Higher Education


Established in 1957, the Florida State University Higher Education program boasts a long tradition of preparing students for successful careers. Faculty members and students regularly disseminate research on higher education policy issues at the national, state, and institutional level. Our program focuses on three central pillars: student success, leadership, and social justice. As they progress through the program, students will gain opportunities for advancement and career mobility. They can also expect to enhance expertise and renew motivation. Florida State offers M.S., Ed.D. and Ph.D. higher education programs.

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree prepares individuals for careers in administration, management, and leadership. Graduates can expect to work 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, we provide students with appropriate knowledge about the professional field while grounding students in a theoretical framework. This knowledge guides the 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.

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 the comprehensive core, track-specific, elective, and research coursework. Ultimately, graduates 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 throughout the United States and abroad.

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


Assistantships, Scholarships & Aid

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 particularly strong relationship exists between the Higher Education program and the Division of Student Affairs as well as two research centers: the Center for Postsecondary Success and the Leadership Learning Research Center.

For more information about our available assistantships, please visit education.fsu.edu/visiting-days. A list of our assistantships is available on this page, and will be updated with information around mid-December through mid-April.

Admitted students may interview for available graduate assistantships through Visiting Days, which typically occurs in the month of February. Training opportunities through these assistantships include administrative, research, and teaching. Admitted students will receive detailed information regarding the Visiting Days program and assistantship applications following acceptance to the Higher Education program, including tuition waivers and health insurance information.

Visiting Days (for students admitted to the fall 2020 cohort): see our website for details. Especially for students seeking master’s degrees, assistantships are a critical piece of your funding package and an opportunity to learn more about the program, university, and what it would be like to live, work, and study here. 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. Additional information about the Visiting Days Program is updated each December in preparation for the program and can be found at education.fsu.edu/visiting-days.


The Graduate School at Florida State University offers internal funding awards and has additional information available about external scholarships and fellowships: https://gradschool.fsu.edu/funding-awards/graduate-school-fellowships-and-grants.

FSU doctoral applicants have been successful at winning both external and internal grants. These include the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship for Florida Ph.D.-seeking students, FAMU Graduate Feeder Scholars Program, P.E.O. Scholars, the NAEd/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, and others. Success stories can be found here at the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards site. We strongly encourage you to review the site and apply for awards. The College of Education also offers scholarships for incoming and current students; more information is available here. Additional information about graduate financial aid can be found here.

Career Opportunities

Excellent job prospects await our higher education program graduates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10.1% increase in education administrator employment through 2026, which translates to 18,200 new jobs. The median annual wage of postsecondary education administrators is $94,340 per year.

With a degree in higher education, you will be prepared to take on 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 Contact

Ms. Deb Kelly – Admissions application information
Kendra Bumpus – General program and Visiting Days information

Admission Requirements


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 (doctoral applicants only: 1 required) – As an applicant to our doctoral program, we ask you to 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.


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.
    • GRE Waiver Options
      • Master's Degree: GRE requirements have been completely waived for all master's degree applicants who submit applications by the December 2021 deadline. 
      • Ph.D.: Many students applying to the Ph.D. program in higher education may submit a request to waive the GRE test requirement. Review the details and submit your request for the GRE Waiver Allowance for Ph.D. Applicants.
    • For students without a GRE waiver, official test results are required 

Target Scores:
Verbal – 149
Quantitative – 147
Analytical Writing – 3.5
GRE Waiver Allowance for Ph.D. Applicants 

NOTE: The GRE requirements for master’s and specialist programs have been waived for all admissions terms in 2021 and 2022.

  • 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 Graduate 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 Graduate 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 Graduate 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 Graduate Admissions
314 Westcott Building
P.O. Box 3061410
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1410

  • 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 form, even 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.