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Student Affairs in Higher Education

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Hear from CSU's faculty about how you can gain expertise in higher education administration, communication, and diversity issues when you earn your master's in student affairs online.

Earn your master's in student affairs online

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:

  • Financial aid
  • Admissions
  • Student activities
  • Advising
  • Residence life

Gain broad professional knowledge and experience

Through varied coursework and two practicum experiences, you will gain professional expertise that will help you succeed in an administrative capacity and increase your ability to manage, communicate effectively, and establish healthy and effective working relationships.

Topics of study include:

  • Theories, assessments, and evaluations related to student affairs practice
  • Cross-cultural and diversity issues within the context of higher education
  • How diverse student learning, developmental theory, and research are relevant to students' education and development
  • 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 portfolio that showcases your reflection on practicum experience and your understanding of course material. Get valuable faculty feedback that integrates real-world experience and academic theory to help 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.

CHHS research podcast

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

Requirements and Curriculum Open Accordion


You are required to complete 45 graduate credit hours. During the course of study, there is one practicum experience that challenges you to apply learned skills to different professional settings. You and your advisor work together to choose an appropriate practicum setting.

Throughout the program you compile a portfolio that depicts professional competencies gained and its contents will be assessed as your final project of the program. The comprehensive portfolio includes items such as:

  • A personal statement on your philosophy
  • Values and goals as they relate to the student affairs profession
  • A vita or resume
  • Reflection essays on your learning, development, performance, and academic assessments related to professional competencies established in the field of student affairs
  • A professional development plan

You contribute to the portfolio throughout the program, culminating in a final defense in your last semester.


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.

It is recommended that EDRM 663 is taken in the first semester of classes. You are required to take at least six credits worth of electives during the course of your studies. Most graduate courses offered through Colorado State University Online qualify as electives for your degree, though all are subject to advisor approval.

Sample Curriculum Timeline

Three-Year Completion*

Year One


Year Two

  • EDHE 677 – Law in Student Affairs (3 cr.)
  • EDRM 664 – Autoethnography & Reflective Practice II (1 cr.)
    (if not taken in spring, take in summer)
  • EDRM 665 – Qualitative Methods in Student Affairs (2 cr.)

Year Three

  • EDHE 678 – Capstone in Student Affairs (3 cr.)
    Offered first 8 weeks of semester.
  • EDRM 664B – Autoethnography & Reflective Practice II (1 cr.)
  • Elective credits or additional practicum (recommended)

Practicum Courses

Two credits of EDUC 686A are required. Enrollment in practicum is not permitted during the first two semesters.

Elective Courses

A minimum of six elective credits are required. Students may enroll in elective courses during any semester. Please note that courses may be cancelled due to low enrollment. Courses from other graduate programs may also be used as elective options. One additional practicum (equivalent to two credits) may count toward fulfilling the elective requirement. Please consult with your advisor.

* Students who need a longer timeline to degree should work with their advisor on an appropriate course plan.

** Course sequencing does not meet minimum 5-credit requirement for financial aid. Students should consider enrolling in practicum (EDUC 686A) or elective credit during these semesters.

Course Descriptions Open Accordion
EDHE 660 – Financial Management in Student Affairs

This course provides an overview of the finance environment for higher education. You'll analyze the role of fiscal management in a university/student affairs environment, review budgeting strategies to create, analyze and revise budgets, and introduce strategies to maintain internal control and financial oversight of operations.

EDHE 661 – The Inclusive University

This course is designed to provide you with an opportunity to explore and discuss the complexity of human differences within the campus community through class readings, written assignments, presentations, and discussion. You examine difference in an effort to create personal knowledge and values about how to live with, work with, discuss, and appreciate differences we may or may not understand. The goal is to prepare you to be a practitioner in higher education who advocates, celebrates, and effectively manages diversity.

EDHE 670 – College Student Personnel Administration

This survey course is designed to challenge you to explore the student affairs profession from multiple perspectives. The course content provides an overview of student affairs — historical, philosophical, political, intellectual, and organizational developments in higher education. This includes understanding the roles student affairs professionals assume in post-secondary educational institutions and the profession's contemporary and future issues.

EHDE 672 – Ethical and Practical Issues in Student Affairs

Student affairs professionals never have a standard script to follow in their day-to-day interactions with students, faculty, and staff. Instead, they rely on their academic preparation, professional standards, practical experience, personal values, and ethical standards to create an educational community where all members have the opportunity to participate and reach their full potential. In this course, you learn to create a classroom environment that fosters honest, respectful dialogue; encourages thoughtful, intellectual discussion of ethical issues in student affairs and higher education; and promotes the development of collegial relationships among class members. You also develop problem-solving and analytical skills through case studies that use real campus situations that have previously challenged student affairs professionals.

EDHE 673 – Student Development Theory

In this course, you gain an understanding of college student development theory and its application to practice. You learn to critically analyze and evaluate theories for inclusiveness, relevance, and applicability for diverse populations from your own perspective, as well as from the perspectives of various college student populations. Specific theories examined include human development theories applicable to college student populations, cognitive, moral, psycho-social, and ethical theories. The course also looks into adult development, racial and sexual orientation, identity development, and spiritual development models. At the end of the course, you will be able to apply the theories and process models in your student affairs practice.

EDHE 676 – Organizational Behavior in Student Affairs

This course introduces future student affairs administrators to the theories of organizational behavior in the context of student affairs in higher education. Focus is on application of theory to practice in the areas of understanding how organizations work, managing and leading people, best practices, and understanding the culture that guides and defines the student affairs profession.

EDHE 677 – Law in Student Affairs

This course looks at legal issues focusing on sources and application of education law and responsibilities of higher education administrators. You learn to analyze legal issues facing student affairs professionals so that in your student affairs practice you can effectively work toward resolution with the assistance of legal counsel.

EDHE 678 – Capstone in Student Affairs

Capstone analyzing current issues and leadership in transition to professional roles.

EDRM 600 – Introduction to Research Methods

Introduction to Research Methods is designed to teach you about the fundamentals of designing and conducting a research project in both quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. You will be a functionally literate consumer of research studies once you've completed this course. The course examines basic quantitative and qualitative terminology associated with research, how to collect and interpret a variety of data, and how to read and evaluate research studies. S.A.H.E. students should register for section 802.

EDRM 663 – Autoethnography & Reflective Practice I

Introduces basic autoethnographic research skills that underpin the creation of the culminating SAHE program portfolio. Foundational research methods, the portfolio process, cultivating reflective practice, and critical analysis skills are necessary to both conduct autoethnography and develop as a practitioner-scholar.

EDUC 502 – Human Relations in Education

Human relations in an individual's educational, organizational, and social activities as applied to various educational settings. The purpose of this course is for students to gain an understanding of fundamental concepts of interpersonal helping, counseling, and human relations skills and their application to practice in student affairs.

EDUC 686A – Practicum-Administration

Students are required to complete one 60 hour practical experiences as part of the SAHE experience. Practicums are designed to engage students in new experiences, develop and enhance skills and abilities, learn about various functional areas, and fulfill program competencies. In addition, the practicum experience allows students to contribute in meaningful ways to the profession, expand professional networks, and create opportunities for future employment. Prerequisite:

  • Students must complete the School of Education Form 81 and receive instructor approval prior to registering for EDUC 686A.
  • Students may not complete a practicum during their first semester without special approval.
Career Opportunities 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, Greek life, health and wellness, housing and dining, judicial affairs, 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
Learning Experience Open Accordion

The M.S. in Student Affairs in Higher Education is delivered via our learning management system, Canvas. The system allows you to watch annotated PowerPoint 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 and optional readings
  • Communicate and exchange ideas with instructors and fellow students through chat rooms, threaded discussions, and email
  • Complete individual projects and collaborate on group projects
  • Study for and complete exams
  • Write course-related papers
  • Participate in practicum experiences to apply and enhance your learning

Students are required to complete one practicum experience throughout their coursework. These practicums develop and enhance skills and abilities related to the student affairs profession. A practicum can be completed in a variety of locations; from down the street to thousands of miles away. You can use various types of colleges/universities and a range of student affairs offices for your practicum experiences. Here are some reflections from past student experiences outside of the US:

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

Is online and distance learning right for you? »

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.

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU's online student affairs in higher education master's program, you receive the same education, learn from the same faculty, and earn the same regionally accredited degree as students on campus. Additionally, you can expect:

  • Practical Experience: Apply what you learn in the online classroom to real-world settings through two required practicums. Organized with the help of your advisor, this experience allows for customized growth in skills pertinent to the field of student affairs.
  • The Opportunity to Publish: Our master’s in student affairs is one of the few in the country that sponsors a journal for our students. Increase your marketability for future career paths with the possibility of publishing before graduating.
  • Instruction from Expert Faculty: Be at the forefront of student affairs issues by learning from faculty who incorporate their research and experience as administrators into coursework. Learning from scholar-practitioners provides you with academic preparation and practical day-to-day knowledge of student affairs operations.
  • A Portfolio Requirement: Rather than completing a thesis or comprehensive exam, demonstrate your competency and knowledge in the field of student affairs through the completion of a portfolio. Get valuable faculty feedback and strategize ways to enhance your understanding of concepts that improve skills required in the profession.
  • A Diverse Learning Community: Earn your degree in student affairs with classmates from a variety of backgrounds. Gain an enriched perspective of shared experiences and ideas which can be applied to working with a diverse population of students in your student affairs career.

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

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.

  • Three letters of recommendation

    Provide three 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 three 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.

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.

Information for International Students

Official transcript translation

Ensure official copies include a certified translation into English (only one set of transcripts is required).

Official test scores

Colorado State University requires that proficiency in English language be demonstrated either by the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE academic tests prior to admission. Please submit one of the official scores from the list below. Tests must be taken within two years prior to admission and submitted directly from the Educational Testing Service (select institution code: 4075).

  • The minimum TOEFL score for admission without condition is 550 (paper-based), or 80 (internet-based).
  • The minimum IELTS score for admission without condition is 6.5.
  • The minimum PTE Academic score for admission without condition is 58.

All applicants who are citizens of countries in which English is not the official language, and who do not have an undergraduate degree from the U.S. must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions to help you on your journey.

Alex Broz
Student Affairs in Higher Education
Student Success Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

$685 per credit
Degree Awarded
Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education
Time Frame
Can be completed in 3 years

Application Deadlines

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

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