What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Higher Education Program?

Online programs for a master’s in higher education degree offer the same quality instruction as on-campus programs. Obtaining an online degree is often the most convenient option, especially if you have work or family-related commitments, as many online programs allow you to complete coursework at your own pace. When browsing through the programs at different colleges, it’s important to consider which ones align with your future career goals so that you can find the program that works best for you.

Available concentrations

If you’re interested in a particular aspect of higher education, you should look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on that specialty. Some of the most popular concentration options for a master’s in higher education include:

  • Educational Leadership: Students learn skills that will help them take on leadership positions in higher education.
  • Educational Technology: In this concentration, you’ll learn ways to integrate technology into the college classroom and why it’s essential for student success.

Common degree curriculum

The curriculum and coursework for an online master’s in higher education will likely cover a wide range of topics, and the specific classes you enroll in will depend on your chosen area of concentration. Selected topics within those classes largely depend on the decisions of faculty members.

However, there are some commonalities between programs, and students should expect coursework that covers the following subjects:

  • Educational Law and Ethics
  • Finance in Higher Education
  • Educational Technology
  • Research in Education
  • Student Affairs
  • Classroom Management

Practicum experiences are also common when earning a master’s in higher education online. These on-site internships allow students to experience the realities of working at colleges and universities and receive hands-on training from professors, faculty members, and other administrators. You may also need to complete a capstone project as part of your coursework, which allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve gained in the program to contemporary trends and issues in higher education.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate the faculty and curriculum of postsecondary education institutions to ensure they offer students a high-quality academic experience. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may also be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Accreditation for a master’s in higher education program is important for job prospects as well. Many employers, including colleges and universities, require applicants to have completed accredited programs (whether online or on-campus) for their education.

Program completion timeframe

The timeline for completing an online master’s in higher education depends on your chosen pace and individual circumstances. In general, you can expect to complete this degree program in one to three years, depending on whether you’re taking classes full-time or part-time. Most programs require 36 to 45 credits for completion; credits vary by school and program type.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Higher Education Graduates

A master’s in higher education can qualify you to work in several niches within academia, including curriculum design, admissions, and student affairs.

Such occupations are not expected to see robust growth over the next decade, but they do offer the potential to earn a high salary. For example, the top 10% of postsecondary education administrators make over $196,420.

It’s important to consider that your salary will also likely depend on where you work. Areas with a higher cost of living usually offer higher wages.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Instructional Coordinator Instructional coordinators collaborate with professors to help develop curricula and lesson plans. They review textbooks and other learning materials, recommend teaching techniques, and provide training for instructors as needed. $66,490 2%
Postsecondary Education Administrator Administrators at colleges and universities oversee areas like student services, academics, and faculty research. Job duties vary widely depending on their department, such as student life, admissions, or the registrar’s office. $99,940 4%

Professional organizations

Connecting with other professionals and learning about different approaches to higher education is important for your career growth and critical to your success in the field. Professional organizations for higher education administrators host networking events, provide online training, have active job boards, and offer valuable career services for recent master’s degree graduates. Listed below are two of the country’s most prominent organizations for those in higher education:

  • Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education: Also known as NAPSA, this organization currently represents more than 15,000 members at 2,100 postsecondary institutions worldwide. Its programs address important issues in higher education, including diversity, violence prevention, technology, and mental health.
  • National Education Association: The NEA offers resources for securing financial support and tools for creating high-quality lesson plans for teachers and administrators in public education.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Higher Education Degree

Online degrees are typically less expensive than degrees earned in a classroom, but some students still need financial aid to help them afford their education. Many financial assistance options are available, including loans, grants, and scholarships.

An excellent first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will provide you with more information about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid options offered by the federal government. Grants and scholarships are also available from nonprofit organizations and private companies. In addition, the schools you apply to may have their own scholarships available for students.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

There may be hundreds of financial aid opportunities that you qualify for, each with its own set of application requirements and deadlines. The following resources will help you sort through all this information and save as much money on the cost of your college education as possible:

Online Master’s Degree Scholarship Database

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Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.