This is a named option in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis MS.

The master’s program in Higher Education (HE) offers a broad range of course selections with foundations in administration, organization, governance, teaching and learning, and policy and research.  The program affords students the opportunity to study minority serving institutions, legal and financial aspects of higher education, the politics of higher education, academic programs in colleges and universities, ideas of the university, diversity and inequality in higher education, the American community colleges, assessment in higher education, perspectives on college student identity and development, administrative services in higher education, critical leadership issues in coaching.  Students also have the opportunity to complete field experiences.  The culminating experience of the Higher Education Master’s program is a capstone project. 

There are three specific concentrations of study within the HE program that students can select; student affairs administration; intercollegiate athletic administration; and two-year colleges.

Students completing a Master's degree in higher education work in a variety of leadership roles in colleges, universities, and technical colleges.  

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

M.S. applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:

  • Your area of interest (task or functional area of administration.)
  • Your career goals (i.e., why the applicant is interested in pursuing a degree in educational administration.)
  • Your professional objectives and how the UW-Madison program will contribute toward the applicant's role as a school/institution leader.

2. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.

3. Resume or CV.

4. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three (3) people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicant. When completing the online application, submit the names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.

5. Supporting document if undergraduate GPA is below 3.00. In a statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect high potential to serve in leadership roles.

English proficiency requirements are required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements 


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes Yes No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students are able to complete a program with minimal disruptions to careers and other commitments.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 24 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy:
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations None.
Language Requirements None.

Required Courses

Introduction to Higher and Post-Secondary Education
Core Areas18
Students take at least one course from Administration Organization & Governance, Teaching and Learning, and Policy and Research. Students must also take at least two courses in Equity & Diversity.
Administration Organization & Governance (3-6 credits)
If pursuing a concentration in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration, choose ELPA 710 and 1 other course. Otherwise - choose 1 course.
Introduction to Intercollegiate Athletics Administration
Governance and Administration of Colleges and Universities
Administration of Student Services in Higher Education
Financing Postsecondary Education
The American Community College
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Teaching and Learning (3-6 credits)
If pursuing a concentration in Student Affairs Administration, choose ELPA 883 and 1 other course. Otherwise - choose 1 course.
The Adult Learner: Implications for Curriculum and Instruction
Academic Programs in Colleges and Universities
Ideas of the University: Images of Higher Learning for the 21st Century
Perspectives on College Student Identity and Development
Diversity and Inequality in Higher Education
Assessment in Higher Education
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Policy and Research (3-6 credits)
Research Methods and Procedures in Educational Administration
Field Research Designs & Methodologies in Educational Administratn
Financing Postsecondary Education
Legal Aspects of Higher Education
The Politics of Education
The American Community College
Assessment in Higher Education
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Equity & Diversity (6 credits)
Minority-Serving Institutions of Higher Education
Perspectives on College Student Identity and Development
The American Community College
Diversity and Inequality in Higher Education
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Additional Coursework3-6
Option of completing course work outside of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis OR completing additional ELPA course work. Consult with advisor prior to selecting courses. If completing a field experience, only 3 credits of additional course work is required.
Capstone Learning Project - Required3
Higher and Post-Secondary Education Capstone Seminar
Research or Thesis
Independent Reading
Field Experience - Optional0-4
Field Experience in Educational Leadership
Independent Reading
Total Credits30

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

If applicable to the program completing, and with program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework in educational leadership from other institutions and 6 credits of graduate coursework in areas other than educational leadership from other institutions. A maximum of 14 credits of prior coursework (Graduate Work from Other Institutions and UW-Madison Undergraduate combined) are allowed to count. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

If applicable to the program completing and with program approval, 6 credits of coursework numbered 500 or above from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree. A maximum of 14 credits of prior coursework (Graduate Work from Other Institutions and UW-Madison Undergraduate combined) are allowed to count. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student. If necessary to meet the Graduate School minimum graduate credit or residence requirements for the degree, special student coursework may need to be converted to graduate credits.  Once converted, students are assessed the difference in tuition between special and graduate tuition. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


All students are assigned an initial advisor upon admission to the department.

Master’s students have the option of requesting a change of advisor and will also need to find a faculty member willing to serve as their advisor. An advisor agreement form is required to change advisors.


12 credits

Time Limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Policies

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. The complaint may concern course grades, classroom treatment, program admission, or other issues. To insure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect both the rights of the student and the person at whom the complaint is addressed, the procedures below are used in the School of Education.

The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Education. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts. The following steps are available within the School of Education when a student has a grievance:

  1. The student should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, and the student is not satisfied, the next step would be to talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may continue to step 2.
  2. If the complaint does not involve an academic department, the procedure outlined in Step 4 below should be followed. If the complaint involves an academic department, the student should contact the chair of the department. The chair will attempt to resolve the problem informally. If this cannot be done to the student's satisfaction, the student may submit the grievance to the chair in writing. This must be done within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  3. On receipt of a written complaint, the chair will refer the matter to a departmental committee, which will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The chair will provide a timely written decision to the student on the action taken by the committee.
  4. If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the department, they have five working days from receipt of the decision to contact the dean's office (at the number below), indicating the intention to appeal. If the complaint does not involve an academic department in the school, the student must contact the dean's office within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. In either case, there will be an attempt to resolve the issue informally by the associate dean. If this cannot be done, the complaint can be filed in writing with the dean's office. This must be done within 10 working days of the time the appealing party was notified that informal resolution was unsuccessful.
  6. On receipt of such a written complaint, the associate dean will convene a subcommittee of the school's Equity & Diversity Committee. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and may hold a hearing at which both parties will be asked to speak separately. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the dean of the School of Education who will render a decision. Unless a longer time is negotiated, this written decision shall be made within 20 working days from the date when the grievance was filed with the dean's office.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office of Compliance, 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018,



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Faculty: Professor Anjalé (AJ) Welton (chair); Professors Conrad, Eckes, Halverson, Kelley, Miller, Wang, Winkle-Wagner; Associate Professors Burt, Hillman; Assistant Professors Grooms, Henry, McQuillan, Saldana, Yu; Clinical Professors Crim, Li, Sramek, Salzman, Soffa-Jimenez