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Higher Education Leadership: UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHRIENER

Higher Education Athletic Administration Emphasis


The Higher Education Athletic Administration Emphasis is a 30 credit program.  The coursework consists of three core higher education leadership foundational courses (9 credits), three athletic administration foundational courses (9 credits) one higher education leadership elective course (3 credits), one athletics administration elective course (3 credits), and a comprehensive capstone including a three credit practicum and a three credit capstone course (6 credits).

The practicum experience is the foundation of the UW-Whitewater HELEAD Program.  The program requires a 3 credit practicum aimed at preparing students for career fields through hands-on, practitioner experience.  Practicums include 150 hours of hands-on work in a unit of higher education of professional interest to the student and are arranged with the program coordinator and site supervisor.  This experience is highly individualized and tailored to assist students with meeting individual career goals.  Current students and alumni have completed practicums throughout the Midwest in areas such as student affairs, academic affairs, intercollegiate athletics, and two-year college leadership.  As future higher education leaders, practical experience in the field is crucial. Students in the program will apply theory and concepts developed in class to higher education leadership settings.  The purpose of the practicum is twofold: (a) to enhance individual leadership skill sets; and (b) to enhance each students' professional résumé and CV to be competitive in a job market that values diverse, hands-on, practical experiences in higher education.

Currently, higher education institutions are experiencing significant turnover as the baby boomer generation moves to retirement.  In addition, the centrality and focus of the higher education student experience has drastically enhanced the number of positions available in this field.  In turn, the higher education job market is quickly and steadily rising.  Within higher education campuses, there are a robust number of opportunities and units that employ higher education leadership students.  As a higher education leader, you are prepared to work within specific units of interests as well as collaborate across different campus units.  Below are potential opportunities students who complete this degree may wish to pursue in student affairs, academic affairs, intercollegiate athletics and two-year college leadership.

Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership:

  • Athletics Administration
  • Internal Marketing
  • External Marketing
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Event Management
  • Business/Finance Administration
  • Compliance
  • Diversity and Inclusion Programming
  • Student-Athlete Development
  • Academic Support/Advising
  • Coaching

Program Planning Resource

Chirstine’s Success Story

Christine Panella

Christine graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW) in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance. After graduating, the decision came to go to graduate school at UWW pursuing a Master of Science in Education-Professional Studies (MSE-PS) with an emphasis in Higher Education Athletic Administration.

During Christine’s time at UWW, Christine had the opportunity to work in undergraduate research working with faculty on how to improve student-athletes experiences at UWW before continuing on to graduate school. During her time in graduate school, she worked with student-athletes through the Warhawk Leadership Academy, which was the first of its kind in a Division III setting.

She currently works at Purdue University in Recreation & Wellness as the Senior Assistant Director for Member Engagement, Operations & Risk Management. The biggest piece of advice that she recommends for current and future students is to “fully embrace yourself in the opportunities Whitewater gives you. There are so many professionals you can learn a lot from, especially outside the classroom, so don’t be shy to reach out to them via email or talk to them after class. I still keep in touch with quite a few of my professors/mentors from Whitewater and far after earning my degree still receive support and am still always learning from them!”

Alex’s Success Story

Alex Olson

Alex Olson is the current Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach for Milton High School; outside of education, he also works as a Senior Inside Sales Rep for Diamond Assets LLC. Alex chose the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for his graduate degree because of his experience in the WIAC as a player and the strong reputation that UW-Whitewater had in Division III athletes.

Alex specifically chose the UW-Whitewater program because of his work at Milton High School. He wanted to ensure that he “was putting the program in the best direction for the foreseeable future to develop young men.” Alex describes his experience at UW-Whitewater as helping him see the whole picture, rather than just a part of it.

Jess’s Success Story

Jess was a student-athlete on the volleyball team during her undergraduate career where she also earned a degree in finance. Her “mentors, coaches, teammates and classmates made it an easy decision” to continue at UW-Whitewater for her Master’s degree.

The most helpful resource for Jess in the Athletic Administration program were the instructors. Her instructors efforts to get to know her as a person as well as her career goals “made [her] passion for [her] degree and career soar”. She felt her instructors were devoted to her success.

She is currently the Director of Volleyball Operations for Marquette University. Jess said her instructors and classmates from NCAA Division I schools were a great resource in terms of “understand[ing] the differences and positives aspects of each division”. When asked about advice she would give enrolled students she said to take the initiative to get to know your professors because they will open many doors in terms of career opportunities as well as support as a student.