Welcome to the Higher Education Graduate Program

Click the links for specific concentrations information in Adult and Developmental Education and Community College and University Leadership.

Currently enrolling for Fall 2023. Application deadline has been extended to July 1 or until space is filled. 

Priority Application Deadline: February 1, 2023. Other applications may be accepted until July 1 or until space is filled. 

Admission Requirements: Masters degree from an accredited college or university; complete application to the Graduate School; GRE scores waived (contingent upon approval,form required with application), 3.0 or higher GPA recommended. 

 Click here for more information about this App State Online program. 

Applying for On-Campus? Consider the Graduate Assistantship Placement Program!

GAPP provides full-time students the opportunity to interview with various assistantship sites  at AppState. If you're planning to apply to the on-campus cohort and pursue your degree full-time (9 credits per semester), you may be interested in and eligible for practical, hands-on experience as a graduate assistant. The website provides more information about each assistantship and the link to apply and additional assistantship opportunities are available on the Graduate School website.



About the Higher Education Program

The Higher Education Graduate Program provides a pathway to professional employment, advancement, and leadership in a wide variety of careers in community colleges, universities, college transition programs, and community agencies. Founded in 1968 in response to the growing need for community college and university instructors and administrators in North Carolina postsecondary institutions, the program now serves a national and international population of students and professionals concerned with postsecondary education. App State faculty members have a special interest in supporting graduates in their efforts to strengthen the education of non-traditional and underrepresented students in higher education institutions throughout the region, the state, and the nation.


The mission of the Higher Education Program at Appalachian State University is to prepare individuals to be informed, thoughtful, creative, and effective leaders in community colleges and universities and in adult education and college transition programs. Students in the program prepare for or advance their careers in adult or higher education through active scholarship, professional discourse within a community of diverse learners, the development of caring relationships, reflective learning and practice, and the integration of research, theory, and practice. The program offers both the Master of Arts and Education Specialist degrees, with concentrations in Community College & University Leadership (CCUL), Adult and Developmental Education (ADE), and (College) Teaching.


The Higher Education Program inspires and supports high-quality practice in community colleges, universities, and college transition programs throughout the region and nation. Its curriculum reflects leading-edge thinking in design as well as implementation, and its graduates routinely:

  • assume leadership positions in teaching and administration in community colleges and universities throughout North Carolina and beyond;
  • are relied upon as catalysts for meeting the evolving social, economic, political, and global challenges facing higher education; and
  • are recognized for their strong academic preparation and achievements as they continue their education.

In addition, the Higher Education Program faculty is utilized as a vital professional development resource for community colleges and universities in the areas of instructional improvement, institutional leadership and change, college- and career-readiness, and college access and success for nontraditional and adult students. Faculty, students, and graduates, together with their partners in the field, promote effective and compassionate higher education practice at the individual, program, and institutional level and proactively negotiate the shifting demands of an increasingly diverse and complex world.


  • We value the diversity that both traditional and non-traditional graduate students bring to the discussion of higher education and seek to recruit and retain both types of students for our program.
  • We value the success of our graduate students and promote that success through thoughtful advising, student-centered culturally-responsive teaching, and personal support.
  • We value quality instruction and strive to improve our own teaching through reading, reflection, and assessment.
  • We value social justice and advance it through our instruction, our research, and our professional activities.
  • We value the concept of scholar-practitioner and model it in our behavior and encourage it in our students.
  • We value service to Western North Carolina as well as the state and nation and provide that service through our recruitment, admission, teaching, and consulting.
  • We value the ongoing contributions that our students make to higher education in the state and region and enhance those contributions by providing a rich and rigorous curriculum.
  • We value the concept of the community of practice and model that concept in our dealings with our students and with each other.
  • We value integrity and demonstrate it through the consistency of our actions with the values we espouse.

Click on the tabs at the top of the page for more information about the program.