Higher Education Administration Degree and Certificate Programs

Oct 15, 2019

Essential Information

Higher education administration certificate programs emphasize the importance of college finance and budgeting, fundraising, personnel management, and organizational behavior in higher education. Depending on the school, specialization areas may be available in enrollment management or student personnel administration. Students might also participate in seminars or complete a capstone project or dissertation. These programs are 12-18 credits long.

Higher education master's degree programs sometimes are offered cohort style, meaning a group of students advance from course to course together. Students will likely need to complete a thesis before graduating from these 36-42 credit programs.

Doctoral programs are generally available either through a philosophy track, which focuses on theory of pedagogy, or a more practical education track. Successful completion of these programs might translate to career titles such as academic adviser, student relations administrator, or higher education policy-maker. A dissertation is likely required.

To enroll in one of these programs, students will need a bachelor's degree in a related subject. This can be overlooked, however, if a student has sufficient undergraduate coursework within that field while holding a different bachelor's degree. GPA and standardized test score minimums might also exist. A statement of purpose, professional resume, letters of recommendation, and an interview may be necessary. Professional experience is heavily recommended.

Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration

Concentrations and dual degrees may be available in such complementary areas as public policy, business, student affairs, or junior college administration. Curricula are designed to develop students' professional communication skills and leadership abilities. Practical work experiences usually are required. Possible courses include:

  • Higher education history
  • Budgeting and finance for colleges
  • College regulations and legalities
  • Cultural diversity
  • College student learning

Certificate in Higher Education Administration

Certificate programs are designed to provide participants with a foundation in managerial skills for college-level programs. Additionally, courses taken at the certificate level might transfer to graduate degree programs. Certificate programs provide students with a historical and organizational overview of college-level administration. Students have the opportunity to examine governance issues, as well as topics like the following:

  • College program analysis
  • Fund raising strategies
  • Personnel management
  • Program and services marketing
  • Higher education curriculum development

Doctoral Degree in Higher Education Administration

Doctoral students in this field of study can often choose to pursue one of two training tracks. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program concentrates on research and theoretical knowledge for individuals interested in scholarly pursuits. In contrast, a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) curriculum is designed to prepare individuals with more practical skills for positions of leadership.

In a Ph.D. program, students may assist professors, while those in an Ed.D. program might participate in administrative field experiences. Learners often take part in seminars and examine case studies on such topics as the following:

  • Advanced research methods
  • Data analysis for educational professionals
  • College-level instruction
  • Trends in college administration
  • Higher education organizational behavior

Popular Career Options

Graduates of higher education master's degree programs might go on to work in college career centers, admissions offices, student housing facilities, or alumni offices. Job titles can include the following:

  • Student development specialist
  • Program coordinator
  • Academic adviser

Individuals who have earned a certificate in higher education administration might seek careers with public or private universities or community colleges. Specific employment opportunities might include the following:

  • Campus program manager
  • Resident housing coordinator
  • Student relations administrator

Graduates of a higher education administration doctoral program could go on to seek professorships or executive positions with public or private post-secondary institutions, government agencies or research institutes. Specific careers may be available in the following:

  • Research
  • Scholarly writing
  • College administration
  • Higher education policy analysis

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a likely 7% growth rate for careers in post-secondary education administration, with nearly 13,500 jobs expected to be added during the 2018-2028 time period. Most people in this field work for colleges, universities and professional institutions. Salary data from the BLS in 2018 showed a broad variation in earning potential within the post-secondary education administration field, with salaries ranging from $54,680 to $190,600 and above. The median salary within the field was $94,340 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Through master's and doctoral degrees, as well as graduate certificates, students learn fundamental skills in performing the duties of an education administrator in higher education.

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