What Are the Top Programs for Higher Education Administration?

Read about three schools with top programs in higher education administration, and find out what degrees you could pursue at each school. Check the national rankings for these schools' higher education administration programs. Learn about the characteristics of a good program in this field. Schools offering College Administration & Leadership degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Higher Education Administration Program and School?

Higher education administration normally requires graduate study. Good schools may have research institutes, internships, opportunities for international exposure or journals that publish student work. They might offer flexibility through certificate, part-time or executive programs. Here are three options.

What Are Three Top Higher Education Administration Programs and Schools?

Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington

In 2019, IU was ranked 4th for its higher education administration graduate program by U.S. News & World Report.

The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies hosts the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, the Center for Postsecondary Research and the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education. You might work with the Center for Postsecondary Research's Project on Academic Success (PAS) to study educational equity, student retention or working students.

The Journal of the Indiana University Student Personnel Association provides publication opportunities for master's degree candidates in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program. Earning a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Higher Education and Student Affairs may qualify you for an administrative, faculty or analyst position in higher education. You could pursue any of the following degrees:

  • Certificate in Higher Education and Student Affairs (online)
  • Certificate in Institutional Research
  • M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education
  • Ph.D. in Higher Education

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in University Park

PSU was U.S. News & World Report's was ranked 2nd for its higher education administration graduate school in 2019.

Graduate programs are offered through the College of Education's Department of Education Policy Studies. Doctoral candidates complete an internship with a postsecondary education organization. The graduate-level Certificate in Institutional Research program can be completed online or on-campus.

You can access the resources of the cross-disciplinary Center for the Study of Higher Education and its nationwide affiliations with faculty and professional practitioners. You might publish in or help staff Higher Education in Review, an annual journal produced by PSU's higher education graduate students. You might earn one of the degrees:

  • Master of Education in Higher Education
  • D.Ed. in Higher Education
  • Ph.D. in Higher Education

University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens

UGA was ranked sixth in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings of higher education administration graduate schools.

The Ph.D. program is offered through UGA's Institute of Higher Education (IHE). Ph.D. program students can specialize in policy and law, faculty and curriculum development or outreach and public service. Coursework in the Ed.D. program is completed over two years of long weekends and summer experiences; enrollment in this program is reserved for individuals with executive-level experience in higher education. IHE also supports a concentration in higher education administration for School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) master's degree candidates.

IHE is an interdisciplinary unit with close ties to the Center for Teaching and Learning, the College of Education and SPIA. IHE hosts international scholars and has relationships with institutions in Australia, China, Croatia, Norway and Uganda. The Education Policy Series at IHE features U.S. and foreign speakers. Available degrees include:

  • Master of Public Administration
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Management
  • Ph.D. in Higher Education Management

Top Schools for Higher Education Administration

College/University Institution TypeLocation Estimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 4-year, Public Ann Arbor, MI$23,000
University of California-Los Angeles 4-year, Public Los Angeles, CA$11,000
University of Southern California-Los Angeles 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA$45,000
Michigan State University 4-year, Public East Lansing, MI$18,000
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, Private Philadelphia, PA$35,000
Vanderbilt University4-year, Private Nashville, TN$47,000
University of Maryland 4-year, Public College Park, MD$13,000
Harvard University4-year, Private Cambridge, MA$47,000
University of Wisconsin-Madison 4-year, Public Madison, WI$11,000
Columbia University-Teachers College 4-year, Private New York, NY$39,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Capella University

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