Table of Contents

Postsecondary instructors train and mentor the next generation of workers. They must remain on the cutting edge of whatever discipline they teach but must also know how to teach and engage students of different backgrounds and learning styles. Many also spearhead, conduct, and report on the research that advances their respective fields. Doing all of these things well can require a combination of industry experience and formal training through higher education programs.

Higher education degrees: What to expect

Some higher education degrees are more general, while others are specialized by intended discipline. Their common goal, however, is to prepare students for careers in academia. According to The College Board, higher education majors must learn how to teach and design classes, grade papers, mentor students, conduct research, and even publish papers. Coursework vary by program typically covers the following topics:

  • Education policy, organization and leadership
  • The history of higher education
  • The economics of higher education
  • Student development
  • Higher education philosophy
  • Higher education administration
  • Multicultural issues in higher education

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most postsecondary instructors need a doctoral degree. Many begin by earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and then move on to a graduate-level higher education degree program.

Higher Education Teaching

Most professors need several years of teaching experience before can attain tenure. Part-time and un-tenured professionals are often called associate or assistant professors.

Potential careers for higher education majors

While teaching college students is a common career path for higher education majors, it is not their only option. Below are just a few potential careers for these students, along with key employment and education trends from the BLS:

  • Postsecondary teachers -- Postsecondary teachers instruct college-level courses in public or private institutions. They lead classes, grade papers and mentor students. Most colleges require professors to have doctoral degrees in a field relevant to the discipline they intend to teach, but in some cases, master's degrees or relevant, exceptional work experience can suffice. The BLS predicts overall employment for postsecondary instructors to grow by about 19 percent nationally between 2012 and 2022. Growth percentages, however, vary by discipline.
  • Vocational, career and technical education teachers -- Vocational and career instructors teach skilled, technical trades such as auto repair, welding or culinary arts, usually at career schools and community colleges. The BLS states that most employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree. Educational and certification requirements, however, vary by state and institution. The BLS projects national demand for vocational and technical instructors to grow by 9 percent between 2012 and 2022. Experienced candidates and individuals who teach high-demand fields, such as nursing and business, may have better job prospects.
  • Postsecondary education administrators -- College administrators oversee academics, university student services and faculty research activities. Examples of administrators include admissions directors, academic deans and registrars. According to the BLS, although a bachelor's degree is acceptable for some entry-level positions, colleges increasingly prefer to hire candidates with master's degrees or higher, especially when hiring deans and department heads. National demand for college administrators is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Higher education degree programs could help provide students with skills fit for the above and related jobs. Prospective students can learn more about higher education degree programs and relevant careers by visiting The College Board and BLS websites or by contacting institutions directly.

"Career: Postsecondary Teachers," The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/education-museum-work-library-science-postsecondary-teachers
"Career and Technical Education Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/career-and-technical-education-teachers.htm
"Higher Education Degree Programs," Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, https://ed.stanford.edu/academics/he-degree-programs
"Major: Higher Education Administration," The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/education-education-administration-supervision-higher-education-administration
"Postsecondary Education Administrators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm
"Postsecondary Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm

Pursue your Higher Education major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
Matching School Ads
M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • Grand Canyon University - Where a Quality Education and Faith Coexist
  • Recognized as offering some of the best online education programs in the nation.
  • We support students through their academic and spiritual journey.
  • GCU offers the convenience of online, on-campus, or evening programs.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Instructional Design & Technology
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
Higher Education (EDD)
  • A private, Christian, liberal arts university founded in 1905 and open to students of any faith.
  • Has an average class size of 20 students.
  • 97% of students receive financial aid, with the average freshman receiving $10,000.
  • Offers over 25 undergraduate degree programs.
  • Has approximately 5,000 students; 60% female and 40% male.
  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Accelerated Leadership in Higher Education - MEd
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
M.Ed. Teaching & Learning: History
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Preliminary Education Specialist Credential
  • Founded over 60 years ago on the principles of inclusion and social justice.
  • Offers credit for previous life and work experience.
  • Equipped with over 17,000 titles in their library.
  • Has 3 semesters and 6 start dates a year.
  • Located in Pasadena, CA, with instructional sites in Sacramento, Salinas, Santa Cruz, and Visalia as well as online options.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
PhD in Instructional Design and Technology
  • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
  • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
  • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses