Frequently Asked Questions


Can I visit UConn before applying?

Of course! Our HESA Graduate Assistant will work with you to set up a date and time to visit. We're very proud of the beautiful Storrs campus and would love to meet anyone interested in our program.

From May 15 through September 1, we are not able to provide HESA-specific campus tours due to faculty’s and current students’ schedules; however, we encourage prospective students and their families who are interested in visiting UConn to participate in a guided tour of the Storrs Main Campus that UConn’s admissions office offers.  Click here to book a guided tour.  From September 1-May 15, we offer HESA-specific campus tours Monday through Friday on an appointment-basis.  To set up an appointment for a HESA-specific campus tour, please contact Elizabeth Ajagbe, HESA Graduate Assistant, at 860-486-8760.

Because HESA is a nationally-recognized program we understand that not every interested student is able to travel to Connecticut.  Due to this, we do not give special consideration to individuals who visit with us.

What is the typical HESA student?

Thankfully there is really no "typical" HESA student! We've been fortunate to draw students and professionals from diverse and interesting majors, programs, and departments. HESA has students from Poli-Sci, Architecture, Psychology, Philosophy, Broadcasting, Education, Sciences, Communications and all sorts of other majors.

HESA students also benefit from the program's diversity of experiences and backgrounds. The cohorts are made up of students who bring in a wide range of professional and co-curricular experiences. Students are able to see the perspectives and influences that come with residential life experience, student union board membership, student government positions, club and group leadership, community service, and organizational affiliations. In addition, our students come from all over the nation—from California to Maine- as well as other countries!

If there is a "typical" HESA student, it is someone who wants to be a concerned and dedicated student affairs practitioner.

I'm a senior, should I apply?

HESA encourages applications from individuals who are prepared to enter responsible graduate positions in student affairs. Because the HESA graduate assistantships provide direct services to students and organizations, we assume that those entering our program have already developed some basic skills in working with college students. We provide training for graduate assistants but these important positions require an ability to learn quickly and the dedication to be a member of a high-performing student affairs office.

Many college seniors are ready for this challenge so we do not require prior full-time work experience for admission to the program.

I'm a ___________ major, do I qualify for HESA?

HESA does not require students to come from a specific major or field. Students have ample opportunity in the application and interview process to demonstrate the qualities and characteristics the HESA program looks for. It is our belief that these traits are not specific to one academic program or another, but instead to individuals.

Does HESA require the GRE?

HESA does not require the GRE. Our program has decided that a standardized exam does not accurately demonstrate a prospective student's ability to succeed as a student affairs practitioner.

What references/recommendation should I use?

You will want to use someone who can comment on your abilities as a student affairs professional. This may include current student affairs practitioners or, employers. Also, it is helpful to have a professor as a reference who can comment on your academic abilities and motivation. It is important that all of your letters be a reflection of your professionalism, maturity, and capabilities, and not merely your connections or affiliations.

How do I submit recommendations?

During the application process, an applicant is asked to provide contact information for three recommenders. The recommenders submitting letters on your behalf should do so electronically through our application system. The recommenders will be sent an email with direction and log-in information on where they can upload letters of recommendation. Be sure to mark ‘Yes’ for the online submission question on the Provider Input Form.

How competitive is the application process?

Our program is becoming more competitive, partially because we are committed to providing each student a meaningful graduate assistantship and to maintaining a small class size of approximately 20 students. It is important to us that good applicants maintain their commitment to student affairs, even if they don't come to UConn. So we encourage all students to apply to multiple student affairs preparation programs. The ACPA Program Preparation page has other schools you may be interested in.

What is the difference between "Candidate" and "Applicant"?

"Applicant" generally refers to any prospective student who has completed the HESA application and has turned in their materials. "Candidate" generally refers to members of the "Applicant" pool who have been invited to the HESA Graduate Assistant interview days.

Can I interview at a different time?

In fairness to assistantship supervisors and other prospective students, we do not typically allow students to interview at later or earlier dates.

Can I start in the Spring or the Summer?

We do not allow students to begin classes at any period other than the Fall semester. The HESA program is dedicated to its cohort model, which requires all students admitted in a given year to begin their classroom experience at the same time.

What are the characteristics of students admitted to the HESA Program?

Students in the HESA program hail from every corner of the country. In the 2016 cohort there are 13 different states and two countries represented. HESAs come from, California, Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, and everywhere in between. Typically about half of HESA students have prior professional work experience while the others attend directly after graduation from their undergraduate institutions. These are just two of the many ways HESA students are diverse.

Assistantship Information

Are assistantships part of the educational experience?

Yes, all HESA students hold a graduate assistantship. Students generally work in an office or program in UConn's Division of Student Affairs. For more information on graduate assistantships, please see our graduate assistantship page.

How do I secure an assistantship?

HESA candidates are invited to Storrs for a full day of interviews with prospective assistantship sites and faculty members. Students select a number of assistantship sites, after being designated as Interview Candidates, that they will possibly be able to interview for.

Should I contact an assistantship site now?

If you have any questions about an assistantship site, please contact the HESA program. Candidates will have ample time to talk with assistantship site supervisors during our Interview Days events, so you should feel no pressure to communicate with these individuals now.

What are the average hours for an assistantship?

HESA students are required to work 20 hours in their assistantship per week. Many students are able to work during the day and attend class in the late afternoon. Most positions do have other times and events that require student participation.

Life in HESA

What is life in Storrs like?

Located in Northeastern Connecticut, Storrs is a unique environment for a college campus. UConn students are treated to a residential campus setting, and the campus has one of the nation's highest percentages of students housed on campus. These factors provide HESA students with a very effective training ground. In addition, the beautiful scenery, proximity to great metropolitan areas, and everything New England has to offer ensure a great experience!

Is there graduate student housing provided?

The University no longer provides housing for graduate students, regardless almost all students in the HESA program chose to live in off-campus residences prior to this decision. Apartments and houses are easy to find and reasonably priced. The university also offers resources for students who are pursuing off campus living arrangements.

What is the HESA experience like for students from distant locations?

Many of our students come from locations far from Connecticut. For some students this may be their first time in the Northeast, or in a rural setting, or far from home. While no two experiences are the same, it is nice to know that there will be someone in the program who is also in a new place.

Additionally, UConn is located near several travel hubs, including bus stations, train stations, and Bradley International Airport, which services many of the major airlines. HESA students have many travel options available to them, so home is never too far away.

What do HESA students do with their summer?

Many HESA students work during the summer, utilizing their time to enhance the program experience. Some students will choose to stay on at UConn at their assistantship site, dependent on position, while others will find a new department or organization on campus to work with. Other students find internships at other campuses. In the past, students have completed internships through several of the national student affairs organizations such as NODA, ACUHO-I, and ACPA.

Academic Issues

Will HESA prepare me to continue my studies in an Ed.D. or Ph.D. program?

Certainly! Doctoral programs require a great deal of writing and research experience, and HESA students undertake many projects and assignments emphasizing both. Students take a full year research course their first year, and students have their writing abilities challenged and strengthened in all of their classes.

Students also have opportunities to interact with various specializations in higher education, providing them with possible interests or fields for doctoral study.

How does the HESA cohort system work?

Thanks largely to the program's small enrollment, HESA students are able to work, socialize, and attend class as a cohesive unit. In addition to all of the first year classes, the cohort also shares many out of class experiences.

Students also benefit from the use of groups and teams. Students have a chance to work in smaller assemblies with the Senior Year Experience, the Assessment course project, a group development workshop team, and many other opportunities.

Can I enroll in courses on a part time basis?

We do not currently allow students to enroll part time. The unique opportunities and requirements present in the Higher Education & Student Affairs program require a students full attention and dedication.

Does UConn require a thesis or comprehensive exam?

Yes, the comprehensive exam is an oral presentation based on the Portfolio that students complete as part of the Capstone course [EDLR 5118]. The Oral Exam / Presentation is one hour in length (including time for feedback from the panel). The presentation addresses: a summary of learning related to HESA competencies; a professional development plan; and an application of knowledge to a current issue in higher education and student affairs.

Other Questions

What are the fees for a HESA student?

While HESA students receive a full tuition waiver, there are several fees that the program is not able to pay for. These include the general university fee, the matriculation fee, the student activity fee, and any parking fees.

As of 2014, these fees equal $1,135 plus parking options. Parking fees can run between $0 and $400, depending on lot and location selected. A more detailed look at fees can be found at the Graduate School, while prospective students can find the parking rates at UConn Parking Services.

Where are HESA students employed after graduation?

HESA students are currently working in schools around the nation, are employed in departments across the spectrum of student affairs. HESA graduates currently work in Residence Life departments, Alcohol and Other Drug programs, Living Communities, Admissions, Student Life, Academic Advising, and Financial Aid. For specific examples, you can visit our Current Student and Alumni page.

HESA students are encouraged to discover and pursue their individual goals, and are given the skills to attain them.