Master’s Degree in International Education: 3-School Program Comparison
I began my search for graduate schools through Inside Study Abroad’s Graduate School Guide for a Career in International Education & Youth Travel. This resource profiles graduate schools around the world that provide a master’s degree to students who want to pursue a career in international education. Through this resource, I quickly became fixated on Kent State University, because I am from Akron, OH. Sadly, by the time I had found their program, I was too late to apply for the fall of 2016. But that didn’t stop me from contacting the director of the program, Dr. Tracy Lara.
Dr. Lara suggested that I spend 2016 bolstering my resume by living and working abroad. So, I did just that. In 2016, I lived in New Zealand for six months. Needless to say, that experience was truly inspiring and well worth the time and effort. This experience proved to me that I wanted to work in international education. It also made me a stronger and more marketable candidate for a master’s degree program.
After my time in New Zealand, I traveled home and began diligently researching and analyzing where I wanted to study for my master’s degree. My search ultimately led me to three universities: Boston College, Kent State University, and Loyola University Chicago. Fortunately, I was offered a position at each school. However, this made my decision excruciatingly difficult. I spent a lot of time reviewing pros and cons of each school. What made the decision process even more strenuous is that there aren’t a ton of resources to aid in one’s decision. So, even though I am definitely not the best person for this job, I felt that the international education community would benefit from a profile of each institution from the perspective of someone breaking into the field. Spoiler alert, I am attending Loyola University for my master’s degree.
Degree: M.A. International Higher Education
Contact Info: Dr. Laura Rumbley, Associate Director, Center for International Higher Education
Tuition Cost: $42,600
Credit Hours: 30 credit hours
Length of program: 1 or 2 years
Graduate Assistantships: There are plenty of graduate assistantships available. Boston College also hosts an interview day for prospective students. On this day you will have the opportunity to interview with up to six organizations. If you fail to secure an assistantship on this day, there are new ones posted all of the time. The only problem I ran into was that on interview day there were no international education assistantships available. This is often the case. There were a few posted in April, but the deadline to commit to Boston College is April 15.
What I liked: Boston College is a prestigious school that is well connected. The Center for International Higher Education is world renowned for their research in international education. Other master’s programs often use the Center’s research in their curriculum. Boston College also encourages their students to complete the field experience abroad by offering some courses online for convenience and flexibility.
What I disliked: Boston College seems to be heavily focused on the scholarly research aspect of international education. I am more interested in utilizing the research as an advisor to help students interested in study abroad or help develop impactful international education programs for students. Boston College also does not offer any international experiences for their students.
Kent State University
Degree: M.Ed. Higher Education Administration with a Certificate in International Higher Education
Contact Info: Dr. Tracy Lara, Associate Professor,
Tuition: $24,794. However, graduate assistantships are required to attend Kent State, so most or all of this will be covered.
Credit Hours: 45 credit hours
Length of program: 2 years
Graduate Assistantships: Kent State University has an interview day for their candidates. You will be paired with interviewers based on a survey of your interests. This is a long day with a possibility of thirteen interviews. After interview day, students are responsible for ranking their top choices and the interviewers do the same by ranking students. Then the director of the higher education administration program pairs students with an assistantship. If you are not paired after interview day, other offices will begin to contact you for additional interviews.
What I liked: Kent State requires their students to have an assistantship and complete two internships. Consequently, after graduation students will have a wide range of practical experience to go along with their degree. Also, at 45 credit hours, Kent State is one of the more rigorous degrees I came across. Kent is also on the affordable end of the graduate school spectrum. Additionally, Kent offers students the opportunity to take a course on study abroad while studying abroad in Florence, Italy.
What I disliked: Although Kent State offers a certificate in International Higher Education, they do not offer a master’s degree. The matching process for graduate assistantships is extremely stressful and ambiguous. You are dependent on the director of the program to pair you with the assistantship, which cannot be an easy process and could quickly become a popularity contest. One of my friends was offered her sixth choice just because no one else ranked that assistantship. She did not seem too excited about this outcome.
Loyola University Chicago
Degree: M.Ed. International Higher Education
Contact info: Thomas Ott, Enrollment Advisor – Graduate Programs
Credit hours: 36 credit hours
Length of program: 2 years
Graduate Assistantships: this program is mainly offered online away from the main campus. This results in the impossibility of graduate assistantships.
What I liked: Loyola’s program allows me to move anywhere, so that I can easily live with my fiancée. I will also be studying with a cohort of 12 to 15 students from all over the world. We will be taking all of the courses at the same time. I will benefit from studying with students from a range of cultural backgrounds and with some students that are already professionals in the field. Loyola also requires their students to study in Vietnam and Italy. Traveling with my fellow cohort members will likely create strong bonds and friendships.
What I disliked: Although the flexibility of online courses is appealing, it is also disappointing that I won’t be on a campus working with people in person. The cost of program is also fairly expensive, especially because there are no options for graduate assistantships.