Online Master’s Programs in Higher Education

Whether you work in higher education already or want to move into the field, an online master’s in higher education is a catalyst for many exciting careers.

Online Master’s Programs in Higher Education

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What You’ll Learn with a Online Master's in Higher Education and Career Potential

With so many career paths available to graduates, it’s no wonder that thousands of students enroll in online master’s programs in higher education each year. Whether a student wishes to work in academics, student services or research, roles exist to help master’s students find a perfect fit for their interests, passions and career aspirations. Learn more about what you can expect as you earn your master’s in higher education online, including an outline of coursework, career and salary potential after graduation, and see which colleges are providing the best value for students interested in online higher education master’s programs to help make your college choice.

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

Students interested in studying higher education in graduate school have some options in terms of degree path. Understanding which online master’s degree fits your professional aspirations is an important part of the college search. Here are the distinctions:

Both master’s degree paths in higher education prepare students for roles in postsecondary settings. By equipping them with skills related to programmatic development, budgetary oversight, leadership, student affairs and working with people of varied backgrounds, students typically walk away with the following skills upon graduation:

What common courses are offered in an MHA program?

Though all online master’s programs in higher education will provide unique coursework and areas of focus, here is a glimpse into the type of coursework and classes you can expect to encounter while pursuing a master’s degree in higher education.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Before graduation, many online master’s programs in higher education require students to complete a significant thesis comprised of independent research surrounding the higher education landscape or to engage in a comprehensive capstone project. These projects often examine a specific issue or topic within higher education and provide researched solutions. Additionally, schools may require certain teaching licenses or certifications before a degree is awarded.

What specializations are available in a master’s in higher education program?

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What Can I do with a Master’s in Higher Education Degree?

Given that the field of higher education covers a significant number of university departments and offices, completing an online master’s in higher education can open the door to many different roles within the higher education system. Check for those that suit your individual personality, offer the work/life balance you require, and have appealing salary and growth potential.

Professional Organizations

Students and graduates alike can derive benefits from membership in a higher education professional organization. Several options exist often provide opportunities for networking, professional development and other perks. Some of those within the world of higher education include:

AACRAO maintains a robust membership of more than 11,000 professionals in this line of work and provides services such as events and training, research and publications, advocac, and an active jobs board. AAUA has existed since 1970 and continues working to support individuals in higher education administration. The Association does this by providing an annual awards program, journal, regional and national meetings and opportunities for professional development. With an active roster of members spanning 1,900 colleges and universities, NACUBO is a leader in the field. The organization provides conferences, workshops, e-learning, podcasts, research, publications and advocacy.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Higher Education?

While earning your master’s degree in higher education isn’t a direct guarantee for job placement, there are statistics to back up the idea that a degree could boost your career and salary potential. But especially in the higher education industry, jobs may require additional licensing, certification or training beyond your master’s degree. Salary data below is based on a earning a Master’s of Education and averaged, meaning numbers vary by position, experience and location.

Career Salary Potential
Career Entry-Level Salary (0-5 Years) Mid-Career (5-10 Years) Late Career (10-20+ Years) Job Growth 2016-2026
Postsecondary Education Administrator$52,960$92,360$182,150+10%
Instructional Coordinator$35,550 $63,750 $101,500 +11%
Education Professors$32,540 $64,020 $122,340 +15%

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for postsecondary education administrators are set to grow by 10 percent–faster than the national average–between 2016 and 2026. Put into perspective, that’s an increase of approximately 18,200 positions over ten years.

When reviewing pay for common higher education positions, grad students should remember that salaries depend largely the level of degree attained. Unless they have significantly more experience, individuals with bachelor’s degrees in education tend to earn less than their peers with master’s degrees.

Online Master’s in Higher Education Program Accreditation

Discussing accreditation often isn’t as interesting as talking about research areas, available coursework or student services, but it is an important factor in picking a great online master’s program in higher education. Online master’s in higher education degrees that receive programmatic accreditation submit to a rigorous evaluation by an independent accrediting body. This body sets standards related to how the program prepares graduates for higher education roles, how its services set learners up for success, and whether the curriculum adequately covers relevant materials.

Within the world of online master’s programs for higher education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation serves as the main accrediting agency. Students should pay attention to proper institutional and programmatic accreditation, as attending schools that meet accreditation standards makes it easier for them to transfer credits, compete for jobs and, if necessary, receive licensure.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Higher Education Degree

Even if a student gets into a top online master’s in education program, many still feel concern over cost of the program. Learners can draw from numerous sources to lessen the overall financial burden. Always check with your college learn about available institutional funding, and research scholarship opportunities from outside funding groups such as nonprofits, foundations, and state/local governments.

Online Master's in Higher Education Programs 2021

Appalachian State University View School Profile Boone, NC $10491

From its campus in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian enrolls over 20,000 students. The public institution offers more than 150 degrees, including online programs. At Appalachian, graduate students can earn an online master's in higher education. The program builds the knowledge and skills required for higher education administration careers.

Master's students learn how to encourage student growth, expand enrollment, and manage student affairs. Degree-seekers choose a concentration to focus their studies. Appalachian offers a concentration in community college and university leadership focusing on mid-level and upper-level administrative roles.

Appalachian uses synchronous and asynchronous coursework designed to increase engagement and interaction. The 36-credit, part-time master's program offers a tuition discount for North Carolina residents. Applicants with a 3.0 undergraduate GPA receive a GRE or MAT waiver. Appalachian is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida International University View School Profile Miami, FL $9180

FIU's 342-acre campus makes it the largest university in the Miami area. The public research institution offers on-campus and online degrees, including a master's in higher education administration. The online program trains graduate students to manage student services and academics at the college level.

Master's degree-seekers study college student development theory, legal issues in higher education administration, and educational research. The program includes unique courses, such as access and choice in higher education. Graduate students strengthen their student-focused careers through coursework on counseling skills and a practicum in higher education administration. The practicum provides hands-on experience in different administrative settings.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The higher education administration program does not require GRE scores. FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Stony Brook University View School Profile Stony Brook, NY $14874

A public university, Stony Brook features a sprawling campus in Suffolk County, New York. At Stony Brook, graduate students can earn their master's in higher education online. The program offers a customizable degree for new higher education professionals and experienced mid-level staff seeking career advancement.

The 36-credit master's program covers key topics like student affairs administration, enrollment management, and diversity in higher education. Leadership training remains a focus throughout the curriculum. Students choose 18 elective credits to personalize the degree. Options include technology in higher education, career counseling, and community college administration.

Distance learners complete courses with five terms offered each year. Full-time higher education administration students can complete a master's in as few as 16 months. Admission does not require GRE scores. Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Sam Houston State University View School Profile Huntsville, TX $12516

From its Huntsville, Texas campus, SHSU enrolls over 21,500 students as a public institution. SHSU offers online degrees, including a master's in higher education administration. The fully online program trains graduates for mid-level administrative roles in higher education institutions.

Learners earning their master's in higher education online at SHSU study academic affairs, student services, and enrollment management. The program emphasizes current issues in resource allocation and information technology. Degree-seekers choose a thesis or non-thesis track to earn their 36-credit master's degree. SHSU offers an academic advising certificate and a certificate in higher education assessment and institutional research.

Master's students customize their degree with electives in career advising, institution research, or academic advising. Applicants provide official transcripts, a current resume, three reference forms, and a professional statement. SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Grace College and Theological Seminary View School Profile Winona Lake, IN Unconfirmed

A Christian college in Winona Lake, Indiana, Grace offers multiple online degrees, including a master's in higher education program. The program uses a biblical worldview to examine legal, governmental, and financial issues in higher education. Graduates pursue higher education administrative roles at Christian colleges and other institutions of higher learning.

The fully online program emphasizes trends in higher education, research methods, and assessment skills. The 36-credit curriculum covers higher education leadership, student affairs, finances for nonprofit organizations, and grant writing. The program culminates in an integrative application project to strengthen professional skills.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA. In response to the pandemic, Grace lowered its online program tuition rates by an average of 19.5%. Grace is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Louisville View School Profile Louisville, KY $17098

A research institution located in Louisville, Kentucky, UofL offers more than 50 programs through its online campus. The online master's in higher education administration helps current and prospective college employees advance their careers. The fully online program emphasizes data-informed decision-making, higher education organizational change, and inclusive and equitable policies.

The 30-credit master's program explores campus management, project management, and organizational improvement. The curriculum includes assessment, research methods, and legal issues in postsecondary education classes. Through coursework in educational resource management, master's students prepare for higher education leadership positions.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. The program requires two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a professional goals statement. UofL does not require the GRE. UofL is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of North Texas View School Profile Denton, TX $12600

A public institution with over 32,000 students, UNT offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduate students can earn their master's in higher education online at UNT. The flexible program blends coursework and practical experience opportunities. Graduates train for administrative roles in academic advising, student affairs, and diversity programs.

At UNT, master's students customize their degree with a specialization. The program offers specializations in student affairs administration, community college leadership, and general administration. Learners complete 15 core credits and 12 specialization credits. The program lets degree-seekers choose between an internship or field problem.

The admission committee considers applicants based on undergraduate GPA, career objectives, and the admissions essay. The program waives the GRE or GMAT requirement for applicants with a minimum 3.3 GPA. UNT is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Mississippi College View School Profile Clinton, MS Unconfirmed

Mississippi's oldest higher learning institution, MC dates back to 1826. Today, MC maintains Mississippi Baptist Convention affiliation and enrolls over 5,000 students as a private, Christian university. MC offers an online master's in higher education administration. Designed for working professionals, the program prepares graduates for administrative opportunities in higher education.

The master's in higher education program emphasizes administrative theory and practice. The curriculum includes classes in higher education finance, legal issues in higher education, and student development theories. Learners strengthen their leadership and research skills through their coursework. MC incorporates practicum experiences to build the administrative skills necessary for higher education careers.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Prospective students submit transcripts and a statement of purpose outlining their motivations and goals for a master's in higher education. MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Michigan State University View School Profile East Lansing, MI $16227

From its campus in East Lansing, MSU awards degrees as a public land-grant institution founded in 1855. Today, MSU offers multiple online degrees. Graduate students can earn their master's in higher, adult, and lifelong education through MSU's flexible online program. The 30-credit master's degree emphasizes higher education while also providing training in adult and lifelong learning.

Students in the master's in higher education program study curricular development, higher education policy, and finance. They also examine learning across the lifespan. MSU lets graduate students customize the program around their interests. After completing two core courses, degree-seekers choose eight electives. Elective options include adult learning, program planning, and educational administration. The program features a final portfolio project that links theory and practice.

Over 75% of students in MSU's higher education program work full time while earning their degree. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program strongly prefers candidates with professional experience in postsecondary education. MSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Houston View School Profile Houston, TX $16002

Founded in 1927, UH enrolls students as a public institution. At UH, graduate students can earn their master's in higher education online. Designed for full-time professionals, the program's cohort model lets learners complete their degree in two years.

The 36-credit master's program teaches about student support services, student development theory, and educational policy. The program incorporates a semester-long internship to strengthen administrative skills.

Master's students complete online coursework through the Blackboard Learn classroom management system. The courses use the same design and layout, making the online format accessible to first-time distance learners. The program includes no residency requirement.

UH admits new students once per year. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree. The program typically requires the GRE, but waived the test for fall 2021 applicants. UH is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Southern Mississippi View School Profile Hattiesburg, MS $13773

From its campus in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss offers in-person and online programs. The public university offers an online master's in higher education administration. Master's students pursue a student affairs emphasis to prepare for focused postsecondary staff and administrator careers.

The student affairs emphasis introduces student development theory, student affairs research, and student affairs administration trends. The curriculum includes classes in social justice, legal issues, and educational research for higher education. In addition to academic coursework, master's students complete practical field experiences to strengthen their professional skills.

Southern Miss offers online courses on a synchronous schedule designed for working professionals. With live evening classes, students benefit from a cohort-like experience. Applicants submit GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a resume, and three recommendation letters. Southern Miss is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Missouri Baptist University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO Unconfirmed

A private Southern Baptist institution, MBU awards degrees from its St. Louis suburb campus. The Christ-centered programs at MBU offer a flexible route to a graduate degree. The university offers an online master's in higher education leadership that leads to administrative roles in colleges and universities. The fully online curriculum emphasizes student affairs, academic affairs, and administration in a higher education setting.

The 30-credit master's program examines historical foundations of higher education, enrollment management, and student affairs administration. The program incorporates training in higher education finance and legal issues in postsecondary education. Students complete courses on an asynchronous schedule with no required login times.

MBU's graduate programs provide a faith-based perspective. Prospective students submit an online application and work with an enrollment counselor to complete the admission requirements. MBU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile University Park, PA $21678

A top-ranked public institution, Penn State World Campus offers over 150 online programs. Graduate students can earn an online master's in higher education at Penn State World Campus. The 30-credit program uses a flexible format that appeals to working professionals. Master's students can take 1-2 courses per term, depending on their availability.

The master's in higher education program introduces the history, administration, and organization of postsecondary institutions. Penn State World Campus emphasizes three focus areas: administration, student engagement, and institutional research. Master's students complete 15 core credits, six focus area credits, and six elective credits. The curriculum includes training in resource management, legal issues, and enrollment management in higher education.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. The program does not require previous professional experience in higher education. Penn State World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

West Virginia University View School Profile Morgantown, WV $12181

The flagship public institution in West Virginia, WVU offers on-campus degrees from its Morgantown campus and online degrees. At WVU, graduate students can earn their master's in higher education online. The 30-credit program strengthens leadership skills and prepares graduates for academic administration and student affairs positions.

WVU uses a personalized program of study that lets learners customize the coursework around their interests. Degree-seekers complete core courses in U.S. higher education, college student development, and higher education administration. The program offers multiple elective options, including assessment in higher education, college student affairs, and diversity issues in higher education.

Master's students complete a capstone project with an internship placement. At the conclusion of the program, graduates build a portfolio to launch their career.

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program requires a personal statement, resume, and academic writing sample. WVU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Central Washington University View School Profile Ellensburg, WA $14647

Located on a 380-acre campus in Ellensburg, CWU grants degrees as a public institution. Degree-seekers can enroll in online programs, including an online master's in higher education program. The degree prepares graduates for administrative roles in higher education, nonprofit organizations, and civic organizations.

Designed as a master's in education, the graduate program emphasizes leadership, management, and organizational development skills. Through coursework in theory, data analysis, and research methods, master's students strengthen their higher education leadership skills. Learners complete 10 core courses, two electives, and an internship or capstone project. The 45-quarter-credit degree builds career-ready skills.

Prospective students submit an online application listing three references, transcripts, a resume, and a letter of intent. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA in their final two years of their bachelor's degree. The program does not require GRE scores.

CWU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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