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Master's Degree Program

Higher Education

The program information below is for academic year 2020-2021. This program has enrolled their final cohort. We are dedicated to helping you prepare for an impactful career in education by offering powerful learning experiences and field-based opportunities that will develop critical professional skills. We encourage you learn more about our reimagined Master's in Education.

The Higher Education Program (HEP) will prepare you to take on a leadership roles within American colleges and universities, and with the nonprofit organizations and government agencies that shape national higher education policy. HEP offers a comprehensive curriculum that will serve you in every facet of higher education administration, policymaking, and research. You will become part of an intellectually vibrant community of students, faculty, and alumni who share a common interest in ensuring the successful future of higher education and enhancing the opportunities they provide to their students.

Students will deepen their understanding and analysis of critical issues across the higher education landscape, develop their professional skills and competencies for success in a variety of workplace settings, and make strong connections with faculty, students, and alumni in preparation for campus and policy organization leadership roles.

Senior Lecturer Francesca Purcell, faculty director

HEP is a master’s program that will prepare you to make a positive impact on American higher education as an administrator or policymaker. The many strengths of HEP include:

  • President-in-Residence – Every year, a distinguished former college or university president is invited to attend classes alongside HEP students and to anchor academic discussions with real-world experience. Outside of class, the President-in-Residence meets one-on-one during office hours and advises students on important academic and career decisions. Former president of Macalaster College, Brian Rosenberg will join us as the president-in-residence for the 2020–2021 academic year. Additional information on Presidents-in-Residence.
  • Cohort and Community – During your time at HGSE, you will have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of peers who have a shared passion for education and an intellectual curiosity that will help transform the field. You will develop strong bonds and a supportive learning community through participation in various cohort and community-building, virtual activities hosted by your program, student organizations, and HGSE faculty and staff.

Curriculum Information

The Higher Education Program is structured to provide a strong foundation in higher education administration, governance, and policy, while giving you the flexibility to dive deeply into specific areas of interest. As an HEP student, you will take 32 credits in total, including an engaging, four-credit core course for the cohort taught by the program director. Additional credits are made up of higher education-related courses/electives (12 credits) and general electives (16 credits). When fulfilling the elective requirements, you will take at least one course that focuses on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Program Requirements

See my.harvard for a complete list of courses.

Program Faculty

HGSE consists of a faculty of the whole and students can work with and take courses with faculty throughout HGSE and Harvard. The faculty that HEP students most often work with include: 

Internships & Fieldwork

Internships provide a lot of value to your academic experience while providing you excellent knowledge and skills to build your professional experience in higher education administration, policy, research, or higher education-related organizational work. While Field Experiences will continue to be an important part of the HGSE learning experience, logistical and other program details are subject to modification for academic year 2020-21. Examples of past internship sites include:

Alumni & Student Profiles

HEP students hail from wide-ranging backgrounds and have equally diverse interests. Many students arrive with professional experience in higher education, in entry-level and mid-management administrative or faculty positions; some are interested in making a career transition into higher education working previously as high school teachers, business consultants, policy analysts, and more. A select few come directly from undergraduate studies where they were highly accomplished students and student leaders. All share a common interest in ensuring the successful future of colleges and universities and enhancing the opportunities they provide their students. 

Our alumni work as campus leaders at colleges and universities nationwide, building stronger institutions and impacting the lives of students. Recent graduates serve as directors and associate directors of admissions, diversity and multicultural affairs, student life, strategic planning, and career services. They work in nonprofit organizations and government agencies as policy researchers and analysts. They also work on issues of college access and with high school students and families through college readiness and financial planning initiatives.

Loyola Rankin and Isaac Moore

To See and Shape the Future of Education: Loyola Rankin, HEP'22

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Higher Education reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Javier Cevallos and Biddy Martin

Cevallos, Martin to Serve as 2022-23 Presidents-in-Residence

The pair will join higher education master’s students for discussions about and reflections on leadership in higher education and the contemporary challenges in the field.

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