What Can You Do With a Master’s in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs?Many people see the university setting as the optimal place to work, but don’t know how to stand out or advance from entry-level positions into leadership roles. According to Lightcast, college administrators make an annual average of $96,907 per year, with the top 10 percent of earners making more than $190,777 per year. Even still, the decision to pursue graduate education can be daunting. How will it help advance a person’s career? Is a masters in higher education administration worth it? For professionals looking to work in an academic administrative role, a master’s in higher education administration may be instrumental in setting themselves apart from the crowd.

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Higher Education

A master’s in higher education administration and student affairs (HEASA) degree provides great learning opportunities. In this program, students get the chance to train under practicing administrators. It also gives professionals an environment to hone soft skills like problem-solving and time management that will be useful in any postsecondary education careers.

A master’s in HEASA allows professionals to explore new career opportunities in areas including counseling, admissions, advising, human resources, development and fundraising, program management, budget and finance, and policy planning. Through a hands-on curriculum, students gain the leadership skills to excel in postsecondary education administration.

Career Opportunities and Salary Outlook in Higher Education

With a master’s in higher education administration, salary potential, and the opportunity for career advancement has been shown to increase. As previously stated, college and university administrators with a master’s degree make an annual average of $22,000 more than those with only a bachelor’s degree according to Lightcast. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that postsecondary education administrators make an average annual salary of $95,410. That’s $43,722 more than the average annual salary in the United States.

Labor Insight from Burning Glass indicates that the job outlook for university administrators is projected to grow 10% in the next 10 years, much faster than the national average.

Whether looking toward a career in postsecondary education administration, education-affiliated nonprofits, or higher education linked businesses and organizations, people with advanced training develop the leadership skills needed to thrive. Here are just some of the careers that open up to those with a master’s in higher education administration and student affairs:

Job Title Average Base Salary
Chief Academic Officer $179,525
Director of Student Affairs $96,907
Non-Profit Executive Director $179,525
Diversity Manager $126,235
Director of Accreditation $101,338
Training and Development Manager $120,141
Director of Development $100,818
Human Resources Manager $126,235
Director of Alumni Relations $125,778
Education Consultant $63,731
Financial Aid Director $96,907
Administrative Services Manager $100,173
Career Services Director $96,907
Athletic Director $98,420
Admissions Director $96,907
College Advisor $60,507

Chief Academic Officer

The chief academic officer is responsible for understanding the challenges that a university faces and using problem-solving skills to find meaningful solutions, assisting all departmental leaders, and developing sustainable budgets. They are also in charge of the strategy to maintain and improve the educational program and services to ensure the best learning experience for each student.

Director of Student Affairs

Also known as the Dean of Students, this role requires a deep understanding of policy development, program design, and problem-solving skills. Primary duties of a director of student affairs include working collaboratively with other administrators and faculty to create cohesive academic and social programs for the student body, assisting in the admissions process, and developing university policies and procedures.

Non-Profit Executive Director

A chief executive officer (CEO) of a non-profit organization is responsible for overseeing the financial operations, planning a schedule of activities that align with the organization’s mission, and assembling a team of employees and volunteers who understand why the organization exists.

School Principal

Productive principals understand the ins-and-outs of their administrative team and have developed the leadership skills necessary to create an environment that enables academic excellence. They are responsible for ensuring the success of the students, teachers, and administrators below them, establishing safety protocol, and maintaining academic and behavioral standards.

Diversity Manager

A diversity manager is in charge of recognizing, establishing, and executing strategies to bolster diversity and inclusion. This often includes organizing training programs, providing disability and accessibility services, and enacting policies around inclusion and bias.

Director of Accreditation

A director of assessment and accreditation leads the charge to ensure academic excellence and an institution-wide focus on continuous improvement. This position works with faculty, staff, and administrators to provide assessment reports and form development recommendations to improve processes.

Training and Development Manager

A training and development manager is responsible for improving the productivity of an organization and identifying developmental needs to do so. They are also in charge of establishing and managing training programs to effectively educate and enhance employee performance.

Director of Development

A director of development is in charge of planning, organizing, and executing all fundraising opportunities for a university or organization. To succeed in this role, a professional must have the communication skills to cultivate relationships with active and new donors, and the administrative tools to develop gifting programs, planned giving, and special fundraising events.

Human Resources Manager

A few of the responsibilities of HR managers include: establishing and maintaining organizational policies and procedures, developing professional development programs for employees, and assisting with new-hire onboarding. They are also responsible for working collaboratively to help with performance management and reviews.

Director of Alumni Relations

As a director of alumni relations, a professional works to develop engagement programs and strategies to promote school pride and strengthen alumni support both morally and financially.

Education Consultant

An education consultant typically serves as an advisor for parents, teachers, students, and administrators to create an optimal learning environment. The main duties include evaluating the curricula, processes, and procedures, and teaching methods to identify and improve upon any weaknesses. Education consultants work with students, teachers, and administrators to implement these changes and provide any training needed.

Financial Aid Director

A financial aid director monitors budgets for the financial aid office, oversees the allocation of funds to their proper departments and entities, assists students in their financial planning, and establishes policies and procedures to comply with federal, state, and institutional aid guidelines.

Administrative Services Manager

An administrative services manager coordinates and leads supportive services of an organization or school to ensure department operations are running smoothly. This includes maintaining the facilities, evaluating administrative processes and controls, and assisting support staff in record keeping, mail distribution, and meeting arrangements.

Career Services Director

In this role, professionals manage university career services, develop career education programs, and act as a liaison between students, faculty, and potential employers on a regional to international scale. They also advise and educate students regarding vital job-search skills including interviewing, resume building, and letter writing.

Athletic Director

An athletic director oversees and coordinates every aspect of an athletic program. This includes hiring coaches, allocating funds, managing schedules, marketing sporting events, and evaluating program performance. Another aspect of the job involves assessing facilities and equipment for safety and upkeep.

Admissions Director

Admissions directors are responsible for evaluating and defining the university’s admissions guidelines and requirements and ensuring that the admissions process runs properly. This includes positioning the school to attract top talent and assisting with any issues a prospective student may have.

School Counselor

A school counselor must wear many hats to be successful. They are in charge of advising and providing guidance to students regarding their academic issues and goals, assisting student understanding of school policy and procedure, and handling any short-term social or emotional problems students may have. It’s important that counselors not only maintain open communication with parents, teachers, administrators, and social workers on notable findings, but also have a working knowledge of every student for whom they are responsible.

Because of the highly competitive job market for aspiring school counselors, a master’s degree in higher education administration gives professionals the skills necessary to manage this role effectively. Counselors need a master’s degree in school or career counseling or a related field to become fully licensed and stand out to employers as an apt candidate.

Advancement Opportunities in Higher Education

A master’s in HEASA opens professionals to new job opportunities and equips them with administrative strategies necessary to lead both in an academic setting and beyond. With a master’s in higher education administration, professionals can:

Find Mentors and Build a Network

Mentoring in higher education is critical to growth as an administrator. Not only does it give professionals a chance to learn new approaches and skills integral to their career, but mentoring also provides the opportunity to establish goals and clarify expectations in their given role. In an online HEASA master’s program, students get this hands-on training in the classroom while being able to continue working and apply their findings in real-time.

A master’s program can also provide networking opportunities for professionals that could be essential to their future careers in higher education and student affairs. The network of peers that students gain in this program allows students to share new perspectives and ideas both now and throughout their careers.

Build Must-Have Skills

Top higher education administration and student affairs masters programs align their coursework with National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) competencies. Not only can professionals gain vital knowledge needed to excel as an administrator, but they also get hands-on experience to build their skills, including:

  • Problem-solving
  • Organization and planning
  • Assessment, evaluation, and research
  • Law, policy, and governance
  • Human resources
  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Social justice and inclusion
  • Learning and development


Gain a Competitive Advantage

The labor market for university administration jobs like school counseling can be extremely competitive, and a masters in higher education administration and student affairs gives students unparalleled experience and knowledge that can completely reshape the jobs that are available to them.

Not only this, but international students get the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the higher education system in the United States from anywhere in the world. Students get to learn from within the field they are advancing.

About the Pace University MA in HEASA

Pace University’s 100% online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs program provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities universities and their leadership teams face related to assessment and evaluation. Students gain confidence in their ability to meet the government and accreditation performance objectives required to efficiently and effectively run programs in higher education.

At Pace, HEASA graduate students learn alongside the administrators who work at the very university in which they are studying. The future-focused, NASPA-aligned curriculum is taught by administrative experts and designed to address contemporary issues in higher education and student affairs. MA HEASA students develop the critical thinking and research skills required to understand how institutional structures, policies, and practices impact the decisions students from varying socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds make throughout their academic journey.

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