Online Master’s Degree in Higher Education

A masters degree in higher education is designed for professionals working as administrators or teachers at colleges or universities. The degree covers many different facets of higher education, from teaching and learning to organization and administration. Most masters degree programs in this field require 30 to 60 credit hours of course work. Many higher education programs require approximately 48 credits. Full-time students can take two to three years to complete the degree, but many students enroll in higher education masters programs on a part-time basis so they can continue working. In fact, online masters programs in higher education are widely available to accommodate work schedules. However, completion times can fluctuate overall due to varying program requirements and student availability.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Higher Education

A graduate curriculum in higher education exposes students to the many issues and challenges that are unique to the higher education setting. Students learn teaching techniques and styles that optimize student success and learning. They also study the organization structure of higher education institutions as well as various legal issues related to the field. Students will look closely at federal and state policies and how they influence the current condition of higher education. Coursework covering the history of higher education and how the contemporary higher education environment evolved over time might also be included. Common coursework in a higher education masters program might include:

  • Diversity
  • Management in Higher Education
  • Contemporary Higher Education
  • Law and Higher Education
  • Research Methods

An online masters degree in higher education typically emphasizes research. To complete their degree, many students must perform independent research then detail their findings in a thesis. Some online masters programs may have a non-thesis option. However, students considering advanced degrees in higher education should consider the thesis option.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Higher Education

Many students in a higher education masters program already have jobs at community colleges or universities. However, a masters degree in higher education can enable them to achieve their career goals or advance to the next level. A masters degree in this field can position students to assume a number of mid-level or management positions in a higher education setting, such as student advisors, director of admissions, financial aid directors, and more. Demand for higher education administrators is increasing at a moderate but steady pace, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, professionals in this field can earn approximately $80,000 on average. Some masters degree holders also go on to work as lobbyists, policy makers, or advocates for higher education.


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