Higher Education

Students in the UMass Amherst higher education program aspire to be leaders in higher education, revolutionizing the field by working for social justice and equity in educational institutions.

They engage deeply with scholarship in rigorous programs that approach the study of higher education topics through lenses of critical theory and social justice philosophy. They are critical thinkers, dedicated to challenging systems of oppression that limit access to colleges and universities.

Our graduates pursue careers as administrators, faculty, researchers, policy analysts, and student affairs professionals in colleges, universities, and state or federal agencies devoted to post-secondary education.


Higher education offers programs leading to master’s (M.Ed., online or in-person) and doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees. Each includes structured course requirements as well as the flexibility to choose electives and design a plan of study that incorporates your personal interests. The M.Ed. program prepares students for careers as administrators in student affairs, academic affairs, athletics, policy, development, and institutional research. There is also an option to complete a dual degree in-person program with a master's in public policy administration and higher education (MPPA/M.Ed.). The Ph.D. program prepares students for careers as senior administrators, researchers, or faculty members.

We also offer a graduate certificate in higher education leadership. The graduate certificate is a 15-credit academic program in which students study leadership, management, and organization in higher education with a focus on the intersection of theory and practice. This graduate certificate is ideal for current and future leaders in higher education who would benefit from leadership training, but who do not need another advanced degree. The program is fully online making it convenient for busy professionals from a wide geographic area.