Our two-year Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership will prepare you to take on the emerging challenges surrounding higher education. Compelling internships and graduate assistantships offer future practitioners immersion experiences and practice in a wide array of offices on the HWS campus and neighboring campuses. You will also take courses that encourage you to analyze and critique the history and policy of higher education, identify ways in which you can act on personal commitments related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and have opportunities to investigate leadership and innovation techniques. Upon graduation, you will be ready for a wide spectrum of entry-level and middle-management positions in student affairs as well as other professional areas within colleges, universities, community colleges and policymaking organizations.


Today’s college students are the most diverse in history and academia should reflect that. This Master’s program dives into the history of diversity on campuses, examines how college students form identity and agency and explores how to create meaningful change as an administrator. Belonging, diversity and equity are central to the curriculum as students consider their own identities and those of future college students, especially of BIPOC, first-generation and LGBTQ+ students.


Education is a hands-on endeavor and studying it should be, too. With the Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership, you’ll be learning up close and personal with HWS faculty and staff in offices throughout campus. Through a competitive graduate assistantship, which will cover the cost of tuition and provide a stipend, or through internship placements, you will spend dedicated time in the field testing your skills and expanding your knowledge base. With the guidance of a mentor, you’ll work on projects that provide firsthand insights on how colleges function and develop ideas for implementing change.


Our program is designed to prepare you for a successful career and a purposeful life. After completing the program, you’ll be able to:

  • Support a contemporary generation of college students within a rapidly changing social, cultural, political and economic landscape
  • Analyze and critique the history and politics of higher education in ways that reflect lived experiences, best-practices and professional aspirations
  • Advocate for students in ways that demonstrate a thorough understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion and that foster student success
  • Contribute to higher education as an emerging practitioner who can act on your personal commitments, skills, and abilities
  • Demonstrate effective and creative leadership as you advocate for positive personal, inter-personal, structural, and institutional change to promote inclusive and innovative organizations and programs

These skills will open doors to career opportunities in higher education and leadership roles where change is the ultimate goal.

Student Spotlight

Ashley Kinsey MHEL '24

bachelor of arts in criminal justice, widener university

"This program is shaping my career path by providing me not only knowledge about working in higher education, but also with real-time experience. I have a great opportunity as a Graduate Assistant in Residence Life. The Office of Student Engagement has provided incredible guidance and support, helping me learn about the world of higher education."

aaron smith '24

bachelor of Science in Sport management, st. john fisher university

"This program is helping to shape my career path by not only giving me a quality education, but also allowing me to complete a graduate assistantship in a career field that I know is my calling. The education, along with the practical experience, is putting me in a position to succeed upon graduation." 


Immerse Yourself

In the Future of Higher Education

Learn More & Apply

Students interested in pursuing the Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership program are encouraged to contact Becca Barile, Vice President for Campus Life and Director of the Program, to discuss the program and how it may align with your goals. Or, request information using the link below. Applicants are required to submit an online application, an essay, two letters of recommendation and an undergraduate transcript that demonstrates a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Deadlines for Fall 2024 Admission

Priority Deadline for Admission & Graduate Assistantships, March 1, 2024Students who are interested in early decision or a graduate assistantship should apply by this deadline. Students will interview with graduate assistantship supervisors in our priority process, and receive decisions for their admission and graduate assistantship by March 15, 2024.

General Application Deadline for Admission, May 1, 2024
Students who apply by this deadline may still be eligible for any available Graduate Assistantships. Applications after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis based on space available.

Have Your Education.

Afford it, Too.

Tuition & Aid

Tuition and Fees 2023-24


Per Semester

Per Year

Tuition (Full-Time)



Health and Wellness Fee



Student Activity Fee



Technology Fee





Per Course

Tuition (Part-Time)


Students interested in financial aid should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Limited institutional financial aid is available for this program.

For more information about Tuition and Aid, please contact:

Office of Financial Aid
Voice Call: (315) 781-3315


MHEL applicants can apply for competitive graduate assistantships (GA) that provide immersion experiences on the HWS campus in a range of departments. Enrolled students who are granted a GA position will dedicate 19 hours of work per week to their assignment in exchange for a $20,000 stipend and free tuition. Each assistantship will be a one-year placement with the potential for renewal in the second year. Some students may have an opportunity to complete two different placements over the course of the two-year MHEL program.

News Featuring MHEL students & Faculty

  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    AlumsA New Appreciation

    One of the first graduating members of HWS' new Master of Higher Education Leadership program, Jocelyn McKenzie ’18 reflects on returning to campus and how the program has prepared her to be a higher-ed leader.

  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    AlumsCampus Lawyers and Federal Law

    In the Chronicle of Higher Education, HWS General Counsel Lou Guard ’07 discusses the evolution of federal regulation related to colleges and universities over the past 50 years and the ways institutions have responded.

  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    AlumsHigher Education Legal Trends Explored by HWS General Counsel

    Litigation, costs and changing views of colleges and universities among topics in new article.