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College of Education

Higher Education and Student Affairs, M.Ed. (HESA)

What will I study?

The M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) is designed to prepare entry level and mid-level professionals for successful administrative careers in a variety of postsecondary education contexts. As a student in the HESA program, you will be prepared to apply theory learned through challenging classroom studies to real life experiences.  With an administrative emphasis, you will study theory, research, and best practices to prepare you to be a transformational leader in 21st century higher education.


What kinds of work will I be able to do?

Graduates of the M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs program are employed in a range of institutional contexts and positions including career advising, academic advising, Title IX enforcement, student conduct, student activities, Greek life, parent programs, international student services, student leadership and service, admissions, marketing, and institutional advancement among others. 


Typical Course Work

The typical course work includes a foundational core and your choice of a concentration in either higher education administration or student affairs administration.

Through 18 hours of foundational core course work you will explore the history and philosophy of higher education, relevant student development theories, legal aspects, institutional assessment, and research methodologies. You will also develop advanced knowledge of the organization, administration, and governance of postsecondary education. Interwoven in this coursework is an understanding of social justice and inclusion within the context of higher education.

Higher Education Administration Concentration
The 18-hour higher education administration concentration is focused on the advanced study of leadership and ethics in postsecondary education. This includes an exploration of financial aspects of higher education and the study of trends and issues within community and technical college context.

Student Affairs Administration Concentration
The 18-hour student affairs administration concentration is focused on advanced study in areas such as contemporary student affairs trends and issues, philosophy of student affairs, and practicum experiences. This concentration will prepare you to articulate theories and models that describe the development of college students and the conditions and practices that facilitate holistic development. You will also be able to articulate advising and supporting strategies that take into account self-knowledge and the needs of others.

For more details about the program and curriculum, please visit the academic bulletin.


Admissions Process Requirements

 In addition to the requirements of the Graduate School, you will need to submit the following to apply for the M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs:

  • Scores from either the GRE or the MAT. If English is your second language, you must also submit TOEFL scores for consideration. All test scores must be from within the past 5 years.
  • Official transcripts from all previous institutions you have attended.
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation.
  • Current resume which highlights educational and employment history, higher education or student affairs experience, and includes contact information.
  • Personal statement (2-3 pages, double spaced) which addresses the following:
    • What experiences have led to your interest in pursuing a career in higher education and student affairs?
    • What qualities, characteristics, and skills do you possess that make you a strong candidate for the HESA program?
    • What do you hope to learn from the HESA program and how does this relate to your personal and career goals?
  • Non-refundable application fee

The faculty of the Higher Education and Student Affairs program make recommendations for admission to the Graduate School based upon five criteria: academic record, GRE or MAT scores, related work and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, and the personal statement.


Partner Organizations

Our partnerships with these organizations will help you build connections and gain further access to professional development:

The Graduate Assistant Recruitment Program (GARP) is a collaborative effort among the University's Division of Student Affairs, the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, and the Student Personnel Association. GARP is designed to complement the Higher Education and Student Affairs program with graduate assistantships available from across the Division of Student Affairs, other areas of UofSC, as well as other local colleges. The majority of students who begin the HESA program with a graduate assistantship are GARP participants.

Benefits of the graduate assistantship include a stipend, tuition reduction, and professional experience and development. The Graduate Assistant Recruitment Program is generally held each year in late February to early March.

The Student Personnel Association was founded over 40 years ago to promote interest and involvement in higher education and student affairs through association with students, faculty, and staff.

Their mission is to promote interest and involvement in the development of students in higher education through professional development, community service, and social activity with students, faculty, and staff who are interested in this field. The Student Personnel Association is open to all full-time and part-time students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program.

Chi Sigma Alpha is an international student affairs honor society comprised of graduate students, alumni, faculty members, and student affairs professionals committed to excellence in academics, research, and service to the profession. The purpose of Chi Sigma Alpha is for its members to maintain the highest standard of excellence in the profession of student affairs.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.