Expand your expertise. Build a worldwide network. Advance as a leader in global higher education.

The one-year, executive-style master's degree in Global Higher Education Management prepares working individuals for university leadership challenges in a complex and changing world. Designed and taught by internationally respected GSE faculty and active university leaders from around the world, this unique online program focuses on university management.  Join a cohort and take on pressing problems of practice in both local and international contexts, exploring how to build high-performing universities and producing a capstone project.

What Sets Us Apart

#3 Penn GSE is ranked the #3 Graduate School of Education by U.S. News & World Report
laptop_mac 12-month online program starts in July 2023
diversity_3A selective cohort that connects emerging and experienced higher education professionals from around the world.

About the Program

This online executive program provides the knowledge and global network to lead institutions into the future. Practice-based and problem-focused, the yearlong curriculum draws on Penn’s internationally renowned faculty and extensive practitioner network to help you develop the skills and expertise needed to lead universities today and creating tomorrow’s universities.

Application deadline
Priority Deadline: February 1, 2023; rolling admissions thereafter as space permits
Entry term(s)
Course requirements
10 courses
Duration of program
12 months

Culminating experienceMaster’s capstone project

  • Executive-Style
  • Online
Programs for Working Professionals

The Global Higher Education Management program develops and connects university leaders from around the world who are committed to improving and enhancing higher education institutions. Participants in this program will: 

  • Gain a deeper and broader knowledge of university leadership.
  • Apply field-tested, empirically grounded ideas to understand and address local problems and international challenges.
  • Develop capabilities in initiating innovation and leading institutional change
  • Become part of an active global network of university leaders and academic thinkers. 

The program is geared toward full-time professionals who have at least five years of work experience in universities and education-related organizations and agencies. Some may already have advanced degrees and be moving from academic to administrative positions, and others may be looking to transition into careers in student services, strategic leadership, business development, and fundraising. Penn GSE seeks to admit students from around the world to ensure a diverse class of scholars. Instruction and coursework will be in English.


The cohort-based curriculum will encourage students to work both independently and collaboratively during an intensive 12 months of coursework, culminating in a capstone project. The curriculum follows GSE’s proven executive format based on short-course modules. The courses take place online through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.

The curriculum includes the following courses and modules:

The Social Purposes of High-Impact Universities
Building on one of GSE’s areas of expertise, these modules focus on the public purposes of higher education and the ways in which they can connect with and serve their diverse communities:

  • Why universities matter and making them matter more
  • The social and civic mission for the 21st Century
  • Universities and their communities

Navigating the Evolving Global Higher Education Landscape
A globally focused program needs to address the continued globalization of higher education, understand transnational trends that create opportunities and pose potential disruptions and the implications for post-secondary education. The modules are:

  • Understanding diverse contexts and assumptions
  • Globalization: Its influence and its discontents
  • Disruption and innovation

Magnifying the Teaching, Research and Service Missions
Teaching, learning, and research are the cornerstones of the academic enterprise. These three modules focus on the core activities of universities:

  • Technology to deepen and broaden learning
  • Ensuring student engagement
  • Strengthening research: Its impact and delivery

Leveraging Governance, Change, and Strategy
Understanding how organizational change is fundamental for universities to be innovative and relevant. These modules focus on leading institutional change, crafting strategy as a roadmap for intentional change, and supporting meaningful governance:

  • Institutional change and transitions
  • Strategy beyond strategic planning
  • Governing for change

Strengthening the Human Enterprise
People are the most essential resource for higher education. These modules address fundamental issues such as diversity, management, and leadership:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Managing people and people processes
  • Leading teams

Understanding Universities in their External Contexts
Universities are dependent upon and shaped by their financial, policy and accountability contexts. The notion of an ivory tower is outdated if it ever really existed. These modules focus on the impact and constraints of the various contexts in which universities operate: 

  • Policy, politics, and policymakers
  • Regulation, autonomy, and funding
  • Ensuring quality and relevance

Leveraging Data-Inspired Decision Making
Data can be considered an essential raw material for university administration. Data takes many forms and can be used in many ways to advance universities, which is the focus of these modules: 

  • Using international data sets for comparison
  • Developing data infrastructure to support decisions
  • Performance measurement and learning analytics

Knowing the Business of the Academic Business
The intentional and wise use of financial resources is essential work of university administrators, as is the ability to generate revenue to support academic missions. These modules are:

  • Funding and financial models
  • Budgeting for innovation
  • The entrepreneurial university

Addressing Pressing Problems of Practice
Central to this program is the application of knowledge to real-world problems. These three building block modules, leveraging design thinking ideas, provide the foundation for the program’s final capstone problem:

  • Part 1: Design thinking
  • Part 2: Framing future challenges and opportunities
  • Part 3: Collecting evidence and understanding opportunities

Our Faculty

Higher Education faculty are leading the conversation about how to expand college access, equity, and affordability. These experts are routinely sought by university presidents, foundation leaders, journalists, and policymakers seeking to understand the changing landscape of higher education.

Penn GSE Faculty Rachel B. Baker
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Peter Eckel
Senior Fellow
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Penn GSE Faculty Julie E. Wollman
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., New York University
Penn GSE Faculty Alan R. Ruby
Senior Fellow
Associateship, London Institute of Education
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Hartley
Professor and Board of Advisors Chair of Education
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Amalia Z. Daché
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Rochester

Affiliated Faculty

Ant Bagshaw
Strategy Consultant, L.E.K. Consulting
Ed.D., University of Sheffield

Ahmed Cassim Bawa
Professor, Johannesburg Business School, University of Johannesburg
Ph.D., Durham University

Jonathan Grant
Founding Director, Different Angles
Ph.D., King’s Collge London

Jonathan Jansen
Distinguished Professor of Education, Stellenbosch University
Ph.D., Stanford University

Tom Kennie
Founding Director, Ranmore
Ph.D., Imperial College, London

Michael Martinez
Dean of Students, New York University Abu Dhabi
MBA, Babson College

Larry Moneta
Adjunct Professor, Penn GSE
Ed.D., University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Alan Duncan Priestley
General Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Office of the Provost, Nazarbayev University
Ph.D., University of Hull

Nirmala Rao
Vice Chancellor and Professor of Politics, Krea University
Ph.D., University of London

Cyrill Walters
Senior Lecturer, Stellenbosch University
Ph.D., University of Cape Town


The program is intended for current university administrators looking to move into more senior university posts such as directors, deans and associate deans, and associate vice presidents and vice presidents. It also is aimed at academics who are transitioning into administrative positions, such as department chair, dean or associate dean, and directors of international affairs, research, quality assurance, or teaching and learning.

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact


Walter Lohmann
Program Coordinator

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Most students in this program are anticipated to fund their degree through a combination of personal resources and employer benefits. Limited scholarships are available to a select group of individuals.