MA in Education (Higher Education Leadership)

Total units required for MA: 30

Program Description

What makes an effective educational leader? What characteristics and traits are predictive of successful careers in leadership? Does a leader have to be employed in a management position to provide leadership? How do leaders "do more with less" in lean times? What management and leadership skills are necessary to effectively operate today's schools, colleges and universities?

Education in California continues to face uncertainties; resources continue to dwindle while the task of educating today's generations for tomorrow grows ever more important and complex every day. The challenges have likely never been greater. Effective -- not just "good" -- leadership at all levels of education - public, private and higher education -- has probably never been more important.

The programs in Educational Leadership are designed to meet a variety of needs in the field. The programs are oriented toward an interdisciplinary approach to the study of school leadership, offering students opportunities to apply theory to the practice of educational leadership.

The mission of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is to develop educational leaders from diverse backgrounds who will positively impact the improvement of educational institutions and environments - from pre-K through university and professional levels. These leaders will:

  • be visionary change agents;
  • create collaborative learning communities;
  • engage in reflective practice;
  • ensure diversity and equity;
  • implement research-based practices and site-based best practices; and
  • build capacity through leadership development.

EDLP program graduates serve in a broad variety of leadership and management positions throughout the region and the country. Some have chosen to pursue doctoral studies in Educational Leadership after completing their Master's level studies and have gained critical experience in leadership. All Educational Leadership programs are organized to be cohort-based. Groups of students admitted each application cycle will take all of their courses together. Enrollments are predictable, and a course of study can be planned in advance in relation to the availability of highly qualified faculty. Cohorts provide students a foundation from which to build important professional support networks with their classmates/colleagues, while facilitating collaborative and cooperative learning experiences throughout the program and into their careers.

A significant dimension of all of the programs in Educational Leadership is an interest in, and commitment to, the full development of student potential and capability. Coursework, advising, and field experiences are carefully orchestrated to ensure a full range of faculty support for student achievement. The student, as a responsible autonomous agent, is expected to assume the role of partner in this effort.

EDLP course offerings in all cohorts are hybrid, meaning that some portion of course instruction is delivered online, to maximize access and opportunity.

Courses in the MA in Education: Higher Education Leadership are delivered using both hybrid instructional delivery, and executive scheduling wherein students attend face-to-face class session on Friday nights and Saturdays throughout each semester.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Higher Education Leadership requires:

  • Completion, and successful review, of CSU Mentor and program Supplemental application
  • Successful interview with faculty, demonstrating
    • Preparation for graduate level study
    • Professional experience at any level in higher education
    • Some leadership experience
    • Familiarity with current issues in education
    • Knowledge of conflict resolution and negotiation skills
    • Knowledge of higher education as a field
    • Entry level understanding of ethical leadership
    • Vision for P-16 education

Applicants who have deficiencies in admission requirements that can be removed by specified additional preparation may be admitted with conditionally classified graduate status. Any deficiencies will be noted on a written response to the student's admission application.

Specific Additional Admission Procedures

Each applicant must forward the following to the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department in the College of Education:

  • the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies application for admission (available in Eureka Hall 437);
  • two letters of reference (forms attached to application packet); and
  • one set of transcripts, including Sacramento State (these need not be official).

Approximately two weeks after the deadline for submission of application materials to the Department, each applicant will be scheduled for an interview. Approximately two weeks after all applicants have been interviewed, a decision regarding admission will be mailed to each applicant.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  30

Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0.  Only units with a grade ''C'' or better may be counted.


  • This graduate degree program is subject to general University and Departmental requirements. These requirements are explained in the ''Graduate Studies'' and the ''Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department'' sections of this catalog.
  • All work must be completed within a 7-year period
  • 30 units required for the MA, including at least 21 units in approved Educational Leadership courses. Up to six units, including extension credit, can be transferred from another university (if current and not used toward another degree); a minimum of 21 units must be taken in residence

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student working toward a Master's degree must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy for the degree; the application is a form on which the student indicates a proposed program of graduate study. The student must be advanced to candidacy the semester prior to enrolling in EDLP 500A. The procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • obtained advisor's preliminary approval of thesis or project proposal; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Advancement to candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website or the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department Office. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her Educational Leadership faculty advisor. The completed form is returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.


  • Thesis/Projects: Students must file a petition in the Department office one semester in advance and must have advanced to candidacy before they enroll in thesis/project. First semester students are to register for EDLP 500A and EDLP 500B during the second semester if they obtained a satisfactory grade in EDLP 500A. Students needing additional time may enroll in subsequent semesters in EDLP 299T with approval of their advisor and Department Chair.
  •  The Master of Arts in Education, Higher Education Leadership Option consists of the following tracks: Student Affairs Leadership and Community College Leadership.

Program Requirements

Graduate Core Requirements (24 Units)
EDLP 221Foundations in Higher Education Leadership 1,23
EDLP 222Diversity in Higher Education 1,23
EDLP 250Education Research 33
EDLP 224Advanced Seminar: Dynamics of Organizational Change 1,33
EDLP 225Advanced Seminar: Ethical Decision Making 1,43
EDLP 226Workforce Development Professional Competencies 43
EDLP 227Leading the Way for Student Success: Student and Instructional Services 23
EDLP 228Innovative Leadership: Strengthening Organizational Capacity 33
Culminating Requirement (6 Units)
EDLP 296ACapstone Research Project 53
EDLP 500AMaster of Arts Thesis/Project 53
Total Units30