Alternate content for script Text Only VersionSkip to Main Content

Degree Requirements

This 39-credit hour (11-course, four-semester practicum) Master’s Degree in Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESAA) is centered around three areas of focus: higher education administration, social justice, and the essential skills for the student affairs practitioner. Each semester of the four-semester program offers one course in each of these areas. The capstone provides an opportunity to focus on one prevailing issue faced in higher education and to create a response to that problem, with an implementable solution.

If you are ready to get started, complete our free online application.


First Semester

This course provides an introduction to concepts of administration and organization as applied to the contemporary higher education setting. It will cover the literature on Organizational Theory as applied to higher education institutions, building a foundation of literature on management and administration in higher education. This course facilitates an understanding of the role and functions of various student affairs units and the application of organizational theory to understand how institutions make decisions, develop policy, and engage with the campus community. (3 credits)

Colleges and universities have a special role to play in making sure America’s prosperity is accessible to all. This course explores bias as it relates to higher education in this country, focusing on existing structural bias and the historical foundation that creates the milieu within which bias continues. A systems approach to problem solving, with a focus on creating inclusive communities, creates the opportunity for students to identify structural bias and to implement solutions to undermine and eradicate it in their functional areas. (3 credits)

Overview of the work of the student affairs profession, including philosophical base, historical development, current practices, and future trends. Provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of college student affairs and its role in American higher education. This course examines the underpinnings of the college student affairs profession specifically, and higher education generally, including history, philosophy, roles, and functions. Students will also explore college student characteristics, analyze the influence of organizational type and culture on college students and the nature of student affairs work, and consider essential partnerships with stakeholders in college student affairs work. (3 credits)

Practica internships, offered in various College departments and offices, enable students to integrate conceptual knowledge with professional practices. (1 credit)

Second Semester

Introduction to evaluation and institutional assessment models, basic research methodological approaches, application of professional competency standards and use of skills and techniques to evaluate post-secondary co-curricular programming. This course will be practical in nature, with an emphasis on preparation to engage in assessment in a meaningful way. Students will have the opportunity to focus on institutional engagement, student affairs engagement, and the assessment of student learning. Students will create an assessment plan for an on-campus unit, as well as gain experience presenting information related to assessment, which is an important component of the assessment process. (3 credits)

This course explores cultural pluralism philosophies, racial identity development, racial incidences, and educational practices related to racism and diversity for implementation in higher education. It will facilitate the development of culturally effective student affairs practitioners who understand the impact of the history and structure of higher education on various underrepresented groups in American higher education. The course is designed to promote cross-cultural understanding and the role of student affairs professionals as agents of social change. (3 credits)

This course provides an understanding of the various theories informing college student development and student affairs practice. It looks at social, psychosocial, cognitive structural, and integrative forms of development. Students will explore identity development models, as well as the ways they intersect. The objective is to use theory to inform practice, and then to effectively apply that theory to the greater systems of equity and inclusion, through an understanding of the developmental patterns of adolescents and young adults. (3 credits)

Practica internships, offered in various College departments and offices, enable students to integrate conceptual knowledge with professional practices. (2 credits)

Third Semester

In a time when higher education is ever more directly impacted by the law, this course specifically addresses legal issues confronted by student affairs practitioners. Students will be exposed to how to read and interpret case law, legislation, and federal and state guidance and how to act within the parameters of the law. This course provides an intensive and critical analysis of contemporary campus legal and leadership issues. (3 credits)

This seminar explores how to broker and facilitate difficult and emotionally loaded conversations about areas related to the social justice and inequity, as well as the types of conflict that can create anxiety in new leaders. Students will gain an understanding of different types of difficult conversations, the neuroscience of what makes a conversation difficult, and the reason why avoiding these conversations can undermine an organization’s effectiveness and students’ self-confidence and sense of self. Through readings, group practice with feedback, analysis of past challenging conversations, and class discussions, students use the core skills to manage difficult conversations. (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to higher education research methodologies, analysis, and decision-making through introduction of basics of research design including problem identification, literature review, method selection, data collection and analysis, application, writing, and ethics. Students will learn how to identify a problem, analyze its origins, understand the system within which it exists, and research potential solutions. The course prepares students for their capstone. (3 credits)

Practica internships, offered in various College departments and offices, enable students to integrate conceptual knowledge with professional practices. (2 credits)

Fourth Semester

Students will build on the research undertaken in Research in Higher Education to formulate an implementable solution to a significant and specific problem they’ve identified in an area of the college. Students will articulate the problem and build a case study with corresponding solution, along with an analysis of potential outcomes. (3 credits)

This course provides an introductory examination of financial, economic, and budgetary issues within higher education. Students review the primary political, economic, and social issues influencing higher education finance, examine revenue streams and expenditure patterns, survey tuition and financial aid policies, develop the ability to examine and analyze financial information, and assess the budget as an instrument of strategic planning, resource allocation, and control. (3 credits)

Practica internships, offered in various College departments and offices, enable students to integrate conceptual knowledge with professional practices. (1 credit; will be taken alongside capstone)