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Higher Education (M.A.Ed.)


Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus
Instruction: Residential/On Campus 

Program Overview

The HED program is designed to meet the standards for master's level preparation in student affairs of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS).

The master’s program in Higher Education is a 48-credit hour program that provides entry-level professionals with the essential knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for a wide variety of student affairs positions in higher education. The Higher Education (HED) preparation program educates entry-level professionals about the essential knowledge, skills/experiences, and disposition necessary for practice in higher education. Graduate students are prepared to work as student development educators and administrators in higher education. Specifically, students may expect employment in residential programs, campus activities, career planning, judicial programs, counseling, admissions, financial aid, student orientation, multicultural services, and related campus programs.


Why choose this program?

A small cohort experience that ensures individual attention and shared learning, opportunities to specialize in one area, or explore many areas, of student affairs through assistantships, practica, and summer internships, and a solid grounding in program assessment and evaluation. Our students plan both fun and educational activities through the HEA (Higher Education Association). Students are strongly encouraged to collaborate. Our students are actively engaged in the profession. Over 90% held memberships in one or more professional associations, 88% participated in professional development activities, 42% presented one or more conference programs, 39% held leadership positions in professional associations, 24% were writing for publication, and 10% published manuscripts in professional journals.

What You'll Study

The master’s curriculum consists of courses in four areas: Foundations, Research, Concentration, and Cognate. A total of 48 credit hours is required for the master's degree. Given the delivery of the curriculum, students are required to register for classes during at least one summer term. You will complete courses such as introduction to student affairs profession, theories of college student development, higher education in the United States, higher education law, and  assessment in higher education.

Graduate education is concerned with enhancing a broad spectrum of talents in students. Some of these talents are addressed by structured, in-class activities determined primarily by faculty, while others are addressed by out-of-class activities that often are student-directed. Both types of learning opportunities are incorporated into each student's Plan of Study. Faculty serve as teachers, advisors, colleagues, and mentors to students.

Graduates will be eligible for employment in positions at colleges and universities in residence life, student activities, student success, academic advising, new student orientation, leadership development, multicultural affairs, and career services, among others.

Students who complete our M.A.Ed. program are very successful in the job search. Last year, 100% of our graduates accepted a position in higher education or student affairs. 

Most master’s graduates accept positions in the field within a few months of graduation.

The capstone ePortfolio experience, in which students synthesize and document their knowledge, skills, and abilities, impresses employers and helps students prepare for the job search.

Recent graduates are employed in residence life, student activities, student success, academic advising, new student orientation, leadership development, multicultural affairs, and career services, among others.

Graduates from the HED M.A.Ed. program will develop knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that are consistent with effective, ethical, and equitable practice as a college educator. Our curriculum centers on four tenets:

  • Professional Practice,
  • Scholarship,
  • Professional Involvement, And  and
  • Service

The Higher Education program welcomed three new faculty members in fall 2019: Dr. Sharrika Adams, Dr. Chase Catalano, and Dr. Tonisha Lane. Click on their profiles for more information.

This degree program is offered at the Blacksburg campus. The Blacksburg campus offers students the full services of the university, including an extensive library, technology support, and the Graduate Life Center.

Admission to the master's program in Higher Education is determined by an admission committee composed of program faculty. An earned GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate study is required. TOEFL scores are required of all international students whose first language is not English, except those applicants who have graduated from an accredited university where English is the language of instruction. TOEFL scores are not required of US permanent residents and US naturalized citizens. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is also accepted; a 6.5 minimum score is required. International applicants should consult the Graduate School web page for more information about the TOEFL and or other application requirements. Additional admission procedures are determined by the HED Admission Committee.

Visit this page for information on how to apply, including requirements, deadlines, and application fee.

The HED Admissions Coordinator will guide applicants through the process of applying for available Graduate Assistantship positions.  While funding is not guaranteed, admitted students are generally offered a “package” with an offer of admission and a graduate assistantship position. The GA position and provides a monthly stipend, a health insurance benefit and covers tuition (not fees).

Potential GA Opportunities Include:

  • Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity
  • Department of Recreational Sports
  • Cultural and Community Centers
  • Career and Professional Development
  • Office of First Year Experiences
  • Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Office of Housing and Residence Life
  • Office of Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program
  • Office of New Student and Family Programs
  • Office of Student Engagement and Campus Life
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Pre-College and Pipeline Initiatives
  • The Student Success Center
  • University Academic Advising Center

A question on the application for graduate admission asks whether you want to be considered for a teaching assistantship. Check yes. Please note that Indicating that you wish to be considered for an assistantship does not mean that you will be offered one, only that you wish to be considered for one, if available.

Learn more about other available funding opportunities


Deadlines for Domestic and International Application
Applications for Fall 2021 are due on December 31.

Kathy Tickle
Program Support Technician
Enrollment Services Specialist
402 Wallace Hall (0565)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-9721 |


M.A.Ed. program
Sharrika D. Adams, Ph.D.
1750 Kraft Dr., Room 2016
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Faculty Experts in Higher Education

Affiliated Faculty

Emerita and Emeritus Faculty Members

Don G. Creamer, Professor Emeritus, Higher Education
Joan B. Hirt, Professor Emerita, Higher Education, School of Education
Patricia Hyer, Affiliated Faculty; Associate Provost Emerita, University Provost’s Office
Steven M. Janosik, Associate Professor Emeritus, Higher Education, School of Education
Edward F. D. Spencer, Affiliated Associate Professor; Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs