Higher Education, M.S.
Graduate Studies

The Master of Science in Higher Education program prepares students for administrative and leadership roles in colleges and universities.

Designed to provide a comprehensive and foundational preparation for a career in higher education, students will expand their capacity for professional service in institutions of higher education in the 21st century through a course of study focused on personal and professional development.

The program leads students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be informed advisers, responsive leaders, effective educators, and administrators across all types of colleges and universities.

Graduates will be ready to seek career advancement in a variety of student-focused positions including student advisement, admissions and recruitment, student affairs, athletics, career development, communications and marketing, alumni relations, and other campus departments.


Program Highlights

  • Program delivery—All courses in the program are offered in an online format. While interdisciplinary core courses are asynchronous, higher education concentration and capstone courses incorporate synchronous, live instruction.
  • Cohort Model—MS students follow a course of study designed to build a close professional network with peers in the program.
  • Program Structure—The MS program requires 30 graduate credits that may be finished in five semesters. Each course meets in accelerated seven-week sessions with students taking one course at a time.
  • Professional Seminars—Within a seminar setting, students complete a capstone project through which they explore a framework for conducting action research while also participating in an immersion experience within the field. This culminating experience supports the development of the student’s professional voice through the exploration of significant issues in the collegiate, educational setting. Formal presentation of the capstone project is the final requirement for the MS program.
  • Higher Education Learning Community—The MS in Higher Education is part of a broader program of study in the field of higher education, encompassing graduate study at both the master’s and doctoral levels. The master’s curriculum is designed to integrate seamlessly with the doctoral program providing students with options to move directly into the Ed.D. program without repetition of course content. Faculty and students from a wide range of institutions have participated in this learning community, contributing to the growing body of research and leadership in the field.
  • Alignment with Doctoral Program—The MS provides the pathway to doctoral study. Students who complete the MS in Higher Education and meet eligibility requirements for the Ed.D. in Higher Education program will be waived from four doctoral course requirements if enrolling within five years.

Course Preview

Methods of Research

This course is designed to examine comprehensive methodological approaches to qualitative and quantitative research and the basic research process. Skills in critiquing research, evaluating the research outcomes as valid, reliable, and useful and the application of this knowledge and skill in the creating of a literature review are included.

Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education

This course emphasizes development of the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to be an inclusive higher education administrator or faculty member through the lens of structural inequality and diversity. It emphasizes the practitioner’s responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities for creating and sustaining affirming, pluralistic, and inclusive campus communities for all students.

Higher Education Administration and Leadership

This course provides an overview of the basic organizational structure of higher education and how leadership at every level may use the structure to facilitate change and innovation. In this light, the role of each leadership unit (academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, finance, institutional advancement, and others) is examined.

Professional Seminar Parts I & II

The Seminar consists of a capstone project with an experiential component of 15 hours of immersion in practice. The project employs an action research process that applies learning directly to a higher education setting. The project serves as the master’s comprehensive evaluation incorporating concepts from all parts of the curriculum. Formal presentation of the project is the final requirement for the program.

Tuition and Costs

Tuition for the MS in Higher Education is charged at $500 per credit.

Curriculum (30 credits)

The curriculum for the MS in Higher Education is comprised of three course clusters:

  • Core courses in educational leadership
    • GEN 501 Human Development
    • GEN 502 Methods of Research
    • GEN 503 Interpersonal Relations
    • EDL 615 Contemporary Professional Ethics
  • Concentration courses in higher education
    • HED 605 Foundations of American Higher Education
    • HED 612 Higher Education Administration and Leadership
    • HED 621 Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education
    • HED 632 Assessment of Student Learning
  • Applied capstone courses
    • HED 637 Professional Seminar, Part I
    • HED 638 Professional Seminar, Part II

Course Delivery

Three distinct approaches to course delivery are adopted in the program, providing students with a truly “hybrid” approach to learning.

  • Online/Asynchronous: Core courses in educational leadership employ an online asynchronous pedagogy and delivery
  • Online/Synchronous: Concentration courses in higher education employ an online synchronous pedagogy and delivery with synchronous class sessions held during weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7
  • Hybrid: Two seminar courses at the conclusion of the program include both periodic synchronous sessions coupled with field experience and independent research


Program Mission, Goals and Learning Outcomes

Three Pillars

In providing master’s-prepared graduates in service of higher education, the essential nature of the program is identified through three pillars of evidence. Students will demonstrate an ability to:

  • Serve as leaders and change agents who think critically and sensitively in the context of a diverse and evolving society
  • Respond reflectively to emerging trends in light of the purposes, ideals, and operation of the higher education community
  • Apply skills, knowledge, and attitudes effectively and ethically in the spectrum of higher education administrative roles

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the program will be able to:

  • Understand factors influencing and supporting higher education, its purpose, and its practices
  • Evaluate and respond to current administrative issues and trends in higher education
  • Recognize social and cultural systems in the context of the environment and through an historical lens
  • Articulate leadership values and styles in the context of ethical decision making
  • Use research, knowledge of human dimensions, and interpersonal dynamics to inform practice


Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Provide official undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Submit a current resume (work experience in the higher education setting is not required)
  • Submit a one-page essay discussing professional goals connected to a career in higher education
  • Provide two professional/academic letters of recommendation
  • Complete a successful interview demonstrating capacity to undertake an advanced master’s program


Where Can I Work?

Graduates of the master’s program may serve in roles across the spectrum of institutional types (community colleges, private institutions, and public regional universities), such as in student affairs, alumni relations, student advising, communication and marketing, admissions and recruitment, and athletics. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a master’s degree as the preferred entry level education for these types of positions.

Just the facts


Four semesters plus one summer


Full cost of tuition


Professional Seminars with applied experiences


Credits required for graduation

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