Higher Education administrators are among the most well-paid in the education sector, with median pay at $83,710 in 2010 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – or $40.24 per hour. What's more, the BLS predicts jobs in higher education administration to increase 15 percent through 2022, growing twice as fast as other management jobs.
For most of these positions, a graduate degree is required, and a Master's in Higher Education will give education professionals the ideal background to advance their careers. Here's a list of our top 25 online Master's in Higher Education Administration programs.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Under $30,000—1 point
- Under $25,000—2 points
- Under $20,000—3 points
- Under $15,000—4 points
- Under $10,000—5 points
US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master's Degrees:
- Top 50 —4 points
- Top 100 —3 point
- Top 150 —2 point
- Top 200 —1 point
- Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
- Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)
- 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that "wowed" us
Ranking the Top Masters Degrees in Higher Education Administration Online
To compile this ranking, our editors began with an initial pool of over 40 online Master's degrees in Higher Education Administration programs offered by colleges across the US. We then narrowed the pool to include only those schools that were in the top 200 for all online graduate programs (ranked by the US News and World Report) and below $30,000 (out-of-state) tuition per year. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above, and the result was the ranking you see below of the top 25 online programs for an Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. We used affordability to break any ties, listing the more affordable program higher in the ranking.
#25 West Virginia University
Online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration
Though the the College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University offers an online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. This 36-credit program consists of 18-credit hours of required courses, 15-credit hours of electives, and a 3 credit capstone internship experiences. Sample courses include 21-Century Teaching and Learning, Higher Education Planning and Budget, Curriculum Development in Higher Education, and Instructional Design and Technology. Students will be prepared for careers like Instructional Coordinator, Education Professor, and Post-Secondary. Education Administrator. To help guide the process from beginning to end, students get academic and program guidance from enrollment coaches and academic advisors.
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,390
#24 Stony Brook University
Master of Higher Education Administration Online
Stony Brook University offers a 36-credit Master of Higher Education Administration, in addition to an 18-credit advanced graduate certificate, for interested students. The online MA degree consists of 18 core credits, and 18 electives, allowing students to tailor their degrees to fit their needs and interests. Core classes include Foundations of Higher Education Administration, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, and a project seminar. Students may take up to 5 years to graduate, though many graduate within a few years.
Out-of-State Tuition: $22,210
#23 Southern New Hampshire University
MS in Higher Education Administration Online
Southern New Hampshire University's online Master of Science in Higher Education Administration program consists of 36-credit hours. With an asynchronous 10-week term class format, students taking two courses at a time can complete their degree at an accelerated rate in as little as 15 months. Core course work includes Data-Driven Decision-Making in Higher Ed, Financial Management, and Leading Change, among others. Students will then choose 3 electives to tailor their education to fits needs and interests. Services for online students include academic advisors, career services, and access to the school's online community called SNHUconnect.
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,810
#22 Mississippi College
Online Master of Higher Education Administration
Mississippi College offers a 31-credit fully online program that can be completed in as little as 3 semesters. Eligible students can transfer up to 6 credits. For interested students, a 15-credit graduate certificate is also available. All students must complete 2 two-hour practicums, and can start once they have completed 9-credit hours of the program. Core classes include Finance and Higher Education, Law and Higher Education, The Community College, and Basic Effective Leadership.
Out-of-State Tuition: $10,584
#21 University of Mississippi
Online M.A. in Higher Education
The University of Mississippi offers a 42-credit M.A. in Higher Education online degree that consists of 14 courses, including Student Services in Higher Education, Human Resources in Higher Education, Finance, and Community College. If students take 2 courses at a time, the program can be completed in 2 years. While the program can be taken fully online, students are required to visit UM's Oxford campus during their first summer for a one-day orientation. As a cohort program, students learn a highly collaborative and intimate environment. Out-of-State Tuition: $23,454
#20 Hofstra University
MSEd in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies Online
Hofstra offers a MSEd in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies that consists of 36 credits – 27 core, 6 elective, and 3 capstone. Core courses include Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Legal and Ethical Issues in Higher Education, and Planning, Assessment, Accreditation in Higher Education. A flexible course delivery format allows for students to maintain schedules that best fit their needs, featuring a fully online or a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. Most students follow an accelerated track in which they can graduate in as little as 6 semesters.
Out-of-State Tuition: $23,256
#19 Upper Iowa University
Online Master of Education with an emphasis in Higher Education
Upper Iowa University's online program is a 36-credit Master of Education with an emphasis in Higher Education. Core course work includes Teaching and Working in a Multicultural Setting, Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education, Finance and Budgeting, and Quality Improvement and Accreditation. All coursework addresses and develops the skills necessary to excel in four core areas of Higher Education Administration: leadership of staff, management of funding, budgeting and organizational process. In order to graduate, students will complete a comprehensive written exam.
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,324
#18 University of Houston
Online M.ED. in Higher Education
The University of Houston offers a 5-semester online M.ED. in Higher Education degree designed to address the modern day issues in colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions. Students will take 12 courses, including a real-world experience internship, and all work will culminate into written comprehensive exams in the final semester. Specific courses include Leadership for Change, American Higher Education, Critical Issues in Higher Education, and Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education.
#17 John Brown University
M.A. in Higher Education
John Brown University offers an M.A. in Higher Education consisting of 40 credits. This program is considered a hybrid degree program, as half of the classes are based on an asynchronous online model and half are synchronous face-to-face classes at the JBU campus. However, students can opt to watch the on-campus classes online instead, making it a fully online program if desired. Accelerated 8-week courses are available for interested students. Core classes include Parent and Community Relations, Organizational Dynamics and Change, School Finance, and Curriculum Alignment and Assessment. Note that, as a Christian school, John Brown integrates religious values into the curriculum.
#16 Drexel University
Online MS in Higher Education
Drexel's online MS in Higher Education consists of 14 courses (or, 45 credits): 6 core courses, 4 primary concentration courses, 3 elective courses or secondary concentration courses, and 1 capstone course. In addition, several concentrations are available: Community College Administration and Leadership, Educational Policy, Enrollment Management, Global and International Education, Learning Technologies, Neuroscience, Learning, & Online Instruction, and Student Development and Affairs. Current alumni have positions such as Dean of Development, Director of Enrollment Management, University Registrar, and Director of Retention, among others.
Out-of-State Tuition: $33,156
#15 Northeastern University
Master of Education in Higher Education Administration Online
Northeastern University offers a 45 quarter-hour online M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration. With an accelerated option, students can complete their degrees in as little as 1 year. Part-time students can expect to graduate in just 2 years. Course work includes classes in Faculty, Curriculum, and Academic Community; Education Law, Policy, and Finance; and Competencies, Assessment, and Learning Analytics. All students must complete a culminating capstone course. Benefits of the program include experiential learning, group projects, and an e-portfolio.
Out-of-State Tuition: $23,408
#14 Northcentral University
Online Master of Education with a specialization in Leadership in Higher Education
Northcentral University offers an MEd in Higher Education Leadership that consists of 30 credit hours and 10 courses. On an accelerated, 8-week delivery schedule, students may complete their degrees in as few as 15 months. Alternatively, part-time students may choose to take up to 5 years to graduate, allowing students maximum flexibility. Course work includes Leading Organizations in Higher Education, Exploring Legal Issues in Higher Education, Financial Issues in Higher Education, and The Community College. One feature that makes this program stand out is its focus on exploring the inner workings of community colleges, for those interested.
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,553
#13 Indiana State University
Online MS in Student Affairs and Higher Education
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Indiana State University's online MS in Student Affairs and Higher Education is a 39-credit hour program that can be completed mostly online in 3 years. Note that 3 courses must be taken in a traditional classroom setting, but can be taken anywhere and transferred to ISU. The base of the curriculum blends classroom instruction, real-world application, and independent learning to provide a comprehensive program geared towards preparing education professionals for careers in higher education. Graduates will be prepared for jobs in a variety of post-secondary institutions in fields such as admissions, career development, student development, and residence halls.
Out-of-State Tuition: $14,274
#12 Tiffin University
Master of Education (MEd) Online with a concentration in Higher Education Administration
Tiffin University's online program consists of 30 credits, delivered in accelerated 7-week terms. Full-time students may complete their degrees in as little as 18 months. Students choose two electives in addition to the core curriculum and Higher Ed Administration concentration classes: Student Enrollment and Retention, Assessment and Student Learning, Crisis Prevention in Educations, and Higher Education Finance and Budgeting. An e-Portfolio capstone is required to graduate. Also note that entry dates are available in January, March, May, July, August, and October.
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,600
#11 University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Master of Education with a concentration in Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Administration
Thought the Department of Administrative Leadership, the University of Wisconsin-Milkwaukee offers an online Master of Education with a concentration in Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Administration (ACHEA). This program is set apart from others on this rankings list because it focuses on the urban populations in diverse higher education institutions. Students will learn in collaborative setting and also have the opportunity to apply instructional theory in community research settings. Sample courses include Using Technology with Adult Learners, Leadership in Multicultural Organizations, and Coordination of Staff Development & Training Programs. While students are earning their Masters degree online, they can simultaneously earn a certificate through UW-Milwaukees 2 in 1 program.
#10 Penn State World Campus
Online Master of Education in Higher Education
Penn State World Campus offers a 30-credit online Master of Education in Higher Education through its Center for the Study of Higher Education and the Department of Education Policy Studies. Because the program is flexible, students can choose to take one class at a time or two classes at at time, which would enable students to complete the program in as little as 15 months. Four emphasis areas are available: Administration, Student Engagement, Institutional Research, and Fundraising Leadership. After completing the required coursework, students will take 6-credit hours in their desired concentration field and 6-credits hours of elective work. Sample courses include Pro-Seminar in US Higher Education, College Students and Their Success, and Foundations of Institutional Research.
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,470
#9 Capella University
MS in Higher Education Online with a specialization in Leadership and Administration
Capella University offers a 48-credit MS in Higher Education with a specialization in Leadership and Administration. Accelerated options are available, which may allow students to graduate in just 1.5 years (with up to 12 credits transferable, qualified students may graduate even sooner). Courses deliver in 10-week blocks, and include 4 core courses, 4 specialization courses, e emphasis courses, and a capstone experience. Sample courses are History, Issues, & Trends in Higher Ed; Politics & Public Policy in Higher Ed; and Financial Management & Institutional Development, among others. Additional emphases options include a concentration in Community College, as well as further studies in administration.
Out-of-State Tuition: $14,365
#8 Sam Houston State University
Online MA in Higher Education Administration
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Sam Houston State University offers a 30-36 credit-hour online program. The track includes thesis and non-thesis options, as well as 2 graduate certificates in Academic Advising and Higher Education Assessment and Institutional Research. Core course work includes studies in History and Organization of Higher Education; Contemporary Issues in Higher Education; and Leadership in Higher Education, among others. Students must also complete a practicum, which provides valuable real-world experience. Graduates can also proceed to a doctoral program in Educational Leadership or Higher Education Administration.
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,861
#7 Walden University
Master of Science (MS) in Higher Education Online
Walden University's online general track is a 30-credit program (27 core, 3 capstone) can be completed in two years. If students desire to take two classes at a time instead, students can earn their online Master's in higher education at an accelerated pace. Graduates will be prepared to enter the workforce in various higher education positions like: Student Affairs, Registrar, Institutional Advancement, Corporate Training, and Academic Affairs. Walden University offers 6 specializations so students can tailor their degree to their desired outcome. Concentrations include Enrollment Management and Institutional Marketing, Adult Learning, Global Higher Education, Online and Distance Learning, College Teaching and Learning, and Leadership for Student Success.
Out-of-State Tuition: $23,250
#6 Louisiana State University
Master of Education in Educational Leadership Online
Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, LSU's online Master of Education in Educational Leadership is designed for current and aspiring educators to strengthen their teaching strategies and abilities. While some other programs on this list focus on student affairs of higher education, this program is made up of mostly practitioners in the teaching profession. Students can expect the curriculum to address fundamental educational material like administration, leadership ethics, and improvement research. With the program available fully online, classes will consist of 13 courses and follow a 7-week class format. Most students finish the program in 15 months. Impressively, 100% of students who take the School Leaders Licensure Assessment pass the exam.
#5 North Park College
Master of Higher Education Administration (MHEA) Online
North Park College's online Master of Higher Education Administration degree consists of 36-credit hours, consisting of 13 core courses and 5 elective courses. Students can expect to take classes like Organizational Behavior and Ethics, Ethical Leadership and Decision-Making, Non-profit Financial Management, and Enrollment Management in Higher Education. Depending on the student's schedule, this program can be completed in 21 months. The degree can be completed fully online, or through a hybrid format. Either direction will provide a thorough education with hands-on learning projects and interactive instruction.
#4 Post University
Online Master's in Higher Education Administration
Post University offers an online M.S. Higher Education Administration with a concentrations available in Administrative Leadership and Student Affairs. The 33-credit program is broken down into 12 core hours, 12 concentration hours, and 9 capstone hours. Higher Ed classes Foundations & Emerging Trends in Higher Education, The New Post Secondary Student, and Faculty in Higher Education. Thanks to an asynchronous delivery, students can complete all course work according to their own schedules.
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,500
#3 University of Louisville
Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration
The University of Louisville's online program consists of 36 credit hours, with 4 concentrations available: Administration, Teaching & Learning, Policy & Equity, and Sports Administration. Among the core courses include Diversity in Higher Education, College Students in the United States, and Educational Resource Management in Postsecondary Education. Full-time students typically complete their degrees in 2 years, though this program is particularly geared for working, full-time professionals currently in the field.
Out-of-State Tuition: $25,496
#2 Purdue University Global
Online MS in Higher Education
The online Master of Science degree in Higher Education from Purdue University Global gives students the opportunity to build the critical thinking, writing, and research skills necessary to excel in the higher education arena. Students can tailor their educational experience by choosing one of three concentration areas: College Administration & Leadership, College Teaching, and Student Affairs. In addition, Purdue offers a very unique partnership with Promise Opens Doors where students can enroll in the Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages Core Certificate Program. Though the certificate program is not included in the degree tuition, it is a valuable experience for those seeking to work with non-English speaking students, home or abroad. Gradates of this degree program can expect to find jobs as Directors of Student Services or Affairs, Department Chairs, or other research & assessment positions.
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,860
#1 University of Nebraska Lincoln
Online Master of Arts in Educational Administration
The University of Nebraska Lincoln offers an online Master of Arts in Educational Administration with focus areas in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs Administration, with an option to add on a graduate certificate in Community College Leadership. Students can choose from two methods of study, one 30-credit option where a thesis is required, or one 36-credit option where no thesis is required, but a minor of at least 9-credit hours is. In culmination, all students will take a written comprehensive exam prior to graduation. Interested students can proceed to a Doctorate level degree if desired. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is ranked among the top 40 of all online graduate education programs by the US News and World Report.
Out-of-State Tuition: $22,425
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