The mission of the higher education program is to prepare reflective practitioners, leaders, and scholars who can critically contribute to the improvement of local and global higher education for the public good through research, policy, and practice.

The master’s degree within the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA) with an emphasis in higher education are aimed at aspiring higher education and/or student affairs administrators. The curriculum is designed to meet the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) Professional Standards for Higher Education and to help students develop professional competencies aligned with the ACPA-NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners. With grounding in both research and practice, graduates advance to professional positions in areas such as student activities and leadership, multicultural affairs, Greek life, academic advising, financial aid, residential life, and enrollment management.

Students completing the master of education degree option must complete the higher education capstone project, which includes a self-reflection of their academic and professional experiences and an oral defense of this reflection.

Higher education master’s students can choose one of two focus areas:

  • Higher education leadership
  • Student affairs leadership

The doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in higher education challenges students to be critical thinkers who effectively respond to the changing landscapes in postsecondary education. Students gain knowledge of organizational and leadership theories and practices, with an explicit focus on the ways in which leadership roles and administrative processes may be influenced by policy, power, privilege and difference.

The graduate certificate in higher education administration is designed to address the need for enhanced understanding of the higher education institutional context and for improved skills and technical knowledge in areas required for effective administration and governance of higher education (e.g., budget and finance).

Degrees & Certificates

Degrees are in educational leadership and policy analysis with an emphasis in higher education.


Bradley Curs

Associate Professor, Higher Education Policy

Jennifer Fellabaum-Toston

Senior Associate Dean, Student Success & Academic AffairsAssociate Teaching Professor, Higher Education

Casandra Harper

Associate Professor, Higher Education

Jeni Hart

Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate StudiesProfessor, Higher Education

Gabrielle Malfatti

Director of Global EngagementDirector of the Graduate Certificate in Global Education and LeadershipTeaching Professor, Higher Education

Pilar Mendoza

PhD Coordinator, Associate Professor, Higher Education

Laura Page

Higher Education Program CoordinatorAssistant Teaching Professor

Dajanae Palmer

Assistant Professor, Qualitative Inquiry

Lisa Scheese

Bachelors of Educational Studies Program CoordinatorEdD Program CoordinatorAssistant Teaching Professor

Michael Steven Williams

Assistant Professor, Higher Education