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What Can I Do With a Master's Degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs?

by Sara Mahuron

Consider your career interests carefully when selecting a master's degree. The master's in higher education and student affairs is highly specialized and leads to specific entry-level jobs in higher education and administration. The curriculum for this major includes learning about the history and purpose of higher education systems, student learning and development, research methods, theory and leadership. Graduates are prepared to take on increasing responsibility within student affairs at campuses nationwide.

Student Affairs Jobs

Student affairs is the heart of a campus and is vital for keeping things running smoothly and classrooms full. Jobs abound in a variety of departments. Housed under the student affairs wing are the offices for financial aid, the registrar, admissions, recruitment, student recreation, career services, health and wellness, student diversity programs and academic support programs. Graduates of the master's program in higher education and student affairs are prepared for entry-level jobs in any of these departments. They often advance internally, up to the director position.

Higher Education Administration

With experience and a little luck, graduates can expect to rise from among the ranks and fill administration positions. Coordinators, program managers and deans generally have a master's degree in this area, or a related field. Administrators are rarely an entry-level job -- many administrators have worked in several student affairs positions and know their institution well before moving into this role. Being enterprising and having a high level of interpersonal communication skills are helpful in making the leap to administrator.

Management

Not all graduates stay in education -- at least not directly. Some move into management positions. This degree prepares managers for nonprofit or not-for-profit organizations. It is also suitable preparation for working in management positions within government and public organizations. Managers for workforce training, adult development or public health education programs can benefit from the curriculum of this program because they deal with similar populations, objectives and functions.

Training and Development

Plenty of graduates end up back in the classroom as instructors. The master's degree is generally the minimum requirement to teach at a college or university. Graduates of a higher education and student affairs program are often qualified to teach general education, adult education, student success, college experience, career development, learning strategies, study skills and student leadership classes. Their unique knowledge of the college student population, theory and needs, puts them in a unique position for developing students in the classroom. Additionally, some graduates may work for training and development programs in the corporate or private sector.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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