Master's Degree in Higher Education Leadership: Program Overview

Master's degree programs are available in higher education leadership. Get information on prerequisites, courses and career options to make an informed decision about your education.

Essential Information

There are many master's degree programs available in higher education leadership. In these programs, students develop their leadership skills as education administrators. Applicants will need at least a bachelor's degree in education or a relevant field.

These programs usually require 36-45 credit hours of study, or about two years. Students generally complete core courses that give them a broad foundation in higher education leadership. Some programs also require hands-on experience with internships in college administrative offices. Online options are readily available.

Master's Degree in Higher Education Leadership

Master's degree programs in higher education leadership offer students the opportunity to study the application of leadership theory and to develop the research skills required to effectively lead and administer education programs. Many programs give students the option of tailoring their studies to meet their career goals by offering specializations in areas such as student development, enrollment, or academic development.

Programs may require verification of teaching experience if the student plans to pursue an administrative services credential or its equivalent. Students explore a number of educational administration concepts, including evaluation of education programs, governmental regulations, and organizational strategy and its relationship to education. Students can expect to take courses similar to the following:

  • Educational program planning
  • Educational law and politics
  • School site administration
  • Strategic planning
  • Foundations of adult education

Popular Career Options

Graduates of master's degree programs in higher education work in many different settings in adult education, including universities, colleges, foundations, and government agencies. Some popular career choices include the following:

  • Academic admissions
  • Academic adviser
  • Human resources
  • Public relations
  • Institutional research

Continuing Education and Licensing Information

Graduates of a master's degree program in higher education may wish to continue their education by pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Higher Education. Graduates of a Ph.D. program in higher education should be prepared to work in higher-level administrative or faculty positions in colleges and universities. Ph.D. candidates generally can focus their studies in a specific area, such as student affairs or administration.

Students also may need to complete the credentialing process for their specific fields, which varies depending on state regulations. For example, some states offer an administrative services credential that authorizes the holder to perform certain tasks, such as conducting disciplinary actions for personnel.

Higher education leadership is a broad and diverse field that encompasses many different aspects of the educational industry. Students can specialize within the field of administration and develop careers in higher education environments.

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