MA in Higher Education and Learning Organizations Leadership

Bonner Leaders tell their Wagner story through group painting.

The Master of Arts Degree in Higher Education and Learning Organizations Leadership (HELO) is a two-year program focused on learning and leadership in organizations with a core mission of human development. Reflective practice connects with students’ professional experiences to emphasize learning from theory and practice. Most students will follow a two-year program of study, but others may apply for alternative structures to facilitate part-time study. Successful candidates design and carry out an extended reflective action research thesis focused on leadership and organizational change within work or internship settings.

Education and career

Graduates will be well prepared for leadership within higher education in domains such as student affairs, athletics, or other administrative areas. You’ll also be prepared to lead within community-based organizations or non-profits, such as museums, extracurricular youth programs, or other service organizations.

The program is designed with two course “strands” that continue across the two-year sequence: Learning from Practice, and Learning about the Discipline.

The first strand is designed to maximize students’ learning from your own professional placements and interests. Anchored with an internship course and reflective seminar that requires you to actively explore and plan your work as professionals, this strand develops candidates’ conceptual and practical understanding of being a transformational leader within a learning organization. It is designed to help leaders use your own professional experiences as a learning “practicum” from which you can build your ability to become leaders and improve your practice within research-based and theoretical frameworks. The outcomes of this internship practicum guide the work in the subsequent three courses within this strand.

The second strand is designed to provide candidates an opportunity to engage deeper disciplinary knowledge related to foundational content areas. The work in this strand includes courses offered across disciplines, acknowledging that leadership in complex organizations requires interdisciplinary understandings.


A program summary sheet for HELO can be found here.

The 36-credit program includes the following required courses, distributed across two course strands. Electives are selected from graduate courses offered across the College in consultation with an advisor.

Strand 1: Learning from Practice (4 courses)

  • ED 556 Internship as Reflective Practice
  • ED 605: Dynamics of Human Relations
  • ED 624: Applied Research Methods
  • ED 699: Action Research Project

Strand 2: Learning about the Discipline (5 courses)

  • EDL 700 Organizational Change and School Leadership
  • ED 607: Human Development:  Adolescence Through Adulthood
  • EDL 701: Foundations of Educational Leadership
  • ED 678: Foundations of Higher Education and Learning Organizations
  • ED 689: Current Issues in Higher Education and Learning Organizations

Electives (3 courses)

Quantitative Knowledge (minimum of one course):

  • ED 646: Assessment in Higher Education and Learning Organizations
  • BU 617: Economics for Managers
  • BU 619: Financial and Managerial Accounting

Additional courses (or other courses approved by an advisor) for a total of three elective courses:

  • ED 608: The Philosophical Foundations of Education
  • BU 625: Communicating Leadership
  • MG 614: Organizational Behavior
  • MG 618: Total Quality Management
  • MG 619: Global Ethics / Law Manager

Admission: Students must apply to Wagner College’s Division of Graduate Studies and meet admissions requirements of the College. In addition, students must meet the following departmental requirements:

  • Positive interview demonstrating a commitment to developing leadership skills and a desire to engage in an extended learning process within an internship or job
  • Position in a learning organization (for example, higher education or a community-based organization) or ability to secure an internship, paid or unpaid, of at least two years
  • Letter from an immediate supervisor indicating support for participation in the program
  • Two letters of recommendation addressing personal, professional, and academic qualities relevant to the program
  • An academic record indicating potential for success in graduate studies
  • GRE is not required at this time.