Many people are drawn to a career in education to support and uplift their communities and impart vital knowledge and skill sets throughout their professional journeys. Still, not everyone in the field aspires to become a teacher or work in the K–12 environment—and that’s OK.
There are a variety of possible career paths for educators, including administrative roles in colleges and universities alike. Pursuing a degree in education administration, such as the online Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA) from the USC Rossier, can open doors for those positions and more.
What is Education Administration?
As described by Buckner, education administration is “the business of higher education.”
“When I say business of higher education, it’s how universities work to meet the needs of the faculty, of the staff and the administration, and then most importantly, of the students,” said Buckner, an assistant professor of clinical administration.
Simply put, it’s the management of a school or another type of education-focused organization. Those in the field also help students receive an optimal education experience.
As for the postsecondary education aspect, Cole noted, “These roles range from entry to senior-level positions, and they are the ones often responsible for shaping both the outside of the classroom and inside of the classroom—the educational environments that shepherd in the academic experience—as well as the co-curricular experiences for students who attend post-secondary institutions.”
Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Work in the Field?
When it comes to working in education administration, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree, but you don’t necessarily have to major in an education-related subject.
Ahmadi noted that in the USC Rossier PASA online program, students come from a diverse array of backgrounds. Some have previously studied education, while others have focused on health care, psychology, sociology and more.
Regarding a master’s degree, it’s not a mandate for every education administration job—but as Buckner pointed out, almost all positions will prefer a candidate with a master’s degree. Obtaining a master’s degree will give you a competitive edge. Graduating from a program like the PASA online is a sign you have developed the proper knowledge and skill sets, especially in regard to leadership work.
What Kind of People Should Work in Education Administration?
In addition to obtaining the required education and training, there are certain qualities candidates need to thrive as a leader in education administration.
“We’re looking for those individuals who are passionate about fostering the holistic development of students, meaning that they want to contribute to a student’s personal, academic and professional growth. We’re also looking at individuals who want to advance educational equity, those who really are committed to creating not just equitable but inclusive campuses where students feel that they belong, they matter, they feel seen and that they’re heard,” Buckner said.
Cole agreed that the students who succeed in the PASA online program have a great deal of passion and interest in equity and service.
“USC Rossier’s mission is really based on equity and how we do our work, whether it’s through service, teaching or research, in an equitable manner. So for us, that’s really important that our students are focused on equity and how they envision doing their work in the future,” he said.
It’s also about having empathy, Buckner added, as education administrators will be working with people from many different backgrounds and educational experiences.
What Careers Can You Get with a Master’s Degree in Education Administration?
There are many jobs one can land after receiving a master’s degree in education administration.
These roles play a crucial part on every school campus, contributing to the smooth operation of the organization and fostering a positive environment for students, ensuring their engagement, satisfaction and continued learning.
Some possible fields within education administration include:
- Academic Advising
- Orientation and New Student Programming
- Residential Life/Housing
- Student Advocacy and Judicial Affairs
- Greek Life
- Campus Activities and Student Organizations
- Athletic Programs
- Student Life and Leadership
- Multicultural Affairs
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs
Ultimately, the specific role you pursue typically depends on the aspect of the master’s program that resonated most strongly with your professional interests and aspirations.
“For people who do the PASA program, postsecondary administration and student affairs primarily are structured in two buckets. One is academic affairs, where they might work as advisors. They might work as directors within academic units, for example. But the other side is student affairs, traditionally, the kind of outside-of-the-classroom experience. That’s everything from student activities to Greek life to student government,” Cole said.
Several PASA program graduates have gone on to incredible opportunities, Ahmadi said, becoming the vice presidents of top schools or the deans of students at prestigious universities—in fact, many graduates have gone onto positions at USC itself.
“It’s an incredible, amazing program. For so long, it’s only been available for people who live in California. But now, since it’s online, people all over the country have an opportunity to learn from our excellent staff,” Ahmadi said.
If any of these roles seem like your next dream job, it’s worth considering obtaining a master’s degree in postsecondary administration and student affairs. This advanced degree can equip you with the essential leadership skills and institutional knowledge required to effectively manage a school, thereby creating an ideal environment for both students and staff.
Learn more about the Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs online (PASA online) program today.