Online Higher Education Degree Programs

Online higher education degree programs are primarily graduate programs that equip you with the knowledge and skills to enter or advance your career, in the institutes of higher learning. As one of the top jobs, based upon salary, higher education administration and research has much room for professional development and innovation.

As the number of students attending higher education institutions increases, qualified professionals will be needed to develop and lead programs and classes that help students reach their full potential. If you choose this career, you can become involved in many aspects of higher education, from organizational management to implementing the latest strategies and technology.

A higher education master's degree is similar to MBA programs, except with a focus on the issues faced by higher education institutions. It is ideal for people interested in mid- to upper-level administrative positions of a college or university, career advancement, or future doctoral studies.

Higher education doctorate programs, on the other hand, are designed for the most senior administrative positions at institutions, such as being a dean of a university. This type of program provides you with additional training in research, theory and administrative practices that can be used to advance the goals of higher education institutions. A doctor of education degree in higher education is tailored more toward the administrative aspects of higher education. A PhD program in higher education administration focuses more on research, and can lead to teaching positions, as well.

Earning a higher education degree program online

  • Admission to a higher education master's degree or higher education doctorate program requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Some doctorate programs require you to also have a master's degree. In both cases, your application will be strengthened by professional experience at a higher education institution.
  • Graduate programs in higher education are ideally suited for those currently working in higher education institutions, although recent graduates from undergraduate programs with a strong interest in working at higher education institutions are also eligible to apply.
  • Online programs provide you with a convenient and flexible way to advance your career using state-of-the-art technology, such as online classroom and discussion boards. This is the same type of technology that you may be called upon to evaluate and implement throughout your higher education career.
  • Some programs are 100 percent online, meaning there is no residency requirement or classes to attend. Others may require you to attend campus one or more times during the year.
  • Even if a program doesn’t require you to attend classes on campus, you may still be able to participate in a professional co-op program. This allows you to gain practical experience at a higher education institution, even without leaving your current job.

Featured Colleges offering Online Higher Education Programs

Walden University

  • M.S. in Higher Education
  • M.S. in Higher Education - College Teaching & Learning
  • M.S. in Higher Education - Enrollment Mgmt & Institutional Management
  • M.S. in Higher Education - Global Higher Education
  • M.S. in Higher Education - Leadership for Student Success
  • M.S. in Higher Education - Online & Distance Learning
  • PhD in Education - KAM-based - Higher Education
  • PhD in Education - Mixed-Model - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education - Higher Education & Adult Learning
  • Doctor of Education - Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Administrator Leadership for Teaching & Learning

Northcentral University

  • Masters in Higher Education - Accelerated Leadership in Higher Education
  • Ph.D. in Education - Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education (Eds) - Higher Education Leadership

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Education(Ed.D) in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership

What should you expect?

  • An online higher education degree focuses on administration, management, or research at higher education institutions. Programs may also allow you to concentrate in certain areas, such as college teaching and learning, online and distance learning, institutional advancement, and technology and instruction. These specializations enable you to tailor your degree to suit your career goals.
  • Coursework for online higher education degrees depends upon your career focus and chosen concentration. Courses may cover topics such as higher education governance, student development, school law and politics, managing campus operations, and research methods.
  • Schools offering this degree are often accredited by regional or national organizations. Accreditation ensures that the online program meets the same high standards associated with campus programs.
  • Extra certifications are not required for the higher education field, although higher education administrators and leaders can advance their competency and leadership skills by earning the Certified Manager (CM) credential through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers.

Career opportunities

Campus-based and online higher education degree programs prepare you for positions within and outside of academia. This includes two- and four-year colleges and universities, as well as non-profit, government, and international institutions involved with higher education. At educational institutions, professionals are involved with all aspects of the school, such as admissions, academic affairs, financial aid, institutional research, and teaching.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for higher education administrators is expected to grow about as fast as average between 2010 and 2020 with just under 28,000 jobs added during that time. The average salary for this career is $83,710. Many of these jobs require only a master’s degree, but advancement to higher positions will require more experience and a doctoral degree. University and college teaching positions are also expected to grow as fast as average, although about 300,000 new positions will be created during that time. The average salary for these positions is $62,050.

Related online education degrees

Online masters degree in education: This degree, with an emphasis on higher education, prepares you to work in higher education institutions as a development and training specialist, or as a master teacher/trainer for adult learners.

Online doctoral degree in education leadership (Ph.D. or Ed.D.): This program is designed for college faculty members and administrators who are interested in advancing to a leadership role. The program focuses specifically on the issues related to higher education in colleges.

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