Higher Education Administration


For questions regarding the application process, please contact:

Office of Graduate Admissions and Student Services
Graduate School of Education
University at Buffalo
366 Baldy Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
Telephone: (716) 645-2110
Fax: (716) 645-7937
email: gseinfo@buffalo.edu

Our programs in higher education administration provide the skills you need for careers in administration in post-secondary education, as well as for research and teaching in higher education. They emphasize a multidisciplinary perspective as a basis for developing effective administrators, scholars or policy makers.

At UB, we believe in understanding the broad context of higher education—its history, sociology and financing—as a necessary preparation for working in today’s post-secondary sector. All academic programs are individually designed and flexible to allow you to focus in areas of special interest. Both EdM and PhD programs are available. In addition, there is a concentration in student affairs administration within the EdM program.

While you are exposed to the theories and practical issues that higher education administrators face in today’s colleges and universities, we are convinced that the best training is a well-grounded understanding of the nature and problems of higher education. You will learn to understand the basic elements of the complex organizational structure of the modern university, and how to engage in research.

Higher Education Administration at a glance:
EdM Priority Deadline: January 15 for assistantship consideration (fall only). Applications will be accepted until the class is filled.
EdM with concentration in student affairs administration) Priority Deadline: January 15 for assistantship consideration (fall only). Applications will be accepted until the class is filled.
Ph.D. March 1 (fall only)
Typical Careers: Our graduates are working in a wide array of positions from residence life and new student programs to admissions, enrollment management, and international education offices, to athletics, alumni engagement, development, and administrative offices in academic affairs. Recent graduates are working at colleges and universities across Western New York, New York State, and across the nation. A number of our international students have returned to their countries to assume administrative roles in colleges and universities as well as ministries of education.

Degree Options

Doctoral Program

The doctoral program in Higher Education features several stages of study. The first is the basic orientation to the foundations of higher education and achievement of competence in several core areas (higher education in the US, organization and governance, the history of higher education, finance and American college student). The second phase of the program includes the mastery of a specialized field of higher education. A third stage stresses research competence. Qualifying examinations are taken when course work is successfully completed.

View the Higher Education Doctoral Program webpage >

Master's Program

We offer two opportunities for Master’s degree in the Higher Education Administration program: a Master's in Higher Education Administration (HED) and one in Student Affairs Administration.

Differences between the Higher Education Administration (HED) Masters Program and the Student Affairs Administration Program (SAA):

  • Although both the HED and SAA masters program will prepare students for entry and mid-level administration and leadership positions in higher education (both four-year and two-year colleges), the focus of the programs varies based on the functional areas of higher and a student’s interests within higher education.

  • Students in the SAA program are typically interested in working in the division of Student Affairs and/or working directly with students in areas including academic advising, new student programming/orientation, wellness, residence life and student housing, student activities, Greek affairs, multicultural/diversity services, student development, career exploration, and leadership development. Although SAA students also take courses that expose students to the broader issues of higher education administration (e.g., administration and governance issues, history, higher education policy, and finance), the SAA program views students as the unit of analysis and emphasizes student development, counseling, and other issues that directly affect students.

  • Students in the Higher Education program are typically interested in working functional areas other than a student affairs division including enrollment management, financial aid, government and community relations, policy analysis, alumni relations, institutional and policy research, and athletics administration. The degree prepares students to work as professionals in colleges and universities, policy organizations, and advocacy organizations. Students gain an understanding of the broader foundations of higher education with a focus on administration and governance issues, higher education policy, budget and finance, and curricular development. The higher education program views the organization and policies as the unit of analysis and emphasizes history, administration and governance issues, and college access. The SAA program meets or exceed all CAS Standards for student affairs graduate programs.

Additional Information

Graduate Assistantship Opportunities

Opportunities for graduate assistantships are available once a student has been admitted to the program. Such support provides students with professional experience closely related to their academic and professional interests. Graduate assistants work 20 hours per week in various student service offices during the academic year.

Internship and Practicum Opportunities

The Buffalo-Niagara region is home to 30 colleges and universities, providing opportunities for students to gain experience at a wide range of institutional types and settings. It may benefit a student to take advantage of these diverse institutions and complete additional practical experiences while in the program.

Professional Development

Students are introduced to related professional organizations and issues through speakers, journals and national, regional and local conferences. Students receive professional development support and career consultation services as part of the program.

Students are encouraged to join at least one professional organization, such as the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), or the College Student Personal Association (CSPA).


The Master's and Doctoral programs are individually tailored to allow for the intellectual and professional goals of each student. Interdisciplinary minors are encouraged, as well as an administrative practicum.

Special Feature

An international approach will be particularly relevant to students from other countries seeking advanced work in Higher Education. It is possible to pursue doctoral study in comparative higher education and efforts are made to make the higher education concentration relevant to students from other countries.

Financial Support

The department offers graduate assistantships for qualified doctoral-level students. In addition, University Fellowships are also available. Internships (usually remunerated) are frequently possible as a means of providing supervised professional experience, for doctoral students.

The Professional Study of Higher Education at the University at Buffalo

The Higher Education Program has awarded more than 150 doctorates. Its graduates can be found in rewarding professional positions in New York State, around the nation and in many parts of the world. Included are top-ranking administrators, professors of higher education, planners and government officials who have found this university's approach to graduate study in higher education to be intellectually stimulating.