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Student Affairs in Higher Education M.S.

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Hear from CSU’s Student Affairs in Higher Education faculty-practitioners about how you can gain practical knowledge and skills in higher education administration, working with students, program development and implementation, and DEIJ when you earn your master’s in student affairs online.

Earn your master’s degree in just two years

This online student affairs in higher education (SAHE) Master of Science degree prepares you for a career in student affairs through a curriculum taught by faculty who are both scholars and practitioners. Through the SAHE program, you will learn professional competencies needed to be successful in a wide range of settings on college and university campuses, including:

  • Advising
  • Career Development
  • Student Activities
  • Residence Life
  • Admissions
  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Student Success

Gain broad professional knowledge and experience

Through coursework and practicum experience, you will gain professional knowledge and skills to help you succeed in any student services capacity, increase your ability to work directly with students, communicate effectively, and support student success.

Topics of study include:

  • Theories, assessment and evaluation related to student affairs practice
  • Cross-cultural, equity, and justice issues within the context of higher education
  • Current issues and practices in the student affairs profession

Expand your worldview

Diverse backgrounds and experiences enrich student affairs graduate programs, so CSU aims to include students from across the United States, and around the globe, from a variety of backgrounds — including recent graduates of bachelor's programs, current employees in entry-level student affairs positions, and those with years of higher education and student affairs experience.

Take advantage of career-building opportunities

Unlike many student affairs graduate programs, CSU is one the few in the country that sponsors a journal for graduate students. Learn how to write, submit, and publish graduate-caliber work that will increase your marketability in future career paths.

Rather than completing a thesis or comprehensive exam, you will complete a culminating paper that showcases your learning, research, and practical experiences applied to current issues in student affairs in higher education. Get valuable faculty feedback that integrates real-world experience and scholarly theory to improve your practice.

Learn from experts in the field

Faculty in the School of Education have significant experience as practitioners working in the field of student affairs. By learning from and collaborating with knowledgeable instructors, you will gain access to evidence-based tools, strategies, and research.

Health and Human Science Matters Podcast

Find out how CSU’s research is making an impact by tuning into the Health and Human Science Matters Podcast, a collection of lively, engaging conversations with members of the college community.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

The SAHE graduate program provides learners with a wide range of skills needed to work as a practitioner in student affairs and higher education administration in a college setting.

Graduates are currently employed in:

  • Student affairs in the following areas: admissions, academic advising, alumni relations, campus activities, campus recreation, career services, dean of students, enrollment services, fraternity and sorority life, health and wellness, University housing, student conduct services, orientation and transition programs, parent and family programs, student center/union management, student leadership development, and student diversity programs
  • Higher education administration in the following areas: administration, financial management, facilities management, and the general counsel's office
  • Non-profit management
  • Training and development in the private sector
Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

What do our students have to say about CSU's online student affairs in higher education master's? Find out what they think about the curriculum and faculty, how they have benefitted from the program personally and professionally, and how Colorado State University Online makes it possible to fit quality education into their lives.

Kimberly Tilus-Hutchings

Hear how the SAHE program allows Kimberly to apply what she learns in her classes at 8:00 in the evening directly to her work at 8:00 the next morning at Dillard University in New Orleans.

Samantha Park

See how CSU Online allows Samantha to pursue her master's degree in student affairs at the school of her choice, regardless of where she's living.

Sheena Martinez

Hear Sheena discuss how this degree has helped her apply research-based practices to improve her job performance as a student support administrator.

Steve Willich

Watch Steve tell his story of what led him to work in GLBT student services, and how CSU's online master's program has allowed him to advance his career.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

The M.S. in Student Affairs in Higher Education is delivered via the Canvas learning management system. This system allows you to watch lectures, engage in course content, and communicate with peers online. Courses are asynchronous, allowing you to study at the time that best fits your schedule. In your courses, you will:

  • View videos and annotated PowerPoints online
  • Download and review lecture notes
  • Complete assigned readings
  • Communicate and exchange ideas with instructors and fellow students
  • Complete individual projects and collaborate on group projects
  • Study for and complete exams
  • Write course-related papers
  • Participate in practicum experiences*

*Students are required to complete one practicum experience to develop and enhance skills related to the student affairs profession. A practicum can be completed in a wide variety of locations, either near your home or abroad.

Here are some reflections from past student experiences outside of the US:

Although online learning offers flexibility, this program still requires the same amount of work as an on-campus program. Depending on your learning style, expect to spend nine to twelve hours per week on a three-credit course.

Faculty Open Accordion
Carmen Rivera Photo

Carmen Rivera

Interim Chair, M.S. in Student Affairs in Higher Education

Dr. Carmen Rivera currently serves as the co-chair of the Student Affairs in Higher Education master’s program and as the Talent Manager for Organizational Development for the Division of Student Affairs at Colorado State University.

One of the first things she tells folks is that she is from northern New Mexico and where she’s from is fundamental to who she is. As a first-generation college student, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Mexican American studies and Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado. She then went on to earn her master’s degree in student affairs in higher education and her Ph.D. in higher education leadership from CSU.

Dr. Rivera's higher education career began when she worked for the Upward Bound program. She worked in TRiO for more than 13 years, then worked in international education as the Director of Student Experience at INTO CSU for several years. Additionally, she’s a faculty member for the Social Justice Training Institute and a consultant in the areas of social justice and leadership. One of her most important roles is raising her two super awesome sons with her super awesome wife. She loves 90’s R&B, travelling, cooking, and is obsessed with all things Frida Kahlo.


  • B.A., Mexican American Studies and Spanish, University of Northern Colorado
  • M.S., Student Affairs in Higher Education, Colorado State University
  • Ph.D., Education and Human Resource Studies specializing in Higher Education Leadership, Colorado State University

View Carmen Rivera's Full Bio

Bryce Buckley Photo

Bryce Buckley

Business and Graduate Operations Coordinator

  • Business and Graduate Operations Coordinator
  • Email:
  • He/Him/His

View Full SAHE Program Leadership

Curriculum Open Accordion


You are required to complete 33 graduate credit hours. During your final semester, you will complete the Culminating Paper that showcases your ability to take knowledge and experience from the SAHE coursework to identify how your practice is informed by a theoretical and practical understanding of how you frame a practitioner-scholar philosophy of student affairs in higher education to meet the current needs of the field.


The SAHE degree comprises a variety of courses introducing you to all facets of the profession. Courses are offered Fall, Spring, and Summer, so you can choose how many and which courses fit your work and family schedule.

Sample Curriculum Timeline

Two-Year Completion

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester June 1
Spring semester October 15
Summer semester February 15

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

The student affairs in higher education master's degree requires that applicants have the following:

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • A 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
  • GRE scores are not required

While not required, undergraduate activities in student affairs or other leadership experiences are important to the application. Volunteer work after a bachelor's degree is earned is also helpful. Meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic experience and completion of an admissions interview.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Statement of purpose

    The mission of the Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) is to prepare well-rounded, competent, and inclusive student affairs practitioners. Our students effectively engage in critical analysis through reflection and action (praxis) to demonstrate transformative learning grounded in an ethic of love. A central component of the SAHE program is engaging in intentional, reflective practice as a foundational skill necessary to be an effective professional in student affairs. This is both a process and an outcome such that reflection-on-action happens in the program to produce practitioner-scholars who can effectively reflect-in-action as a foundational skill. Colorado State University’s Principles of Community also guide us.

    Through engaging in such reflective practice, as well as receiving formal and informal feedback, students who participate fully in the learning experience offered through the SAHE program will develop knowledge, skills, and dispositions applicable to their professional practice.

    The Statement of Purpose is intended to be a personal and professional statement that demonstrates your alignment with the SAHE program’s mission, values, and intended outcomes, as well as your readiness to engage SAHE’s curriculum.

    Keeping all this in mind, please write your statement responding to the prompts below. Your statement must not exceed 1000 words (approximately four pages) and should be written in 12-point font and double-spaced.

    • What do you understand to be the work of student affairs, within the college/university as well as the education of students, and why does that speak to you as a professional goal?
    • Describe what steps of reflection guide you personally and/or professionally as you engage others.
    • Please discuss a situation that highlights your strengths and challenges when working with others (e.g., academic group project, work experience, athletic team, service project, etc.).
    • How do your GPA and undergraduate program of study reflect your ability to learn, reflect, and academically succeed in a graduate program?
    • Why do you believe CSU and the SAHE program would be the most appropriate space for you to achieve your professional goals in student affairs?
  • Resume

    Include any previous experience in student affairs and other relevant work experiences, along with position titles, dates of employment, institutions, and major responsibilities.

  • Two letters of recommendation

    Provide two letters of recommendation, which should comment on your ability to do graduate work and your student affairs professional practice. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.

    • We recommend selecting two references that are a current or former supervisor, a faculty member, and a student affairs professional.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Student Affairs in Higher Education (M.S.) – Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Please Note: Students may be unconditionally admitted and registered in their first semester of courses with an unofficial transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted, prior to or during your first semester, before you can register for your second semester of graduate work. Failure to meet this condition will result in your dismissal from the Graduate School.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

5 Interview for Admission

After the initial screening of applications by the SAHE faculty, candidates are contacted to set up 30-minute telephone interviews. This is also an opportunity for you to gain more information about the program.

The selection committee, comprised of SAHE faculty members who are also advisors in the program, conducts the program interviews.

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Selection Timeline
Applications will be reviewed after the June 1 deadline. Admit decisions will be made by late July.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.

Option to Start with a Certificate or Course Open Accordion

Not quite ready to jump into a master’s program yet? Consider earning a graduate certificate first. These programs offer advanced knowledge and skills, but with less time commitment than a degree. You can also transfer your certificate credits into the Student Affairs in Higher Education Master’s program, if you decide to continue your education.

Two graduate certificates transfer credits into the SAHE master’s program:

Get started with a free course

If you’re unsure whether this profession would be a good fit, consider taking the Exploring the Student Affairs in Higher Education Profession free online course. If you’ve ever considered what it might be like to work in areas such as college admissions, campus recreation, enrollment services, housing and dining, or other student affairs departments, take this risk-free opportunity to learn more about the field.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Alex Broz
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

$698 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education
Time Frame
Can be completed in 2 years
Admission Reqs.
  • 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
  • Math Entrance Exam scores recommended for applicants who have not taken the required prerequisites within the past 10 years

Application Dates

Fall semester
June 1
Spring semester
October 15
Summer semester
February 15

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