What is Student Affairs?

The Master of Arts in Postsecondary Education Administration (PSE) offers a specialization in Students Affairs. The Student Affairs specialization is designed for emerging leaders in student support services at postsecondary education institutions including technical colleges, community colleges, four-year public and four-year private colleges and universities. Student support services are defined by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education (2012, p. 355) as academic advising, academic support services, admissions, campus activities, career services, counseling, disability services, financial aid, Greek life, housing and residential life, international student affairs, judicial services, LGBT services multicultural student affairs, orientation and new student programs, recreation and intramural sports, religious programs and veterans affairs. The specialization includes nine credit hours of predetermined courses, six credit hours of supervised internship in a student affairs setting and the capstone research project.

Brief explanations of the functional units included in this specialization are provided below. Students are encouraged to speak with faculty of the program as well as administrators in the functional unit(s) that appeal to their desired career pathway.

Academic Advising – educates and counsels students toward creating an academic plan of study catered to their educational and career goals. Faculty and professional staff provide advice appropriate for the each student’s development stage. Personnel in the functional unit are knowledgeable about academic options, career pathways, support services and financial assistance in order to make referrals accurately and appropriately.

Academic Support Services – supports students’ needs for advanced or additional understanding of the curriculum content for a class. Students receive tutoring assistance by personnel that collaborate closely with faculty and have demonstrated competency for the subject.

Admissions – recruits prospective students to the postsecondary education institution. Personnel will engage in dialogue with prospective students about academic programs, support services and campus life among other topics during the recruit process. Travel, event planning and continuous correspondence with prospective students is expected.

Campus Activities – enhances the overall educational experience of students through the development of, exposure to and participation in co-curricular programs and activities that improve student cooperation and leadership. Personnel coordinate cultural programs, campus entertainment and off campus trips as well as advise student clubs and organizations.

Career Services – assists students with career exploration and the acquisition of employment preparatory skills to complement their occupational goals. Personnel conduct personality and occupational assessments with students to identify the best career path. Personnel also instruct students on how to write a cover letter and resume, interview, network and search for vacant positions, among other employment preparatory skills.

Counseling – helps students through psychological and emotional issues that may affect their academic success and personal development. Personnel are typically a licensed mental health counselor. Personnel will offer outreach programs in collaboration with internal and external constituents of the institution, respond to crises and provide assessment services to address students’ mental health needs.

Disability Services – ensures equal access for students with disabilities to all curricular and co-curricular opportunities offered by the institution. The extent to which services can be offered depends on the institution’s size. Personnel will partner with faculty and staff, discretely, to accommodate students’ needs based their disability.

Financial Aid – helps students create a plan to finance their education. Personnel will educate prospective and currently enrolled students about the expenses of college, personal finance, subsidies through the government and scholarships.

Greek Life – emphasizes to students affiliated with fraternities and sororities values such as community building, socialization and adherence to leadership. Personnel will coordinate events and activities that promote healthy lifestyle habits, awareness of judicial guidelines, academic success and cross-cultural awareness.

Housing and Residential Life – offers on-campus living for students, typically those traditional aged. Personnel will ensure residential halls or dorms are educationally supportive, safe, clean and socially integrative.

International Student Affairs – assists international students in achieving their educational goals, while ensuring governmental immigration regulations are upheld. The functional unit offers enrollment management, English as a second language and academic support services to international students as well as study abroad opportunities to domestic students depending on the size of the postsecondary education institution.

Judicial Services – develops, disseminates, interprets and enforces campus rules and regulations. Personnel will investigate reports of misconduct and meet with students individually to resolve disciplinary matters. The functional unit also advocates due process on behalf of the student.

LGBT Services – promotes academic and personal growth of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and those students questioning their sexual orientation and preference. Personnel will build campus communities for the student sub-population, advocate equitable representation across the campus and coordinate programs and activities addressing sexual orientation, gender identity and self-expression. 

Multicultural Student Affairs – promotes and advocates for the academic and personal growth of traditionally underserved student sub-populations. Personnel will coordinate events designed to promote diversity and integrate tolerance, supervise underrepresented student groups and help resolve procedural matters promoting inequality.

Orientation and New Student Programs – facilitates the transition of new students to the institution. Personnel prepare students for the rigors of higher education as well as educate them on policies and procedures unique to the institutions. Personnel also support student guardians through this transition. Personnel coordinate events and teach new students about the history, traditions, educational programs, academic requirements, support services, and student life found at the institution.

Recreation and Intramural Sports – promote healthy lifestyle, particularly through fitness and wellness. Personnel will coordinate intramural sports activities, maintain recreational facilities, provide wellness testing, offer physical fitness and dietary classes, and present workshops on healthy lifestyle choices.

Religious Programs – provides access to programs, activities and faith-based counsel that enables students to pursue spiritual growth. Personnel minister to students with a broad spectrum of beliefs and faiths and foster a campus atmosphere where free expression can be achieved.

Veterans Affairs – provide enrollment management and academic support services for student veterans, military service members and their families. Personnel will establish a community that connects and supports this population and educates constituents on changes and procedural requirements governing their academic goals.

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