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HESA Video

Higher Education & Student Affairs at The University of Connecticut

The focus of our program is to develop reflective practitioners in student affairs. The courses and experiences are diverse and reflect the best of contemporary student affairs practice. In addition, our program meets all of the requirements and expectations set forth by the Council for the Advancement and Standards in Higher Education (CAS Standards). Learn more about the CAS Standards.

The core of the HESA program is a 44-credit hour curriculum featuring classes taught by student affairs practitioners as well as full-time faculty scholars. Each year, HESA admits a cohort of approximately 18-20 students into the program. These students complete the core academic classes together over their two years of study. In addition, students have a variety of elective graduate courses that are offered through the Department of Educational Leadership or through another department.

All full-time students are placed in graduate assistantships to provide the professional and practical experience that allows students to apply theory to practice. UConn's graduate assistant compensation package is among the most competitive in the nation, featuring a full tuition waiver, highly subsidized medical and dental benefits, as well as an exceptional stipend. More information on UConn's graduate assistantship packages can be found at our Graduate Assistant page and the Graduate School website.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

The HESA program aims to create a learning environment that develops inclusive practitioners by:

Who we are…

●    We strongly encourage the participation of students who differ by life experiences and social identities such as race, color, ethnicity, religion/spirituality, age, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity or expression;

●    We value everyone’s lived experiences and perspectives and understand all our experiences and perspectives are shaped by multiple and intersecting social identities;

What we seek to teach and learn…

●    We aim to deepen our understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion through courses and practical experiences;

●    We seek to provide students and faculty of the program with opportunities to develop knowledge, dispositions, and skills to engage in and facilitate dialogue across differences;

How we aim to learn together…

●    We encourage an exchange of learning between faculty, practitioners, and students;

●    We support continuous reflection and learning about diversity, equity and inclusion

HESA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports UConn’s vision for a diverse and inclusive environment, the Neag School of Education’s area focus on social justice, the Division of Student Affairs’ strategic priority on diversity, and the UConn Graduate School’s commitment to diversity.

HESA Graduates Core Competencies and Outcomes

The HESA program is a reflective, practitioner based educational experience. Graduates of our program experience a learning environment that combines classroom instruction with graduate assistantships and practicum (internship) experiences. This curriculum promotes mastery of essential skills that enable exemplary professionals to:

  • Apply research and theories to promote success of college students
  • Create programs that foster student learning, such as teaching college students or facilitating leadership experiences
  • Work effectively advising and helping individual students and student groups
  • Demonstrate an understanding of multicultural issues and competencies in higher education and act in ways that promote inclusive practice
  • Integrate an understanding of the context of higher education, including the history and organization of the student affairs profession, legal principles, and the academic mission of colleges and universities
  • Manage and develop resources, including program budgets, staff, information technologies, and strategic plans
  • Solve problems that require effective communication, thoughtful decision making, coping with ambiguity, and managing conflict
  • Assess genuine professional issues by interpreting and applying qualitative and quantitative research techniques and by developing evaluations of programs and services
  • Develop a professional identity based on ethical principles, career goals, and careful reflection

HESA Curriculum

The curriculum of HESA is designed to empower students with the knowledge and understanding necessary to enter the student affairs profession. With a core of courses designed to introduce students to the foundations of student affairs and higher education, students will gain an understanding of the historical, philosophical, cultural, and sociological underpinnings that inform today's student affairs profession.

The curriculum is structured so that students will complete the core courses with the same cohort of students. In the second year of the program, students will be able to explore areas of personal interest with electives and supervised practical experience.

Semester 1

  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Research in Student Affairs I (EDLR-5102)
    This course introduces students to concepts and methods for understanding, conducting, and utilizing assessment, program evaluation, and research. Contents will focus on skill development in problem identification, research question formulation, qualitative design, interview protocol development, and critique and applications of professional literature.

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. Gerardo Blanco
  • Structured Group Dialogue in Student Affairs (EDLR-5105)
    The purpose of this course is to explore basic approaches to structured intergroup and intragroup dialogue, as well as group dynamics, and consider the implications for personal, professional and educational development of students and student affairs professionals. Students in the course will be guided through a four-phase process for intergroup dialogue.

    • Fall 2018 instructors: Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya and Danielle DeRosa
  • College Student Development: Programs and Services (EDLR-5122)
    In this course, we will focus on building knowledge about the profession of student affairs within higher education and how professionals facilitate services and programs that enable student access, engagement, and success. We will also spend time throughout the semester critically analyzing contemporary issues in higher education and student affairs. Moreover, this course is designed to help students begin developing learning skills to be successful in the HESA graduate program and within the student affairs profession. As an introductory course, this learning experience will provide a foundation for lifelong learning about the profession and oneself as a student affairs educator.

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. H. Kenny Nienhusser
  • Practicum in Higher Education (EDLR-5092.020)
    The practicum is designed for students to learn about the theoretical and practical foundations of effective facilitation and the design of intentional learning environments. Students will also function as a discussion group facilitator for advanced student leadership development workshops sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Student Activities. For the first five weeks of the semester, students will attend classes focused on experiential learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, group development, universal design, reflection, and program design. Students will be responsible for the creation of a 5-week workshop series on a topic for a group of undergraduate student leaders. For the second 5 weeks, HESA students will work in pairs to facilitate five weekly workshops for small groups of UConn undergraduate student leaders. Each small group will be comprised of student leaders (5-10 students in each group). These groups will meet each week, for five weeks, on the same topic. HESA students will be broken into small groups and will be assisted by a coach (Student Affairs practitioners who have volunteered their time and expertise). Coaching groups will meet once a week with the designated coach during the five-week workshop series. Coaching groups and coaches will meet regularly with the instructors.

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. Kari Taylor

Semester 2

  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Research in Student Affairs II (EDLR-5103)
    This class is the second of two courses designed to introduce the basic principles of assessment, evaluation, and research in student affairs practice. These are critical skills for the student affairs professional. This class continues to introduce students to concepts and methods for conducting assessments, evaluating programs, and using research skills to improve student affairs practice.
  • The College Student (EDLR-5117)
    This course will focus on contemporary college student development theories. The purpose of this course is to explore and understand the nature, culture, and development of the American college student. The course will examine a range of developmental theories offering insight into the processes of student learning, growth, and development during the college years. There will be an emphasis on exploring the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of student development theory related to student affairs practice. This course will briefly cover foundational theories, but will spend significant time covering theories from constructivist and critical paradigms.
  • The Law, Ethics, and Decision Making in Student Affairs (EDLR-5119)
    This course is designed to provide students with a foundation for making ethical decisions as a higher education and student affairs professional. With ethics serving as a broad umbrella that encompasses legal principles, this course will also introduce students to key legal issues that arise within the daily practice of higher education and student affairs. As an introductory course, the curriculum emphasizes breadth of knowledge and the ability to seek out additional resources as necessary and appropriate. This course will include guest speakers from across campus who have expertise in legal and ethical issues within higher education and student affairs.
  • Practicum in Higher Education (EDLR-5092)
    HESA's first required on-site practicum experience. This class meets four times during the semester. Each student spends 140 hours on-site in an office of their choice over the course of the semester.

Semester 3

  • Leadership Challenges in Higher Education (EDLR-5108)
    This course covers the application of leadership theories to challenges faced by higher education professionals. By developing inclusive leadership philosophies and techniques, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, students will learn to identify difficult situations and crises, provide leadership for crisis management, and utilize methods of managing communication regarding incidents.

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. H. Kenny Nienhusser
  • Leading Toward a Multicultural Educational Environment (EDLR-5126)
    The purpose of this course is to expose students to issues of difference in higher education particularly as it relates to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and other cultural differences. In this course, we seek to understand the social and historical contexts in our country shaping colleges and universities, students, administrators, and faculty in terms of equity, diversity, social justice, and inclusion. We seek to understand also how colleges and universities as institutions respond to, lead, and struggle with issues of difference in an effort to broaden their diversity and to make it a meaningful part of the college experience (i.e., achieving the educational benefits of diversity). As we consider colleges and universities as institutions, we also examine how individuals (agents) who work at these institutions (i.e., faculty and administrators) play a role in achieving or thwarting equity, diversity and inclusion through their everyday practices. In this course, we challenge ourselves to consider our personal and collective responsibility in creating inclusive and diverse college environments that aim to produce equitable outcomes. We consider also the experiences of a variety of individuals on college campuses (students, administrators, and faculty) with emphasis on racialized experiences given the historical context of U.S. colleges and universities.

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya
  • Practicum in Higher Education (EDLR-5092.017)
    HESA second required on-site practicum experience. As a result of participating in practicum, students will be able to achieve learning outcomes designed to enhance both the practicum site and the student’s professional development. Additionally, students will be able to analyze what organizational cultures fit the practicum, their values, and professional aspirations. “Reflective practice is a deliberate pause to assume an open perspective, to allow for higher-level thinking processes. Practitioners use these processes for examining beliefs, goals, and practices, to gain new or deeper understandings that lead to actions that improve [practice]” (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, & Montie, 2001, p. 6).

    • Fall 2018 instructor: Dr. Kari Taylor
  • Elective

Semester 4

  • Seminar in Higher Education (EDLR-5118)
    This seminar course is designed to promote the integration of the core curriculum and the practice-based experiences of the master’s degree program in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA). Further, this seminar will prepare students to transition to a professional position as a higher education and student affairs educator. Please note that this course helps students prepare for the HESA capstone, which they must complete to earn their degree, but it does not include the capstone. In other words, the capstone is related to, but not a part, of this course. Also, this course includes an opportunity for each student to partner with a HESA alum to engage in a mock interview.
  • Resource Management Issues in Student Affairs (EDLR-5107)
    This course is designed to address the HESA core competency of promoting mastery of essential skills that enable professionals to manage and develop resources such as budgets, personnel, policies, and programs. As an advanced seminar this class will focus on discussion, which necessitates careful reading, preparing, and critical thinking prior to class. This course will be taught to cover the organization and administration of student affairs, specifically focusing on the managing of institutional resources.
  • Elective

Possible Electives

The following courses are possible selections available to HESA students. Other elective options exist across a variety of academic departments. All courses require permission of the instructor:

  • International Dimensions of Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5094)
    The course begins with accreditation and governance issues for universities in the US and overseas.  The course concludes with an in-depth analysis of the student experience while abroad– both global experiences for US students and also the experience of international students coming to the US. [To Be Determined - Based on HESA International Experience Funding]
  • Influences on Adult Learning (EDLR-5201)
    Addresses Interaction of person and environment, Culture, Role of environment, Situational barriers, Motivation, Self-regulation, Personality, Gender, Life transitions, and Self-directed learning.
  • Workplace Learning (EDLR-5202)
    Trends in workplace learning and workforce development. Conceptual models of performance improvement and transfer of training. Focus on individual, work team, and organizational variables related to learning, performance, and transfer of training.
  • Adult and Experiential Learning (EDLR-5203)
    How experience enhances learning. Addresses Reflection, Problem solving, Analogical mapping, Deliberate practice, Development of expertise, and Design of staff/professional development.
  • Organizational Learning (EDLR-5204)
    Group and collective learning in organizational settings, with an emphasis on adaptive and generative learning processes.
  • Professional Development (EDLR-5205)
    How adults learn best and principles of human resource development to implement effective, job imbedded professional development programs.

Students may also choose approved electives from other departments at the University.

  • Principles of Career Development in Counseling (EPSY-5306)
    Career development and career psychology with adolescents and adults.

For a complete listing of course descriptions, please see the UConn Graduate Catalog.