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Master of Science (MS) Degree in Higher Education Leadership

Drexel University School of Education

What is a Master's in Higher Education Leadership?  

Drexel University's Master's of Science (MS) in Higher Education Leadership is an online graduate program designed to prepare highly skilled and knowledgeable practitioners for leadership positions and career advancement in higher education. The Higher Education Leadership program provides students who are working within higher education or transitioning into higher education with the knowledge, skills, and experience to navigate dynamic changes related to diversity and globalization, equity and access, policies and practices, legal and ethical issues, technological advancements, and risk management through transformative leadership.

For those interested in continuing their education in this rewarding field, Drexel’s Master’s in Higher Education Leadership provides an ideal foundation for a doctoral degree in education management.

Why Pursue a Master's Degree in Higher Educational Leadership?

The MS in Higher Education Leadership provides optimal flexibility for students. The program is offered entirely online as a part-time program. This format allows students to pursue their degree without having to sacrifice their career. The online format allows students to complete their assignments at a time that is convenient for them. Students have access to Drexel's highly respected faculty and are supported by our advising staff. 

The Higher Education degree prepares students with the practical skills, knowledge, and experience to become professionals and leaders.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Part-time, online program that provides flexibility for learning
  • Customizable assignments to align with a student’s current or future position
  • Access to highly experienced and knowledgeable faculty in the field of Higher Education
  • Individualized advisement and support
  • Access to all Drexel resources including the award-winning Hagerty Library (on-campus and online) the Drexel Writing Center, Steinbright Career Development Center, Center for Learning and Academic Student Success (CLASS), and student health and counseling services

What Will You Learn In the MS in Higher Education Graduate Program?

Students in Drexel’s higher education degree program will:

  • Study contemporary issues in higher education
  • Understand the policies and practices followed by higher education institutions
  • Learn about the institutional assessment and accreditation process
  • Gain an understanding of ethics, laws, and legal concepts related to the operations of colleges and universities

What Can You Do with a Degree in Higher Education Leadership?

The MS in Higher Education Leadership program prepares students for dynamic and diverse careers within higher education and related fields, including, but not limited to, public, private, and for-profit four-year and two-year institutions, and national and international associations, organizations, government agencies, foundations, and corporations.

The Higher Education Leadership Master’s Program is an experiential program that offers intense preparation for a variety of rewarding careers. Job opportunities may include:

  • Higher Education four-year and two-years institutions
  • National, state, and regional associations
  • International organizations
  • Nonprofit and for-profit organizations/corporations
  • Government agencies
  • Non-Government Organizations
  • Executive search firms
  • Policy-related sectors

Graduates of the Higher Education Leadership program have assumed roles in two and four-year colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, associations and government agencies. They serve roles such as managers, directors, deans, presidents and analysts in programs at private and public institutions of higher education all over the U.S.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for postsecondary education administrators is as fast as the national average, growing 7% between 2021 and 2031. Additionally, the average salary for postsecondary educational administrators is $96,910. The typical entry level education is a master’s degree and most individuals have less than 5 years of related work experience.

Higher Education Leadership Master’s Program Options

The MS in Higher Education Leadership program offers many concentrations that help students tailor their degree to their career goals. Students graduate with a primary concentration in higher education leadership and an optional, secondary three-course concentration in one of the following areas:

  • Mind, Brain, and Learning- Learn and expand knowledge, skills, and experience based on current/emerging research related to teaching, instructional design, and professional development across dynamic educational and training environments (online, hybrid, and onsite)
  • Student development and affairs- Learn how to make colleges supportive, learning rich environments for all students ranging from traditional to adult students.
  • Education policy- Through this concentration, students wishing to work in the dynamic field of educational policy and educational administration acquire the tools to analyze, craft, and implement policy effectively.
  • Global and international education- Review the complex economic, political, cultural, and social structures that shape learning in different parts of the world.
  • Learning technologies and instructional design- Explore new learning technologies and trends, applying them toward solving problems in the ever-evolving technical landscape of education.
  • Creativity & Innovation- Learn how to think like a creative professional, apply creativity to your chosen career, tap into your innate creativity, and investigate strategies to implement your ideas in an educational setting.
  • Human Resource Development- Gain the strategic human resource development capabilities and competencies to lead talent development, coaching and mentoring, and organization development and change initiatives in any organizational setting.

Students may also design their own area of interest from over 35 elective courses available within Drexel University's School of Education.

Master's in Higher Education Leadership Program Eligibility

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. The Higher Education Leadership graduate program admits new students for fall and spring terms. The applications for fall term are at the end of August for fall term and mid-March for Spring. We encourage you to check our online application tool to check for the exact deadline for the term you wish to enroll.

Admissions Criteria

In order to be considered for the Higher Education Leadership graduate program, prospective students must meet the following criteria: 

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (graduate degree GPA will be considered along with the undergraduate GPA)
    • Provisional admission may be granted with a GPA between 2.80 to 2.99
  • GRE and GMAT scores are not required.

Required Documents

The following forms of documentation are required in order to be considered for the Higher Education Leadership program:

With multiple ways to submit documents, Drexel makes it easy to complete your application. Learn more by visiting Drexel's Completing Your Application Guide.

Higher Education Leadership Courses & Curriculum

The MS in Higher Education Leadership program engages students in a real-world and experiential curriculum facilitated by Drexel University faculty and practitioners who work within higher education and related fields across the United States and internationally. The curriculum brings together theory and practice to provide students with a strong research foundation to support data-driven solutions for current and emerging issues.

Drexel’s Master’s in Higher Education Leadership consists of 14 courses with a total of 45 academic credits. The credits include:

  • 12 credit hours of core courses (4 courses)
  • 15 credit hours of primary concentration courses (5 courses)
  • 9 credit hours of secondary concentration or professional elective courses (3 courses)
  • 9 credit hours required for the capstone experience (3 courses)

Please visit the Drexel course catalog to read course descriptions.

Capstone Courses

Students in the MS in Higher Education Leadership program complete a research capstone course where they are introduced to various types of research designs and learn to be both consumers and producers of research. Following completion of the research course, students will complete a capstone experience by selecting one of the two-course multi-disciplinary sequence options below:

  • Thesis (Part I and II) - Students who select this option will be required to complete a master’s thesis which consists of a well-written research paper, comprised of five chapters that posits a research question and uses logical arguments & data to address/answer a gap in research
  • Practitioner Course (Part I and II) - Students who select this option will be required to complete a master’s project. Examples include: A reform initiative narrative, program or grant proposal, white paper or policy analysis, or program evaluation 


The higher education leadership degree program, offered by Drexel University’s School of Education, can be completed in two years. Courses are taken online on a part-time schedule. Students typically enroll in 2 courses each term in order to complete the program within a 2-year plan of study.

How to Apply to the Master’s of Science in Higher Education Leadership Program

The MS in Higher Education Leadership is offered 100% online. The application process is completed entirely online and documents can be uploaded electronically. You can get started by filling out the Drexel Online application.

Learn More About Drexel University’s MS in Higher Education Leadership Program

If you’re interested in the MS in Higher Education Leadership and would like to learn more, request more information to speak with a program recruiter today.

Program Questions

Jack Barnes Director of Student Recruitment Drexel University School of Education

For questions about School of Education academic programs, please contact Jack Barnes, Director of Recruitment

Meet A Dragon!

Ross Conover Drexel University School of Education

Ross Conover
MS in Higher Education '13

Meet Ross! »

How did the MS in Higher Education help you achieve your career goals?

"The connections I made with practitioners and professors have been immensely helpful throughout my career. I had professors that were invested in my success and their investment, coupled with hard work, have made success in the field not only a possibility, but a reality."

Alumni Spotlight

Smith Drexel University School of Education alumna

Ashley Smith is a higher education support specialist. She enrolled in Drexel’s MS in Higher Education Leadership program to support her passion for bridging the gap to higher education. Ashley says she was initially resistant to online learning, but, “To my surprise, I found that I learned theory through my online coursework and applied it to my ‘classroom’ during my work every day. I realized what I was worried about missing was the application of skills which I had the opportunity to facilitate on my own!” With the great mentorship that was provided to her through her professors, she now has an opportunity to aid students with college selection and degree completion.