Higher Education for the Future

The landscape of higher education is changing more rapidly than ever—shifting demographics, the economy and the ever-expanding list of skills expected by employers. All this coupled with rapid advances in technology present both challenges and opportunities in the workforce.

May 4, 2020

The landscape of higher education is changing more rapidly than ever—shifting demographics, changes to the economy and the ever-expanding list of skills expected by employers. All this coupled with rapid advances in technology present both challenges and opportunities in the workforce. The sudden shock to the economy and the widespread closure of university campuses across the US and elsewhere have necessitated flexibility and the virtual delivery of vast numbers of courses. Today’s rapidly evolving higher educational landscape demands learning experiences that prepare students to be critical thinkers, globally minded, and to be able to face the unique problems we are encountering at the national and global levels.

Both nationally and internationally, the adoption of initiatives like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and others, call for a new generation of innovative, culturally competent, makers and leaders who are needed to address complex educational challenges such as the funding and affordability of higher education, school violence, and issues of access and equity.  

In a world of rapid change, the right mix of skills are needed to thrive. Access to information is increasing, and rote memorization is becoming a thing of the past. Although traditional academic skills remain important, they are not sufficient to foster productive and engaged minds. People everywhere need to develop a greater breadth of skills to evaluate and apply knowledge in ways that meet the new demands of our changing economic and social landscape.

We are more connected than ever before, and complex global challenges such as climate change and health epidemics call for leaders and citizens who are able to collaborate with diverse groups to solve problems. This requires an integrated approach to leadership development that values multiple and divergent perspectives, unleashes the power of technology for data-driven and innovative problem-solving, and empowers diverse learners to enact meaningful change. Both the history of higher education policy and the mounting demands created by this current context compel programs to learn from the past, while generating new knowledge and developing skilled leaders to address the persistent and emerging problems ahead.

A recent Inside Higher Ed survey found that a majority of college leaders today worry about the nation’s capacity to teach, train and develop a deep and talented pool of future leaders for tomorrow’s challenges. For over half a century across the developed world, the coupling between education and income has tended to follow a well-established correlation: get as much formal education as you can early in life and reap the rewards for the rest of your career. But for a growing number of students, it's no longer a guaranteed path in today’s more complex world.  A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that only 16% of Americans think that a four-year degree prepares students very well for a high-paying job in the 21st Century economy. Educators and political leadership need to employ a full-court press on questions of value, cost, and relevance. In a digital world where life-long learning has become an economic imperative, higher education must adapt to a rapidly shifting economic landscape.   

Innovating for the Future

The Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University (GSEP) recognizes that the many challenges confronting higher education today will require a new model of leadership. As more and more jobs require some postsecondary education and training, future leaders will be expected to expand efficiencies with technology and improve outcomes, all within a context of heightened accountability and decreased resources. For these reasons, GSEP at Pepperdine University developed 4 new Master of Science (MS) degrees to prepare students for many changes that will come ahead with rigorous and relevant coursework designed and lead by experienced faculty. The core principles of our new programs are:


We know that not many people have the option to take time off from work to commit to a full-time graduate program. For those who still need to juggle working and going back to school, the flexibility of an online program provides an opportunity to learn while still working and growing professionally. By enrolling in Pepperdine’s new MS program, you can learn on your own schedule. Juggling work, family, and school isn’t an easy thing to do. Rather than leave the office early or skip family dinner to commute to campus, you’re logging on when it’s convenient for you.

Collaboration and Virtual Communication

Learning to work with others in a virtual environment can make you a more effective leader. You’ll develop critical leadership skills by utilizing specialized knowledge, creating efficient processes, and making decisions about best communication practices. In our online program, you will participate in discussion boards with your classmates, communicate with professors, and collaborate through various software programs.

A Global Perspective

Businesses are looking for employees who can innovate, and innovation often comes from outside your immediate world. Students in our MS programs come from across the U.S. Because of the ability to log on from any location, class discussions feature a broader range of perspectives, helping you enhance your own cross-cultural understanding. Students then not only have the opportunity to network with people from around the globe, but can also broaden their perspective and become more culturally aware.

Technical Skill Acquisition

Our MS program will also equip you with strong technical skills, an advantage for any job seeker.  As part of your coursework, you will need to utilize digital learning materials, get familiar with new tools and data software. These technical skills include the analysis of “big data”, research methodologies, and content management systems.

Starting classes in fall 2020, Pepperdine’s new MS degrees are: MS degree in Learning Design and Innovation, MS degree in Leadership in PreK-12 Education, MS degree in Leadership in Higher Education, and a MS degree in Organizational Leadership and Learning. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, gaining the necessary skills to stay relevant is an essential. These 4 MS degrees at Pepperdine GSEP equip students with competencies and skill sets to be ready for the careers of tomorrow, not for the jobs of today.



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