Higher Education Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership and Administration is ideal for current and future leaders in higher education who would benefit from leadership training, but who already have a terminal degree or do not need an advanced degree. Students in the 15-credit program study leadership, management, and organization in higher education, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice. 

The graduate certificate program is fully online, making it convenient for professionals from a wide geographic area. You can complete the program in one year by taking two classes in each of the fall and spring semesters, and the final course in the summer, or you can spread the courses out over more semesters. 

Who should consider the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership and Administration?

  • Higher education professionals currently working in management positions or who want to gain leadership and management skills that will allow them to move into positions with more responsibility.
  • Current doctoral students in any field considering a career in higher education administration upon completion of their degree.
  • Faculty members or administrators who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills in order to provide better leadership for their campuses.

...an affordable program and priceless experience. The course flexibility is unmatched and the knowledge gained is invaluable!

Ashton Darrett, Associate Dean of Student Support Services for Brown University

The Higher Education Leadership and Administration Graduate Certificate is most suitable for those who already have several years of experience working in higher education. If you are a recent graduate, our master’s program in higher education may be a more appropriate choice.

Want to learn more about the program? Sign up for a virtual information session for a chance to speak with faculty and other prospective students over Zoom. 

  • Tuesday June 7 at 4:00 p.m. ET

  • Wednesday June 29 at 4:00 p.m. ET

  • Thursday July 21 at 4:00 p.m. ET

  • Wednesday August 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Contact Annie Stephany at  info-leadership@umass.edu for more information.

    Student presenting at tech showcase pointing to large TV monitor

    Course of Study

    To complete the Higher Education Leadership and Administration Graduate Certificate, students must earn 15 credits from our required and elective offerings. 

    Required Courses (12 credits)

    • EDUC 601A – Introduction to Higher Education OR EDUC 674C – Community College Foundations, 3cr each
    • EDUC 674 – Leading Higher Education, 3cr
    • EDUC 621 – Managing Higher Education, 3cr
    • EDUC 723 – Organizing Higher Education, 3cr

    Sample Elective Courses (3 credits)

    • EDUC 601 College Student Development Theory, 3cr
    • EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation & Research in Higher Education, 3cr
    • EDUC 692R Introduction to College Teaching, 3cr
    • EDUC 697EE Staffing the Digital Workplace, 3 cr
    • EDUC 682 Supporting Student Success, 3cr
    • EDUC 659A Helping Skills for Higher Education Professionals, 3cr
    • EDUC 748 Community Colleges Current Issues, 3cr
    • Independent study, 3cr - If you have a specific topic of interest you'd like to explore, talk to an advisor about adapting a syllabus or creating a project for independent study credit. 
    • Practicum, 3cr - Complete 120 hours of practice with an institution of your choosing for your elective credit (highly recommended for students looking for more experience before a career change)
    • Students are also welcome to take electives in other online programs (Social Justice Education and International Education M.Ed. - Online)

      We are now offering a community colleges track option for students looking to do a more focused study of community college leadership and administration. Students interested in this option can take EDUC 674C Community College Foundations as their required foundations course and EDUC 748 Current Issues in Community Colleges as their elective.  

      For more information please see our Higher Education Leadership and Administration Graduate Certificate Student Handbook.

      Summer 2022 Course Offerings

      Summer registration begins March 14. We have a mix of 12-week courses beginning May 19 and 6-week courses beginning in Summer 2 on July 11.

      *Required course for Certificate

      Course Description Credits
      EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation, & Research in Higher Education (12 weeks) 3
      EDUC 643 Foundations of Higher Education (12 weeks)* 3
      EDUC 697EE ~NEW~ Staffing the Digital Workplace (Summer 2) 3
      EDUC 723 Organizing Higher Education (Summer 2)* 3
      EDUC 748 Current Issues in Community Colleges (Summer 2) 3

      You can refer to the academic calendar for important semester dates including registration and add/drop. For sample syllabi and course projections, please contact Anna Fox, info-leadership@umass.edu.

      Instructions for Enrolling in Classes in SPIRE

      1. (New students - start here) Create a student record. (You should not need to do this step if you took a course in the previous semester) Go to spire.umass.edu. On the right hand menu, under Apply/References click on Non-Degree Enrollment Application and fill out the form there. You will receive an email with your NetID and password (this may take several days to process.)
      2. (Returning students - start here) Create an enrollment appointment. Once you have received your NetID and password you can create an enrollment appointment by logging in to SPIRE (spire.umass.edu) with the NetID and password you received. Once logged in, navigate to Main Menu > Enrollment > Summer/Wntr/Non-degr Enroll Appt and follow the instructions. (It can take up to one day for SPIRE to recognize your NetID, so if you do not see these navigation options try the next day.) You will need to complete this step every semester. 
      3. Register for classes. The enrollment appointment should be available immediately. Register for the class by logging in to SPIRE (spire.umass.edu) and navigate to Main Menu > Enrollment > Add Classes.

      Questions about how to register? Contact UMass University Without Walls at regoff@uww.umass.edu, 413-545-3653 or 800-922-8211.

      Completing the Program

      Once you have registered for your fifth and final course, be sure to complete and return the Certificate Eligibility Form (directions and example below) to info-leadership@umass.edu. Forms are due by the following dates for each degree conferral period:

      September Conferral: August 12
      February Conferral: November 26
      May Conferral: March 20

      When completing your Certificate Eligibility Form, be sure to

      • Use your UMass email address on the form
      • Check your mailing address and name in SPIRE - these will be used for your certificate 
      • Mark your degree conferral period based on the date following your final class
        • Students completing their final class in the Fall semester should mark February conferral 
        • Students completing their final class in the Spring semester should mark May conferral 
        • Students completing their final class in the Summer semester should mark September conferral 
      • Use "Educational Policy, Research, and Administration" for "Department" even if you belong to another department on campus
      • Use "Higher Education Leadership and Administration" for "Certificate Program"
      • Leave the final grade blank for any courses still in progress - the Graduate School will fill this in
      • Leave the signature field blank, this section is for the Graduate Program Director to complete 
      • View a Sample Certificate Eligibility Form 

      Tuition and Fees

      University Without Walls (UWW/CPE) at UMass Amherst administers registration and payments for the graduate certificate. 

      Tuition details

      • Tuition is currently at $569/credit.
      • Tuition for each 3-credit course is $1707 plus applicable fees.
      • Total tuition for the 5-course program is $8,535 (Figures applicable as of Fall 2021).
      • There is also a $50/semester registration fee.

      Contact the Bursars Office at bursar@admin.umass.edu or call 413-545-0337 for questions about tuition, fees, payments, and discounts. 

      Tuition Waivers

      Eligible Massachusetts state employees receive a 50% discount on tuition for Continuing & Professional Education courses. For more information on tuition waivers, talk to your HR or union representative.  

      Financial Aid

      Financial aid is not available for certificate programs. 


      Application Timeline

      We admit students to the program on a rolling basis. 

      Degree Requirements and Required Application Materials

      To apply to the certificate program you must hold at least a baccalaureate degree. Many applicants will have a master’s or doctoral degree, as well.

      You may take up to two courses before you officially apply to the program.

      Application Requirements

      • Application form
      • Personal statement
      • Résumé/CV
      • Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
      • Two letters of reference

      You may submit your materials electronically to info-leadership@umass.edu or through the online application form. Please let us know if you have any questions about how to submit your materials electronically. 

      Transferring Credits 

      If, after you complete the requirements for the Higher Education Leadership and Administration Graduate Certificate, you apply to and enroll in either our master’s or doctoral programs, you will be able to apply all 15 credits to that program. Contact program assistant, Annie Stephany at info-leadership@umass.edu, for specific details.