​MA in Higher Education Leadership

Make an Impact; Become a Leader

At the University of San Diego, we are preparing the next generation of leaders to take on the world’s greatest challenges in the 21st century. The master’s in Higher Education Leadership (MAHE) program was created for individuals like you who would like to build and sustain campuses that are inclusive and supportive while inspiring lifelong learners from a wide range of backgrounds. Founded in 2006 within the Department of Leadership Studies, which is one of the first leadership studies graduate programs in the country, the MAHE program is unique because our curriculum includes a leadership core that is bolstered by a highly customizable higher education program of study. As a result, you benefit from taking courses together with individuals from a variety of disciplines, including education, the nonprofit sector, healthcare, business, government, and more. Our highly regarded professors will help you understand what it means to be a leader in the field of higher education within the broader context of our society. Our faculty will serve as your instructors, coaches, and mentors as you begin a transformative journey to practice equity-driven leadership and to enact the promise and power of restorative justice in higher education. As one of the most demographically diverse graduate programs at USD, our faculty are resolutely committed to taking meaningful actions that support all students and specifically Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color, as well as allies and others in our community, who have been heavily impacted by nationwide unrest and ongoing protests in our communities.

Begin a Transformative Journey

With a special focus on equity-driven leadership and restorative justice, the USD MAHE program blends academic theory and knowledge with hands-on experience. Over the course of 36 credit hours, you will expand the way you collect and process information, examine how you interact in a group setting, build your sense of self-awareness, enhance your communication skills, and develop critical thinking around issues in higher education. You will then explore ways to put everything you have learned in the classroom into practice. Specifically, you will be challenged to undertake a year-long action research project where you design, lead, implement and evaluate a changemaking initiative in higher education that addresses the issues most important to you. At the end of your journey, you will be well-positioned to make an impact throughout your career. The USD MAHE program prepares individuals to find meaningful work as academic and student services educators and professionals in institutions of higher education, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. If you care about the future of higher education and the well-being of students, especially those most marginalized, this program is for you.

USD MAHE Graduates (Class of 2019) donning academic regalia and cultural stoles gather for a celebratory portrait outside of Mother Rosalie Hill Hall.
USD MAHE Graduates (Class of 2019) donning academic regalia and cultural stoles gather for a celebratory portrait outside of Mother Rosalie Hill Hall.
MAHE SHELS and A.S.I.A. students at dinner.
Members of the SOLES Higher Education Leaders and Scholars (SHELS) gather together with Asian Students in Alliance (A.S.I.A.) for a networking event.

Equity-Driven Leadership

Equity-driven leadership challenges educators and professionals to address practices, policies, and barriers that perpetuate inequities in our society. In the field of higher education, leaders must learn how to think critically about inequality and oppression not only to combat institutional discrimination and bias (both explicit and implicit) but also to eliminate disparities in educational outcomes based on socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and/or family background. Faculty in the MAHE program closely partner with the SOLES Global Center, The Nonprofit Institute, the Center for Women’s Leadership, and the Division of Student Affairs to provide a variety of opportunities for students to practice equity-driven leadership, inside and outside the classroom. As part of the MA in Higher Education Leadership, students have the opportunity to select from a diverse set of elective courses that focus on social justice and to complete an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency.

Restorative Justice (RJ)

Restorative justice focuses on the harm caused by misconduct or crime, enabling those affected to identify responses that best meet their needs. Rather than focus on punishment and exclusion, RJ is a dialogue-based approach to help people collaboratively identify and address individual and social harms. The Department of Leadership Studies houses the USD Center for Restorative Justice, which promotes research, teaching, training, and technical assistance for restorative justice projects in higher education as well as K-12 schools, communities, and the criminal justice system. The Center closely partners with the Student Affairs Office of Ethical Development and Restorative Practices. As part of the MA in Higher Education Leadership, students have the opportunity to complete a 3-course Certificate in Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership.

USD RJ Empty Chairs
A spotlight shines on empty chairs that mark the beginning of training in “Restorative Justice Across Student Affairs.”

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