M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs


If you are passionate about helping college students learn and develop, our M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs will equip you to succeed and lead. Our program grounds you in the theory and methodology of student development. Our program prepares you for a variety of leadership and administrative positions in student affairs and higher education. The program is 36 semester hours; internships generally require 120 hours of field experience.

Learning Outcomes

During your program of study, you will:
  • Examine different organizations, contexts, and/or leadership in higher education and student affairs.
  • Apply college student development and/or learning theories in higher education and student affairs practice settings.
  • Utilize theory-to-practice models in higher education and student affairs settings.
  • Apply principles of assessment and evaluation to the practice of higher education and student affairs.
  • Engage in professional praxis that promotes inclusion, equity and social justice.

To apply for this program, you'll need to provide the following:

  • An application
  • A written statement of goals
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Resumé

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose, or personal statement, should be no longer than two pages, single-spaced in length. Your statement should respond to the following prompts:

  • Why are you interested in pursuing a career in higher education and student affairs? What experience in school, work, or life prompted your interest in pursuing a career in higher education and student affairs?
  • How do you hope to contribute to the field of higher education and student affairs?
  • How do you think the graduate program at NIU, in particular, will help you achieve your goals?
  • Looking at our learning outcomes for the program, what areas are you most excited to learn more about?

Application Deadlines

Fall priority: Feb. 1
Fall final: May 1

Apply Today!

Acceptance of Admissions

Students who have been admitted to the program need to accept their admission via their MyNIU as well as respond to the department by the deadline indicated in your acceptance letter.


Due to limited space in all of our programs, applicants may be placed on a waiting list. If admitted students decline and spots open up, students on the waiting list will be offered a spot in the program on a rolling basis. If you have been waitlisted and have questions about the timeline or your prospects of being accepted into the program, please contact HESA program coordinator Carrie Kortegast, Ph.D. at ckortegast@niu.edu.

Graduate Assistantships

Students interested in obtaining a graduate assistantship can apply through our Virtual CAHE Graduate Assistantship Interview Day.

  • Our internship requirement provides professional career experience to develop your in-depth understanding and working knowledge of a specific employment area in higher education and student affairs. You'll have the opportunity to not only work with a diverse population of students but also take advantage of professional development experiences and networking throughout Chicagoland. You also can explore internships on the national and global level.
  • Our Division of Student Affairs and other academic affairs offices offer graduate assistantships to students in our programs; the typical compensation includes tuition waiver and stipend. Opportunities include Admissions, Career Services, several diversity and cultural resource centers, First- and Second-Year Experience, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Housing and Residential Services, Student Involvement and Leadership Development, Student Conduct and many more.

We promote best practices in the preparation of educators, advocates and leaders as we promote an understanding of the world, communities and social justice. Our alumni are committed to understanding the past, advancing the present and modeling for the future what graduate preparation should encompass.

You'll study ethics, leadership and administration, program planning, community development, social justice, adult learning theory, educational policy analysis, student development, continuing professional education, program assessment and evaluation, and more. The HESA 598 capstone experience helps you to integrate and synthesize concepts and principles and to connect theory and practice.

Core Requirements

  • HESA 500 - Foundations of Higher Education
  • HESA 502 - Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice in Higher Education
  • HESA 503 - U.S. College Students
  • HESA 522 - College Student Development Theory
  • HESA 562 - Helping Skills for Student Affairs Professionals
  • HESA 572 - Assessment Methods in Higher Education
  • HESA 573 - Applied Assessment Methods in Higher Education
  • HESA 586 - Internship in Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • HESA 598 - Capstone in Higher Education and Student Affairs


You are required to take three elective courses from the following list:

  • HESA 501 - Student Affairs Administration and Practice
  • HESA 509 - Campus Environments and Student Cultures
  • HESA 530 - Instructional Theory, Practice and Teaching
  • HESA 771 - Legal Aspects of Higher Education Administration
  • HESA 597 - Graduate Student Leader Seminar
  • HESA 590 - Workshop in Higher Education and Student Affairs (rotating topics)

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"NIU was an excellent fit for my education because it provided the space necessary for me to develop my potential as a student. Being a student at Northern embeds you into an environment to be a modern professional while highlighting intersectionality. We convert from students to professionals and often become role models."by Josiel Marrufo, M.S.Ed., Higher Education and Student Affairs