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Pursue Higher Education Programs Online

Higher education programs focus on techniques to enhance the daily operations of a college or university. The goal of each of higher education programs outlined below is to offer ways to streamline administrative processes on campus.  As part of these programs, you could have the chance to engage with a range of topics such as finance, management, and curriculum design.

Depending on your chosen degree level, you might even have the opportunity to conduct new research in the field. You could collect data about the effectiveness of certain higher education administration methods. Then, present your findings to your peers.

What Is a Degree in Higher Education?

A higher education degree program focuses on methods to streamline and enhance services offered by a college or university. As part of these programs, you could study leadership and management techniques. Subjects could include budget maintenance, human resources, resource distribution, and more.

And, this knowledge could be used throughout several departments on campus.

The following are a few academic areas that commonly require a higher education skill set.   

  • Student Affairs
  • Academic Affairs
  • School Fundraising
  • Admissions
  • Registrar
  • Financial Aid
  • Advising Services

So What’s the Difference Between Higher Education and Higher Education Administration?

Both higher education and higher education administration degree programs cover comparable material in their courses. Even though they have different names, each program focuses on the administrative tasks a college or university needs to function.

In fact, higher education degrees may be listed under a few more names. In your search for a perfect program, you might come across some of the following similar programs.

  • Higher Education Leadership
  • Continuing Education
  • College Student Development
  • Student Affairs in Higher Education

Schools may also offer a higher education concentrations as part of their general education program. These are generally referred to as “higher education specializations.”

Online Masters in Higher Education

Online masters in higher education programs are typically offered as either a master of arts (MA) or a master of education (MEd). Again, even though they are classified under different names, they offer near-identical curriculum.

Potential Masters in Higher Education Curriculum

Masters in higher education classes teach administrative techniques to be used in postsecondary education and adult learning environments. These courses consider many factors that could impact the effectiveness of different school programs. For instance, it may account for diverse student populations, professional teacher development, and socio-economic regional factors.

Classes may also cover managerial methods to enhance workflow within an academic setting. Subjects could include budgeting, human resources management, and grant applications.

Below are a few examples of courses you could take during masters in higher education.

  • Administration in Higher Education
  • Resource Management in Higher Education
  • Assessing Higher Education Students
  • Enrollment Studies
  • Academic Advising
  • Analyzing Faculty Workload, Performance, & Compensation
  • Academic Fundraising

For a complete course guide, please speak with department faculty at potential programs.

The masters program usually requires students to complete 30 to 36 credit hours’ worth of classes. Knowing this, students could potentially earn a masters in higher education in 15 months depending on enrollment. Program length may vary by school.

Institutional Research

In addition the above-mentioned curriculum, masters in higher education programs may have students conduct their own research in the field. Performing this research could help enhance the effectiveness of certain educational programs. For example, your studies could help streamline student admissions, financial aid, and more.

Before students are permitted to conduct their own research, they may be required to take some of the following fundamental courses.

  • Designing Research Studies
  • Analyzing Research Data
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Research opportunities may vary by program. Be sure to speak with department faculty for more information about their research capabilities.

In-Person Internship Requirements

Many masters in higher education programs require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. This experience requires students to step into a college or university office. While there, you could shadow professionals performing their daily routine. As the program progresses, you may even be able to take on a number of those responsibilities yourself.  

Online students should be aware that internships may require that you travel to a local university campus. In many cases, your online program might try to pair you with a school close to your location to minimize your commute. Some internships may only require minimal on-campus time. Other work may be completed online so long as communication is maintained with your internship contact.

Internship requirements and placements may differ by program. For details, speak with higher education department faculty.

Masters in Higher Education Program Admissions

Online masters in higher education may require students to submit a 2.5 or higher undergraduate GPA in a related field. Some programs may also require GRE or GMAT scores.  

Programs may place equal emphasis on your professional resume. Your resume should prominently display your previous teaching experience and certifications. Notably, you may be required to have already earned a teaching license or certificate before applying to a program. In many cases, schools may require you to have completed 3 professional years of teaching prior to applying.

Admissions requirements vary between masters programs. Be sure to speak with admissions counselors for additional help with your application.

Certificates in Higher Education

Graduate certificates in higher education offer concise curriculum covering postsecondary administrative methods. Students typically pursue these programs to expand upon a previously earned related degree. For example, you may have earned a bachelors in education and are looking to learn more about management techniques used at the university level.

The certificate program curriculum is essentially a more concise version of the masters program. Classes may more generally examine key techniques for overseeing education administrative duties.

As part of this, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.

  • Faculty Management
  • Curriculum
  • Academic Communities
  • Education Law & Policy
  • Academic Finances

Available courses may differ between programs. Certificate programs typically consist of 15 credit hours’ worth of courses.

It’s important to note that many credits earned in higher education graduate certificate programs could later be applied to a masters programs. This could be a great way to test out graduate coursework before committing to the lengthier masters programs.

Speaking of program length, you could potentially earn a graduate certificate in higher education in 1 year depending on enrollment. Program length varies by program.

Higher Education Certificate Admissions

Unlike the masters program’s application process, higher education graduate certificates may place more emphasis on your previous professional experiences. Programs typically request students to submit a current resume for admissions consideration.

Programs may also request that students have already earned a bachelors degree in a related field. It’s common for applicants to have already earned a bachelors in education prior to applying.

Higher Education PhD Programs

Higher education PhD programs emphasize researching new administrative techniques to better handle campus’ daily operations. Courses in these programs could encourage you to investigate ways to enhance school infrastructure, curriculum, student enrollment, and more.  

As part of these programs, you might have the chance to take some of the following classes.

  • Curriculum in Higher Education
  • Organization and Governance
  • Enrollment Management
  • Legal Aspects of Higher Education
  • Budgeting and Finance

Courses may vary between programs. Speak with department faculty for a current copy of their course guide.

Doctoral Dissertation Projects

Many schools require students to write a research dissertation to earn their doctorate in higher education. During this process, students may be tasked with designing and testing new administrative techniques for postsecondary institutions. This process could include implementing your proposed method in a test environment and collecting data. After doing this, you could then analyze your data to see how effective your technique might have been. 

Online students should be aware that research may require you to step inside a physical classroom. Doctoral programs may try to place you with schools close to your location. But, there may be some travel required for this portion of your PhD studies.

Dissertation requirements may vary by school. Department faculty may be able to provide additional details.

Higher Education Doctorate Admissions

Higher education doctoral programs are different from many other PhD programs because you could apply to it after earning a bachelors degree in a related field. In these cases, you may be asked to submit a 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA. Of course, you could also apply after earning a masters degree in a related field. For these instances, you may be asked to provide a 3.25 or higher graduate GPA.

In addition, programs may also request GRE or GMAT scores.

These programs may also require that applicants have some professional teaching experience. When applying, you may be asked for a professional resume displaying you’ve worked in one of the following roles.

  • Teacher
  • Education Administrator
  • Counselor

Doctoral admissions requirements may vary from school to school. For a list of necessary materials, speak with an admissions adviser.

What Could You Do With a Degree in Higher Education?

Students who earn a graduate degree in higher education generally go on to pursue careers in postsecondary administration. As an administrator, you may be placed in charge of overseeing key tasks for a college or university. For instance, you may be asked to notifying students of their admission. Or, you could help students schedule their classes. In fact, depending on your office, you could be asked to:

  • Determine student matriculation
  • Meet with perspective students
  • Review applications
  • Prepare promotional materials
  • Schedule classes
  • Prepare transcripts and diplomas
  • Maintain academic records
  • Advise students on housing, academics, and personal issuesi

You could perform these tasks either in a registrar’s office, a specific academic department, admissions, or more. 

Entry-levels positions for this role generally require applicants to hold a master’s degree in a related field. And, positions in this field are projected to continue to grow. From 2014 to 2024, available administrative roles are estimated to potentially grow by 9%. This is faster than the national average.  In 2016, postsecondary education administrators earned a median salary of $90,760.ii

In addition, you could also choose to pursue some of the following academic positions after earning your degree in higher education. Also listed are their 2016 median salary.

  • Human Resources Managers, $106,910
  • Fundraising Managers, $107,320
  • Training & Development Managers, $105,830

The above-mentioned roles usually require entry-level applicants to hold a bachelors degree in a related field.iii Keep in mind that employers may look for applicants with advanced degrees for managerial positions. Your participation in a higher education graduate program may demonstrate more in-depth knowledge of the skill set they’re looking for.  

Who Accredits Higher Education Programs?

There is no specific agency or commission that accredits higher education programs. Instead, you may find that agencies accredit education programs or entire education departments. The higher education programs in these departments are then also accredited.

Alternatively, overall online programs may also be accredited. In these cases, accrediting agency evaluate the effectiveness of a school’s online classrooms. Attending these programs may ensure that your online classes are held to the same standards as a school’s campus-based courses.

For more details about your higher education program and its accreditation status, speak with an admissions counselor.

Looking for Higher Education Programs

Using the information on this page, you may be able to narrow down your search for perfect higher education programs. To continue your search, browse the programs on this page. Here you could see a general assortment of available programs ranging through the available degree levels. Alternatively, you could refine this list by selecting your preferred degree level using the navigation features on this page.

Clicking on a link provides you with a brief description about the school and program itself. While you’re there, you could also request more info from the school itself. Doing this could provide you important information like admissions deadlines, course outlines, and more. And, you could also have the chance to speak directly with an admissions counselor! They may be able to answer any additional questions you have that may not be answered on their website.


[i]bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-8