M.A. in OLPD
Higher Education

Higher education professionals are interdisciplinary by nature. They synthesize research findings from the humanities, the social sciences, and the business sector in order to create and sustain education that is accessible, beneficial, and pioneering. This Higher Education (HE) track program prepares you with the professional experience and the theoretical knowledge for a career in working in and with higher education institutions and systems.

Our department’s specializations include administration and organization, policy, student affairs, equity-oriented change, and research integrity.

As a field, higher education is seeing rapid changes in its financial, political, and technological landscapes. Be prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow in the field that supports all other disciplines. In this program, you will learn how to:

  • Unpack complicated issues in higher education and understand those issues from multiple vantage points,
  • Assess the performance of institutions of higher education and their components, and
  • Make informed administrative decisions based on the history, trends, and goals of an institution or unit to produce effective and impactful results.

This degree prepares students for a wide range of careers, including:

  • Academic advisor
  • Career counselor
  • Director of undergraduate admissions
  • Financial aid advisor
  • Director of residence life
  • Director of student unions and activities


This program offers two curriculum options: "Plan A" includes 34 credits (with master's thesis); "Plan B" includes 30 creadits (without a thesis, but with additional coursework). Both are completed in 2 years for for full-time students.


6 credits, both Plan A and B.

  • OLPD 5701—U.S. Higher Education (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5709—Critical Issues in Higher Education (3 cr)

Program area

Plan A: 9 credits minimum, Plan B: 12 credits minimum

Selected from the following course offerings with advisor consultation and approval. Other courses as offered by HE program track faculty may also meet this requirement.

  • OLPD 5001—Formal Organizations in Education (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5080—Special Topics: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (1-3 cr)
  • OLPD 5704—College Students Today (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5721—Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5724—Leadership and Administration of Student Affairs (2-3 cr)
  • OLPD 5732—The Law and Postsecondary Institutions (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5734—Institutional Research in Postsecondary Education (2-3 cr)
  • OLPD 5736—Public Engagement and Higher Education (3 cr)
  • OLPD 8702—Administration and Leadership in Higher Education (3 cr)
  • OLPD 8703—Public Policy in Higher Education (3 cr)

Thesis—Plan A

10 credits:

  • OLPD 8777—Thesis Credits: Master's (10 cr)

Research design and methods

3 credits minimum, both Plan A and B. Select courses from the following in consultation with your advisor.

  • CI 5116—Action Research Methods to Improve College Teaching and Learning (3 cr)
  • CI 8148—Conducting Qualitative Studies in Educational Contexts (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5244—Survey Design, Sampling, and Implementation (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5247—Qualitative Methods in Educational Psychology (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5261—Introductory Statistical Methods (3 cr)
  • EPSY 5262—Intermediate Statistical Methods (3 cr)
  • EPSY 8261—Statistical Methods in Education I (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5056—Case Studies for Policy Research (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5061—Ethnographic Research Methods (3 cr)
  • OLPD 5501—Principles and Methods of Evaluation (3 cr)
  • OLPD 8812—Quantitative Research in Education (3 cr)

Related fields

6 credits outside HE, both Plan A and B.

The master’s degree requires 6 semester credits taken outside the HE program track that directly relate to the student’s area of study. These credits should be selected in consultation with the advisor and should constitute a solid coursework foundation for the student’s thesis (Plan A) or colloquium paper (Plan B). These courses may include additional methods courses taught outside the department.

Colloquium paper—Plan B

The final Plan B paper is prepared under the guidance of advisor and committee and must represent no fewer than 120 hours of work. Choose from the following:

  • OLPD 5087—MA Research Seminar (1-3 cr) OR
    OLPD 5795-Plan B Research Design (3 cr)

About our students

"My greatest learning moments have stemmed from class discussions and open dialogues with faculty, staff, and fellow classmates. As a student in the Higher Education MA program, I have been able to surround myself with individuals who challenge me to exceed my self-assumed potential."

James Cooper, MA student

How to Apply

Applications are due by February 1 for a Fall semester start.

Fall semester start only.

Applicants may only apply to one OLPD track.

Applications are not complete until ALL required materials and fees have been received. If anything is missing, your application may not be considered until the next review date the following year. It is strongly recommended to apply at least two weeks before any submission deadlines.

Applications are processed by the Graduate School. A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully reviewed by the department's admission committee and your transcripts and any credentials (test reports, diploma copies, etc.) are authenticated by Graduate School officials.

Detailed guide for online application [PDF]

Apply here

Admission requirements

Degree: Bachelor's degree

GPA: Undergraduate 3.0

Note: Applicants should not submit GRE scores, as they will not be considered in the review process.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores (Not required for U.S. students):

  • TOEFL: Internet based = 79 or above
    (21 writing/19 reading)
  • IELTS = 6.5

Readmission: OLPD students who have become inactive must follow the readmission procedures.

Tuition and funding

Tuition information: CEHD | OneStop
Financial aid: CEHD | OneStop


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