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Top Higher Education Administration Graduate Schools in the U.S.

Read about graduate programs in higher education administration, through which professionals train to work as leaders in colleges, universities and educational organizations. Learn about the degree options at four universities, and see what other schools in the U.S. offer higher education administration programs.

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Many universities and colleges offer graduate degrees in higher education administration, but the programs at the schools listed below have been ranked as some of the best in the country.

School Overviews

Postsecondary programs in higher education administration typically lead to a master's or doctoral degree and can be found at schools like the University of California in Los Angeles, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Pennsylvania State University and Harvard University. All four schools have received high marks from U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their education schools and programs in higher education administration.

University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA)

School Highlight: The Higher Education Research Institute offers resources to students.

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA ranked 11th among the top education schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2016, as well as third for its higher education administration program. UCLA also placed 24th among national universities and tied for second among public schools, according to USN&WR. The school's Higher Education and Organizational Change Division offers three graduate degrees, including a Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Courses include topics in college student cognitive development, diversity, theoretical frameworks and organizational analysis.

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

School Highlight: Michigan offers dual programs leading to master's degrees in both higher education and public policy or business administration.

According to U.S. News & World Report in 2016, the School of Education at this public university ranked 12th among its peers and offered the number one higher education program in the country. The school's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education offers several graduate degree programs in higher education administration. Students can pursue an M.A. in Higher Education or a Ph.D. in one of five different concentrations, including academic affairs, organizational management and public policy.

Pennsylvania State University in University Park

School Highlight: Penn State offers an Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program.

Pennsylvania State University's graduate programs in higher education administration ranked seventh and its education school tied for 37th in the country, as designated by U.S. News & World Report in 2016. The programs can lead to a M.Ed., Doctor of Education (D.ED.) or Ph.D. The master's curriculum is designed to prepare individuals for administrative roles in various areas of postsecondary education, such as admissions and student advising. The school's D.Ed. and Ph.D. programs help professionals acquire the skills they need to assume leadership or research roles in education-related institutions and organizations.

Harvard University in Cambridge

School Highlight: Higher education students can participate in paid internships that are custom-built to aid professional advancement.

Harvard University ranked 11th in the U.S. News and World Report listing of best higher education administration programs in 2016, and its overall education program tied for second. The Harvard master's program prepares graduates for positions in higher education administration, policymaking and research. Students study actual education policies and practices, engage in role-playing and debates, and discuss case studies. In addition, most students complete a paid internship at Harvard or in the greater Cambridge/Boston region.

Top Higher Education Administration Graduate Programs

The following schools also offer top-ranked programs in higher education administration:

  • Indiana University - Bloomington ranked 9th in the country for its program in higher education administration in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Iowa State University in Ames, IA, offers master's and doctoral programs with concentrations in community college leadership and higher education student affairs, among other areas.
  • Located in East Lansing, Michigan State University's Center for Higher and Adult Education hosts forums addressing higher education policy challenges.
  • At Stanford University, in Stanford, CA, higher education students benefit from small class sizes and individualized mentoring.
  • Located in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania's higher education graduate programs offer specialized electives in law, finance, development and policy.
  • Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN, ranked 8th in the country for its higher education administration program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

Many schools offer programs in higher education administration, but the schools listed above have been ranked as some of the best by U.S. News and World Report. Students should weigh their choice based on program options, like concentrations that suit their career tracks or internship opportunities.

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