Founded in 1949, the Michigan State University Student Affairs program is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. Our program offers an excellent practical experience with challenging and progressive academic experiences. Our graduates work at colleges and universities around the world and are leaders in the field of student affairs.
The overall objectives of this program derive from the mission statement of the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University, which is, "The improvement of leadership and management in organizations that have teaching and learning as their core function."
The program provides a broad understanding of postsecondary educational systems from social, historical, cross-national, normative perspectives and an understanding of central issues in student affairs administration connecting theory to practice. There are opportunities to develop and use skills needed in practice through practica and field experiences. We expect that graduates are prepared to work in and to cultivate educational environments that are receptive to diversity and multiculturalism. The program has been designed in accordance with the CAS Standards. Through the program, students are expected to gain understandings and skills in the following broad areas:
- To provide a broad understanding of student affairs administration in the context of postsecondary institutions from philosophical, social, historical, cross-national, normative perspectives;
- To provide students with an understanding of central issues in student affairs administration;
- To convey inquiry skills and to provide opportunities to use these skills on representative and crucial problems of student affairs administrative practice;
- To connect theoretical understanding of student development, student affairs administration and leadership to student affairs administrative practice through coursework and related experiences;
- To develop and demonstrate a flexible capacity to use skill sets (e.g., technology, distance learning, communication, etc.) to deliver programs and services that engage students and foster student learning and development;
- To demonstrate the ability to use appropriate theory (e.g., student development, organizational, learning, leadership, etc.) and data-based decision making to assist institutions in accomplishing their missions.
We expect that graduates are prepared to work in and to cultivate educational environments that are receptive to diversity and multiculturalism.
Standards of the M.A. Program
Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all graduate students to excel in their particular majors.
A 3.00 cumulative grade point average for all courses counting toward the master's degree is the minimum University and program standard. If a student's grade point average falls below this minimum in any given term, a letter of warning is issued by the Graduate School. The student will be expected to work with their academic advisor on strategies to insure appropriate progress towards degree and reconstituting minimum standards of academic progress. A student who fails meet the standards set by the University, college, and department or school will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program.
The curriculum of the program reflects the philosophy and goals of the Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education unit, of which the SAA program is part, and the standards set forth for graduate preparation programs by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS, 2004). The program standards represent the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that this degree program aims to develop in students. They apply to students preparing for a wide range of leadership and administrative positions in postsecondary student affairs administration, around the country and around the world. Students will work toward these standards throughout the program. The standards serve to guide progress, ground assessment, and supply feedback to students and faculty alike. The standards are intended to influence individual courses and experiences, connections among and across discrete program elements, and the continuing and culminating assessments for graduation from the program.
The program standards represent the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that this degree program aims to develop in students. They apply to students preparing for a wide range of teaching, leadership and administrative positions in post-secondary education, including policy-related responsibilities, and various leadership positions held by foreign and international students who enroll in this program. Students will work toward these standards throughout the program. The standards serve to guide progress, ground assessment, and supply feedback to students and faculty alike. The standards are intended to influence individual courses and experiences, connections among and across discrete program elements, and the continuing and culminating assessments for graduation from the program.
Vision and Strategy to Promote Learning for College Students
The first objective of the program is to assist students in developing a philosophy concerning their work with college students that is grounded in personal values and commitment.
Over the course of the program:
- Students understand and articulate the role of student affairs in the context of postsecondary education;
- Students reference historical and current documents that state the philosophical foundations of the profession and communicate their relevance to current student affairs practice;
- Students elaborate a personal-professional vision for their practice and the larger community they serve;
- Students understand complexities of diversity and multiculturalism as they affect higher education and student affairs.
- Analytic and reflective capacities related to leadership of learning organizations
- Students acquire skills to conduct local inquiries, in colleges and communities, on issues of student affairs administration practice and outcomes;
- Students acquire substantive knowledge related to their role responsibilities: applied theories of student and organizational learning and motivation; assessment; professional development; and collegiate program, culture, and structure;
- Students use appropriate theory to understand, support, and advocate for student learning and development.
- Students assess learning and developmental needs and outcomes.
- Students critique research and evaluation in higher education, as well as to design, conduct, and report sound research, assessment, or program evaluation in student affairs.
- Students understand and internalize learning, engage in self-reflection, and see self in a variety of professional contexts.
Personal, Interpersonal, and Political Aspects of Leadership
The second broad objective is to prepare students to communicate and work effectively in the complex environments of colleges and universities.
To meet this objective:
- Students demonstrate ability to communicate in various written and oral genres and media (e.g., research reports, literature reviews, administrative documents, online formats, etc.);
- Students are able to think, learn, adapt, and work both autonomously and collaboratively to solve problems and to lead in changing postsecondary contexts;
- Students develop skills and knowledge in working with others, including attention to basic skills of active listening and open communication, bargaining and negotiation, conflict resolution, public relations, community development, and leadership of change;
- Understand the principles and roles of lifelong learning and professional development for self and others working in professional and pre-professional roles in student affairs.
Role-related Functions and Competencies for Working in Postsecondary Education Settings
As a professional preparation degree, the third domain of competence is grounded in the particular roles and functions that define the work of student affairs administrators.
In this regard:
- Students acquire knowledge of the theories and models of organizations and the principles of organizational development;
- Students demonstrate a flexible capacity to use skill sets (e.g., technology, distance learning, communication, etc.) to deliver programs and services that engage students and foster student learning and development.
- Students analyze, understand, create, and/or modify learning environments;
- Students demonstrate knowledge of the influence of student characteristics and collegiate environments on student learning and learning opportunities;
- Students demonstrate knowledge, skills, and awareness of resources necessary to design and evaluate effective educational interventions and/or programs for individuals and groups.
Professional norms and standards for conduct and practice in student affairs administration in accordance with the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.
The final area of development draws attention to the ethical and moral dimensions of the profession of student affairs administration.
To meet this objective:
- Students articulate the inherent values of the profession that are stipulated in historical and current documents in a manner that indicates how these values guide practice;
- Students demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply a code of ethics or ethical principles sanctioned by a recognized professional organization;
- Students appreciate the broad social consequences and involvements of their leadership duties
Learning Objectives for SAA MA Program
The MSU Student Affairs Administration (SAA) MA program is designed to prepare graduates to apply knowledge, theory, and skills to work effectively in student affairs setting in changing postsecondary contexts.
The curriculum reflects the philosophy and goals of the Higher, Adult, and & Lifelong Education unit, of which the SAA program is part, and the standards set forth for graduate preparation programs by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS, 2003).
In particular, a graduate of the MSU SAA program will be able to:
1. Understand and articulate the role of student affairs in the context of postsecondary education.
2. Reference historical and current documents that state the philosophical foundations of the profession and communicate their relevance to current student affairs practice.
3. Articulate the inherent values of the profession that are stipulated in historical and current documents in a manner that indicates how these values guide practice.
4. Understand complexities of diversity and multiculturalism as they affect higher education and student affairs.
5. Demonstrate the ability to use appropriate theory (e.g., student development, organizational, learning, leadership, etc.) and data-based decision making to assist institutions in accomplishing their missions.
6. Demonstrate a flexible capacity to use skill sets (e.g., technology, distance learning, communication, etc.) to deliver programs and services that engage students and foster student learning and development.
7. Analyze, understand, create, and/or modify learning environments.
8. Use appropriate theory to understand, support, and advocate for student learning and development.
9. Assess learning and developmental needs and outcomes.
10. Demonstrate knowledge of the influence of student characteristics and collegiate environments on student learning and learning opportunities.
11. Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and awareness of resources necessary to design and evaluate effective educational interventions and/or programs for individuals and groups.
12. Demonstrate ability to identify and appropriately refer persons who need additional resources.
13. Demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply a code of ethics or ethical principles sanctioned by a recognized professional organization.
Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all graduate students to excel in their particular majors.
Students set their program plan in conjunction with their faculty advisor toward the end of their first year. This is a 40 credit program that requires 2 practicum (internships) experiences. Full time students usually complete the degree in two years.
Major Courses (19 credit hours):
||Administration in Higher Education
||Foundations of Postsecondary Education
||Collegiate Contexts for Teaching and Learning
||The College Student Experience
||Student Affairs in Collegiate Settings I
||Student Affairs in Collegiate Settings II
||Research Assessment in Student Affairs
||Professional Development Seminar in Student Affairs (1 Credit Per Semester, 4 credits required in program)
Support Courses (6-9 credit hours):
||Leadership and Organizational Development (3)
||EAD 802 Building a Learning Organization (3)
||Concept of a Learning Society (3)
||Adult Learning (3)
||Training and Professional Development (3)
||Adult and Career Development (3)
||Teaching in Postsecondary Education (3)
||Legal Issues in Higher Education
||Program Planning and Evaluation
||Budgeting and Finance in Higher Education (3)
||Independent Study (with Advisor Approval) (1-3)
Other courses from outside the unit may be considered in consultation with the faculty advisor. These courses should be used to build skills in areas such as academic advisement, training and development, communications and counseling, etc. Courses at the 900 level in EAD are also acceptable and encouraged.
Students are allowed to complete 3 credits at the upperdivision undergraduate level (300 or 400 level courses) with consultation of the student's academic advisor.
No more than 25% (10 credits) of credits needed for graduation can be taken for P-N (Pass- No Grade), including the four required credits of EAD 893
The practicum component of the Master's degree in Student Affairs Administration is designed to give students the opportunity to relate and apply theory to practice and to practice professional behavior in a work setting.
Every student must complete two distinct placements, each of which is typically 10-12 hours/week for a semester or an equivalent experience during summer. The practicum experience is a valuable component of the MSU degree, representing significant career exploration, invaluable professional experience, and frequent entrees into employment, either Graduate Assistant or full time.
The SAA program relies on the generosity of our many practicum supervisors and the quality performance of our students to sustain this essential component of the degree program.
The student must successfully complete a certifying examination near the end of the program. The written comprehensive must be completed during a semester in which the student is enrolled (for specific requirements, refer to the Academic Programs catalog available from the Office of the Registrar).
Michigan State University requires that all graduate students be trained in the responsible conduct of research as part of their educational experience. All SAA MA students are required to complete three hours of training to include the following topics: human research protection program, conflict of interest, authorship issues and data issues, and additional discussion of issues related to Responsible Conduct of Education Research. These topics are covered through the EAD 889, a required course in the SAA curriculum. Faculty should indicate, on the course syllabus, the RCE requirements met through the course.
Each student is expected to enter the relevant information regarding the completion of this training into the Research Training Tracking System (RTTS). Documentation should be completed by May 15 of each year.
To support the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirements, the following resources are available. Students should consult with their academic adviser and/or research supervisor to determine the appropriate training topics.
Research Training Tracking System: https://www.egr.msu.edu/secureresearchcourses/
Human Research Protection Program modules: http://www.humanresearch.msu.edu/requiredtraining.html
Workshops offered by the graduate school: http://grad.msu.edu/rcr/
Powerpoint resources through the graduate school: http://grad.msu.edu/researchintegrity/resources/
Student Instructions to Document Responsible Conduct of Research
In order to satisfy federal regulations, all MSU graduate students are required to complete training related to research ethics and the protection of human subjects. Documentation of the training is managed through the RTTS (Research Training Tracking System) maintained by the College of Engineering.
Students are responsible for documenting completion of training. Documentation should occur by May 15 of each year.
1. Go to the following URL: https://www.egr.msu.edu/secureresearchcourses/
2. Enter your MSUNET ID and password
3. Confirm your account OR click on "Create/Edit Trainee Account"
4. Enter the MSUNetID of your academic adviser (or faculty supervisor if you are completing RCR training as a research assistant)
5. From the "Training Description" dropdown menu select the appropriate choice. If you select "Other", indicate the training topics in the "Notes" field
6. Enter the number of hours
7. Enter the training date
8. To add additional training, log in to your account; click "Create/Edit Trainee Account" and add the appropriate information
9. Click Save
A minimum of 6 credits in the degree program must be earned in residence on campus, but many programs require more. Requests for waivers of this requirement must be submitted by the department or school responsible for the degree program to the appropriate college and then to the Dean of The Graduate School.
A student must be enrolled for at least 1 credit each semester while completing the degree (MSU Academic Programs Handbook).
Note on minimum and maximum enrollments and full time student status
All students using University services (faculty consultation included) for graduate work must be registered each semester. Minimum registration consists of one course of 1 credit. Graduate students may carry up to 12 credits each semester. The maximum number of credits, however, is determined by the department or school. A student load above 12 credits requires approval by the student's dean. In order to be considered full time for academic purposes, students must carry the minimum number of credits per semester as defined: MA level is 6 credits
Policies regarding time limit can be found in MSU Academic Programs Handbook, Graduate Education, MA programs. In brief:
The time limit for the completion of the requirements for the MA degree is five calendar years from the date of enrollment in the first course included for degree certification.
A 3.00 cumulative grade point average for all courses counting toward the master's degree is the minimum University and program standard. If a student's grade point average falls below this minimum in any given term, the student will be expected to work with his/ her academic advisor on strategies to insure appropriate progress towards degree and reconstituting minimum standards of academic progress. A student who fails meet the standards set by the University, college, and department or school will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program.
Policies regarding transfer credit can be found in the MSU Academic Programs Handbook, Graduate Education, MA Programs. With approval of the College and the student’s academic advisor, as many as 9 semester credits of graduate course work may be transferred into the SAA MA degree program from other accredited institutions (including MSU graduate courses and lifelong education credits) or international institutions of similar quality, if they are appropriate to a student's program and provided they were completed within the time limits approved for the earning of the degree desired at Michigan State University.
Only courses in which at least a 3.0 grade or its equivalent was received will be considered for transfer. A Credit Evaluation form (see forms section) must be completed, signed by the advisor, and submitted to the HALE Administrative Assistant along with an official copy of the transcript. Transcripts that have “issued to student” stamped on them cannot be used. Lifelong Education students who contemplate subsequent admission to degree programs must seek advice from the admitting department or school and college as to the applicability of courses/credits taken while in Lifelong Education status. There is no guarantee that these credits will be acceptable. Applicability is subject to programmatic approval.
Admission to Michigan State University
U. S. Residents
U. S. applicants who are not already admitted to graduate study at MSU must submit the online Graduate Application for Admission and application fee through the MSU Graduate School. An application fee and college transcripts of all previous academic work must be submitted with this form.
More Information on Admission to the MSU Graduate School
Online & Downloadable Application to Graduate Study
International applicants who are not already admitted to graduate study at MSU must submit the online Graduate Application for Admission and application fee through the MSU Graduate School. An application fee and college transcripts of all previous academic work must be submitted with this form.
Additionally, international students who have been admitted to graduate study at MSU are required to submit the International Graduate Application for Admission, proof of financial support, and proof of proficiency in English.
Admission to the Student Affairs Administration Master of Arts Program
The Student Affairs Administration Masters program application deadline is January 5th. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis if space is available. Although we will make multiple attempts to inform you of missing application materials, it is your responsibility to make sure that your application is complete. You are best assured of this if you send all your application materials in the same envelope to the address above.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Consideration for admission on a regular basis requires at least a 3.0 grade-point average in the final two years of undergraduate study. Applicants with a grade-point average below 3.0 for the same time period may be considered for admission on a provisional basis.
Special Requirements and Admissions
English Language Requirements for International Students
All international students are required to be proficient in English as a condition for regular admission to MSU and HALE. For students whose native language is not English, proficiency must be demonstrated by meeting the minimum standards on any one of the following tests:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL-Educational Testing Service, Box 899, Princeton, NJ 08549). Internet-based test score requirements: A total score of 79 with NO subscore below 17. Paper-based test requirements: A total score of 550 or above with NO subscore below 52. The official report must be received by the MSU Office of Admissions directly from the Educational Testing Service. Note that some graduate departments have higher requirements.
- Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB-Testing and Certification Division, The English Language Institute, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; 313-764-2416). An average score of 83 or higher with no subscores below 80. The official report must be received by the MSU Office of Admission directly from the University of Michigan. Note that some graduate departments have higher requirements.
- English Language Center Placement Test (ELCPT-English Language Center, 1 International Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; 517-353-0800). An average score of 80 or above with no subscores below 80. Scores will be sent from the English Language Center directly to MSU academic departments. Note that some graduate departments have higher requirements.
Students who have not met the above minimum requirements in English are required to take the ELCPT. If the results do not meet the minimum proficiency, students will be required to enroll in English Language Center classes until the University or departmental competence is attained. In some instances, students may be able to take academic courses along with their ESL classes. In such cases, restrictions are placed on the number of academic credits they may take until complete minimum proficiency is met. See the English Language Center, Room 1 International Center, for details.
International Teaching Assistants are required to meet a minimum proficiency in Spoken English in addition to meeting the University and departmental minimum English proficiency requirements. The English Language Center offers testing services (SPEAK Test) to academic departments. Interested students should consult with their academic departments.
Regular and Provisional Admissions
Upon admission to a graduate program a student is classified in one of two categories, regular or provisional. Specific criteria for distinguishing between these categories are determined within each college for its own programs. In general, these criteria are:
Regular - Students who are considered to be fully qualified to undertake a program toward the graduate degree for which they are admitted.
Provisional - At times, students are admitted to the program provisionally due to concerns with their prior record, usually related to low grade-point average and/or test scores. The terms of admission on provisional status are stipulated in the students' admission letter and are evaluated upon their completion.
Readmission to Graduate Program
Graduate students whose enrollment at Michigan State University is interrupted for any reason so that they are not enrolled for three consecutive semesters, including the Summer Sessions, must apply for readmission. Graduate students who have been away from their program for more than a year can now only be readmitted to the program that they were admitted to when they last enrolled in classes. If you plan to pursue a degree or program other than the one to which you were admitted originally, you must complete a new University on-line application and pay the $50 application fee. As of Spring 2011, the Application for Change of Program and Status form is no long being used. Further, the student should apply to the academic unit administering the proposed new degree or program at least six weeks in advance of its deadline for ordinary applications to allow time to file with that unit any additional information it may need before the deadline.
Upon admission to the Student Affairs Administration Master's degree program, students are assigned a faculty member who serves as their academic advisor. Students should arrange for a personal conference with their advisor to develop a program plan for the degree. The program plan form is available on the College of Education student forms website. It is the student's responsibility and in the student's best interest to schedule the conference to develop their program plan early in the graduate studies after entry into the program. The conference must be held prior to the student completing 10 semester hours of study.
If, for whatever reason, the student wishes to change advisor during the course of the program, a Change of Advisor form (see College of Education student forms website) must be filled out and submitted to the SAO.
A program of studies for the Masters' Degree must be prepared by the advisor and student prior to the student completing 10 semester hours of study. The completed and signed program plan is filed with the HALE Administrative Assistant. If the student does not do so, there is no guarantee that credit hours earned prior to the conference will be applicable to the requirements of the Student Affairs Administration Master's degree program.
Written evaluations shall be communicated to the graduate student at least once a year, and a copy of such evaluations shall be placed in the graduate student's file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the Department of Educational Administration.
The academic advisor and academic unit are jointly responsible for evaluating the student's competency (as indicated by, e.g., grades in core and other courses, portfolio development, and development of professional skills) and rate of progress (as indicated by, e.g., the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred). See program form: Annual Progress to Degree.
A 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in the degree program is the minimum University standard. However, attainment of the minimum grade-point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and the field. The grading system is as follows: 4.0, superior; 3.5, excellent; 3.0, good; 2.5, fair; 2.0 poor; 0/1.0/1.5, failure and in specific courses, P-N (Pass- No Grade). Once grades have been submitted in to the registrar's office, they may only be changed by the course instructor through written application.
Students whose cumulative grade-point average falls below a 3.0 will be placed on academic probation the following semester. The student will work with her/his academic advisor to be restored to good standing. Students on academic probation should regularly meet with the academic advisor. Students shall have the right to appeal in accordance with the GSSR guidelines.
Incomplete or Deferred Grades
A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition their instructor for the grade of Incomplete (I) or Deferred (DF). A form for this request must be completed by the instructor of the course and contain all information requested, including a description of the work the student will complete and the due date, which cannot be later than the date specified in the academic calendar. The form must be signed by the student, instructor, and department chair (or designee). The last day to request an incomplete and submit the form is indicated in the academic calendar.
The grade of I or DF shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.
• A grade of "I" or incomplete may be given after a student has satisfactorily completed 12 weeks of the course but is unable to complete the work within the allotted time period because of "illness or other compelling reason," and the professor believes that the student can complete the work without repeating the course. The required work must be completed, and a grade must be reported to the Office of the Registrar, no later than the middle of the student's next semester in attendance (summer session excluded) if that semester is within one calendar year following receipt of the I-Incomplete.
• A grade of "DF" or Deferred may be given only to graduate students who are doing satisfactory work but cannot complete it because of reasons acceptable to the instructor. Deferred grades need to be resolved within two years, although the instructor may stipulate a shorter time frame.
The required work must be completed and a grade reported within six months (190 calendar days from the last class day of the term of instruction), with the option of a single six-month extension (190 calendar days).
Students are expected to uphold the principles and standards set forth in university policies that maintain the integrity of academic work http://www.reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/TextAll.asp?Section=112#534. Academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records are considered serious violations and may result in disciplinary action.
Even though the HALE Master's degree does not require a thesis, students may be engaged in forms of research for courses, or through independent studies. Faculty, staff and students are expected to exhibit the highest standards of professional integrity in their academic work, scholarship, and research activities. All HALE graduate programs subscribe to the guidelines and principles articulated in the "Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities" http://grad.msu.edu/publications/docs/integrityresearch.pdf. Misconduct, including fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism, is considered to be serious violations of the standards of integrity and may be grounds for disciplinary action.
Within the HALE Department, the guidelines for Graduate Student Appeals of Allegations of Academic Dishonesty (GSAAD) establishes the right of graduate students to appeal allegations of academic dishonesty. For complete listing of rights and responsibilities, please see Article 5 of the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document at Michigan State University (GSRR) pertinent to the HALE Department by downloading the GSAAAD document. For a detailed explanation of grievance procedures, consult the EAD Grievance Procedures.
Note: All students will have these and other documents on file in the HALE office. Students may, at any time, challenge the accuracy of the contents of their student files. This may be as simple as writing a letter to be put in the file.
Each student must apply for graduation with the MSU Registrar's Office, on line (preferred) or in person at room 150 Administration Building. Application should be made during the first week of the semester one wishes to graduate. This will produce a Final Certification form that is to be completed and signed by the academic advisor and submitted to the HALE Administrative Assistant.
Commencement information will be sent to each degree candidate midway through their final semester. Commencements are held Fall and Spring semesters. Summer degree candidates may participate during the Fall or Spring ceremonies.
Students who have applied for graduation will have access to an exit survey. The survey asks questions about educational experiences in MSU graduate programs, as well as about immediate professional plans. The identity of all respondents will be kept confidential and only aggregate (group) information will be made available to faculty and administrators. Students will receive an email message from the dean of the graduate school with a link to the survey, or students may access the appropriate survey through the following website: https://www.egr.msu.edu/masters/survey/