15 Most Affordable Master’s in Higher Education Online in 2021

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Updated June 28, 2021

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Logging into virtual classrooms for online master's in higher education degrees can conveniently help graduate school students step into administrators' shoes building safe, effective learning environments for future college generations. According to the Washington Post, the country has over 5,300 postsecondary schools that need administrative heads for wide-ranging departments from financial aid to career services. The Princeton Review reports that the average U.S. college employs close to 500 staff.

Online higher education courses train bachelor's graduates for positions overseeing academic and campus activities to better retain diverse learners ages 17-97. Since 2005, full-time enrollment at public universities has risen by 12 percent from 9.2 million to 10.5 million on the College Board. Admission forecasts published by Inside Higher Education predict a whopping 23.3 million university students by 2025. Now's an outstanding time to take advantage of higher education master's online bargains and lead growing classes toward their vocational dreams.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Most Affordable Online Higher Education Master's

  1. Appalachian State University

    Boone, NC



    Retaining 89 percent of its 18,811 Mountaineers, Appalachian State University is a public, state-funded globally proficient institution opened by the Dougherty Brothers in 1899 that's charging our list's smallest price for 128 majors finished online via Moodle and face-to-face at its 31-building Blue Ridge campus. ASU is declared America's 36th best online graduate teacher's college by the U.S. News & World Report, 90th top public university on Niche, and 144th best school according to the Social Mobility Index. The Cratis D. Williams Graduate School has funds like the Mary Kistler Scholarship for the Online Higher Education: Master of Arts (MA). Coordinated by Dr. Vachel Miller, the 36-credit, non-thesis program accepts applicants until June 1st into three specializations: Adult and Developmental Education, Community College and University Leadership, or Teaching.

  2. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    Given University of Business Magazine's Model of Excellence Award, Sam Houston State University is Texas' 12th largest public, doctoral-granting RU/H college that's seen enrollment jump 74 percent since 2000 to serve 20,120 Bearkats both on Blackboard and its 272-acre Piney Woods campus. SHSU has America's 28th best online teacher education on the U.S. News & World Report, 67th best standout academics on Niche, and 11th top graduation rate in Washington Monthly. The CAEP-accredited College of Education has application deadlines of August 1st, December 1st, and May 1st for the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration Online. Chaired by Dr. Forrest Lane, the 30-credit curriculum trains cohorts of 15-20 in courses like Resource Development & Allocation with thesis or non-thesis practicum tracks.

  3. University of Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls, SD



    Reporting 98 percent job placement with Cougar Careers, the University of Sioux Falls is a private, civic-oriented Baptist NSIC member founded in 1883 that's providing a "Culture for Service" to 1,419 students enrolled on its 58-acre Minnehaha County campus and online. USF is crowned America's 176th best Christian school on Niche, 205th best online graduate college by the U.S. News & World Report, and 199th top value on WalletHub. Directed by Dr. Beth Jernberg in Glidden Hall, the Frederick School of Education was reaffirmed by the CAEP through Fall 2019 with the Online M.Ed. in Educational Administration/Adult and Higher Education. The 33-credit, non-GRE program admits post-grads with minimum 2.6 GPAs for faith-forward courses like Sociology of Adult Education and Quality Assurance ahead of the internship.

  4. Grace College and Theological Seminary

    Winona Lake, IN



    Founded by Alva J. McClain in 1937, Grace College and Theological Seminary is a private, evangelical Christian character-building institution affiliated with the Brethren Church that's endowed for $10 million to enlighten 1,773 Lancers on its 21-building Wayne Township campus and online through Blackboard. Grace is ranked America's 121st best religious college on Niche, 186th most focused teacher education school by College Factual, and 118th best baccalaureate value in Washington Monthly. Approved by the ACSI to train "Teachers as Moral Practitioners," the School of Education upholds Micah 6:8 with the Master of Science in Higher Education Online. The 36-credit, Biblical-based major begins every Fall or Spring with courses like Student Affairs and Grant Writing before the integrative application project.

  5. University of Houston

    Houston, TX



    Known for the Institute for P-20 Educational Policy Research and Evaluation, the University of Houston is Texas' third-largest public, doctoral-granting RU/VH hub that's generating a $3 billion economic impact by training 42,704 Cougars at its 667-acre "Space City" campus and online via Blackboard. UH was judged America's 119th best public school by Forbes, 12th best standout college on Niche, and 301st top university overall in Times Higher Education. The CAEP-accredited College of Education follows ASHE standards when awarding its Online M.Ed. in Higher Education Program. Headed by Dr. Tiffany Davis, the 36-credit, cohort-based master's takes two years full-time with required courses like Cultural Foundations of American Education, an internship, and the comprehensive exam.

  6. Central Washington University

    Ellensburg, WA



    Standing atop a 380-acre Kittitas Valley campus in Cascadia with eLearning on Blackboard, Central Washington University is a public, coeducational Hispanic-serving school of the Great Northwest Conference that's endowed for $18.1 million to enroll 11,799 Wildcats and employ 942 staff. CWU is recognized for America's 242nd top public education on Niche, 398th best value tuition in Money magazine, and 379th best salary potential by PayScale. Led by Dr. Kate Mastruserio Reynolds in Black Hall, the School of Education launched the Masters of Education Higher Education Online with thesis and internship capstone options. The 45-credit, two-year curriculum focuses on the organizational development of colleges with courses like Diverse Leadership and Student Program Evaluation.

  7. Kaplan University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    Owned by Graham Holdings Company since November 2000, Kaplan University is a small test-prep pioneer turned mega online for-profit that's generating net income of $101 million while training over 30,000 working adults at 15 physical campuses and online via KU Campus. Kaplan is deemed America's 199th safest college on Niche, 17th most popular teacher education school by College Factual, and 28th top military-friendly university by the Online Schools Center. Directed by Dr. Jeffrey Bailie, the School of Education houses six graduate degrees like the Online Master of Science in Higher Education with monthly starts. The 50-credit, HLC-accredited curriculum includes one 120-hour internship for specializations in Student Affairs, College Administration and Leadership, or College Teaching.

  8. Colorado State University

    Aurora, CO



    Generating research expenditures of $338 million, Colorado State University is a public, land-grant URA member of the Mountain West that's employing 1,540 faculty and training 33,058 Rams in 150+ programs either at its 583-acre, elm-lined Fort Collins campus or online. CSU is distinguished as America's 69th top public university on Forbes, 125th best online graduate teaching school by the U.S. News & World Report, and 12th best bet in Financial Times. Admitting fall cohorts until June 1st annually, the CAEP-accredited School of Education awards the Master of Science (M.S.) in Student Affairs in Higher Education Online via Canvas. The 45-credit, portfolio-based program managed by Dr. Jennifer Johnson blends virtual courses like Campus Ecology with two practica and an eight-week capstone.

  9. McKendree University

    Lebanon, IL



    Named to Chronicle of Higher Education's Honor Roll, McKendree University is a private, coeducational Methodist GLVC member founded in 1828 that's currently endowed for $35.8 million to inspire 2,937 Bearcats with an average class size of 14 from Lebanon to Shepherdsville and online. McKendree is ranked America's 107th best online teachers college by the U.S. News & World Report, 152nd best free application school on Niche, and 126th most service-oriented university in Washington Monthly. The CAEP-accredited School of Education grows post-grads' LiveText portfolios with an Online MAED Degree in Higher Education Administrative Services. The 36-credit program requires 3.0 GPAs in courses like Student Access Issues before the capstone.

  10. Lenoir-Rhyne University

    Hickory, NC



    Endowed for $106 million, Lenoir-Rhyne University is a private, Lutheran liberal arts school of the South Atlantic Conference that's grown since 1891 to teach 2,523 Bears from 45 states at 100 combined acres in Hickory, Asheville, and Columbia or online through Blackboard. LRU was noticed for America's 317th most conservatism on Niche, 224th highest graduation rate in Washington Monthly, and 52nd best-paid education grads by College Factual. CAEP-accredited through 2020, the College of Education & Human Services offers a Master of Arts in Community College Administration and Master of Arts in University Leadership online. Both 33-credit, interdisciplinary programs headed by Dr. Molly Dugan study higher education dynamics in courses like Budget Management with six practicum credits.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Other Master's in Higher Education Online Degree Offerings

North Park University

Master of Higher Education Administration Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,906 per year

New England College

Online Higher Education Administration MS

Average Graduate Tuition: $13,560 per year

Concordia University-Chicago

MA Higher Education Leadership Specialization Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,328 per year

Capella University

Online Master of Science in Higher Education

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,526 per year

Dallas Baptist University

M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration Track Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $15,408 per year

Saint Peter's University

Online Master of Higher Education in General Administration

Average Graduate Tuition: $19,476 per year

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Master of Education in Higher Education Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $19,712 per year

Abilene Christian University

Online M.Ed. in Higher Education

Average Graduate Tuition: $19,890 per year

Fairleigh Dickinson University

Master of Arts in Student Services Administration (MASSA) Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $21,564 per year

Hofstra University

Online MSEd Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies

Average Graduate Tuition: $22,320 per year

Bay Path University

Higher Education Administration (MS) Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $22,420 per year

Andrews University

Online Higher Education Administration MA

Average Graduate Tuition: $25,128 per year

Careers Options

During their tenure in online higher education master's study, post-grads become eligible for many mid- and upper-level managerial campus jobs improving America's collegiate landscape. Although university faculty and dean positions are generally Ph.D. preferred, a master's unlocks titles from athletic administrator to university registrar and paves the pathway into doctoral programs if desired. The award-winning HigherEdJobs database currently lists more than 45,000 openings across 200+ job categories! Master's graduates can also find networking opportunities by becoming members of organizations like the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), and American Association of University Administrators (AAUA). Let's review five sample careers where a master's in higher education online is valuable:

University Admissions Administrator- The 10 most popular colleges on the U.S. News & World Report received an average of 72,588 applications in Fall 2016, so university admissions administrators are vital. Online higher education master's grads are equipped to develop admission protocol, set application deadlines, comply with laws like FERPA, hire counselors, address fraud suspicions, manage dual enrollment, and collect student data.

Multicultural Affairs Coordinator- According to the Pew Research Center, campus racial demographics are evolving with enrollment increases of 240 percent for Hispanics and 72 percent for African-Americans since 1996. Finishing a higher education master's online could prepare multicultural affairs coordinators for forming inclusive policies, aiding immigration, conducting retention outreach, supervising ethnic clubs, and planning cultural events.

Disability Services Director- Master's in higher education online graduates well-versed in Section 504 regulations could run academic support programs to improve the low 33 percent graduation rate for students with disabilities published by Huffington Post. These directors review diagnosis documents, coordinate apt ADA accommodations, ease transitions, supervise tutors, purchase assistive technology, and advocate for exceptional students' needs.

Community College Professor- The National Student Clearinghouse reports that community colleges have 39 percent, around 9 million, of U.S. undergrads, so consider applying an online master's in higher education here. In lower-division junior college courses, masters-trained professors qualify for developing syllabi, preparing lectures, assigning textbook readings, correcting exams, reporting final grades, functioning as advisors, and supervising clubs.

Title IX Compliance Officer- Signed by President Nixon in 1972, Title IX stipulates that federally funded schools must prohibit sex discrimination and harassment, yet the ACLU warns 95 percent of campus rapes aren't reported. Compliance officers with online higher education master's could improve reporting procedures, investigate allegations, collaborate with police, interview complainants, convene disciplinary hearings, and plan safety training.

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Salary Potential

Cheap online master's in higher education degrees can garner great ROI with much bigger paychecks than the mean K-12 teacher salary of $56,383 on Niche. In May 2017, Inside Higher Ed reported a global college market worth $1.9 trillion total! The 138,430 postsecondary administrators nationwide earn a mean annual wage of $105,770, or $50.85 per hour, on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Campus administrative services managers snag median profits of $90,050. College professors teaching courses from nursing to forestry earn median pay of $75,430 yearly. Top university executives like Chief Financial Officers bring home $194,350 on average. According to Salary.com, Chief Student Affairs Officers make median income of $137,410. Other six-figure averages include $126,464 for enrollment managers, $172,992 for provosts, $111,314 for athletics directors, and $116,209 for associate deans.

Employment Outlook

It's unsurprising that college enrollment has spiked since CNN shows America's post-recession economy produced 8.4 million jobs needing bachelor's and 3.1 million jobs needing associate degrees since January 2010. Pursuing a higher education master's online would help meet student services demand at enlarging campuses. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that postsecondary administration staffing will grow by 10 percent for 18,200 new openings by 2026. Hiring of college faculty will speed up by 15 percent this decade with faster-than-average growth in business, engineering, and health specialties. Chief executive roles, including college president, are more competitive with a 10-year job outlook of 8 percent. Forbes magazine points master's grads toward Virginia, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts with the top-quality education opportunities. In self-paced formats, online master's in higher education programs produce competent, employable administrators who guide others to diplomas.

See also: 10 Most Affordable EdD Education Online Programs


Washington Post
Princeton Review
College Board
Inside Higher Education
NCES College Navigator

This concludes our list of the 15 most affordable online master's in higher education.

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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