Most Affordable Online Master’s in Higher Education Degrees
| Staff Writers
Are you ready to find your fit?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OverviewThe University of Wisconsin – La Crosse was originally founded as a school to prepare the next generation of teachers in 1909. UW – La Crosse is known as a prominent institution in the state for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, vibrant campus life, and strong academic programs. Its online programs in particular have been recognized for its quality by the Online Learning Consortium. According to the U.S. News & World Report, UW – Lacrosse is the #4 university in the Midwest.Program FeaturesUW – La Crosse’s online M.Ed. in Professional Studies program is for certified teachers and educational professionals who wish to advance their knowledge in adult learning.
Small class sizes: 15-40 students
Completion time: 18-months
Ability to work full-time while completing the program in about 2 years
NotablesThis program is approved in most states across the country. Graduates who wish to teach in a particular location should check the specific requirements for licensure.
OverviewStony Brook University is a dynamic public research institution that is part of the State University of New York system. The university sits atop a 1,039-acre campus on the North Shore of Long Island. Since its founding in 1957, Stony Brook has become among the top 20 Best Value Public Colleges ranked by Forbes. With the majority of its students receiving some form of financial aid, the university has over a $500,000 return on investment following the 20 years after graduation according to PayScale.Program FeaturesStony Brook’s online MA in Higher Education Administration is a very flexible program with working professionals in mind.
Program Length: 30 weeks
15-day study abroad opportunity
NotablesThe majority of the 250 students who are enrolled in this program complete it while working full-time. Part-time enrollment is allowed.
OverviewValdosta State University is located in the southern part of Georgia in a city with a population of over 120,000. As a major economic impactor of the city, VSU has several partnerships with local businesses and institutions to give students real-life learning opportunities. Students are also heavily engaged in outside research at the university. Research is not just limited to its on-campus students, but also within its many online programs. VSU’s online programs are ranked among the best according to Affordable Colleges Online.Program FeaturesVSU’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership degree gives students hands-on opportunities to practice teaching and learning theories within the field.
Extensive summer internship program
Graduate assistantships available
Three application deadlines (fall, spring, summer)
NotablesThrough the internship program, students will complete an internship lasting about 150 hours (one semester’s worth).
OverviewThe University of Mississippi was established by the state legislature in 1844 as one of the state’s only comprehensive universities. Ole Miss is ranked as an R-1: Doctoral University for its high research activity by the Carnegie Classification. It is one of the nation’s fastest-growing institutions. All curriculums are technology-based and prepare students to face the world’s growing problems.Program FeaturesOle Miss’s online MA in Higher Education degree is a multi-disciplinary program that teaches themes such as HR, finance, and law in the higher education field.
Completion Time: 2 years
Graduate scholarships available
NotablesWhile most programs have a different tuition rate for out-of-state students, this degree has a flat tuition no matter where you live.
OverviewSaint Peter’s University is a private Roman Catholic college following the Jesuit tradition. Located in Jersey City, the college began as a small preparatory school. It has since been recognized as the #1 school in the nation for Transformation due to its abilities to respond to higher education challenges in innovative ways. Saint Peter’s was also #5 for Money’s 2015-2016 “Colleges That Add the Most Value” ranking.Program FeaturesSaint Peter’s online M.Ed. in General Administration is for those who wish to work in a variety of higher educational settings, from admissions to marketing.
Semester and summer schedule
Sample Courses: Accountability: Assessment and Accreditation, Online College Teaching and Learning
NotablesClasses meet only once a week in the late afternoon or evening, an ideal schedule for working professionals.
OverviewThe University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is among the nation’s top 115 research universities, offering 26 different research centers. Its total research expenditure amounts to $59 million annually. UWM is also the most diverse school within the University of Wisconsin system. Students of all backgrounds and all academic levels are able to find programs that fit their academic and professional goals. Currently over 10,000 students are enrolled in UMW’s online programs.Program FeaturesUWM’s online MS in Administrative Leadership degree with a concentration in Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Administration prepares leaders to work in urban higher education institutions.
No GRE required
Sample Courses: Principles and Foundation of Adult Education, The Student in the Collegiate Context
NotablesThere is also a 2 in 1 Master’s and certificate degree, where students can either earn the Support Services for Online Students in Higher Education, or the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education certificate.
OverviewMichigan State University was established in 1855 as one of the land-grant institutions under the Morrill Act. MSU is known as a nationally recognized community of scholars, leaders, athletes, and dedicated students and faculty. Located in East Lansing, the campus sits atop a 5,200-acre campus in a bustling city. MSU has won numerous awards and accolades, with a recent one being named one of the top 80 universities in the world in 2017 by the Times Higher Education World Reputation Ranking.Program FeaturesMSU’s online MA in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education degree covers a wide variety of issues in higher education such as curriculum development, budget, and policy.
Sample Courses: Inquiry in Postsecondary Education, Budgeting and Finance in Higher Education
NotablesAccording to the U.S News & World Report’s 2019 ranking, this program is ranked #1 for Higher Education Administration.
OverviewKnown for its beloved husky mascot, the University of Southern Maine was formed when Gorham Academy and Portland University merged. Because USM is located in the heart of the state’s most vibrant metropolitan area, students have access to the town’s rich history as well as internships with local businesses. These experiences are not just for on-campus students, but also extend to its online students as well. All of USM’s online programs are designed with flexibility in mind. Currently its Master’s in Higher Education is the only one of its kind in northern New England.Program FeaturesUSM’s online MS in Adult and Higher Education degree is a practitioner-oriented program for experienced educators who wish to excel in their career.
Hybrid courses available: blend on-campus and online courses
Sample Courses: Marketing Training and Adult Education, The Adult Learner, College Mental Health
NotablesPossible post-graduate jobs include dean, academic advisor, program designer, or adult education teacher.
OverviewLocated in the state’s capitol of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University was opened in 1860. Over 25,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students are enrolled throughout LSU’s 14 colleges. Because of the university’s prime location, students get to experience the city’s French and Spanish roots with access to local foods, activities, and music. For the past five years, LSU has been ranked as a Tier One University by the U.S. News & World Report. Several of its online programs are also nationally recognized.Program FeaturesLSU’s online MA in Education with a specialization in Higher Education Administration exposes students to the various divisions of the higher education field.
12 courses; each 7-weeks long
Completion Time: 18-24 months
Sample Courses: Finance in Higher Education, Community College, Understanding and Applying Research in Education
NotablesStudents can choose to either create a portfolio or a reflective essay as their final graduation project.
OverviewTexas Tech University is a public research institution that is one of the largest in the state. Its campus which is located on the South Plains in the western part of the state boasts beautiful Spanish Renaissance architecture. There are currently over 37,000 enrolled students both at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level. TTU has won many awards and accolades for its academic excellence, both for its on-campus and online degrees. According to Online Colleges, TTU is #14 in the nations for Top Colleges for Online Education for the year of 2019.Program FeaturesTTU’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education program prepares experienced professionals for management positions in universities and colleges.
Completion Time: 2 years
Blackboard online system
NotablesStudents will complete 150 hours at an internship related to group work or higher education administrative work.
OverviewAs the largest university in the area, the University of Missouri – Kansas City boasts a diverse faculty and staff with over 125 academic programs. Chartered in 1929, the university rapidly expanded in part thanks to the city leaders. Currently over 800 students are enrolled in UMKC’s several online degree programs.Program FeaturesIn UMKC’s online MA in Higher Education Administration degree, students will gain the necessary knowledge and skills to reach mid-management positions in higher education.
OverviewThe University of Houston’s history began in 1927. Its cougar mascot named Shasta was adopted two decades after its founding. Located in the fourth largest city in the nation, the university’s members are known for its deep service and community outreach events. With over 45,000 students and 25 research centers, UH is also proud to be an innovative and cutting-edge university. In fact, UH is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world for patents.Program FeaturesWith UH’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education, students can finish their master’s in a short time period without compromising their work schedule.
Completion Time: 2 years
3-credit semester internship
Graduate assistantships available
NotablesUH’s College of Education’s online graduate programs were ranked #1 by the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Online Program ranking.
OverviewGrand Valley State University is a public liberal arts university that was founded in 1960. Located in the state of Michigan, GVSU has three campuses, including one that is abroad in Holland. It is estimated that the university has a total annual economic impact of $816 million in the area. With its active student organizations, study abroad programs, and sports, GVSU is one of the best universities in the Midwest for 2018 according to the Princeton Review. It is also known for its generous financial aid, awarding 90 percent of its students with some form of aid.Program FeaturesGVSU’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education degree is for those who are interested in teaching adult learners or higher education administration positions.
Emphases: Adult and Higher Education, College Student Affairs Leadership
Sample Courses: Critical Issues in Higher Education, Theories of College Student Development
NotablesTuition rate is a flat rate based on the program, rather than residency (in-state versus out-of-state).
OverviewGeorgia Southern University is the largest comprehensive university south of Atlanta. All academic programs are designed to give students the hands-on experience they need to flourish in their future careers. Starting as an agricultural and mechanical school in 1908, Georgia Southern has since grown to meet the academic needs of a variety of disciplines. Currently there are over 27,000 students that represent all 50 states enrolled among the university’s three campuses. The university is also among the four Most Affordable Colleges in Georgia by the College Affordability Guide.Program FeaturesGeorgia Southern’s online M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration program offers practical experience in the field of academic affairs.
Full or part-time
Sample Courses: Higher Education Law, Technology for Higher Education Leaders, Politics of Higher Education
NotablesDuring the final year, students will create a professional portfolio as well as participate in a 3-credit practicum.
OverviewThe University of Louisville is an active research university that is located in the state’s largest metropolitan area. Established in 1798 by eight men who wished to create a seminary, the school reached university status after the medical school and another local college partially merged. Today Louisville is made up of three campuses, with a total of 12 colleges. By being in a big city, students are exposed to its progressive community that is made up of about one million residents.Program FeaturesUL’s online MA in Higher Education Administration explores a variety of issues within the administrative settings at universities and colleges.
8-week accelerated courses available
Concentrations: Administration, Teaching & Learning, Policy & Equity, Sport Administration
NotablesAccording to the BLS, the median salary for postsecondary education administrators is $88,580 as of 2015.
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