Career opportunities for graduates with a master’s in higher education

Many people assume this degree program would mainly interest those who are seeking a faculty position, but a master’s degree in higher education opens up broad professional possibilities for working within units found across colleges or universities. Those who earn a master’s in higher education can use this credential to pursue a variety of different roles, including staff positions at colleges and universities in areas like:

  • Admissions
  • Academic advising
  • Career development
  • Student life
  • University development
  • Study abroad
  • Alumni relations/outreach
  • Residence life
  • Institutional research
  • Enrollment management

Benefits of a career in higher education

One of the most rewarding aspects of a career in higher education is knowing you have made an impact in someone’s life by helping them expand their thinking, master new concepts, or broaden their understanding in an important area. You can also get great satisfaction from working for an organization with admirable ideals. From a more practical standpoint, other benefits of this professional path may include:

  • Free or reduced tuition for employees, spouses, and children
  • Generous holiday schedules
  • University facilities and amenities available to staff, such as dining halls, libraries, gyms, health facilities, and sporting and other cultural events
  • Retirement/pension plans with generous matching

Who should apply for the master’s degree in higher education program?

Applicants for this program may include:

  • Those who earned a bachelor’s degree recently and are seeking their first positions in higher education
  • Professionals already working in the field who want to gain a deeper knowledge of relevant subjects or improve their opportunities for advancement
  • People with backgrounds in other fields who want to shift career paths entirely

There really is no “typical” applicant, though. People from many varied backgrounds have an interest in earning an advanced degree in higher education. Many students in this program are hoping to obtain roles in student affairs, administration, or institutional research, but some may have more unusual or ambitious goals, like becoming a university president. These individuals have excelled with their disciplinary doctorate and are now thinking about moving into administrative roles and want to better understand how higher education works.

Some people also earn their master’s degree in this area with the intention of continuing on to pursue their doctorate in education, with the ultimate goal of starting a faculty career in higher education.

Why earn your master’s in higher education from Penn State World Campus?

The Master of Education in Higher Education offered through Penn State World Campus is a fully online program designed to offer the flexibility that busy working professionals need. Students can complete their program at their own pace — those who are able to take a full-time course load can earn their degree in less than two years, while most students take one or two courses at a time.

"One of the most exciting parts of our online program is the diversity it attracts, in terms of student interests, identities, career pathways, and goals,” said Dr. Karen Paulson, faculty member. “Teaching a class comprised of students at all different points in their careers, and with various interests pertaining to higher education, creates a unique learning experience in which students are learning from one another in addition to the instructor and course content. This mirrors much of what we see in higher education, where collaboration through different offices and at different organization levels advances much of the work we do."

The higher education program has been a part of Penn State for more than five decades, so this degree program provides the high academic standards you would expect from Penn State.