Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Learners interested in higher education administration may benefit from a master's in higher education. Master's in higher education curricula cover higher education's role in society, institutional finance, and educational public policy.

Updated August 16, 2022

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Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Are you ready to find your fit?

Learners interested in higher education administration may benefit from a master's in higher education. Most master's programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Some schools require students to take the GRE.

Master's in higher education curricula cover higher education's role in society, institutional finance, and educational public policy. Many programs also require students to pursue research and/or complete an internship.

Higher education master's degree-holders work at postsecondary institutions in specialties such as admissions, financial aid, and student affairs. For example, they may take jobs as instructional coordinators, admission counselors, or deans. Additionally, they may become college counselors for high school students or work at educational nonprofits.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Higher Education Degrees

What is a master's in higher education?

Schools usually offer a master's in higher education as a master of arts or master of education. These degrees specialize in the skills needed to work in higher education careers outside of teaching.

How long is a master's in higher education?

Most master's in higher education programs take students two years to complete.

What can you do with a master's in higher education?

Higher education master's degree-holders pursue leadership positions at colleges and universities, such as dean or head of admission. They may also work for nonprofits, the government, or primary education institutions.

Why Get a Master's in Higher Education?

Students pursue a master's in higher education for many reasons. Higher education master's programs provide an understanding of how postsecondary institutions function, their role in society, and how public policy affects their operations. With these skills, students work at colleges or universities, nonprofits, government agencies, or higher education-related businesses.

Graduates with higher education master's degrees stand to reach a fairly high earning potential. Postsecondary education administrators earn a median $97,500 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many schools offer higher education master's programs online, often featuring flexible schedules. Students who pursue a degree online may save money from avoiding relocation and/or commuting costs.

How Much Does a Master's in Higher Education Cost?

Most master's degrees cost $30,000-$120,000, according to the Education Data Initiative. Master of education degrees average $55,200 and master of arts degrees average $72,800.

Master's in higher education programs usually span four semesters, or two years. Some schools may offer shorter or longer programs. Part-time learners should expect to take longer to complete their degree.

Many schools offer higher education master's programs in person and online. Students should factor in additional costs, such as books and software. They should also consider the cost of commuting to an in-person internship and any missed wages.

Courses in a Master's in Higher Education

Higher education master's program classes cover the history and purpose of higher education, leadership skills, and organizational dynamics. Some programs offer specialized courses in topics such as finances, higher educational law and policy, and change management.

Not all schools offer the same classes. See below for a few examples of courses enrollees may take during a master's in higher education. The descriptions represent a sample curriculum only; prospective students should check the specific required classes for any desired programs.

  • U.S. Higher Education

    U.S. higher education classes provide the context, history, and purposes of higher education in the United States. By understanding the role higher education plays in society, students better understand the role they may play in their career.
  • Educational Policy and the Law

    Educational policy and law explores how public policy and law affects higher education. Graduates who take administrative roles at colleges and universities will work under such policies and laws. Alternatively, graduates may work in government or nonprofits and help write such policies.
  • Research Methods in Education

    Educational research seeks to solve problems and challenges in education by collecting and analyzing data. Educational research classes teach participants how to conduct this research and apply it to real problems in education. As higher education leaders, graduates will need to gather data and use it to solve institutions' problems.
  • Finance in Higher Education

    Finance in higher education gives an overview of the role money plays at colleges and universities. Some classes teach enrollees how to calculate financial aid, manage an endowment, or collect donations. Graduates might need to complete all of these processes for their future employers.
  • Organization and Leadership in Higher Education

    Organization and leadership in higher education teaches students about the organizational structures that support colleges and universities. They will develop leadership skills through their coursework. Degree-seekers learn about the responsibilities of different roles, some of which they may take on in their careers.

Career and Salary Outlook for a Master's in Higher Education

Graduates of higher education master's programs choose from many different career paths. They may decide to work at a college or university in an administrative setting. For instance, they may become deans, admissions counselors, or alumni coordinators.

Master's in higher education graduates also pursue careers in politics or nonprofits, working specifically in the higher education sector. Below, we list a few career paths higher education master's degree-holders may follow.

  • Postsecondary Education Administrators

    Postsecondary education administrators take on many different duties at colleges and universities. Some work in the office of admissions, screening applications and meeting with prospective students. Others work in the office of student life, where they organize events and manage the dormitories. Deans or provosts help develop academic policies and appoint faculty, while registrars schedule course offerings and oversee class registration.
  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

    Principals who work in elementary, middle, or high schools oversee all school operations. They manage staff, help coordinate curriculum standards, and make class schedules. Some discipline students, observe and evaluate teachers, and assess test scores and achievement data. Basically, they set goals for the school and ensure the school reaches those goals.
  • Instructional Coordinators

    Instructional coordinators work in primary education or higher education. They oversee teaching standards and school curriculums, testing their effectiveness. Instructional coordinators also organize or conduct teacher training, suggest learning materials, and recommend teaching techniques.
Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Postsecondary Education Administrators $97,500 8%
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals $98,490 8%
Instructional Coordinators $66,970 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Best Master's in Higher Education Degrees

#1 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Harvard University

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The master's in education leadership program at Harvard University appeals to students seeking career advancement. The private institution, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers a variety of enrollment options for degree-seekers, including online programs. Degree candidates complete a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes advanced knowledge and skills.

Master's degree-seekers benefit from advising and support services, including career counseling. Academic advisors help with course selections, while career counselors offer workshops, job fairs, and resume reviews. Learners can also attend networking and training events hosted by the university.

Harvard University at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 148

Admission Rate: 5%

Graduation Rate: 97%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 7-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $48,008

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $48,008

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $91,300

Average Tuition
In-state
$47,730
Out-of-state
$47,730
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
5%
Students Enrolled
31,655
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of California, Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A master's in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles helps students seeking career advancement. This public school serves degree candidates of all types, with online enrollment options to accommodate working professionals. During the program, enrollees gain an advanced understanding of higher education topics while strengthening their skills.

Degree-seekers can access college resources and support services for assistance. For example, career counselors host job fairs and offer resume workshops for specific industries. Learners can also take advantage of career advising, tutoring centers, and internship programs.

University of California, Los Angeles at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 107

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 12%

Graduation Rate: 92%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,442

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $26,544

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $52,000

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
12%
Students Enrolled
44,371
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners interested in higher education can enroll in a top-ranked master's in higher education program offered by the University of Pennsylvania. Students gain advanced knowledge and skills and benefit from the school's flexible enrollment options. This flexibility makes it easier to schedule classes around other responsibilities.

Learners take advanced higher education classes that build a theoretical and practical understanding of the field. Students strengthen their career-readiness through internships and hands-on learning opportunities. Concentrations and electives let learners individualize the program based on their interests and professional goals.

University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

School Type: private

Admission Rate: 8%

Graduate Tuition In State: $36,254

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $36,254

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 59%

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking career advancement benefit from the master's in higher education administration program at Vanderbilt University. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the private university offers a variety of enrollment options, including online programs. In the master's program, the curriculum encourages learners to strengthen their higher education skills.

College resources and support services provide guidance to master's candidates throughout their program. Academic advisors can help with course selections, while financial aid counselors ensure students can fund their education. The university also hosts networking and training events for master's degree-seekers.

Vanderbilt University at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 104

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 9%

Graduation Rate: 93%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 7-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $48,624

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $48,624

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $61,900

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,800
Out-of-state
$50,800
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
13,131
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of education in postsecondary administration and student affairs at the University of Southern California emphasizes career-focused skills. The private university, located in Los Angeles, provides several enrollment options for degree-seekers, including online options designed for working professionals. Master's degree-seekers take classes in higher education that build on their prior knowledge in the field.

College resources and support services help master's candidates complete their degree and plan their next steps. Academic advisors recommend course selections, while financial aid counselors connect students with scholarship and grant opportunities. Master's degree-seekers can also take advantage of training and networking events.

University of Southern California at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 199

Total Online Master's Programs: 55

Admission Rate: 11%

Graduation Rate: 92%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $46,272

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $46,272

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $61,400

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners interested in higher education can enroll in a top-ranked master's in diversity and social justice in higher education program offered by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. The master's program helps students grow their career opportunities and increase their earning potential. Flexible enrollment options help candidates balance graduate courses with work or other obligations.

Enrollees complete a challenging curriculum that builds comprehensive knowledge of higher education. Students gain real-world experience during internships and other hands-on learning opportunities. Learners can specialize their higher education education by choosing electives and concentrations.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor at a Glance:

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

School Type: public

Admission Rate: 23%

Graduate Tuition In State: $23,890

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $48,204

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 65%

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $12,854

Average Price After Aid: $17,357

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,212
Out-of-state
$52,669
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
23%
Students Enrolled
48,090
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Maryland-College Park

  • College Park, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in higher education, student affairs, and international education policy at the University of Maryland-College Park stands out for its academic rigor and flexibility. Graduates can advance their career opportunities and increase their earning potential with this degree. At the school, programs offer flexible enrollment options that appeal to busy enrollees balancing school with other responsibilities.

The master's curriculum encourages a comprehensive understanding of higher education through both theoretical and practical knowledge. Internships and other hands-on learning opportunities let learners apply classroom knowledge in a real-world setting. Faculty advisors help enrollees choose electives and concentrations to specialize their education.

University of Maryland-College Park at a Glance:

Location: College Park, Maryland

School Type: public

Admission Rate: 44%

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,158

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,250

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 66%

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $8,912

Average Price After Aid: $17,723

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,824
Out-of-state
$34,936
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
40,743
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Virginia-Main Campus

  • Charlottesville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of education in student affairs practice in higher education at the University of Virginia-Main Campus stands out for its academic rigor and flexibility. Students advance their career opportunities and increase their earning potential with this degree. Graduate programs prioritize flexibility through their enrollment options, which help learners balance school with work or other responsibilities.

During the program, learners gain theoretical and practical knowledge through the rigorous higher education curriculum. Students often complete internships and other experiential learning opportunities to build career-ready skills. Learners work with faculty advisors to choose electives or concentrations that customize the program.

University of Virginia-Main Campus at a Glance:

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

School Type: Public

Admission Rate: 24%

Graduate Tuition In State: $16,578

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $27,770

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 57%

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $15,914

Average Price After Aid: $17,579

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,970
Out-of-state
$47,833
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
24%
Students Enrolled
25,012
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

For degree-seekers looking to advance their career, University of Florida hosts a master's in student personnel in higher education. The public institution welcomes learners with a variety of enrollment options, including online programs created with working professionals in mind. In the program, learners take graduate-level courses to strengthen their understanding of the field.

Master's candidates benefit from advising and support services, including career counseling. Academic advisors help with course selections, while financial aid counselors connect students with ways to pay for their education. Master's degree-seekers also participate in training events, networking opportunities, and tutoring sessions.

University of Florida at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 126

Total Online Master's Programs: 42

Admission Rate: 37%

Graduation Rate: 88%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,770

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $27,335

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $47,700

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
52,407
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Ohio State University-Main Campus

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Ohio State University-Main Campus stands out for its 119 master's programs, which include a master's in higher education and student affairs. The program incorporates career-focused training to help students advance their professional opportunities. Candidates may be able to choose from campus and online enrollment options, adding flexibility for those who need to work full time while in school.

The master's curriculum uses theoretical and practical approaches to encourage a comprehensive understanding of higher education. Internships and other hands-on learning opportunities let degree candidates apply classroom knowledge in a real-world setting. Learners can select electives and concentrations to specialize their education in a specific area.

Ohio State University-Main Campus at a Glance:

Location: Columbus, Ohio

School Type: Public

Admission Rate: 54%

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,560

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $35,144

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 79%

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $8,176

Average Price After Aid: $18,706

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,197
Out-of-state
$31,174
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
61,391
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Northwestern University

  • Evanston, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Northwestern University enrolls learners in 147 master's programs, including a master of science in higher education administration and policy. The program builds advanced knowledge and skills, helping students increase their career opportunities. Candidates benefit from flexible learning options, which make it easier to work while enrolling in graduate school.

During the program, learners take challenging courses that strengthen theoretical and practical higher education knowledge. Students often complete internships and other experiential learning opportunities to build career-ready skills. Electives and concentrations allow learners to individualize the program around their professional goals.

Northwestern University at a Glance:

Location: Evanston, Illinois

School Type: Private

Admission Rate: 9%

Graduate Tuition In State: $56,067

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $56,067

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 64%

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,232
Out-of-state
$56,232
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
22,448
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#12 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Indiana University-Bloomington

  • Bloomington, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University-Bloomington helps graduates pursue advanced careers. The public university provides several enrollment options for degree-seekers, including online options designed for working professionals. The program's graduate-level curriculum encourages learners to strengthen their skills.

Whether they study online or on campus, master's candidates can access a generous selection of college resources and support services. Academic advisors help with course selections, while career counselors offer workshops, job fairs, and resume reviews. The university also hosts networking and training events for master's degree-seekers.

Indiana University-Bloomington at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 109

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Admission Rate: 78%

Graduation Rate: 79%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,501

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $31,932

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $44,200

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,575
Out-of-state
$35,140
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
43,260
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#13 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Connecticut

  • Storrs, CT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners interested in advancing their career can earn their master's in higher education and student affairs at the University of Connecticut. The public university, located in Storrs, provides several enrollment options for degree-seekers, including online options designed for working professionals. During the program, learners complete a rigorous curriculum that builds on their undergraduate training.

Master's candidates benefit from advising and support services, including career counseling. For example, career counselors host workshops and job fairs while also recommending resume changes. Master's degree-seekers also participate in training events, networking opportunities, and tutoring sessions.

University of Connecticut at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 101

Total Online Master's Programs: 3

Admission Rate: 49%

Graduation Rate: 84%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $16,300

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $38,212

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $49,800

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,798
Out-of-state
$36,466
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
27,280
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#14 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

Boston College

  • Chestnut Hill, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Boston College offers 74 master's degrees, including a master of arts in higher education that earns top marks. Enrollees gain advanced knowledge and skills in the program. Graduate programs prioritize flexibility through their enrollment options, which help students balance school with work or other responsibilities.

Degree candidates take challenging courses that strengthen theoretical and practical higher education knowledge. Students enhance their career-readiness through internships and hands-on learning opportunities. Learners meet with faculty advisors to choose electives and concentrations to individualize the higher education degree.

Boston College at a Glance:

Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

School Type: Private

Admission Rate: 27%

Graduate Tuition In State: $30,600

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $30,600

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 56%

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,780
Out-of-state
$56,780
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
27%
Students Enrolled
14,747
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#15 Most Affordable Master’s In Higher Education Degrees

University of Kansas

  • Lawrence, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in higher education administration degree at the University of Kansas emphasizes career-focused skills. From its Lawrence campus, the public institution offers graduate programs in several enrollment formats, including online options designed for working professionals. Master's degree-seekers complete a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes advanced higher education knowledge and skills.

Master's candidates benefit from a generous selection of college resources and support services. For example, financial aid counselors recommend scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. The university also hosts networking and training events for students.

University of Kansas at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 121

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Admission Rate: 93%

Graduation Rate: 67%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,989

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $23,951

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $45,100

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,092
Out-of-state
$26,960
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
93%
Students Enrolled
27,552
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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