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Pursue a Masters Degree in Higher Education Online

Online masters in higher education programs teach ways to manage and oversee the functions of a college or university. This could include providing student services, admissions, financial aid, and daily operations. Courses in these online education programs could entail methods to provide administrative aid, assess the challenges of faculty and students, and delegate budgets to name a few.

In addition, some programs may offer a chance for students to conduct research in the higher education field. Students could design new administrative techniques and test to see their effectiveness. Completed works may even make an impact on the current status-quo of higher ed administrative techniques.

Earning your online masters of higher education degree could help you address the needs of campus, the faculty, and students alike.

What Is a Masters in Higher Education?

A masters in higher education program focuses on the skills and knowledge needed in postsecondary education leadership roles.

As part of the masters program, you could study methods used to potentially enhance the effectiveness of some of the following areas.

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

Is There a Difference Between Higher Education and Higher Education Administration?

There is no difference between higher education and higher education administration degree programs.

Both programs at colleges aim to instruct students on ways to better manage higher education resources. These programs cover comparable materials and share similar end goals for their students.

These degrees could either be offered as a master of arts (MA) or a master of education (MEd). Once again, despite the differences in names, these online programs offer near identical material.  

In fact, you may encounter some of the following degree programs that may offer similar curriculum in your higher education program.

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

Additionally, higher education concentrations may be offered in conjunction with a general master of education. In these cases, they’re often called a “higher education specialization.”

Potential Masters in Higher Education Online Curriculum

The online masters in higher education curriculum teaches leadership techniques for educational settings. These methods could be applied in some of the following learning areas.

  • Postsecondary Education
  • Adult Learning Environments

Classes are designed to take into the account the diverse student bodies that teachers may come into contact with. By doing so, you could be able to train fellow educators how to better address the needs of their classroom. In addition, you could also apply these methods to enhancing policies to account for unique challenges that school faces.

The online masters program typically consists of 30 to 36 credit hours’ worth of work. Students could potentially earn an online masters in higher education degree in 15 months depending on enrollment.

The following are a few classes you may encounter during your online masters program. Keep in mind these are only a few samples of potential courses. For a complete course guide, get in touch with possible schools and universities admission staff.

Administration in Higher Education

Administration courses in a masters of higher education program teach management techniques for colleges or universities. In many cases, this could include overseeing staffing, electronically filing documents, and more organizational or administrator duties.

Resource Management in Higher Education

Resource management courses may help you better understand how to strategically plan how materials and funding are used by an institution. Topics could include balancing budgets, applying for federal grants, and resource delegation.

Assessing Higher Education Students

Knowing your student body could be the first step towards helping them potentially succeed. Assessing higher education student courses delve into the different characteristics of a student body. And, it may also cover methods to address their unique needs. Courses could cover topics like diverse student bodies, sociology, and inclusive teaching styles.

Enrollment Studies

Student studies might also focus of potential students pre-admission. There are three stages to this course.

(1) First, the application stage. This part of the courses considers what factors a university should evaluate in its potential students. Requirements could include SAT/ACT scores, GPA, extracurriculars, and more.

(2) Secondly, classes focus on orientation. This is the process where new students are welcomed to the campus. This part of the courses teaches methods to familiarize students with their new campus, course load, and peers. The goal of these studies is to help seamlessly transition freshmen for high school to college.

(3) Finally, the course emphasizes student success. In laymen’s terms, their graduation. The course could present strategies to help students complete their courses and earn their degrees.

Academic Advising

Students pursuing an online masters in education may not only take on a leadership role with fellow faculty, but students too. Specifically, they may take on an advising role in the department.

These positions usually have professors guide students to appropriate classes and other resources to help them work towards their goals. Academic advising courses could develop your understanding of how to effectively aid students in a collegiate setting.

Analyzing Faculty Workload, Performance, & Compensation

Online masters in higher education may also study how to productively lead other educators. One of the first steps to supporting fellow teachers is to be able to analyze their needs, strengths, and challenges.

By doing so, you could address their pain points to potentially enhance their work environment. Reducing their daily stresses may enable them to more effectively serve their students.

Academic Fundraising

Academic financing courses teach methods for colleges or universities to apply for financial support. Schools may find support through things like capital campaigns, donation events, or applying to federal grants.

In these classes, students could study what goes into creating these events, applying for aid, and receiving funds. Subjects could include grant applications, event management, and donor communications.

Institutional Research

As you may have noticed in the above-mentioned courses, some online masters in higher education courses deal heavily with research. To help students better understand the methodology, masters programs may offer fundamental research courses. These could include some of the following.

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

After completing these courses, you may even have the chance to implement your own research study. The individual studies might be supervised by a member of the department faculty. During this time, you could be tasked with collecting and evaluating your own data. Usually, final conclusions are compiled within a research paper.

Upon completing your research, you may have two options. After being reviewed by department faculty, many schools may publish student research papers. The goal of doing this is to enhance the current state of higher education administration.

Students may also have the chance to present their findings during a school presentation fair. In these instances, your department may ask each student who completed an individual study to present their findings. This could be a great way to see what others in your field are also investigating.

Online students should note that some presentations may require students to travel to campus. Other times, you may be able to display your findings on a digital forum.

Research opportunities and course requirements may differ between online programs. Be sure to speak with department faculty to see what options are open to you.

Internship Requirements

Internships in online masters of education could be compared to student teaching. But, instead of working in the classroom, you could work in the offices of college or university administration. The on-site experience could enlighten you to the daily routine and tasks encountered by professionals.

For the beginning of a program, you could have the chance to shadow someone within your internship office. Then, as the program continues, you could have the opportunity to take on those responsibilities yourself.

This could include some of the following tasks.

  • Advising students on available student aid options at your college or university
  • Surveying and proposing new resource management techniques
  • Developing student admissions initiatives for the upcoming academic year

These are only a few samples of potential internship responsibilities.

Please note that online students may be required to travel to a college or university campus to complete this experience. Usually, schools may try to pair you with one that is close to your location. In some cases, students may be able to complete the majority of their work off-site. But, interns could still be required to regularly communicate with their campus contact.

Internship requirements may vary by program. Speak with department faculty for more details about the internship process.

Applying to Online Masters in Higher Education Programs

The online masters in higher education admissions programs aims to assess your previous academic and current professional experience. For starters, students may be asked to submit a 2.5 or higher undergraduate GPA in addition to GRE scores. In many cases, programs may require your undergraduate degree to be in education or a related field.

When assessing your professional qualities, you may be asked to provide an up-to-date resume. This document should highlight previous teaching experience as well as any additional related certifications. Speaking of certifications, programs may also require students to have already earned their teaching license or certification at time of admissions.

In addition to your resume and teaching license, you may also be asked to submit proof that you have current teaching experience. In many cases, you may be tasked with completing 3 years of professional teaching prior to applying. Higher education programs typically focus on teacher development and this requirement ensures that you have a firm grasp of the education system.

Online masters programs may also require some of the following documents to supplement your application.

  • Letter of Intent
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Official Transcripts

Admissions requirements vary by school. Speak with admissions faculty for more in-depth information about the application process.

What Could You Do with a Masters Degree in Higher Education?

Many students who earn an online masters in higher education may choose to pursue a career as a postsecondary education administrator. In these roles, you could work throughout a college or university campus. For example, you could aid the admissions or registrar’s office. Or, even a specific department.

Depending on your position, you could be tasked with completing some of the following objectives.

  • 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

These roles typically require a master’s degree for entry-level positions. In 2016, postsecondary education administrators earned a median salary of $90,760. And, these positions are growing faster than the national average. Available administrative roles are project to potentially grow by 9% from 2014 to 2024.ii

Students could also choose to pursue some of the following positions within the academic sphere. Also provided are their median salary in 2016.

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

These roles generally require entry-level applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field. In this case, it would be higher education administration.iii But, employers may seek out advanced degrees for managerial positions.

Are Online Masters in Higher Education Programs Accredited?

Generally, online masters in higher education programs are not specifically accredited. More commonly, general masters in education programs are accredited. Higher education programs that are offered as concentrations of these programs are then also accredited under these terms.

In other instances, students may also look to see if a school’s overall online program is accredited. By doing so, they could ensure that the school’s entire online catalogue is consistently reviewed and evaluated to an agency’s standards.

For more information about a particular school’s accreditation status, speak with an admissions counselor.

Your Search for an Online Masters in Higher Education

Using this information, you might be ready to confidently start your search for a perfect online masters in higher education program. To continue, browse the list of programs on this page.

Clicking on a link provides you with a brief description about that particular program. While you’re there, you could also request more information from the school itself.

Speaking with the school could provide you with more program-specific details not provided on this page. For instance, you could find out more about admissions deadlines, course description, department faculty, and more. And, you could also ask for specific department contact info. That way, you direct certain questions directly to the faculty you might be working with in the future.  


[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

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