Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education (CUAA)

The Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education (SPAHE) program is grounded in student affairs theory and practice, and applied from a Christian perspective. Program learning outcomes are centered around student development theory, legal and ethical issues, leadership, navigation of interpersonal and collaborative dynamics in a collegiate setting, assessment, evaluation and research. The program prepares those pursuing a career of service in higher education to bring a faith–based approach to their positions within administration and athletics. Courses are designed for working professionals, with classes held year-round in an online collaborative format. Our outstanding faculty members are practicing student affairs practitioners from both private and public institutions of higher education. A total of 33 credits are required for the degree.

SPAHE graduates will be student affairs practitioners and/or athletic professionals who are:

  • grounded in faith and integrity
  • well-rounded through a mix of theory and practice
  • able to demonstrate culturally-inclusive advising, supporting, coaching and counseling strategies
  • visionary, forward-thinking and rooted in historical context
  • responsive and adaptive to change
  • devoted to sustainability of financial, educational and environmental resources
  • able to use data to inform their practice and aid in ethical decision making
  • life-long learners
  • proactive and reflective employers and leaders
  • problem solvers (interpersonal communication, management of staff, managing budget)
  • skilled in conflict resolution

Program Learning Outcomes

1) Professional and Ethical Standards: SPAHE students will evaluate from a Christian perspective the ethical codes and professional standards established by ACPA and NASPA and those established by the specific area(s) of interest of current employment in the field. Further, SPAHE students will adhere to these codes and standards and develop integrity within their personal and professional lives as they pursue the vocation of the Student Affairs Practitioner.

2) Student Development: SPAHE students will recognize the theories and models that facilitate the diverse college student’s holistic development, and will identify best practices established for advising and supporting them. Further, SPAHE students will employ globally-minded practices and culturally-inclusive strategies to create environments that foster equitable participation of all groups.

3) Theoretical Foundations: SPAHE students will review the significant philosophical, psychological, cultural, and sociological theories that support student learning and underpin the work in the field and apply them to practical work within the field. Further, SPAHE students will translate historical lessons to their future or current practice in the field.

4) Leadership, Administration, and the Law: SPAHE students will identify leadership theories, higher education governance structures and practices, and legal issues associated with student affairs practice and employ critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make professional decisions.

5) Communicative Fluency and Technological Competence: SPAHE students will develop written, oral and interpersonal communication skills through the use of digital tools, resources and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development and success.

6) Assessment, Evaluation, and Research: SPAHE students will demonstrate proficiency in assessing student affairs programs and in applying the literature of the field to practice. Additionally, SPAHE students will discover various assessment, evaluation and research methodologies and use their results to inform their practice.


SPA 5000Foundations in Student Affairs Administration3
SPA 5005The Diverse College Student3
SPA 5010Organizational Leadership & Governance in Higher Education3
SPA 5015Program Planning and Assessment3
SPA 5020Group Dynamics and Culturally Responsible Leadership3
SPA 5025Current Topics Seminar3
SPA 5030Law & Policy in Higher Education3
SPA 5035Educational Research Methods3
SPA 7000Experiential Learning for the Aspiring Student Affairs Professional 13
Experiential Learning for the Current Student Affairs Professional
SPA 7010Thesis for Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education 23
Capstone for Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education
Elective 33
Total Hours33

A total of 150 experiential learning hours must be completed, either through SPA 7000 or 7002. SPA 7000 is required for students not currently working in higher education. SPA 7002 is required for students who are currently working in higher education.


Students choose between a thesis and a capstone


Students take 30 required credits plus a 3-credit elective course (course is subject to approval of the program director), for a total of 33 credits.

Optional EdD pathway: students may take an elective course from within the EdD in Leadership in Innovation & Continuous Improvement program to fulfill their 3-credit SPAHE elective requirement. This creates a pathway to an interdisciplinary doctorate and accelerates eligibility for senior level leadership.