Higher Education Leadership & Administration MS in Higher Education

Master of Science in Higher Education

Strive for the best at the university level

Take your passion for making a difference in education to an administrative level. Prepare to take your place as a leader with the Capella University online master's degree in higher education leadership and administration. Our curriculum can help you reach your potential and make an impact at the college level. Dive deep into current theory and best practices to gain understanding of history, public policy, law and governance, finance, and program administration.

This program can help prepare you to pursue future opportunities in higher education administration, getting you ready to advance in your career or pursue a doctoral degree.

At a Glance

  • Online
  • 4 Core courses
  • 4 Specialization courses
  • 3 Concentration courses
  • Capstone
  • 48 Total quarter credits
  • 12 Maximum transfer credits

Reduce your tuition by 30%

Enroll in an eligible program and apply for our Front Line Heroes Discount to save 30% on your master's degree.

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Classes Start September 14th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo SPRING)

MS in Higher Education—program highlights

Expertise in change management

Discover how you can improve the processes and operations in higher education to reach more desirable outcomes.

Skills in resource management

Explore the ways personnel management can make a difference in higher education institutions.

Leadership for academic excellence

Build the skills needed to support diversity, equity, and ethical decision-making for academic excellence.

Applied technology

Select, support, and apply technology to develop data-driven solution.

Choice of two study concentrations

Focus on community college leadership or higher education program administration to reach your own professional goals.

Professionally aligned program

This program integrates current, recognized theory and practice to help you excel as a leader in higher education.

Meet Your education faculty

You're never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Cythia Howell, EdD, MA, School of Education

Cynthia Howell, EdD, has served as core faculty for Leadership for Higher Education in the School of Education at Capella University since 2010. She has designed and taught courses on assessment, education program evaluation, advising and retention, and others. She serves on dissertation committees as chair or member. She holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from Northern Arizona University, a master's degree in English from Western Washington University, and a bachelor's degree in English from the College of William and Mary.

Get the support you need for success

Our dedicated support teams guide and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment counselors

These experts will set you up for success. They’ll help you find the right degree and program, and answer all your questions about Capella.

Writing support

Sharpen your writing skills with our free tutoring services and other resources.

Doctoral advising

Doctoral programs are specific and challenging. That’s why you’ll have access to expert support at every step along the road to your degree.

Cost & learning format

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$455 per credit, 48 total quarter credits, 12 max transfer credits

*This is only an estimate, using general program pricing, and it does not include fees (including application and resource kit fees).  Your price may be higher or lower depending on your specialization, transfer credits, and tuition discounts. If transfer credits are allowed in this offering, the prices above show what you would pay if you brought in the average number of transfer credits and the price if you brought in the maximum allowed transfer credits.  

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.


There are a variety of need-based federal grants available to help pay for tuition and costs.

Save 30% off your master's

Apply for our Front Line Heroes Discount to receive 30% off the cost of tuition.

MS in Higher Education sample courses

The MS in Higher Education, Leadership and Administration specialization focuses on leadership and supporting diverse student populations. You’ll also learn to implement technology solutions for guiding decision-making and evaluating learning programs.

Show course with description
Leadership in Higher Education

Learners in this course examine the leadership philosophies, theories, and decision-making structures associated with higher education administration. Learners explore the nature and function of leadership; leadership roles; and institutional history, vision, culture, politics, and organizational structure. Cannot be fulfilled by prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
History, Issues, and Trends in Higher Education

Learners gain an understanding of the evolution of colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions. Learners focus on the cultural, societal, and economic influences that have shaped the development of higher education curricula, culture, practices, and governance. Learners also relate historical events and milestones to current issues and trends in higher education.

4 quarter credits
ED5574 *
Financial Management and Institutional Development

In this course, learners examine higher education revenue sources and review expenses and cost drivers associated with institution management. Primary topics include tuition and fee revenue, government appropriations, gifts and grants, and investment income. Learners also study the growing expense of faculty and staff compensation, technology upgrades, and long-term debt service obligations. Other topics include the complexities of financial aid, institutional budget planning, and program management. Prerequisite(s): ED5012.

4 quarter credits
ED5890 *
Higher Education Leadership and Administration Capstone

In the capstone course, learners demonstrate proficiency in the program’s competencies by integrating learning from required courses to complete a final project. Must be taken during the learner’s final quarter. Prerequisite(s): ED5006; ED5016 or ED7547; ED5570 or ED7841; ED5572 or ED7840; ED5574; ED7540; completion of all concentration courses. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
ED6576 *
Higher Education Program Administration

In this course, learners explore the distinctions between leadership and management and identify the knowledge and skills needed to address higher education administrative challenges. Learners determine communication skills necessary at personal and organizational levels and strategies for articulating a shared vision. Topics also include current best practices in human resources leadership and management and their connections with ethical practices. Prerequisite(s): ED7540.

4 quarter credits


Concentrations let you hone in on your specific area of interest that can get you even closer to your exact career goals. The concentrations you earn will be included on your transcript.

Community College Leadership

Choose this concentration to learn the philosophy, culture, leadership attributes, issues, and trends in community college.


The higher education program administration concentration covers the divisions of higher education institution and challenges.

What you’ll learn

The right education can change everything. Discover your path to gaining real-world skills as an administrative leader in an institution of higher education.

  • Communicate and collaborate effectively as a leader in higher education.
  • Embrace technological solutions that can help you implement data-driven decisions.
  • Learn to manage change and an evolving workforce in higher education.
  • Manage higher education resources to reach desired outcomes efficiently.
  • Encourage academic excellence by supporting diversity, equity, and ethical decision-making.
  • Infuse your personal leadership skills and practice with relevant higher education theory and research.

MS in Higher Education, Leadership & Administration career insights

Choosing the Right Master’s in Higher Education for You

There are many degree options in higher education; which master's program is right for you?

MS in Higher Education—professional paths

Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to explore with an MS in higher education, specializing in leadership and administration.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Academic advisor
  • Assistant director of student affairs
  • Enrollment services/admissions specialist
  • Program director
  • Program coordinator
  • Coordinator of diversity affairs
  • Community services coordinator
  • Residence hall supervisor
  • Student services supervisor
  • Financial aid supervisor
  • Adjunct or part-time faculty of education courses

Employment settings to explore

  • Community college
  • Vocational or technical college
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Continuing education program
  • For-profit institution
  • Military education
  • Adult education organization

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the next step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.