Careers You Can Pursue with a Masters in Higher Education

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There is a world of possibilities for those pursuing a career in higher education. Whether you’re aspiring to lead as an administrator, support individuals in student affairs, or innovate in curriculum development, pursuing a master’s in higher education serves as a path to a variety of enriching careers in the ever-changing landscape of academics.

The study of higher education is a strong option for individuals with a heart for students. Most in this field possess a deep commitment to fostering learning, championing academic success, and advancing inclusivity and diversity. As education progresses and spans more digital forms of learning, it has never been more important for qualified professionals to lead the future of education.

Read on to explore how a master’s in higher education can lead to a rewarding career; including specific careers you can pursue in higher education.

What is a Master’s in Higher Education?

A master’s in higher education is a specialized degree program designed to provide individuals with the knowledge, skills, and practical experience necessary to excel in various higher education roles.

This degree can delve into areas such as:

  • Educational leadership
  • Administration
  • Student Affairs
  • Curriculum development
  • And more

What is Higher Ed?

Higher education refers to education beyond the high school level. Higher ed encompasses various institutions such as:

  • Universities
  • Colleges
  • Community colleges
  • Vocational schools
  • Professional schools

These institutions offer academic programs, degrees, and certifications to provide advanced knowledge and skills in specific fields of study. In addition to in-person learning, many educational institutions also offer virtual or hybrid learning options, which can enable more students to have easier access to education.

Higher education plays a crucial role in society by preparing individuals for careers, fostering personal development, advancing research and innovation, and contributing to economic growth. Professionals who work in higher education are crucial and influential.

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Why Should You Study Higher Ed?

An MA in higher education can open the doors to countless possibilities. This degree prepares you for rewarding careers that make meaningful impacts in academics and beyond. Within the world of higher education, professionals engage in a wide array of roles and responsibilities within an educational institution.

These roles may include:

  • Teaching
  • Academic advising
  • Student affairs or student services
  • Administration
  • Research
  • Counseling
  • And more

Individuals pursuing careers in higher education often possess a deep commitment to facilitating learning and academic success among students, promoting diversity and inclusion, and advancing the mission and values of their respective institutions. They find fulfillment in the perks of working with students, witnessing their growth, and helping them find their calling.

What’s the Difference: MA vs. MS?

At PLNU, students have the option to study either a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Higher Education. Although both degrees in higher education offer valuable insights and training, they differ in focus.

An MA program may emphasize theoretical aspects and research whereas an MS program might lean towards practical application and technical skills. The M.S. is also ideal for those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in education. This considered, students should consider their career goals and learning preferences when choosing between the two.



Career Opportunities with a Master’s in Higher Education

As mentioned, a master’s in higher education can unlock several career opportunities that span academics and beyond. Consider the following career pathways as you explore your academic journey in education:

Higher education administrator

As a postsecondary education administrator (education beyond high school), you may work in various administrative roles within colleges, universities, or other educational institutions.

Higher education administrators’ roles might include the Provost or Dean of Academic Affairs, the Director of Budget and Finance, and/or the Director of Institutional Policies.

General responsibilities, depending on the specific role, for a higher education administrator may include:

  • Overseeing academic programs
  • Managing budgets
  • Implementing policies

Student affairs professional

Student affairs professionals focus on supporting students outside the classroom. For example, student counseling, career services, residence life, or student activities coordination.

Specific role titles within student affairs may also include:

  • Career services coordinator
  • Residence hall director
  • School counselor or therapist
  • Student activities director

Academic advisor

Academic advisors assist students in navigating their academic journey by guiding course selection, degree requirements, and career options. Role titles, as an academic advisor, can be specific and might include:

  • Major or departmental advisor
  • First-year experience coordinator
  • Study abroad advisor

Admissions counselor

Admissions counselors play a crucial role in recruiting and evaluating prospective students. They help applicants understand admission requirements, assist with applications, and conduct informational sessions.

Of course, there are many types of admissions counselors. For example, an:

  • International admissions specialist
  • Transfer admissions advisor
  • Diversity and inclusion recruiter

Curriculum developer

Curriculum developers are responsible for designing and revising educational degree programs and courses. They often collaborate with faculty to ensure curriculums meet academic standards and institutional goals.

Specific role titles, as a curriculum developer, might include:

  • Instructional designer
  • Assessment coordinator
  • Interdisciplinary program developer


Who are you called to be?

Pursue your purpose at PLNU.


Higher Education Job Outlook

What does the field of higher education look like right now regarding growth and opportunity?

The field of higher education is characterized by steady growth and evolving opportunities, as reflected by the 4% projected increase in the employment of postsecondary education administrators from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This growth stems from increasing enrollment in colleges and universities and the retirement of current administrators.

With the demand for qualified professionals in higher education on the rise, individuals with a Higher Education M.A. or M.S. degree are well-positioned for rewarding careers in this field.

Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education

Are you ready to embark on the next phase of your career in higher education? Discover Point Loma Nazarene University’s master’s in higher education degree program.

Here, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to excel in this dynamic field. Led by experienced faculty, this program offers hands-on learning experiences to prepare you for success in shaping the future of academia.

In the meantime, read up about PLNU’s School of Education or for 6 different master’s in education degrees teachers can pursue.

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