Curriculum Overview

The Master of Arts in Higher Education is a 36-hour, cohort-based program with a common curriculum, emphasizing a theory-to-practice model of learning and a strong connection between course content and out-of-class experiences. The curriculum is informed by mission and values of Elon University and the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, and reflects the knowledge, skills and dispositions graduates should possess. The courses and learning outcomes adhere to the Council for the Advancement of Higher Education Programs (CAHEP) guidelines for Higher Education Administration and Leadership Programs for Master’s Degree Level and the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators.

Courses are designed to build on and deepen students’ learning as they progress through the program, with the capstone seminar requiring students to integrate their knowledge and skills, and to work in teams to apply their understanding in the development of a resolution to an authentic problem in a campus program/department.

First-year courses provide students with a strong knowledge base upon which to build their professional identity. Topics examined in the first year include: the historical underpinnings and evolution of higher education as a field of study; theories of student learning and development, advising/mentoring, and high impact educational practices; research competencies needed to critically analyze, conduct and disseminate empirical scholarship, program evaluation and assessment; higher education financial management practices; and the approaches and processes utilized by college and university enrollment offices. In their second year, students extend their professional knowledge through the application of learning to practice in internships, a study away experience, and a team-based capstone project. Second year coursework focuses on social justice, organizational behavior and culture, legal issues, global education, and leadership.

Collectively, the program of study is designed to equip the graduate of the program with the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to be an effective new professional in the field of higher education.

Programmatic Themes & Associated Student Learning Goals

The Masters of Arts in Higher Education curriculum is organized around nine learning outcomes that are presented within three broad themes. The first theme incorporates Elon’s commitment to engaged learning, student development and an inclusive community. The second theme describes the foundational knowledge for a higher education generalist. The third theme emphasizes the importance of acquiring the skills and dispositions needed for effective professional practice.

Theme One: Engaged Learning and Student Development

Students will be able to:

1. Apply principles for effective undergraduate education with an emphasis on student agency, student engagement and high impact practices

2. Evaluate and apply theory and research in student learning and development

3.  Construct and defend a philosophy on the importance of social justice, diversity and inclusion, and cross-cultural engagement

Theme Two: Foundations of Higher Education Administration

Students will be able to:

4.  Analyze the values, philosophy, and history of higher education

5.  Interpret and apply law, policy, and governance of higher education

6.  Evaluate the management of human and organizational resources

7.  Interpret and apply higher education administration policy and practice

Theme Three: Professional Practice

Students will be able to

8.  Use assessment, evaluation, and research to solve authentic problems

9.  Students will demonstrate a commitment to the following areas of professional practice dispositions:

a. ethical and professional conduct

b. learning and application of theory to practice

c. diversity and inclusion

d. personal, professional, and leadership growth

Student achievement of these learning outcomes will be assessed in course-embedded assessments and/or feedback from apprenticeship/internship supervisors.