Course Sequencing & Descriptions

Course Descriptions & Sequence for Full-Time Students

Courses are 3 credit hours each, unless otherwise noted, and focus on providing a generalist preparation aligning with the ACPA/NASPA (2015, 2016) Competencies for Student Affairs Educators

Fall Semester - 1st Year, 12 credits

  • SAA 5190: Advising and Supporting

An introduction to and overview of the role of student affairs educators as facilitators of individual and group development.  Methods of helping, group facilitation skills, advising, and leading and managing groups appropriate to student affairs functions will be discussed and developed. 

  • SAA 5380: College Students and their Environments

The purpose of this course is to examine and study the characteristics of diverse student populations and understand the complex and diverse system of higher education institutions in the United States. Additionally, this course is designed to explore the impact of college attendance and college environments on students.

  • SAA 5410 Introduction to Student Affairs

An introduction and overview of student affairs functions within institutions of higher education emphasizing the history, student affairs programming models, professional standards and ethics in professional conduct, professional associations, organizational models and staffing patterns, and issues and trends in student affairs practice. (This course is a prerequisite for SAA 6410.)

  • SAA 5820: College Student Development Theories

This course is designed as an overview of student development theories—including cognitive, identity, psychosocial, and moral development theories—and a general introduction to leadership and career theories. Particular emphasis will be placed on utilizing theory to understand and describe student learning and human behavior and development in practice. A social justice lens will be applied to the study of these theories. (This course is a prerequisite for SAA 5821.)

Spring Semester - 1st Year, 12 credits

  • SAA 5821: Social Justice & Inclusion in Student Affairs


This course is designed to provide students with space and time to engage in critical reflection about their own biases and privileges and examine systemic social justice issues in U.S. higher education based on identities and socialization practices. The course will also invite students to consider a call to action in creating more equitable higher education experiences for students, administrators, and faculty members. (SAA 5820 is a prerequisite for this course.)

  • SAA 5900: Practicum 

This course invites students into a reflective, practical learning experience where they complete a minimum of 100 hours at a practicum host site and meet weekly to make meaning of their experiences and reflect on how they are growing as practitioner-scholars of student affairs. There are over 35 potential pracitum host sites on campus. (This is a required course that can be repeated as an elective.) 

  • SAA 6330: Assessment & Applied Research

This course advances understanding around the concepts and practices of assessment and program evaluation, including students’ ability to evaluate existing literature and reports; to collect and analyze data for learning, effectiveness, outcomes, satisfaction, and program review; and to make evidence-based decisions. The course reviews quantitative, qualitative and mixed method approaches that can be used in curricular and co-curricular settings.

  • Elective of the Student's Choice (with faculty advisor approval)

Summer (Optional!)

Students are NOT required to take summer courses; however, if they choose to take a summer course, it would count as elective credits that would reduce the course load of subsequent semesters. Summer course options vary and electives must approved by faculty advisor.

Fall Semester - 2nd Year, 12 credits

  • SAA 5751: Ethics and Law in Student Affairs Administration

A study of current legal and ethical issues confronting the college student development specialist or counselor in practice. Topics include authority and environment of ethics and law, ethical decision analysis, and topical issues such as student safety, liability, confidentiality, privacy, libel and slander, due process, and other related ethical and legal concepts. The course goal is to provide future practitioners with a working knowledge of ethical and legal issues  to inform good practice.

  • SAA 6410: Student Affairs Administration

This course focuses on practical, administrative skills students need in the reality of their daily work, including but not limited to organizational analysis; budget and funding streams; human resources, management, and supervision (e.g., hiring, onboarding, supporting, evaluating); policy creation and review; political savvy and navigation; and adaptability, flexibility, and problem-solving. (SAA 5410 is a prerequisite for this course.)

  • SAA 6420: Contemporary Issues in Student Affairs Administration

This course examines pressing topics in U.S. higher education and student affairs, explores how to navigate tensions between one’s own position on the issues and the institution’s stance, and invites students to forecast responses and future trends.

  • Elective of the Student's Choice (with faculty advisor approval)

Note: many students choose to do a second SAA 5900: Practicum experience for this elective.

Spring Semester - 2nd Year, 9 credits

  • SAA 6900: Internship (6 credit hours)

This course serves as a capstone experience where students apply competencies gained in other courses through a practical, internship experience and prepare for the job search process and transition out of graduate school. Students engage in career preparation activities to receive feedback on their cover letters, resumes, and interviewing skills and career readiness evaluations to receive feedback on on-the-job skills.

  • Elective of the Student's Choice (with faculty advisor approval) 


Type of CreditsNumber of Credits
Required Core Courses36 credits (including 9 for applied learning)
Elective Courses9 credits (could include 3 for applied learning)
Total Program45 credits

Culminating Project: Comprehensive Product of Learning

The program's culminating project (called the Comprehensive Product of Learning, or CPL) provides students with an opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning by blending professional competency growth with their own interests to cultivate a holistic development experience within the master’s program. The cornerstones of the comprehensive product of learning include: Holistic Development; Experiential Learning; Critical Thinking; and Reflective Thinking. Completing the professional development, reflection, and assessment activities associated with the comprehensive product of learning prepares students for the job search process because the process invites students to pause and make meaning of their experiences. Students will also have content from which to determine career pathways, address strengths and areas of growth, craft cover letters, and prepare for job interviews. In short, the comprehensive product of learning is a tool to aid in students’ career preparation and pathway in student affairs and higher education.