Student Resources

We are committed to helping you complete your program. Below you will find some resources specifically related to assisting you along the way to getting your degree in the Higher Education program. Additional college-wide resources are available here: Resources for College of Education Students.

Getting Oriented

Program Handbooks
Our program handbooks have information about our general program overviews, competencies, courses of study, program requirements, and other resources.

Master's and Doctoral Students 

Online Master's Students 

Certificate Students

Higher Education Competencies

The eight competencies represent the basis of professional knowledge which our students are expected to master during the course of their M.Ed. degree program.  Knowledge of these competencies is gained through both in-class and out-of-class experiences. Students demonstrate their mastery of these competencies in the Integrative Seminar’s capstone case study paper where students must use knowledge from five of the eight competencies in the construction of their case studies.


Knowledge of key events, developments, and trends that have shaped American higher education over time and an understanding of how such events, developments and trends relate to current realities and future possibilities for higher education.  Some of the important trends include the changes in and development of the curriculum, the evolution of different types of institutions, changes in the various roles of stakeholders, and the changing role of the student affairs profession.

Leadership, Management, and Organization

Knowledge and ability to use skills necessary for establishing, prioritizing and achieving organizational goals; knowledge about the ways in which economic resources are developed and used by higher education systems, institutions, groups, and individuals; knowledge about the impact of emerging technologies in the classroom, in administration, and in social networking; an understanding of the ways in which enduring intentional change and development can be cultivated as a means for transforming higher education policy and practice.  Students will learn the principles and practices of effective management in higher education, and they will study the transformation that has taken place in the definition of leadership and how this will help them to become better administrators and leaders.

Law and Ethics

Knowledge of fundamental legal structures, concepts and issues as they relate to American higher education; knowledge of ethical principles of practice within academics and administration.  Some of the issues surrounding higher education include affirmative action, speech codes, privatization, academic freedom, sexual harassment, FERPA etc.  Students also will explore the basics of legal research and case analysis.

Student Learning and Development

An understanding of how postsecondary education impacts student learning and development. Students will be exposed to different student development theories including, psychosocial, cognitive-structural, typology, and college impact theories, and how these theories can be used to enhance the role of an administrator. Also, students will study current trends in pedagogy.

Assessment, Evaluation and Research Methods

An understanding of the range of qualitative and quantitative methods and designs used to increase knowledge about educational practice and policy in higher education.  Students will learn about research design and when it is appropriate to use qualitative or quantitative, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each of these methods.

Academic Affairs

An understanding of the academic side of higher education including the evolution and history of the academic profession, stages of the academic career, faculty roles and rewards, academic culture, the process of teaching and curriculum development, research and outreach, faculty professional development, academic advising, and pedagogical issues (including critical theory).

Social Justice, Oppression, and Diversity

An understanding and appreciation for the multiple aspects of human diversity and how such diversity contributes to higher education.  By introducing many perspectives on different issues, from larger society issues such as the economy, to higher education specific issues, such as students’ rights on campus, students will learn to question their previously held perspectives.

Policy, Politics, and Economics

An understanding of how higher education functions within the larger context of public policy; and how political processes, structures and systems influence and are influenced by higher education.


Be sure to check out the Higher Education Funding page for more specific information about assistantships!

Graduate Assistantship Job Opportunities - Check back every few days for most posted assistantships.
College Community Updates - College of Education’s weekly email newsletter, sometimes contains assistantship postings.
UMass at a Glance and Organizational Chart - All offices and departments within UMass Amherst.

SPIRE: SPIRE is the homebase for managing your student information. This is where you’ll register for courses, view grades, manage finances, and review assistantship appointments.

Email Lists

Receive updates about assistantships, courses, calls for conference proposals, events

Current Master’s students email list:
Current Doctoral students email list:
Current certificate students: Current Student Mailing List (deadlines, when to sign up)

Graduate Students of Higher Education (GSHE)

Connect with current Higher Education Students as well as alumni through the Graduate Students of Higher Education (GSHE) Graduate Student Organization! GSHE organizes events throughout the academic year, catered to the needs of the current students. Check out their Facebook page for events and photos, and their instagram for updates from current students! For more information or inquiries as to how to get involved, please contact


Planning Your Coursework

Check in with your adviser while planning your coursework. Once you achieve each milestone in your program, be sure to complete the necessary forms (see Milestones below) for each stage.

Higher Education Course Schedule 

Higher Education Three Year Course Projection

SPIRE: Use SPIRE to find and register for courses.
Moodle: Course management for masters and doctoral students.
Blackboard Learn: Course management for certificate students.

Finding a practicum

Masters students are required to participate in a practicum (unless they have an appropriate amount of professional experience). Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to participate in a practicum. Most students choose to do their practicum during the summer months between the first and second year of the program, although for some it is more convenient to do it at a different time.  The practicum includes at least 120 hours, and there is considerable flexibility in terms of sites and job descriptions, based on the interests of each student.

Many of our students have had great experiences completing their practicum requirements through these national internship searches.

NODA: National Orientation Directors Association
             Applications due mid-December

ACUHO-I: Association of College and University Housing Officers - International
            Create profile by early January

If you have a specific institution in mind where you would like to complete your practicum, refer to their organizational chart to get a better idea of which of their offices and services would be the best match for your interests.

After the practicum has been completed, there is a class in the fall that provides an opportunity to reflect upon your experiences with your classmates and an instructor. For more information on the Practicum experience, read our Practicum Handbook.

Staying Current

As scholars and practitioners, it is important for us to stay abreast of current events in higher education. You can also use articles from these resources to contextualize and situate your writing topics within current events. Just remember, news articles do not count as scholarly resources!

Inside Higher Ed
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Higher Education Journals - List of higher education journals compiled by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Institute of Education Sciences: Subscribe to email updates with reports, trainings, and funding opportunities
Fritzwire: National education email newsletter from Public Private action, useful resource for those with an interest in policy


Writing Tips: Advice from faculty for polishing up your writing.
APA Style Guide: Quick online reference for APA formatting, but ALWAYS refer to the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual for best reference!


There are often opportunities to get involved with faculty-led research projects. Keep an eye out for research opportunity announcements. Feel free to reach out to faculty directly if you would like to collaborate on a project or if you have your own project you want to get off the ground.

Center for Student Success Research: Research center uniting faculty, students, and administrators around research projects aimed at promoting access and success for underrepresented and understudied student populations.
UMass Amherst Libraries: Find resources, borrow from other libraries, manage citations, browse research databases.
UMass Education Librarian: Steve McGinty is our education librarian and a wonderful resource (he loves meeting with students!)
UMass Libraries Video Tutorial: Steve McGinty narrates a wonderful video (produced by some of our College of Education students) that helps orient you to using the online library searches. 
Academic Search Premier: Database for scholarly resources.
ERIC: Database for scholarly resources related to education.
Google Scholar: Useful for tracking down documents not included in the library search engine.
Radical UMass: Timeline documenting some student activism throughout history of UMass.
Special Collections and University Archives: UMass archives with focus on social justice and change. Great resource for working on your archival research paper.
Institutional Review Board (IRB): Use the Institutional Review Board for proposing research involving human subjects.
Graduate School Grants and Fellowships: Funding to support research and scholarly activities of graduate students.


Professional Networks and Conferences

  • AERA: American Educational Research Association
    National Conference: Mid-April

  • ASHE: Association for the Study of Higher Education
    National Conference: Mid-November

  • NASPA: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
    Region I Conference: Mid-November

National Conference: Early March

  • NERA: Northeastern Educational Research Association
    Regional Conference: Mid-October    

College of Education Travel Grants:  Funding to support graduate students presenting at academic conferences. Three waves of applications - November 1 for fall travel, February 1 for winter travel, and April 1 for spring travel.


Early Career Higher Education Research Network (ECHER): List of Higher Education journals with brief descriptions and acceptance rates.
Writing and Publishing a Paper in a Peer-Reviewed Journal: Paper from Dr. Stephen R. Porter with advice for publishing.
How to Choose the Right Journal for Your Paper: Times Higher Education article.

Achieving Milestones

Be sure to check the Degree Milestones and Forms page to see a checklist and instructions for the forms you will use to report your progress and complete your degree

Masters Students  
M1: Proposed Program of Study By the end of first semester of study
M2: Completed Program of Study During final semester of study
Masters Degree Eligibility Form: Documented Course of Study During final semester of study

Networking and Job Searching 

As you get close to the end of your program, start laying the groundwork for the next stage of your life. These resources can help.

Professional Networks and Job Boards

Large professional organizations - such as NASPA and ASHE - often have smaller sub-groups of folks united by common interests, functional areas, or identities.

Academic 360 Diversity Resources: Social justice and identity-based professional networks
Chronicle Vitae: From the Chronicle of Higher Education; free career management tools, job search, career advice, and an active community
Inside Higher Ed: Searchable database for faculty and administrative positions.
Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC)
Times Higher Education: International job searching
University Jobs: Recruiting tool for Higher Education professionals
Higher Education Resource Hub
Consortium of Higher Education LGBTQ Resource Professionals Job boards and articles geared towards student affairs Professionals
Functional Areas Website: resources by student affairs functional area
Imagine PhD: Helpful website that allows users to identify their interests, skills, and values and how those three things align with different job families (academic and non-academic)