HESA Video

Higher Education & Student Affairs at The University of Connecticut

The focus of our master's 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.

We are currently completing the final revisions to our HESA program that will consist of a 36-credit hour curriculum beginning with students entering in Fall 2021. The HESA program leads to a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree. 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 encouraged to hold graduate assistantships to provide the professional and practical experience that allows students to apply theory to practice. We also welcome students who currently work full-time in a higher education and student affairs or aligned role and who wish to further their education with a master's degree. 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

New Curriculum Beginning in Fall 2021

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

Foundations of Assessment in Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5102)

An introduction to research and evaluation methods in higher education institutions, and to the practice of assessment in Student Affairs. Focus on conceptualization and design, literature reviews, and ethical considerations in assessment.

Structured Dialogue in Student Affairs (EDLR-5105)

Explores basic approaches to intragroup and intergroup dynamics and implications for personal and educational development of students and student affairs professionals.

Foundations of Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5122)

This course provides an overview of the U.S. higher education system through the examination of its history, the field of higher education/student affairs, institutional and organizational structures, public policies, and contemporary issues facing higher education systems, institutions and professionals.

Fostering the Scholar-Practitioner Identity in Student Affairs (EDLR-5092.020)

This course serves as a space for first year HESA students to become familiar with the principles and expectations of the HESA program, graduate coursework, and the practice of higher education and student affairs educators. Students will build relationships with the other members of their cohort in order to foster a community of reflective practitioners that supports and challenges their learning. They will also explore opportunities to integrate scholarship with their professional practice, and to establish plans related to the knowledge, awareness and skills they hope to gain before completing the HESA program.

Semester 2

Assessment Practice in Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5103)

Implementation of assessment and evaluation designs to address problems in higher education institutions. Focus on data collection and analysis, and communicating findings for improving policy and practice.

 College Student Development: Theory and Practice (EDLR-5117)

This course examines a range of theories related to student learning, growth, and development during the college years. While the course explores the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of student development theory related to student affairs practice, it focuses on theories from constructivist, critical, and poststructural paradigms.

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 98 hours on-site in an office of their choice over the course of the semester.

Semester 3

Legal Issues and Decision Making in Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5119)

This foundational course examines key components related to the intersections of legal aspects, ethics, and decision-making within the work of higher education/student affairs professionals.

This course examines several federal higher education laws and guidelines and how higher education/student affairs professionals use decision making to implement those mandates in their practice.

Resource Management and Organizational Theory in Student Affairs Leadership (EDLR 5107)

New course. Description coming soon.

Practicum in Higher Education (EDLR-5092.017)

HESA second required on-site practicum experience.

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).

Inclusion and Equity in Higher Education and Student Affairs (EDLR-5126)

 The purpose of this course is to expose students to critically explore issues of inclusion and equity in higher education and student affairs inclusive of the role of social and historical contexts, the roles individuals (agents) who work in colleges and universities (i.e., faculty and administrators) play in achieving or thwarting inclusion and equity, and our personal and collective responsibility in creating inclusive and equitable college environments.


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.