Higher Education
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

MA in Higher Education and Student Development (pending SCHEV approval)

Note: As of catalog publication in April, this program has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia for consideration as a new degree program. The university cannot accept applications or enroll students in this program until SCHEV approval has been granted. 

The program prepares students for positions in higher education administration, student development, non-profit higher education associations, and government organizations. Today's higher education professionals are required to address both the needs of incoming traditionally aged students, as well as those of older students returning for a degree and special populations. The wide range of student backgrounds in the current complex context requires a holistic approach to college student development.

This master's degree will prepare future higher education leaders who understand higher education in the digital age, student development, multicultural and diverse populations, program development, professionalism, and learning assessment. This multidisciplinary program offers both thesis and project capstone options and is full and part-time student friendly. Alumni hold positions in areas such as career development, academic advising, assessment, facilities management, admissions, and residence life.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 36

Core Courses

HE 603 Higher Education in the Digital Age 3
HE 605 Learning Assessment 3
HE 606 Diversity in Higher Education 3
HE 610 Research Designs in Higher Education 3
HE 621 Higher Education in the United States 3
HE 644 Student Services in Higher Education 3
HE 646 Student Development Theory 3
Total Credits 21

Optional Practicum

Depending upon prior work experience, students may be encouraged to complete a 150 hour practicum related to the student's learning and career goals.

HE 685 Practicum 3
Total Credits 3

Thesis or Project Capstone

Students may choose a thesis option or project option as described below. Electives can be taken outside of HE courses and should be selected in consultation with the advisor.

Thesis Option

Students selecting the thesis option will complete the course work below. In addition to HE 799 Higher Education Thesis, students will take an additional research methods course, a research apprenticeship, and two electives.

One additional research methods course offered at Mason with approval of an advisor. 3
HE 785 Research Apprentice 3
Select 6 credits of electives 1 6
HE 799 Higher Education Thesis (3 credits required) 2 3
Total Credits 15

HE 685 Practicum may apply to this requirement based upon the work experience and with the approval of the student's advisor.


A thesis is a rigorous scholarly inquiry that requires the collection of original data and is presented in a traditional, formal, written format. It is informed by experience gained from the research apprenticeship. The guideline and deadlines for thesis submission are set by the University and administered by the University Dissertation and Thesis Service.

Project Option

Students who select the project option will also complete four electives (12 credits) approved by the advisor.

Select 12 credits of electives 1 12
HE 798 Higher Education Project (take 3 credits) 2 3
Total Credits 15

HE 685 Practicum may apply to this requirement based upon the work experience and with the approval of the student's advisor.


A project is a product the student creates from existing literature such as a traditional research monograph that is smaller in scale than a thesis and/or does not rely on the collection of original data. It is a deliverable with a practical application, such as a manual, handbook, or workshop grounded in research literature.

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