Best Online Master’s in Higher Education Degrees

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The world of higher education is changing dramatically.

With increasing numbers of students enrolling in degree programs over the next decade, the field of higher education is becoming both more complex and competitive.

Higher education offers countless opportunities for professionals with strong leadership skills and expertise. There are so many roles to fill – from the many administrative and management jobs to the plethora of careers in student services.

A master’s degree in Higher Education will give you the training you need for any higher education career you want to land in.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Higher Education Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Georgetown University Washington, DC
2 Boston University Boston, MA
3 Northeastern University Boston, MA
4 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
5 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
6 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
7 Hofstra University Hempstead, NY
8 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
10 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
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What kind of higher education degree should you get?

Do you want to work in administration? Career services? Enrollment management? The answers to those questions should in large part determine the program you enroll in. There are lots of options out there, with emphases in a variety of areas. And there are also more broadly-based programs that will prepare you for many different jobs in higher ed.

Online education is also a great option if you want to continue working while you study. All the programs on this ranking offer courses online, so you’ll be able to balance your work and personal commitments with your studies. These are accredited, rigorous programs which will be highly respected by employers.

If you’d like to learn more about online education, check out the College Choice ranking of the Best Online Colleges.

How much money do people make with a higher education degree?

There are so many different positions in higher education – with a wide range of salaries. Your take-home pay will be determined by a range of factors like geography, work experience, and – of course – the institution you work for.

But there is high demand for professionals with the skills to support, manage, and lead the many operations associated with colleges and universities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for post-secondary educational administrators will grow by 10 percent by the year 2026. And the median pay for postsecondary education administrators is currently reported as $92,360 annually.

What can you do with a degree in higher education?

With a master’s in higher education, you’ll be ready to take on wide range of entry-level and middle-management positions in higher education. Broadly speaking, careers tend to lie in either administration or student affairs.

Administration can include managing finances, fundraising, or human resources – among many, many other possibilities. A career in student affairs puts you in direct contact with students through jobs like career or academic advisement, admissions, and enrollment.

With a master’s in higher education, the sky’s the limit – up to the very top leadership positions. Common job titles include:

  • Financial aid counselor
  • Development and fundraising officer
  • Alumni relations coordinator
  • Academic records specialist
  • Assistant director of marketing and communication
  • Assistant dean of admissions

What are the requirements for a degree in higher education?

All the degree programs on our ranking are designed for adults who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Apart from that basic standard, each program has its own specific admission requirements.

Most programs are designed for both recent (or current) undergraduates and professional adults with experience in a two- or four-year college or university. Most admissions committees also ask for a statement of your professional goals and objectives, to make sure that the program is right for you.

And of course, you’ll need to submit all your undergraduate transcripts and possibly GRE scores.

What are the best higher education degrees?

Best Higher Education Degrees Badge

At College Choice, our goal is to help you locate a program that will deliver both academic excellence and a high return on investment.

To accomplish that, our team of researchers takes into account a variety of factors – like national reputation scores, tuition rates, early career earnings of graduates, and wherever possible, student satisfaction surveys. We use all that data to calculate our College Choice score and then lay it all out for you in an easy-to-read manner.

And all the schools on our ranking are regionally accredited, so you don’t have to worry about any fly-by-night institutions making their way onto our rankings.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, Georgetown University is a historic, private, Catholic research university. The school, which U.S. News and World Report ranks among the top 20 national universities in the country, is comprised of nine undergraduate and graduate schools. Georgetown’s School of Continuing Education provides hands-on education that goes well beyond the classroom.

    Program Features

    Georgetown’s School of Continuing Education offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Higher Education Administration. This practical, applied degree program is designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge to take on increasing responsibility in the field of higher education.The curriculum provides both a broad view of the UShigher education landscape, and the skills to effect change. Courses include:

    • Ethics
    • American Higher Education
    • Organization and Administration in Higher Education

    Notables

    Georgetown’s MPS in Higher Education Administration is a 33-credit program comprised of six required courses (including a capstone project) and five elective courses. The program is available online (as well as on campus) and you’ll be able to set the pace of your studies, taking from two to five years to complete the program. Georgetown’s program offers a high degree of flexibility, including two possible focus areas in Administration and Student Affairs.

  2. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Situated along the Charles River in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore and Allston neighborhood, Boston University is one of the largest private research universities in the country. The university’s combination of excellence in teaching and research consistently places them at the top of national rankings. BU’s School of Education currently sits at #34 nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    BU’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development offers an online MEd in Education Leadership & Policy Studies with a concentration in Higher Education Administration. If you’re looking for a program with a social justice lens, BU’s program is a great choice. The program develops culturally competent leaders by reflecting on the contemporary higher education landscape. You’ll engage in theory-to-practice learning in areas that include student life, financial aid, admissions, career advisement, and more. Courses include:

    • Perspectives on Higher Education
    • Contemporary Issues in Higher Education Administration
    • Strategic Planning and Administration

    Notables

    BU’s MEd: Higher Education Administration concentration is a 36-credit program comprised of nine required, four-credit courses. Courses are delivered in accelerated, 7-week terms so students move quickly through their degree requirements. And the program is set up to be manageable for working students, with asynchronous classes, flexible live sessions, and three start-dates throughout the year – so you can begin when you’re ready.

  3. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private research university located in Boston, MA, Northeastern University first opened its doors in 1898. The school ranks among America’s top 50 national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report. And Northeastern’s distinctive graduate education programs prepare educators for leadership with courses that bring to bear more than a decade of experiential learning expertise.

    Program Features

    Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies offers an online MEd in Higher Education Administration. Students gain a 360-degree understanding of the structure, governance, and operation of higher education organization in the U.S. This is a great program if you really want to put your knowledge to the test – Northeastern employs an experiential learning model that encourages students to apply theoretical knowledge and examine the results. Courses include:

    • Education as an Advanced Field of Study
    • Culture, Equity, Power, and Influence
    • The Landscape of Higher Education

    Notables

    Northeastern’s MEd in Higher Education Administration is a 45-quarter-credit program comprised of five required courses, five electives, and a capstone course. One unique feature of Northeastern’s program is the possibility to take part in up to two international field study experiences. These require on-site instruction in the region of study combined with a professional research project or presentation.

  4. Stony Brook University
    Location

    Stony Brook, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located on the North Shore of Long Island, NY, Stony Brook University is a public research university in the State University of New York system and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Stony Brook is known for its outstanding graduate programs in a number of fields, and their online programs have also earned national acclaim.

    Program Features

    Stony Brook University’s School of Professional Development offers an online MA in Higher Education Administration that will provide the academic preparation to become a leader in the field. As a student, you’ll experience a curriculum that aligns ACPA and NASPA professional competencies. And courses combine aspects of theory and practice within the changing landscape of American higher education, including:

    • Foundations of Higher Education Administration
    • Survey of College Student Development Theory
    • Leadership in Higher Education

    Notables

    Stony Brook University’s online MA in Higher Education Administration is a 36-credit program comprised of six core courses and six electives. You’ll have the opportunity to take part in a practicum (as well as an advanced practicum) in higher education, which will give you professional experience prior to graduation. And with a very competitive tuition rate, Stony Brook’s program offers a high level of return on investment for your tuition dollar.

  5. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rochester University is a private research university that U.S. News and World Report ranks at #34 among national universities. The Warner School of Education takes part in that reputation, with programs uniquely designed for practitioners or researchers who participate in groundbreaking studies and grant-funded projects in a variety of areas.

    Program Features

    The University of Rochester’s Warner School offers a Master of Science in Educational Administration. Designed for students beginning or advancing a career in higher education, the program provides a foundation in institutional culture as well as the purposes and ideals of higher education. You’ll gain the skills – and develop the creativity – to inspire and lead students and institutions to a higher level of thinking and thoughtful change. There are three options for specialization:

    • Higher Education Administration
    • Student Affairs Administration
    • Student Affairs Administration and Career Advising

    Notables

    The University of Rochester’s online MS in Educational Administration is a remarkably customizable 36-credit program with a mix of core/specialization courses and electives. You’ll take part in a supervised internship and culminating experience to develop and demonstrate your skills. And you’ll also be able to complete an Advanced Certificate in Program Evaluation or Online Teaching. If you’re looking for a program with a lot of options, this one is definitely worth checking out.

  6. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Clinton, MS, Mississippi College is a private, Christian university and one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the state. Affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, MC ranks at #32 among regional universities in the South, according to U.S. News and World Report. And its online programs make MC’s programs accessible to students nationwide.

    Program Features

    Mississippi College offers an online Master of Higher Education Administration for those beginning or continuing a career in the field of higher education. MC’s program provides a strong grounding in general administrative theory and practice as they pertain to the higher education landscape. Courses are highly interactive, and students have opportunities to put theory to practice in hands-on assignments. Courses include:

    • Basic Understandings in Higher Education Administration
    • Law and Higher Education
    • Finance in Higher Education

    Notables

    Mississippi College’s online Master of Higher Education Administration is a 27-credit program comprised of seven required courses and two practicum experiences. Online courses at MC are designed with the busy schedule of working adults in mind. If you’re looking for a hands-on higher education administration program with a Christian focus, this may be a good fit for you – and the school’s affordable tuition makes it a highly competitive degree.

  7. Hofstra University
    Location

    Hempstead, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the village of Hampstead on New York’s Long Island, Hofstra University is a highly-ranked, private research university. Hofstra’s 11,000 students can choose from 160 undergraduate and 165 graduate programs of study, including several programs offered entirely online. The school’s online graduate education programs rank at #76 nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    Hofstra University’s School of Education offers an online M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies program that prepares students for careers in a variety of aspects of higher education. This interdisciplinary program is for students from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds and provides a comprehensive understanding of leadership issues in a higher education setting. Courses include:

    • Student Affairs Leadership
    • Governance in Higher Education
    • Legal and Ethical Issues

    Notables

    Hofstra University’s M.S.Ed. in Higher Education is a 36-credit program comprised of nine required courses, two leadership electives and a capstone course. Offered in asynchronous format, the online program employs a cohort model, so you’ll be able to build strong relationships with fellow students as you move through the program together. And if you’re interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, 30 credits of the MEd transfer directly to Hofstra’s 79-credit Ed.D.

  8. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Statesboro, GA, Georgia Southern University is the largest comprehensive university south of Atlanta. The university takes a hands-on, practical approach to learning and employs dedicated faculty that are committed to student success. Georgia Southern’s nationally-ranked College of Education offers online graduate programs that rank among the best in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    Georgia Southern’s School of Education offers an online MEd in Higher Education that will expose you to the full institutional and social context of the American higher education system. You’ll explore the concepts of administration, law, finance, and human governance as they apply to higher education. And faculty are dedicated to connecting with students, helping them become expert practitioners and scholars. Courses include:

    • American Higher Education
    • Higher Education Administration
    • Higher Education Law

    Notables

    Georgia Southern’s MEd in Higher Education is a 36-credit program comprised of nine required courses (this includes a practicum experience) and three electives. The coursework provides the foundation of the program, and hands-on experiences make connections between what you learn and how it applies to the real world. You can complete the program on a full- or part-time basis, begin in any semester, and complete your courses either entirely online or in a hybrid format.

  9. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Philadelphia, PA, Drexel University is a highly innovative, private technological university. The school has pioneered technology-enhanced education, and its cooperative education program guarantees that students graduate with extensive work experience. Drexel is a leader in online learning, with several programs – including graduate education – ranking among the best in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    Drexel’s School of Education offers a Master of Science in Higher Education which features a strong academic program in a convenient online format. The experiential curriculum will give you a deep understanding of the world of higher education. And you’ll be equipped with practical skills using the latest learning technologies and strategies, research, software applications, and management systems. You can also enroll in one of seven optional secondary concentrations, including:

    • Community College Administration and Leadership
    • Educational Policy
    • Enrollment Management
    • Global and International Education

    Notables

    Drexel’s MS in Higher Education is a 45-quarter-credit program comprised of 13 courses, a capstone project, and a Higher Education co-op experience. For those looking for a highly practical program that will give you useful skills to help you accelerate your career progress, Drexel’s program is worth serious consideration. Rooted in practice, Drexel’s program aims to train leaders that will change the field of higher education for the better.

  10. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Situated in East Lansing, MI, Michigan State University is a large public research university that ranks among the top 100 national universities in the country. MSU’s graduate programs have a reputation for being some of the best in the nation – and U.S. News and World Report has ranked the College of Education #1 in the nation for higher education administration.

    Program Features

    MSU’s College of Education offers a Master of Arts in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education that promotes professional development for those working in a variety of higher education settings. The curriculum covers areas such as higher education policy, curricular development, and budget and finance. And you’ll also learn how to serve students in contexts beyond the higher education sector. Courses include:

    • Inquiry in Postsecondary Education
    • Leadership and Organization Development
    • Administration in Higher Education

    Notables

    MSU’s MA in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education is a 30-credit program comprised of two core courses, eight electives, and a final project connecting theory to practice. This program features a remarkably high level of course flexibility, so you can customize the program to your own interests and career goals. And with MSU’s eminently reasonable tuition, you’ll gain a top-ranked education without breaking your bank.

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