Higher Education M.Ed. - Online

a student sitting and listening to a panel

Many students interested in pursuing a master’s degree in higher education have demanding work schedules or have other responsibilities that make full-time academic study difficult or impossible. Our online master’s degree in higher education is designed with the busy professional in mind. Our online students already work in higher education or an adjacent field and typically have several years of experience.

Prospective students who have recently completed undergraduate degrees or do not have previous experience working in higher education are encouraged to apply to the in-person master’s in higher education program instead of the online program. If you have questions about program fit, please contact Annie Stephany at info-leadership@umass.edu

All 15 credits from the online Higher Education Leadership and Administration graduate certificate can apply towards any of our higher education master’s or doctoral degrees if admitted. Students considering the online higher education master’s degree are encouraged to begin their course of study with the graduate certificate, but completion of the certificate is not a necessary prerequisite for admission into the master’s degree program. 

In line with our other certificate and degree programs, what makes the online master’s degree in higher education unique from other programs is a focus on social justice and student success. Our students have a passion for social justice, and they want to make our institutions more equitable for all by building their understanding of how higher education can reinforce existing systems of oppression. Our in-person programs have already gained a reputation nationally for our social justice-oriented curriculum, and we have faculty whose research agendas support this focus.

Joining a learning community of scholar-practitioners is another benefit to our programs whether you are studying in-person or at a distance. All students are paired with a faculty member to assist with course selection and other academic advising needs. Online students will also have opportunities to connect with in-person students, instructors, and alums through cross-cohort social media platforms and professional development webinars. Students in the area are encouraged to attend social and professional development events hosted on campus. 

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.

Students interact with a teacher in a classroom

Course of Study

Our program places a strong emphasis on social justice and student success. We cast a wide net in our coursework, examining foundational writing and leading research in higher education, as well as delving into associated work in sociology, psychology, history, and economics. Drawing on this base, our students engage in assessment, evaluation, and research projects on student experiences and higher education organizations that contribute to current thinking in the field. To complete the degree, students develop a case study project in the capstone Integrative Seminar and orally present/defend their resulting work.

Students are required to complete a practicum placement at an institution of their choosing, with advisor approval. This opportunity involves 120 hours of practice in the field along with academic reflections integrating these experiences with scholarly work. Those students with more than five years of professional experience in higher education may opt to waive the practicum requirement in place of another elective. 

The online master’s program is compliant with the guidelines created by Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). Students are not required to complete the CAS compliant version of the program, but they are encouraged to do so if their interests and schedules permit.   

Refer to our program handbook for more information. 

This online master’s degree in higher education prepares professionals for careers in the administration of colleges and universities. Once admitted, students can take as many or as few courses per semester as fits their circumstances. Most students take one or two courses per term and complete the program in seven semesters. The asynchronous nature of the program allows students to “attend” class when it is convenient. All courses run a standard 10-13 week term during the fall, spring, or the full summer term (combined summer 1 & 2 terms). You complete a core of required foundation courses, a series of specialization courses, at least 120 hours of supervised practice, and a final integrative project. A minimum of 36 credit hours is required for the master’s degree.

Required Courses

All online master’s students are required to take the following courses (3 credits each):

  • EDUC 643 Foundations of Higher Education
  • EDUC 644 Critical Perspectives on Equity and Justice in Higher Education
  • EDUC 682 Supporting Student Success
  • EDUC 621 Managing Higher Education
  • EDUC 659A Helping Skills for Higher Education Professionals*
  • EDUC 601 College Student Development Theory
  • EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation & Research in Higher Education
  • EDUC 698ED Higher Education Practicum*
  • EDUC 675 Integrative Seminar

* In consultation with advisors, students with five or more years of professional experience may waive Helping Skills and/or Practicum and choose additional electives instead.

Sample Electives

  • EDUC 674 Leading Higher Education (3 credits)
  • EDUC 723 Organizing Higher Education (3 credits)
  • EDUC 692R Intro to College Teaching (3 credits)
  • EDUC 674C Community College Foundations (3 credits)
  • EDUC 748 Current Issues in Community Colleges (3 credits)
  • EDUC 697EE Staffing the Digital Workplace (3 credits)
  • EDUC 621B Race, Class, and Gender in Higher Education (3 credits)
  • Independent Study
  • Students are also welcome to take electives in other online programs (Social Justice Education and International Education M.Ed. - Online)

Please refer to the Academic Calendar for important semester dates including registration and add/drop. 

Sample Program of Study (Full online M.Ed.)

Sample program of study for students who take two courses a semester and one course in the summer. Please note that we have rolling admissions, so students can start in any term.

  Course 1 Course 2
Y1 - Fall EDUC 643 Foundations of Higher Education OR
EDUC 601A Introduction to Higher Education
EDUC 601 College Student Development Theory
Y1 - Spring EDUC 644 Critical Perspectives on Equity and Justice in Higher Education EDUC 697K Supporting Student Success
Y1 - Summer EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation & Research in Higher Education  
Y2 - Fall EDUC 621 Managing Higher Education  EDUC 659A Helping Skills for Higher Education Professionals
Y2 - Spring Practicum in Higher Education Elective
Y2 - Summer Elective  
Y3 - Fall Integrative Seminar Elective

Sample Program of Study (for Certificate Graduates)

Sample program of study for a student who applied after completing the five courses for the Higher Education Leadership & Administration graduate certificate. Please note that we have rolling admissions, so students can start in any term.

  Course 1 Course 2
Y1 - Fall EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation & Research in Higher Education EDUC 601 College Student Development Theory
Y1 - Spring EDUC 644 Critical Perspectives on Equity and Justice in Higher Education EDUC 697K Supporting Student Success
Y2 - Fall Practicum or Elective EDUC 659A Helping Skills for Higher Education Professionals
Y2 - Spring Integrative Seminar  

The practicum and helping skills requirements may be waived and replaced with other electives for students who have five or more years of full-time professional experience in a higher education setting. Students should be sure to speak with their advisors about waivers when planning coursework.

Summer 2023 Course Offerings - Registration open now

*Required course for Higher Education M.Ed. - Online         

Course Description Credits
EDUC 643 Foundations of Higher Education* (12 weeks) 3
EDUC 641 Assessment, Evaluation & Research in Higher Education* (12 weeks) 3
EDUC 723 Organizing Higher Education (Session 2) 3
EDUC 748 Current Issues in Community Colleges (Session 1) 3
  For more course information, please see the Explore Classes website, searching by term and program  

For sample syllabi and course projections, please contact Annie Stephany at info-leadership@umass.edu.

You can refer to the academic calendar for important semester dates including registration and add/drop. 

Instructions for Enrolling in Classes

Current Students: If you have been accepted into the online M.Ed. program, you are considered a current student. You will automatically be given a UWW enrollment appointment for the fall and spring semesters. All students must request a non-degree Univ+ (was UWW) enrollment appointment for the summer semester.

New Students: Students who have applied for admission to a program but wish to take classes for academic credit before their official admit term, or non-degree students who wish to take a class or two for academic credit before applying are welcome to do so and considered new students.

Please see the new directions on How to Enroll in Online ClassesThis 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 loggin 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.

To enroll in an independent study, talk to your advisor.

Please visit the University Without Walls website for more information on enrolling in courses, enrollment exceptions, and late add.


Please contact the Registrar's Office at regoff@uww.umass.edu or call 413-545-3653 or 800-922-8211

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 (as of March 2023)
  • Tuition for each 3-credit course is $1893 plus applicable fees*
  • Total tuition for the 36-credit program is $22,716*
  • These is a one-time, non-refundable $507 matriculation fee for graduate degree students*
  • There is also a $60/semester registration fee each term*
  • *Note: These figures are applicable for the Summer 2023 term only and will increase over time

Contact the Bursar's 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/University Without Walls courses. For more information on tuition waivers, visit the CPE website or talk to your HR or union representative.  


We use rolling admissions, and admitted students can begin the program in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms. 

We use the following dates as priority deadlines for each semester, but we encourage students to reach out to us about their applications even if these dates have passed. 

  • Fall semester: July 15
  • Spring semester: December 1
  • Summer semester: April 1


  • Generally we require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Experience working in the field of higher education or an adjacent field. If you are a recent graduate and/or do not have previous experience working in higher education, please consider applying to our traditional M.Ed. program instead. 
  • Our master’s students come from many different undergraduate majors (English, Communications, Government, Journalism, Political Science, Health Science, Economics, Sociology, Business Administration, History, Education, Media Studies).

Required Materials

  • Graduate Online Admissions Application
  • Letters of Recommendation – A minimum of two letters of recommendation. At least one should be from someone who can speak about your academic background.
  • Official transcript(s) – An official transcript from all colleges/universities attended, undergraduate and graduate, where 6 or more credits were taken.
  • Personal Statement – Tell us why you are interested in pursuing a program in Higher Education, and why this is the right program for you, including your previous experience working in higher education and specific directions you'd like to take your work in higher education.
  • Résumé/CV
  • Application fee
  • The GRE is not required


For more information about the online master's program, contact Annie Stephany at info-leadership@umass.edu.