A new master’s in higher education leadership program at SUNY Oswego will build upon the traditional strengths of preparing classroom teachers and leaders by providing opportunities for professionals entering or advancing in this important career field.

With a spring 2023 launch, the new higher education leadership master’s degree is designed for individuals who wish to enhance their interpersonal leadership skills, improve their ability to utilize a data-informed approach to leadership and build collaborative skills to gain a strong and authentic framework for their future plans.

The Division of Graduate Studies is launching this master of science program in spring 2023 to provide a pathway for professional employment, advancement and leadership in a wide variety of careers. Classes will be delivered on campus and in the evening. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 3.8 million people were employed by postsecondary institutions as of the most recent (fall 2020) snapshot from a survey of nearly 6,000 institutions.

The interdisciplinary program prepares leaders across all higher education sectors through a collaborative approach,” said SUNY Oswego Dean of Graduate Studies Kristen Eichhorn. “Students will benefit from courses and faculty providing a wide range of academic affairs, student affairs and administrative perspectives.”

The program draws on a hallmark of Oswego in hands-on learning, incorporating two internship experiences to complement the coursework. These experiences will span departments so students can engage in self-directed inquiry, problem-solving, critical thinking and reflection in real-world and creative contexts.

Skill building

One of the first students in the program, Stephanie Hudson –- program coordinator for SUNY Oswego’s Office of Student Conduct –- looks forward to enhancing her career through the new master’s degree. 

Through this program I hope to learn the foundations of higher education, and skills that will translate into being a better colleague, and more importantly, a better resource for students,” Hudson said.

Hudson noted coming into higher education on a “different path,” starting in 2016 as an administrative assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students and finishing her degree as a non-traditional student in 2019. 

“In my role on campus, I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of dynamic colleagues in higher education,” Hudson said. “I’ve learned so much about higher education just by working alongside them, but now with the introduction of the new higher education leadership program, I am able to gain more knowledge through the courses offered. Being able to be a part of this program at its inception at my alma mater just makes it even better.”

Hudson will start with “510: Historical and Philosophical Foundations in Higher Education.” This is one of the two initial offerings for spring 2023, along with HLE 500: “Cultivating Effective Leadership.”

“I think this course is a great initial offering to really get the base knowledge of higher education and its beginnings,” Hudson said. “My future plans involve staying and working at SUNY Oswego, so any further education I receive can only impact my work in a positive way.”

Diverse coursework

This 33-credit hour program provides coursework in higher educational history, student learning and development, leadership theory and research, with an emphasis on creating a more just, diverse, equitable and accessible learning environment. 

Eichhorn expects a specially designed Higher Education Leadership Fellowship Program that will provide tuition scholarships and stipends for full-time students as early as fall 2023.  

Graduates will understand the historical and contemporary issues in the United States’ higher education landscape including access and affordability; will be able to analyze and evaluate campus policies and procedures related to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice; and will demonstrate competencies in the theories of student learning and development, strategic leadership principles and in the laws that affect colleges and universities. 

Through field experiences, graduates will gain and enhance professional skills necessary to succeed in a variety of careers in higher education across academic affairs, student affairs, and alumni and development; community and non-profit agencies that support higher education and students transitioning to college; government agencies; and consulting firms supporting higher education.

Career opportunities supported by pursuing this degree include:

  • Academic advisor
  • Accessibility services coordinator
  • Admissions counselor
  • Alumni relations specialist
  • Career services specialist
  • First-year experience coordinator
  • Institutional research data manager
  • Orientation coordinator
  • Program advisor/coordinator
  • Residence life director

Launching this program also will benefit the quality of professionals supporting SUNY Oswego students, Eichhorn noted, as it can support recruiting and retaining talented staff who can receive the preparation for promotion and advancement through the university.

Those interested in more information can do one or more of the following: