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; rolling admission 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 and operations, international education, academic affairs, 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.


This executive-style master’s degree uses a condensed, modular format in which students take a structured sequence of modules as a cohort. Three modules equate to one course, and the degree program requires ten courses. The program is geared toward working adults, but it is a full-time degree program. Therefore, students will need to make a commitment to the program and balance their work and personal commitments. Each module is based on ten hours of student engagement and includes additional time spent on readings, papers, and other assignments. Some modules are delivered over ten days, while others are delivered in a five-day condensed format. Each module will include at least two one-hour sessions of required synchronous sessions, and some modules may have more. Given the variations in time zones, program staff and faculty will work to accommodate program participants learning from around the world. We believe in the power of real-time engagement within the cohort and with program faculty and staff.

The curriculum includes the following courses and modules:

The High-Impact University
Building on one of GSE’s areas of expertise, these modules focus on the public purposes of higher education and how 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

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

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

Magnifying the Mission
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

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

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

The University in its 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

The Challenges of Leading
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

Designing the Future

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

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

Affiliated Faculty

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

Roberta Malee Bassett
Global Lead for Tertiary Education, The World Bank
Ph.D., Boston College

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

Darkhan Bilyalov
Vice President, Kazakhstan National Academy of Sciences
Ph.D., Penn State University

Yakut Gazi
Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Digital Education and Professor of the Practice, Duke University
Ph.D., Texas A&M 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

Sarah B. Steinberg
Capstone Instructor
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Karin Swartz
Assistant Dean, Center for Community Engagement, York College
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

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

Fredrick Hoopes Wampler
Senior Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations, University of Pennsylvania
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania


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.