The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Higher Education

click to read more about Jackie Brousseau PereiraAlumna Jackie Brousseau-Pereira M.A. '00, SBS Director of Student Success and Retention

Jackie graduated with the first cohort out of the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA) - now the School of Public Policy -  with a Master’s Degree. Having previously worked in the mental health field, she entered the master’s program with the goal of expanding her direct-care experience to  consider the issues she had encountered daily on a policy level. With her Master’s in Public Administration in hand, she worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and the Human Service Forum. Jackie later returned to UMass as an employee, first working for the CPPA, then for the SBS Dean's Office. In her current role as the Director for Student Success and Retention, she focuses on developing programming to help all of our undergraduate students be more successful – both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Read more about Jackie's career path.

About the Industry

Higher education is the level of education that follows secondary education. This can come in the form of undergraduate, graduate, or vocational education or training. Institutions of formal higher education are generally colleges, universities, or technical institutions. Careers in higher education include teaching, research, social services activities (Student Affairs), library personnel, and administrative support across all areas.

Sample Classes

Below are a few examples, but we urge you to talk to your major/departmental advisor and explore available courses in SPIRE. Remember not to constrain yourself to classes within your major.


ANTHRO 104 - Culture, Society and People: The nature of culture and its role in creating forms of social, economic, and political life in diverse historical and geographical contexts.  


COMM 260 - Public Speaking: Practical communication in one-to-group contexts. Theoretical bases for structuring and presenting public speeches.


ECON 397 - Education and Economics: This course will examine contemporary issues in U.S. education through the use of economic theory and current research literature.


SOCIOL 322 - Sociology of Education: Sociological perspectives on educational issues; social class differences in school achievement, the crisis in educational credentials, school reform movements, the erosion of public support for education, schools, and jobs.


SOCIOL 386 - Complex Organizations: The significance of large, complex organizations like schools, hospitals, businesses, religions and government.  How such organizations identify goals and achieve them.  How such organizations change over time and why.  


COMM 211 - Communication for Sustainable Social Change: By examining the theories and practices of communication as applied to sustainable social change, students will participate in formulating communication and media strategies to explore ways that ensures target audiences are reached to effectively enhance knowledge transfer and create social change.


COMM 320 - Culture, Communication & Social Identities: Explore ways in which everyday communicative practices and culture are intertwined, and the multiple ways in which social identities (particularly race/ethnicity, but also gender) are both reflected and reconstituted through communicative practices. Emphasis on the ways in which our cultural backgrounds channel our interpretations of communicative practices, and the ways in which historical relationships of inequality in the US shape the communicative practices and social identities of various groups.


Depending on your main area of interest, your academic pathway will shift. To explore this field, you can take courses that will provide you with knowledge and skills in:


  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Effective communication
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Understanding diversity, equity and inclusion
Co-Curricular Activities

Being involved in on and off campus activities and organizations will give you experience and help you hone in on what you really love doing. Consider joining organizations that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the professional areas you’re considering. You’ll learn more about the field, meet people who share your interests, and have something to include on your resume to show your dedication. Go to the RSO webpage and start searching!


Some examples of clubs/organizations:


  • Peer Advisor in academic department, advising center, career services
  • Resident Assistant in residence halls
  • Dean's Student Advisory Board
  • Research Assistant in academic department or institute
  • Student Government Association
Internships and Experience

Explore the different aspects of the industry through internships, co-ops, job shadowing, and other experiential opportunities. This will help you hone in on your interests while building an impressive knowledge base and resume for when you enter the job market. SBS students and alumni have completed internships and worked in this field at places like:


  • Bunker Hill Community College
  • UMass Amherst - University Relations Office
  • Office assistant in an academic department
  • Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
  • UMass Student Legal Services


Find an internship or co-op that suits you by using these search and application tips and by searching the Career Connect database.

Sample Job Titles
  • Residence Hall Director*
  • Academic Advisor*
  • Faculty Assistant
  • Career Advisor
  • Public Affairs Director
  • Athletic Director
  • Health Services/Counseling Associate
  • Human Resources Assistant
  • Professor*
  • Education Policy Analyst
  • Director of Dining Services
    *Typically requires additional schooling beyond Bachelor's level.