations such as registrars and academic deans.
Common career paths in higher education administration are listed below.
- Academic Affairs Dean
- Admissions Director
- College President
- Dean of Students
- Financial Aid Director
- Faculty professor
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent growth in employment for postsecondary education administrators from 2016 to 2026. The median annual wage for higher education administrators was $90,760 in May 2016.
Per the BLS, education administrators with graduate degrees earned 44 percent higher wages than those who held bachelors degrees.
Are Higher Education Programs Available Online?
Higher Education programs may offer different learning formats including distance learning, on-campus and blended online options. Each has it's own potential benefits. Online Higher Education programs could be great for busy adult learners looking to balance work and studies. Classes are delivered in a flexible online format so you could access your coursework anywhere with an internet connection.
Higher Education schools may be a better option for those who prefer face to face interactions and time in the physical classroom. Plus many campuses have additional resources like libraries, career services and research opportunities.
Finally, hybrid Higher Education graduate programs may offer a bit of both worlds. Some programs have some classes online and others on campus. Others rely heavily on online courses but require students to spend several days on campus. Programs vary, so follow up with schools for details.
Accredited Graduate Programs in Higher Education
You might wish to look for higher education graduate programs at accredited institutions. Accreditation is a sign that your prospective university has undergone a process of quality control vetting by a third-party accreditation agency. To keep their status, an institution must reaffirm their qualifications, which include keeping relevant content in their programming.
The Department of Education (DOE) recognizes six regional agencies. These include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Whether you choose a university that has an online Doctor of Education - Leadership in Higher Education program or a graduate school with a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration program, a regionally accredited school has met, per the U.S.D.E. “acceptable levels of quality."
Top 274 Higher Education Degree Programs in United States
To begin your search for graduate programs in higher education, scroll through our directory to find M.Ed., M.S.Ed., Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees.
Northcentral UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 14, 2019
The Doctor of Education in Leadership in Higher Education at Northcentral University digs deep into a variety of topics specific to higher education, such as how higher education is organized, how it is financed, legal issues, and the history of higher...
Among adult learners, experience, values, opinions, and learning styles vary greatly. Actively engaging adult learners requires a unique set of skills...
- Louisville, KYLouisville, KY
University of Louisville
Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration online degree for higher ed administration professionals. Specializations include Teaching & Learning, Policy & Equity, and Administration.
Grand Canyon University
The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program develops leaders capable of generating new knowledge and responsibl...
Purdue University Global
Explore approaches to developing a comprehensive student services program with an emphasis on current management and legal issues in student affairs. Study to develop expertise in curriculum design and implementation and assessing learning outcomes. Gai...
- South Portland, ME
- Milwaukee, WI
- Omaha, NE
- Rockville, MD
- Saint Louis, MO
- Mason City, IA
- Hagerstown, MD
- Lewiston, ME
- Indianapolis, IN
- Des Moines, IA
- Davenport, IA
- Cedar Rapids, IA
- Augusta, ME
This fully online Doctoral degree program prepares candidates for leadership and teaching roles across the post-secondary education sector. This three year accredited EdD program consists of courses eight weeks in length, limited to a cohort of 15...
- Buffalo, NYBuffalo, NY
A Master's in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration equips you for a wide range of careers in higher education administration, at public and private colleges and universities.
Pennsylvania State University
The Penn State World Campus 30-credit online Masters in Higher Education program offers a flexible way to gain expertise in post-secondary education. Students receive a broad introduction to the field then focus on one of four professional practice areas.
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago's School of Education serves more than 1,000 graduate students enrolled in master's, educational speci...
Elevate your education. Reach a career milestone by earning your Master of Arts in Education online from Ashford University. Study in depth those areas that most influence educational institutions.
Colorado Technical University
The curriculum is designed for students interested in teaching graduate level business courses in higher educational institutions. Completion of this program also requires a dissertation and biannual attendance at a residential symposium in Colorado.
- Fort Collins, COFort Collins, CO
Colorado State University
In this Ph.D. program students develop the competencies needed to successfully and ethically lead higher education institutions.
- Binghamton, NYBinghamton, NY
Binghamton University (S.U.N.Y.)
The Master of Science in Student Affairs Administration degree program is suited for those who wish to pursue careers in higher education...
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
The programme has been designed to provide a range of flexible opportunities for practising professionals working in education.
Austin Peay State University
The General Communication specialization prepares students for doctoral study and teaching at the high school, community...
- East Lansing, MIEast Lansing, MI
Michigan State University
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
Baruch College, City University Of New York
The Higher Education Administration program prepares professionals for administrative leadership and supervisory positions in the administration of co...
- Augusta, GAAugusta, GA
Augusta State University
- Lewisburg, PALewisburg, PA
Degree to prepare students for entry-level positions in residence life, student activities, admissions, and various other areas.
- Hempstead, NYHempstead, NY
Graduates helps educate students with disabilities preparing to make the transition to adult life-roles following high school.
Requirements for various state endorsements may be incorporated into the student's individualized program.
- Tulsa, OKTulsa, OK
Oral Roberts University
This program is designed for those individuals who desire to be or who are currently administrators of Bible colleges, Bible institutes, junior colleg...
- Tempe, AZTempe, AZ
Arizona State University