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 38 Master’s in Higher Education Degree Programs

Best Master's in Higher Education Degree Programs
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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.