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Why This Matters

Our Research

This list covers graduate programs in higher education. Graduates are prepared for senior-level positions in student services, academics, and faculty research. Degrees offered include Master of Education in Higher Education, Master of Science in Higher Education, Master of Science in Education Student Affairs Administration, Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership, and Master of Arts in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education. Students can choose from in-person, online, and hybrid learning formats.

Graduate programs in higher education with curricula that meet specific academic standards receive accreditation at the national and regional levels. The schools on our list are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 60 hours to write this article
  • 207 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 238 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Higher Education Degree Programs

Best Master's in Higher Education Degree Programs
Intelligent Pick
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Best Part-Time Program
Georgia Southern University
Best in the South
Sam Houston State University
Best Christian Institution
Mississippi College
Best in the Northwest
Central Washington University
Best Hybrid Program
Messiah University
Best for Hands-on Learning
Fort Hays State University
Best in the Northeast
Pennsylvania State University
Best Fellowships
Indiana University Bloomington
Best for International Students
Andrews University
Best in the Midwest
North Park University
Best Dual Degree Program
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Best for Study Abroad
Stony Brook University
Best Professional Development Opportunities
University of Houston
Best for GRE/MAT Waivers
Appalachian State University
Best in the Southeast
Louisiana State University
Most Flexible Schedule
West Virginia University
Best Non-Thesis Option
Dallas Baptist University
Best Full-Time Program
University of Mississippi
Best Private Institution
Post University
Best in the West
Colorado State University
Best for Educational Policy
Drexel University
Best Student Services
Hofstra University
Best Honors Program
Indiana State University
Most Affordable Program
Texas Tech University
Best Student-Faculty Ratio
Endicott College
Best for Career Opportunities
Harvard University
Most Balanced Curriculum
Loyola University Chicago
Morgan State University
Best for Community College Specialization
Northern Arizona University
Best for Personalized Mentoring
Northcentral University
Best for Active-Duty Military
National University
Best Assistantships
The Ohio State University
Best Scholarships
University of Rochester
Best Electives
University of Central Florida
Best for Urban Education
Best On-Campus Program
University Of Florida
Best Advisors
University of Michigan

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What You Should Know About This Degree

When choosing a career path in postsecondary education, you should also consider pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching or Master of Education degree. Higher education programs prepare students for leadership roles in academia, such as admissions dean, financial aid director, and student services dean; however, if you want to work in learning environments, you might want to specialize in teaching with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Students who want training for all levels of education might pursue a more general Master of Education degree. When deciding which program is right for you, determine whether you would like an administrative career in education or would be more interested in teaching.

Certifications help graduates demonstrate their expertise and skills to potential employers. Consider obtaining certifications such as the Certified Higher Education Professional (CHEP) credential, awarded by the CECU (Career Education Colleges and Universities). Other CEHP certifications are awarded to higher education professionals in specializations such as teaching, online teaching, admissions, career services, campus operations, and leadership.

The demand for higher education professionals is expected to remain high as the number of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions increases over the next decade. Professionals are needed in every department, including admissions, student affairs, and registrar’s office.

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when researching graduate programs in higher education:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Students who wish to pursue a master’s in higher education must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field. Some programs may require a minimum GPA and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score. You might also need to have prior professional work experience.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most master’s programs in higher education take two years of full-time study to complete. The programs on our list require 30 to 50 credits to graduate.

Each program has specific entry requirements. Contact the school’s admissions department or visit the program’s website for information about application materials and submission deadlines.

Consider how you’ll pay for your graduate studies. You might be eligible for federal student aid as well as scholarships and grants. If you have a job in a related field, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement.

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