M.Ed. in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education

By integrating a strong theoretical framework with practical application, this Master of Education program trains graduates for success in higher ed leadership positions. This is a full- or part-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only.

The Master of Education in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education is designed to prepare students for success in entry- and mid-career level professional positions within a variety of post-secondary education contexts. The program emphasizes knowledge of theories that underlie practice, the study of diverse student experiences and development, awareness of the organizational and environmental characteristics of the various types of post-secondary institutions and an understanding of the political and social forces that shape higher education.

Students admitted to the master's program might specialize in general administration, student affairs, or intercollegiate athletic administration, or take a broader approach to explore higher education. Although coursework may vary according students' individual plans, the objectives remain consistent throughout the program.

Theoretical Foundation

  • An integration and application of the theoretical foundations of higher education; this may include sociology, psychology, politics, economics, leadership and organizational theory.

Principles of Practice

  • Coursework that develops and refines core competencies for student affairs, intercollegiate athletic administration or general administration work in colleges and universities and other post-secondary settings.

Reflective Professional Experience

  • Professional internships that lead to successful work in specialized functional areas of higher education; the experience includes development of a professional philosophy and career plan, and introduction to major professional and service organizations.


Program Life

The M.Ed. program in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education offers both full-time and part-time options, though most students pursue the degree full time. Full-time students complete the program in twelve months, with the program beginning about June 10 each year and concluding by mid-May of the following year. Students who are enrolled part time typically complete the program within two to three years. The M.Ed. is awarded upon completion of 36 credit hours.

"What a wonderful group of people to study alongside with. Get to know your peers, maintain a network of communication, make plans together to cover all there is to do and see here as well as bring a sense of balance to your life. One of the most enjoyable things I've done this year is have study parties with my friends in order to make studying more enjoyable and bounce ideas off one another while working for long hours on papers and projects." - 2012 Cohort Graduate

Since this is a one-year, 36-credit hour program you can expect to have a very full and challenging year. Beginning in June, the summer coursework provides a nice entry into the program and an opportunity to get your feet under you as you transition. Fall semester is generally busy as students typically dive into their internships on top of their coursework. In spring semester, the workload shifts a bit as students finish up their coursework and begin the job search.

We often refer to the class of master's students as a cohort—a term that refers to a group that enters the program at the same time and, for the most part, will graduate at the same time. One of the best things about the master's program is the cohort itself—it's a built-in support system, social group, and network. After graduation, cohort members often stay in touch with each other as colleagues.


Students in the master’s program generally choose one of three focus areas.

  • Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education (SAPHE)
  • Intercollegiate Athletic Administration (IAA)
  • Higher Education Administration (HEA)

During the first summer session course, students meet with their advisor to select coursework that will help the student meet their academic and professional goals.

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    Admission to the Higher Education master's program is based on the potential for academic and professional success using the following criteria:

    • Record of academic achievement as evidenced through 3.0 GPA or better for the last two years of undergraduate study.
    • Record of potential for academic achievement as evidenced through one of the following:
      • ​Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores that are no more than 5 years old. For reference, GRE scores for MEd, MT, EdS students admitted for the 2014-15 academic year were at or above the 150 (verbal), 145 (quantitative), and 4.0 (analytical writing); OR
      • For applicants currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at the time of application: SAT or ACT scores AND a recent writing sample; OR
      • For applicants who have graduated from an undergraduate degree program: an interview with program faculty and/or successful completion of courses in the program as a non-degree student prior to admission.
    • Strong writing skills and clear professional goals demonstrated in the Statement of Purpose (typically 500-700 words)
      • In your statement, please address the factors that have encouraged you to seek an M.Ed. from the UVa Higher Education-Student Affairs program.  This is also an opportunity for you to describe your background, significant personal and professional experiences, important aspects of your academic record, and professional and/or further academic goals upon completion of the program.
      • If an additional writing sample is not submitted in lieu of the GRE, the faculty may request a writing sample to round out an application.
    • Excellent academic and professional references via two (2) letters of recommendation from professors, supervisors, and/or professional colleagues.
    • Resume outlining your professional or para-professional experience, leadership roles, experiences in undergraduate organizations, and/or volunteer work
    • Unofficial test scores and transcripts may be submitted with the application. However, official scores and transcripts will be required once an offer of admission is accepted.

    Given the accelerated nature of our one-year program, many of our applicants have professional experience in higher education or a related field.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    Full-time students are only admitted to begin study in the summer.  The deadline for summer admission is December 1.  Admitted students will be invited to attend Internship Interview Day to meet faculty, current students, and members of their prospective cohort group and interview for internship positions.  Applications may be considered until May 1 on a space-available basis; however, prospective applicants should contact the Higher Education Senior Student Services Coordinator to discuss the late application process.

    Prospective part-time students are encouraged to complete their application for admission using the following deadlines:

    • Summer admission: December 1st for the first review of applications. Applications may be accepted until May 1st on a space-available basis.
    • Fall admission (part-time only): April 15th, applications will be accepted on a space-available basis until June 1st
    • Spring admission (part-time only): November 1st

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    The Higher Education-Student Affairs program is designed for flexibility.  All students are required to take 21 core credits.  The remaining 15 credits will be tailored to meet student academic and professional goals.


    The following courses are required of all students (21 credits - 7 courses)

    • EDLF 5810 Introduction to Higher Education
    • EDLF 5830 College Student Experience
    • EDLF 5820 Organization and Management of Colleges & Universities 
    • EDLF 6010 Financial Management & Budgeting in Higher Education
    • EDLF 7610 Research in Higher Education, Student Affairs, & Athletic Administration
    • EDLF 7110 Professional Development Seminar in Higher Education
    • EDLF 7120 Master's Capstone in Higher Education

    All students must take one of the following for a diversity credit (3 credits-1 course)

    • EDLF 7130 College Student Development
    • EDLF 8640 Inequality in Higher Education
    • EDLF 6020 Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Higher Education

    Students should select from the following courses based on their focus interest (12 credits - 4 courses)

    • EDLF 5420 Athletics, the University, and Society
    • EDLF 5425 Governance of Collegiate Athletics
    • EDLF 6030 Student Affairs in Higher Education
    • EDLF 8651 History of Higher Education
    • EDLF 5410 Strategy in Higher Education and Intercollegiate Athletics
    • EDLF 8680 Economics and Education Policy
    • EDLF 7132 Legal Aspects of College Administration
    • EDLF 8662 Politics and Education
    • EDHS 7200 Counseling Student Athletes
    • EDHS 7290 Essential Counseling Skills
    • Additional courses in the Curry School are available based on student interest and with consultation of program advisor


    All full-time M.Ed. students are required to complete an administrative internship in a particular area of student affairs, intercollegiate athletics, or general administration. The internship gives students an opportunity to synthesize and apply the theoretical aspects of their area of specialization in practical administrative settings and in turn to enrich, complicate, and complement their theoretical understanding. Additionally, internships permit students to develop competencies required of new professionals in the field. Internship openings vary from year to year; most are paid positions but do not include tuition remission or health insurance.

    Currently, students have internships in areas including, but not limited to, football operations, academic advising, residence life, student activities, leadership programs, disability services, orientation, career services, admissions, athletic foundation, student success programs, athletic compliance, student success programs, life skills, athletic foundation, and substance abuse prevention and violence prevention programs.

  • Funding Opportunities

    Students may apply for federal financial aid, including work-study. Information about federal aid programs, including applying using the FAFSA, can be found through Student Financial Services. Additional financial aid information can be found on Curry's Financial Aid webpage. Because some internship sites require students to have work study, we recommend all students indicate they would like to be considered for work study on the FAFSA.

    Currently, the program is unable to provide tuition remission or health insurance to students. However, most internships are paid positions. The University of Virginia offers affordable and convenient options for student health insurance. Visit the Elson Student Health Center website for more information.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Full-time students complete the program in one calendar year (June - May). Part-time students typically complete the program within two to three years.

    Semester of Entry:

    Full-time students begin the program during Summer Session (early June of each year). Part-time students may begin the program in any semester (summer, fall, spring)

  • Course Overview
    Summer (10 credits) Fall (13 credits) Spring (13 credits)
    Introduction to Higher Education (3) Financial Management & Budgeting in Higher Education (3) Capstone (3)
    College Student Experience (3) Research in Higher Education, Student Affairs & Intercollegiate Athletics (3) Internship/Professional Development (1)
    Organization and Management of Colleges & Universities (3)  Internship/Professional Development (1) Elective (3)
    Internship/Professional Development (1) Elective (3) Elective (3)
      Elective (3) Elective (3)
  • Sample Jobs After Graduation

    There is no one path for graduates from the Higher Education-Student Affairs program. While many of our graduates choose to stay in the mid-Atlantic area, we have alumni across the US and abroad working in secondary schools, community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, as well as private educational organizations. Here are a few of the positions our alumni hold:

    • Community Director, Dartmouth College
    • College Relations Manager, IES Abroad
    • Associate Director of Student Affairs, Semester at Sea
    • Assistant Director of Marketing and Admissions, UVa Darden School of Business
    • Academic Advisor, Oregon State University
    • Executive Director, Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation
    • Director of Diversity Initiative/Assistant Director of Undergraduate Research, Virginia Tech
    • Manager, Center for Faculty Advancement, Stevens Institute of Technology
    • Assistant Director of Career Services, Loyola University of New Orleans
    • Assistant Director, Honors Program, University of Cincinnati
    • Assistant Director of Reunion Giving, Hampden-Sydney College
    • Residential Learning Coordinator, Hollins University
    • Assistant Video Coordinator, Dallas Mavericks

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.