Help Students and Engage Communities with a Master's in Student Affairs

Impact the success of individual students and the culture of an entire campus with a Master of Arts in Student Affairs. Earning an MA in Student Affairs helps you become a practitioner-scholar, fostering growth and success in college communities. Participate in a program offering a foundation in counseling and theory, teaching you how to work one-on-one with students while also inspiring entire communities.

Explore your passions and interests through electives; you can pursue interests in areas such as addictions, trauma and crisis response, advanced counseling, and management. You may also work to help serve populations of students such as LGBTQ, first-generation, and those of color.

The MA in Student Affairs emphasizes relational practice and leadership, providing a unique model for training student affairs professionals. Relational practices in education and relationship leadership are based on Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) (Jordan, 2010; Miller & Stiver, 1997), which suggests that people grow through relationships rather than in isolation. RCT requires you to consider the cultural context in which both education and leadership exist. Here at Carlow, you will strengthen and deepen your understanding of this intersection to become a more conscientious professional.

“Knowing how to develop and engage in healthy growth-fostering relationships is essential for the student affairs practitioner. This pursuit is central to our master’s program. Mental health concerns are more prevalent than ever among college students. By situating this program in a psychology department we offer students a versatile set of tools and in-depth theoretical understanding to handle the range of challenges they will see.”

Harriet Schwartz, PhD, MA in Student Affairs program chair

Read Dr. Harriet Schwartz's article Relational Practice: The Currency of Student Affairs on the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) website.



Loretta Ellis, graduate student in the Student Affairs program

Read MA in Student Affairs student Loretta Ellis's "Change the Way You Look at Things and the Things You Look at Change," published on NASPA's homepage.

MA in Student Affairs Program Highlights

  • A 36-credit program
  • Part-time or full-time options 
  • Includes core courses, electives, internship, and an optional supervised research project
  • Dual degree option: MS in Professional Counseling
Students who wish to work in a college counseling center and/or pursue professional licensure to potentially work in other mental health settings or private practice are invited to pursue the dual degree option (60 credits). Earn your MA in Student Affairs and MS in Professional Counseling, complete with all coursework, practicum, and internship needed for licensure.

MA in Student Affairs Curriculum

For a list of every course available in the MA in Student Affairs program, click hereFor details about the curriculum and courses, please visit the Course Catalog section of our website or request more information.

Featured Courses

STA 703: Foundations of Student Affairs

The heart of students affairs work is being in relationship with others. In this course, students will begin to explore relational theory and practice.  This course also traces the history of the student affairs profession and its evolving role within higher education. Current and future trends in student affairs practice will be examined.  Special attention will be paid to the social justice mission as it is practiced and modeled within student affairs. 

STA 704: Relational Practice and Leadership

Students will explore mentoring and relational practice literature to develop greater intentionality regarding their work with students and their role as positive contributors in the workplace. Students will also explore leadership with special attention on social action and change. Students will reflect on their own leadership style and professional ethics and study relevant professional discourse. Students will also consider their own career development, self-care, and other challenges for new and emerging professionals.

STA 711: Legal Issues and Administration of Student Affairs Programs

This course examines the current legal issues in student affairs practice and teaches students basic tools to navigate the ever-changing legal landscape.  Students will learn the basics of the major laws that apply to student affairs work (Title IX, Clery, Campus Save, HEOA, FERPA, etc.), and how to write compliant campus policies that safeguard student rights and responsibilities as well as protect the institution.  Students will examine the student affairs role within university-wide compliance and crisis response teams and create crisis and compliance plans for a student affairs division.  Students will also learn to use legal and public resources to keep up with evolving legal requirements.

STA 725: Co-curricular Programming and Assessment of Student Learning

This course will focus on the principles and elements of effective co-curriculum design. This will include an exploration of different models of curriculum design; the importance and role of "intended outcomes"; the incorporation of evidence-based practices; and the benefits and challenges of different forms of assessment (e.g. needs assessment, operations assessment, learning assessment). Putting all of this together, this course will provide an understanding and appreciation of curriculum design and assessment skills critical to the effective development of co-curricular programming within the field of student affairs. 

STA 745: Internship in Student Affairs and Administration

This course is a graduate-level 300-hour internship experience in postsecondary student affairs and administration (e.g., Admissions, Financial Aid, Institutional Research, Residence Life). The focus of the course will be in applying theory in the practice, as students take on the roles and functions of professionals in the field. To that end, students will be provided with a variety of experiences that will promote an increased awareness of the various roles and skills required of a student affairs professional. Students will meet with their onsite supervisor weekly and attend seminars through the university.


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