Online Master’s in Higher Education Programs

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Higher Education Masters Programs

For those who believe they can make a difference on a college or university campus, a degree in higher education may be right for you.

A degree in higher education is a specific degree that prepares graduates for mid-level administrative or teaching in college or university settings. This degree covers the departments that make up a higher educational institution, such as finance, HR, or admissions, as well as higher education teaching theory.

An online master's in higher education is an ideal degree for those who have some experience in education, but who wish to advance their career into mid-level management positions. Most management or administrative positions at the college or university level do require a Master’s or higher level of education. In addition, those who obtain a Master's can make significantly more than just a Bachelors.

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What kind of higher education degree should you get?

Most master's in higher education degrees are master’s in education programs, but some may grant a master's in science or a master's in arts. While all degree types can prepare individuals for similar career paths, an MA typically has a more flexible curriculum than an M.Ed., which primarily focuses on administration. An MS is best for people interested in research.

An online master's in higher education degree versus a traditional on-campus one is preferable for those who already have a regular working schedule. Most online classes are asynchronous, meaning students can log on and complete coursework and tests on their own time. Although some may worry that an online program gives students less opportunities to engage in real life work experiences, even online degrees require some sort of internship or cumulative project in order to graduate.

You can cross-check the schools on this list with College Choice’s Best Online Colleges and Universities ranking.

How much money do people make with a master's in higher education?

Based on HigherEd Jobs, salaries greatly vary based on institution, administrative area, and years of experience. For instance, most deans earn over six figures. Those who are head of their department such as financial aid or HR also earn over six figures. However, the median salary for post secondary administrators in general is $84,000. Universities and colleges also generally have good benefits, too.

According to PayScale, typical jobs and average salaries for an M.Ed. in higher education administration include assistant director ($47,391), assistant registrar ($49,026), or training and development manager ($56,106). The most popular cities for this field are Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

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

A Master's in Higher Education prepares individuals to work in higher education settings, usually at the college or university level. However, those with this degree may also work for the government, non-profits, or other private businesses that are related to education. As these programs are for those who already have experience working in education, graduates tend to work in mid-level administration positions.

Some possible career titles include student engagement specialist, public relations worker, leadership program administrator, or admissions administrator. Graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of departments such as admissions, HR, finance, or the president’s office.


What are the requirements for a master's in higher education?

In order to apply for this degree, most programs require some higher education work experience, a bachelor’s from an accredited school (does not necessarily have to be in education), GRE or GMAT score, and letters of recommendations must be sent with the application.

Most schools also have minimum GPA requirements that students should be aware of. Sometimes graduate test scores may be waived if an applicant has significant work experience.

What are the most affordable online master's in higher education?

Below is College Choice’s list for the 25 Most Affordable Online Master's in Higher Education. These programs and schools were chosen based on overall institutional excellence and return on investment. Data was collected from a variety of sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, PayScale, individual college websites, and the U.S. News & World Report.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Northeastern State University

    Tahlequah, OK



    OverviewNortheastern State University, located in Oklahoma, has its roots way back in 1846 with the Cherokee Nation. Originally founded as the Cherokee National Female Seminary, the school became a public institution when the state purchased it in 1909. To this day, NSU celebrates and embraces its heritage and deep historical roots. There are currently three campuses across the state, in addition to several online programs.Program FeaturesNSU’s online MS in Higher Education Leadership degree prepares graduates to be effective leaders in various organizations and communal settings.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • Practicum in Leadership internship program
    • Sample Courses: Adult Learners and Learning, Cultural Foundations, Individual and Group Interventions
    NotablesGraduate scholarships and sources for funding are available. Interested applicants should fill out NSU’s online form.

  2. University of Missouri-St. Louis

    Saint Louis, MO



    OverviewThe University of Missouri – St. Louis is the largest public research university in the eastern part of the state. Its diverse students and faculty, vibrant campus, and many research opportunities provides students with practical life experiences. Located in the metropolitan city of St. Louis, UMSL is proud to be a part of a city whose economy is consistently growing. According to Forbes, the university was named one of “America’s Best Colleges” for factors such as career prospects and low indebtedness upon graduation.Program FeaturesUMSL’s online M.Ed. in Adult & Higher Education program is ideal for those who wish to improve their teaching skills and/or work in managerial positions.

    • 33 credit-hours
    • 4-weeks of evening and weekend courses
    • Sample Courses: History and Philosophy of American Higher Education, Assessment in the Adult Classroom
    NotablesStudents have three opportunities to apply for this program: fall (July), spring (December), and summer (May).

  3. University of New Orleans

    New Orleans, LA



    OverviewThe University of New Orleans is a highly urban research institution that is part of the University of Louisiana System. With its prime metropolitan location, students are able to take part in various internships with local businesses and community involvement opportunities. UNO has also been nationally recognized as an affordable university, with 77 percent of its students receiving some form of financial aid. Recently, UNO spent $613,000 to expand and improve its online course offerings, providing degree programs specifically for non-traditional students.Program FeaturesUNO’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education degree emphasizes leadership practices for higher education classroom settings.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • 3 credit-hour internship at a related educational setting
    • Sample Courses: Diversity in Higher Education, The American College and University
    NotablesOpportunities to join national societies such as the national Honorary Educational Society or the International Honor Society for Counselor Education.

  4. Appalachian State University

    Boone, NC



    OverviewAppalachian State University was founded by the Dougherty brothers in 1899 with the goal of helping children in North Carolina. The college eventually achieved university status in the late ‘60s, becoming more diverse among its student population and through the studies it offered. Today Appalachian State is located in the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains with over 19,000 students enrolled. Offering a curriculum to prepare students as global citizens, 93 percent of Appalachian’s graduate students are either employed or pursuing further education within a year of graduation.Program FeaturesAppalachian’s online MA in Higher Education degree is a part-time program that deepens students’ understanding of administrative tasks at the higher education level.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • Two Tracks: Community College and University Leadership; Adult and Developmental Education
    • Specific distance education scholarships available
    NotablesAlthough a GRE or a GMAT score is required for admission, those with five or more years of professional work experience may waive the exam.

  5. West Virginia University

    Morgantown, WV



    OverviewWest Virginia University is a land and space-grant research university with a high focus on innovation and success. WVU is classified as an R1 Doctoral University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education for its high research activity. Over $127 million is generated annually in research contracts and grants. WVU also has a highly expansive online program with over 30 degrees and 600 courses offered. All classes are taught by the best professors, many who have won numerous awards and who possess many years of business experience.Program FeaturesWVU’s online MA in Higher Education Administration degree is specifically made for educators who plan on holding a career in education as an executive or administrative worker.

    • 30 credit-hours
    • Completion Time: 2 years; maximum 8 years allowed
    Sample Courses: Program Evaluation, Community College Leadership, Educational PsychologyNotablesSome possible careers include postsecondary education administrator, professor, or instructional coordinator.

  6. Angelo State University

    San Angelo, TX



    OverviewAngelo State University was opened in 1928 with only 112 students first attending. The university’s history includes struggling through the nation’s historic events such as The Great Depression and World War II. Through these experiences, ASU was able to survive and grow thanks to the residents of San Angelo, the city that the college still resides in today. According to The Princeton Review, ASU has been a “Best College” since 2010. Its online distance education programs have also been recognized as providing quality learning.Program FeaturesASU’s online M.Ed. in Student Development and Leadership in Higher Education degree prepares students for careers in non-academic areas of college campuses.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • Assistantships and scholarships available
    • Sample Courses: Legal and Ethical Principles, Assessment of Student Outcomes, Lifespan Development
    NotablesIn 2015 ASU was among the top 60 schools in the nation for the Best Online Master’s in Education Programs according to Teach Tomorrow.

  7. University of Houston-Victoria

    Victoria, TX



    OverviewThe University of Houston – Victoria was founded in the late 60s for the purpose of establishing an institute of higher education to the city. Its mission is to provide every student with an environment where he/she can be a successful and informed leader. In keeping with this goal, UHV offers an affordable and personalized education, both in person and online via its Blackboard server. Currently UHV is the #7 most affordable public university in the state of Texas, awarding about $34 million worth of financial aid yearly. Program FeaturesUHV’s online M.Ed. in Adult & Higher Education program teaches the needs of adult learners in postsecondary educational settings.

    • 36-39 credit-hours
    • Three Tracks: Higher Education, Adult Education, Discipline & Instruction
    • Scholarships and assistantships available
    NotablesStudents will participate in a 3 credit-hour internship or a specialty-area course as a replacement.

  8. Columbus State University

    Columbus, GA



    OverviewColumbus State University was opened in part due to the city’s Chamber of Commerce, who rallied local citizens to raise money for the future college. In 1965, the college became a four-year institution and has rapidly grown and continued to be a strong economic presence in the area since. Columbus State generates more than $247 million in annual economic impact. The College of Education and Health Professions, which offers its Master’s in Higher Education degree, was formed thanks to partnerships with local organizations. The college is proud to offer several millions in scholarships and professorships to its students yearly.Program FeaturesColumbus State’s online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Track focuses on preparing graduates for administrative positions within the higher education field.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • Fully online graduate orientation
    • Sample Courses: Student Development Theory, School Culture and Diversity, American College Student
    NotablesStudents are not limited by where they can participate in internships – they can be taken on campus or in other institutions across the country.

  9. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    OverviewSam Houston State University was established in 1879 and is the third oldest institution of higher education in Texas. With the motto of “The Measure of a Life is its Service,” SHSU prepares students for a lifetime of learning and community engagement. This excellence is not just limited to its traditional on-campus programs, but also extends in to its many fully online degrees. Currently SHSU offers $1,000 scholarships for new online graduate students.Program FeaturesSHSU’s online MA in Higher Education Administration degree is for future administrators and those who wish to pursue doctoral studies.

    • 30-36 credit-hours
    • Thesis and non-thesis tracks
    • Ability to pursue the Academic Advising Certificate or Certificate in Higher Education Assessment and Institutional Research
    NotablesThis program was ranked among the Best Online Programs for Graduate Education in 2015 by the U.S. News & World Report.

  10. University of Wyoming

    Laramie, WY



    OverviewThe University of Wyoming is a land-grant research institution that is located on a beautiful campus surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. As a proud university with its roots in the culture of the West, UW’s mascot is a cowboy. Founded in 1886, before Wyoming was a state, UW is currently a major research university in the area and a major partnership of several industries. UW also offers several scholarships for its students, both merit and financial aid-based, to provide an affordable education.Program FeaturesUW’s online MA in Higher Education Administration degree program is for current and future educators in a traditional educational setting or in related organizations.

    • 33 credit-hours
    • No GRE required
    • Rolling admission year-round
    NotablesUW offers five relevant scholarships for this major. All of these scholarships are provided by the university’s generous private donors.

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