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Program: Higher Education Administration

Degree: Master of Education
Delivery Method: On Campus
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development (ELPHD)

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Program Description

NC State’s Higher Education program provides exceptional opportunities for students interested in higher education administration to explore a core body of knowledge, gain real-world professional experience and pursue advanced study. Program content is informed by relevant theory, scholarly research and best practice in the fields of higher education and student affairs. In addition, the program links theoretical foundations of higher education leadership and administration to practical application of skills.

As a student in our program, you will develop the professional expertise required for entry or advancement in colleges and universities, governmental agencies or public service organizations.

By participating in this master’s program, you will benefit from several distinct program characteristics:

  • Diverse students and faculty representing a variety of backgrounds, experiences and research interests
  • A commitment to educational equity
  • Access to multiple institutional types in the Triangle area that provide diverse contexts for learning and professional development

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Master of Education in Higher Education Administration at NC State will be able to:

  1. Articulate a personal philosophy of student affairs and/or higher education grounded in critical self-reflection about one’s role as a professional in the field.
  2. Understand and apply ethical principles, core values, and standards of practice endorsed by the higher education and student affairs profession.
  3. Explain the importance of social justice advocacy as it relates to ethical practice in student affairs, and enact social justice values in professional contexts.
  4. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the array of professional roles, functions, and activities that exist within higher education and student affairs.
  5. Develop critical thinking, research, and analytical skills necessary to be critical consumers of higher education literature and integrate course-based knowledge to address issues facing students and leaders in higher education.
  6. Critically evaluate historical events and current issues relevant to higher education and the student affairs profession and articulate their impact on individuals and institutions.
  7. Design and evaluate effective educational interventions informed by: (a) current higher education and student affairs literature, (b) professional standards and best practices, and (c) understanding the basics of qualitative and quantitative research and assessment designs.
  8. Exhibit leadership within the realm of higher education and student affairs administration by applying knowledge in leadership, management, and management practices.
  9. Produce an actionable professional development plan that reflects involvement in higher education and student affairs at the institutional, regional, national and/or international level.  
  10. Develop and refine academic/professional communication and presentation skills, including written, verbal, non-verbal, and digital.
Higher education admissions

Admission Requirements

  • Personal statement of interest and desired career goals. Statement should be written in essay format, be no more than ​500 words, and address the following questions:
    • Why do ​you want to pursue a master’s in Higher Education at NC State?
    • What are your career interests and goals?
    • What unique contributions or special interests ​do you bring to the field of higher education?
  • Professional resume or CV
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended (except NC State)
  • Three professional/academic recommendations
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students
  • The GRE is not required.

Course of Study

At 36 credit hours, typically the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education Administration degree takes 2–3 years to complete, depending on enrollment status.


Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog and also in the Student Handbook.

The following courses comprise the required academic core of the M.Ed. degree program and the chart serves as a suggestion for the course sequence in order to meet the core requirements if you are enrolled as a full-time student expecting to complete the program in two years. In combination with the 12 hours of appropriate electives, they constitute a master’s curriculum of 36 semester hours.

Higher Education Core (24 hours)

  • EAC 540 Foundations of Higher Education and Student Affairs (3 hours)
  • EAC 542 The College Environment (3 hours)
  • EAC 543 Student Development Theory (3 hours)
  • EAC 545 Higher Education Master’s Professional Seminar (Capstone – 3 hours)
  • EAC 595 Diversity in Higher Education (3 hours)
  • EAC 595 College Outcomes (3 hours)
  • Research Component
    • EAC 595 Research and Assessment in Higher Education (3 hours)
  • Experiential (Internship / Practicum) Component
    • EAC 651 Internship in Adult and Community College (3 hours)

Higher Education Threads

The NC State M.Ed. program allows students to enroll in 12 semester hours of graduate-level electives that allow for personal exploration of and exposure to specific areas of professional interest, while fulfilling the 36 semester hours required for completion of the master’s degree. The ‘threads’ below will allow students to have a focus for their electives and delve deeper into one specific area. Specific courses are recommended and outlined in the student handbook that will assist students in developing knowledge, skills, and abilities in that area. 

Graduate Assistantship Information

As a community, we value engaging in effective educational practice, and our students enact this value through coursework, graduate assistantships, internships, and professional development opportunities.

Supervised practice experiences within our Higher Education program take several forms: (1) graduate assistantships, (2) required internship, and (3) independent studies. Graduate assistantships are paid opportunities for part-time employment (15-20 hours per week) and are generally contracted for a minimum of an academic year. The required internship is a short term experience that takes place during the fall of the second year and is accompanied with an in-class academic component (3 credit hours) and may or may not be paid. Lastly, students are encouraged—and the majority of the students take advantage of the opportunity—to complete an additional internship experience for academic credit as an independent study. Many of these opportunities are made possible through our strong partnership with the Division of Academic and Student Affairs at NC State.

Students in the Higher Education Administration (M.Ed.) program are not required to hold a graduate assistantship; however, most of our full-time students are interested and able to secure assistantships to help fund their graduate education while gaining valuable practical skills. There is not a separate application for obtaining a graduate assistantship; the Higher Education program assists in the matching process for students in the Master’s program. Each year, we host an annual spring Recruitment Weekend where students are able to interview for various assistantship and employment opportunities that will be available during the following academic year. Assistantship/Employment contracts, tuition remission, and stipend amounts vary based upon the position and institution. In addition to assistantships at NC State, our program has longstanding partnerships with both Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the past, we have had assistantships at North Carolina Central University and Meredith College. Below are a sampling of assistantships currently held by our students:

  • University Housing (NC State)
  • Center for Student Leadership, Ethics, and Public Service (CSLEPS) (NC State)
  • Fraternity & Sorority Life (Duke)
  • Health & Wellness (Duke)
  • New Student & Parent Programs (UNC-Chapel Hill)
  • Poole College of Management (NC State)
  • Sophomore Year Experience (Duke)
  • Talley Student Union (NC State)
  • Office of Student Involvement (NC State)
  • Goodnight Scholars Program (NC State)
  • International Student Services (NC State)
  • Residence Life (Duke)
  • Student Activities (Duke)


NC State:

  • More information about our programs and student life in general may be found in our Student Handbook.

Professional Associations:

Our Faculty

Krispin Barr
Assistant Teaching Professor of Higher Education

David English
Associate Teaching Professor

Joy Gaston Gayles
Professor and Senior Advisor for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Keon McGuire
Associate Professor of Higher Education Opportunity, Equity, and Justice

Alyssa Rockenbach
Professor & Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor

Melvin “Jai” Jackson
Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement

Paula Gentius
Chief of Staff and Secretary of the University