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  • Higher Education

    Established in 1957, the Florida State University Higher Education program boasts a long tradition of excellence in preparing students for successful careers in higher education and in disseminating research on higher education policy issues at the national, state, and institutional level. Our mission is to draw upon and apply knowledge from the broad areas of organizational theory, student development, public policy, as well as teaching and learning to improve the quality of practice in college and universities. We offer the program at the M.S., Ed.D. and Ph.D. levels.

    Master's Programexpand menu

    The Master of Science (M.S.) degree prepares individuals for careers in administration, management, and leadership in public and private, two-year and four-year colleges, universities, and other institutions. Coursework and other learning experiences, such as internships and graduate assistantships, add practical experience to the learning process. In general, the curriculum is designed to provide students with appropriate knowledge about the professional field while grounding students in the theoretical framework necessary to guide current and future study and career development in higher education and student affairs. Many courses use practical examples, case studies, and simulations to facilitate theory to practice learning opportunities and applications. Students typically secure entry-level positions following graduation.

    Doctoral Programexpand menu

    Doctor of Education

    The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree is designed for individuals interested in upper-level administrative roles at colleges and universities. The curriculum prepares graduates through a focus on knowledge of policy and practice, the conduct of the systematic inquiry, the development and understanding of current practice and professional standards, and the application of cultural and contextual variables to institutional settings. The Ed.D. degree prepares individuals for careers in administration and leadership in public and private two-year colleges, four-year institutions, and universities. Graduates work in a variety of administrative capacities in education agencies and organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Careers offer the satisfaction of serving human needs and realizing valued societal goals. Graduate study in higher education can also improve opportunities for advancement and mobility as well as offer intrinsic rewards that stimulate productivity, enhance expertise, and renew motivation.

    Doctor of Philosophy

    The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is designed for individuals interested in higher education research and/or policy analysis. Students choose one of two tracks of study: Student Affairs or Public Policy. The curriculum prepares graduates for research, faculty, and administrative positions through a combination of comprehensive core, track-specific, elective, and research coursework. Ultimately, students will graduate with the ability to conduct independent research of a quality required by the field’s major associations and academic publications. Graduates work in a variety of service, research, and teaching programs in education agencies and organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Graduate study in higher education can also improve opportunities for advancement and mobility as well as offer intrinsic rewards that stimulate productivity, enhance expertise, and renew motivation.

    Admission Requirementsexpand menu


    In order to meet minimum University admission requirements, an applicant must have:

    • A bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA – A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution, with a minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average (GPA) in all coursework attempted while registered as an upper-division undergraduate student working towards a bachelor’s degree; or
    • A graduate degree with at least a 3.5 GPA – A graduate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution; and
    • GRE test scores – Official test results are required from the Graduate Record Examination revised General Test (GRE). These scores are considered official only when they are sent directly to the Office of Admissions from the testing agency. Examinee copies are not considered official. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), and the Psychological Corporation do not retain scores longer than five years. If your test scores are older than five years, you must retake the test to have official scores sent directly to FSU from the testing agency. If you have the official report that was mailed to your home address for older scores, then FSU may accept that report. FSU Institution Code: 5219.

    Target Scores:
    Verbal – 149
    Quantitative – 147
    Analytical Writing – 3.5

    • Language proficiency test scores – Official English Language Proficiency results are required of all international applicants whose native language is not English. The following are the minimum scores required for admission to the University, although some departments require higher scores at the graduate level:
    • Internet based TOEFL (IBTOEFL): 80
    • Paper based TOEFL (TOEFL): 550
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 6.5
    • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB): 77
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE): 55

    These scores are considered official only when they are sent directly to the Office of Admissions from the testing agency, and are not valid after two years.

    • Transcripts – Applicants must submit an official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college and/or university attended to the Office of Admissions. Transfer credit posted on the records of other institutions is not accepted in lieu of transcripts from the original institutions. Official transcripts for these credits must also be submitted. Transcripts are considered official when they bear an official seal and signature and are sent from the issuing college or university directly to Florida State. FSU transcripts or official transcripts already on file will be obtained by the Office of Admissions.  Original documents or signed, officially certified photocopies of original documents may be submitted by the student only when institutions outside the United States will not send academic records to other institutions. The verifying signature should be that of an officer of the institution attended. All academic records that are not in English must be accompanied by certified English translations. Certified documents should be true copies that are signed and dated by an educational official familiar with academic records. Documents signed by a notary or other public official with no educational affiliation will not be accepted.

    The address for submitting transcripts is:

    Florida State University
    Office of Admissions
    282 Champions Way
    PO Box 3062400
    Tallahassee FL 32306-2400

    • Florida Residency form – All students who wish to claim Florida residency for tuition paying purposes must complete the residency declaration for tuition purposes form as part of the application for admission process. Depending upon the review of your declaration, additional documentation may be required to support your claim of residency for tuition purposes. If you are a Florida resident, you must complete the residency declaration for tuition purposes formeven if you were previously designated a Florida Resident by the University. If you do not complete this form, you will be classified as a non-Florida resident for tuition purposes.


    For this program, supporting documents must be uploaded to the Admissions Application Portal:

    • Statement of purpose (1 required) – Describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in higher education, including your preparation for this field of study and your future career goals. Please be specific about why Florida State University would be a good intellectual and professional fit for you.  If there are any specific details of your academic, professional, or personal history you feel should be considered during admissions or you would like to put into context, please do so within the statement of purpose. Prospective doctoral students: Please also discuss research interests and/or a problem of practice you are interested in investigating during doctoral study.

    You should touch on your personal background and experiences that have led you to pursue a graduate degree, but are reminded the faculty will have a copy of your resume/C.V. Personal statements are generally two pages long, 12-point font, double-spaced.

    • Letters of recommendation (3 required) – Letters should be written by persons who are in a position to comment on the likelihood of your success within the department, specifically faculty members or supervisors. At least one letter must be from a faculty member. We do not accept letters from co-workers or friends.
    • Resume/Curriculum Vitae (1 required)
    • Unofficial Transcripts – Include transcripts from all colleges attended. Uploading a copy will expedite the review process, though you must still send official copies to the Office of Admissions.
    • Writing Sample (1 required; doctoral applicants only) – As an applicant to our doctoral program, we ask you reflect and respond to the following prompt. Three-page maximum length, double-spaced. References are permissible but not expected.

    FSU’s Higher Education Program is organized around three pillars: Student Success, Leadership, and Social Justice.  We would like to give you a brief but focused opportunity to share your scholarly voice in writing as it applies to our program’s aims and strengths.

    1. Identify and focus on one of the three pillars.
    2. Define this pillar in your own words.
    3. Briefly discuss the pillar’s impact on students, higher education institutions, OR higher education policy, and
    4. Identify any connection to the pillar you see in your life at present and/or potential work as a Higher Education doctoral student.

    Application Deadlinesexpand menu

    The application deadline is December 1 (Fall admission only).

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    Apply Now- International Students

    Scholarships & Aidexpand menu

    Graduate assistantships are available to qualified master’s and doctoral students who enroll full-time. Graduate assistants are expected to contribute their time and energy to major research or service projects associated with the department, affiliated centers, and individual faculty grant projects, as well as various college and FSU offices. A strong relationship exists between the Higher Education Program and the FSU Division of Student Affairs.

    Admitted students may interview for available graduate assistantships through Visiting Days, which typically occurs in the month of February. Admitted students will receive detailed information regarding the Visiting Days Program and assistantship applications following acceptance to the Higher Education program. Visiting Days features master’s and doctoral program tracks to provide prospective students with information regarding the program and institution, specific to their degree programs and goals.

    Visiting Days (for students admitted to the fall 2019 cohorts) will be held Sunday, February 10-Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

    Additional information about the Visiting Days Program is updated each December in preparation for the program and can be found at http://www.fsuhesa.org/visiting-days/.

    Career Opportunitiesexpand menu

    Excellent job prospects await our higher education program graduates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent increase in education administrator employment through 2020. The growth in this field is primarily due to increased enrollment in postsecondary schools. A large number of postsecondary education administrators are expected to retire between 2010 and 2020, which will present many opportunities for graduates entering the field and mid-level professionals aiming to advance their career. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education Salary Survey, the median annual wage of postsecondary education administrators in 2014-2015 totaled $137,484 for top-level administrators, $56,716 for mid-level professionals, and $40.391 for entry-level professionals.

    With a degree in higher education, you will be prepared to take leadership roles in areas such as student services, student development, administration, and higher education or public policy research. You will also be qualified to work in education-related businesses including consulting and education marketing companies.

    Admissions Contactexpand menu

    Ms. Linda Lyons – Admissions application information
    Kendra Bumpus – General program and Visiting Days information

    Higher Education Student Association (HESA) – Want to know more about what it’s like to be a student in Higher Education? Visit the HESA website for more information.

    Hardee Center for Leadership and Ethics in Higher Education

    Center for Postsecondary Success

    Leadership Learning Research Center


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