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. 

 Information sessions are scheduled on...

  • Tuesday, March 21st  at 4:00 p.m. EDT

  • Thursday, April 6th at 4:00 p.m. EDT

  • Tuesday, April 18th at 4:00 p.m. EDT

  • Wednesday, May 3rd at 4:00 p.m. EDT

  • Tuesday, May 16th at 4:00 p.m. EDT

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

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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 643 (formerly 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 2023 Course Offerings *Registration open now

*Required course for Certificate

Course Description Credits
EDUC 643 (Univ+, was UWW) Foundations of Higher Education* 3
EDUC 641 (Univ+, was UWW) Assessment, Evaluation and Research in Higher Education (elective) 3
EDUC 723 (Univ+, was UWW) Organizing Higher Education* - Session 2 3
EDUC 748 (Univ+, was UWW) Current Issues in Community Colleges (elective) - Session 1 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 Annie Stephany, info-leadership@umass.edu.

Instructions for Enrolling in Classes in SPIRE

Please see the new directions on How to Enroll in Online Classes. This is a summary:

  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 prior to logging in, 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.) New students move to # 2 below.
  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 the tile Manage Classes > Enrollment Appointments > Univ+ Enrollment Appointments 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 most semesters. 
  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 tile Manage Classes > Add, Drop & Edit Classes > Class Search > Add & Enroll. Make sure to add "Univ+" class, not "University".

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 31

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"
  • List each class in order or the first taken to the last, include the class name exactly as it is listed on SPIRE and the grade received *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 
  • Send the form to info-leadership@umass.edu for review
  • View a Sample Certificate Eligibility Form 

Tuition and Fees

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

Tuition details*

  • Tuition is currently at $631/credit.
  • Tuition for each 3-credit course is $1893 plus applicable fees.
  • Total tuition for the 5-course program is $9,465.
  • There is also a $60/semester registration fee each term.

       *Figures applicable as of Summer 2023 and may increase each term. Please check the course for specific costs.

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 (Univ+) 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.