Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership

  • The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application and $45 application fee

    • Upload the following to submit your online application
      • Statement of Purpose
      • Resume
      • Recommenders’ Contact Information
  • An official transcript from the university where you earned your bachelor’s degree is required at the time of application.

    • Students who earned their bachelor's degree from an institution outside the United States must submit a course-by-course degree evaluation conducted by a NACES current member.  
      • Applications for students educated outside the United States will not be considered complete nor can an admissions decision be made until this degree evaluation has been submitted.
    • NOTE:  
      • Official E-Transcripts are acceptable only if emailed to
      • Transcripts from study abroad courses and/or transfer credit are not required.
      • Letters of Recommendation and International Transcript Evaluations must be received by the program deadline to complete your application.
  • A minimum of two professional letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  • A current resumé or curriculum vitae
  • A 500-word maximum statement of purpose: Please include a brief narrative describing yourself, your career goals and the importance of graduate study at this point in your life. In addition, please address how diversity, inclusion, and social justice influence who you are today and how you would approach your work in higher education. You may discuss influences on your intellectual development, education and cultural opportunities (or lack thereof), and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. This should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application; it should give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are and why you are applying to graduate school at the University of San Diego. If you are in a graduate program at another university, please explain why you wish to leave.
  • International applicants only:

Admission Requirements

Standardized Testing Requirements

  • No standardized testing is required in order to apply. Applicants who have taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test are welcome to submit scores, but this is not expected.
  • Applicants who feel that their grade point averages do not adequately represent their ability to succeed in a graduate program may find it helpful to submit GRE scores for consideration. For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4585.

Education Requirements

  • Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. Applicants may apply prior to completing their bachelor's degree. In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred.
  • The minimum cumulative grade point average is 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  • This program does not have any specific prerequisite courses.

Experience Requirements

Professional experience is recommended, but not required to gain admission.

Application Process

Application Deadline

All application materials, including transcripts, test score reports and letters of recommendation, must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the final deadline in order for your application to be considered. View current deadlines for admission.

Application Status and Decisions

To confirm that application materials have been received or to check the status of your application, please log in to the MySanDiego portal with your applicant login or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at (619) 260-4524. Admissions decision letters are sent via US Mail.

Submit all application materials online, or to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
University of San Diego
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492

For questions about this program or the admissions requirements contact:

Office of Admissions and Outreach
School of Leadership and Education Sciences
University of San Diego
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 143

Phone: (619) 260-7988

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2019-2020, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2019. Access the catalog of record at

Program Requirements

Leadership Core12
LEAD 550Integral Leadership Theory3
LEAD 551Human Relations for Leaders3
LEAD 555Ethical Leadership for Global Social Justice3
LEAD 559Organizational Theory and Change 3
Research Requirement3
LEAD 547Action Research Methods I3
Higher Education Core12
LEAD 569Making Meaning and the Collegiate Experience3
Select 9 units from the following:9
LEAD 565Dynamics of Race, Gender and Culture in Higher Education3
LEAD 568IGlobal Perspectives in Higher Education3
LEAD 571History and Philosophy of Higher Education3
LEAD 576Community College Leadership3
LEAD 577Higher Education Policy3
LEAD 578Higher Education Administration3
LEAD 582Women in Higher Education Leadership Summit (WHELS): Professional development and conferences3
LEAD 594Higher Education Professional Development Seminar1.5
Internship (Practical Experience)3
LEAD 598Leadership Internship3
or LEAD 594 Higher Education Professional Development Seminar
Students may take a maximum of 6 units of LEAD 594. 3 units may be counted towards the HE Core, and 3 units may be counted towards the Internship requirement.
Electives are selected in consultation with an advisor from USD’s graduate programs.

International Requirement

At SOLES, all masters and doctoral students participate in an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency. Our goal is to inform best practices in working with culturally diverse populations locally, nationally and globally.  International experiences are approved by each student's faculty advisor and can be credit based or non-credit based activities. 

Exit Requirement

Action Research Project or Action Research Thesis (please consult advisor and student handbook for specialization requirements)