Jun 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year] 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year] This is not the most recent catalog version; be sure you are viewing the appropriate catalog year.

Educational Leadership – Higher Education/Student Affairs [M.A.]

Location(s): In-person/hybrid

The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership - Higher Education/Student Affairs (HESA) offers a practice-based experience to prepare the next generation of higher education and student affairs practitioners. Recognized for its academic excellence across the region, the program is ideal for those seeking entry-level positions and aspiring to become student Affairs administrators. HESA offers a flexible course schedule, including several delivery formats (evenings, weekends, week-long, hybrid, online, and distance learning formats).


The program offers a practice-based experience for students. You will work with faculty skilled in connecting theory and practice, exploring leadership, diversity, assessment, legal, professional, and ethical issues in Higher Education/Student Affairs. While enrolled in the program, you will engage in-field experiences in one or more student affairs areas of interest through a supervised internship. The Program is guided by CAS (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education) standards for student affairs and ACPA (American College Personnel Association) standards. Our program seeks to create an inclusive environment that celebrates the unique identities of our students and co-constructs a supportive learning community. The program develops Student Affairs Professionals who:

  • Know and understand the leadership and administration of Student Affairs and higher education;
  • Know and understand how to cultivate educational environments promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Know and understand the organization of higher education;
  • Know and understand law and ethics as it relates to higher education and leadership;
  • Know and understand human relations, and cultural diversity, and possess a global perspective;
  • Know and understand college student development and student characteristics;
  • Know and understand the concepts of applying and conducting research in the field;
  • Know and understand professional practice/development/personal growth.


HESA prepares professionals passionate about working directly with students, fostering student success and development. The following is a list of some of the career opportunities in Student Affairs:

  • Admissions
  • Academic Advising
  • Residence Life (Learning Communities)
  • Student Activities
  • Advising Student-Athletes
  • Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Orientation
  • First-year Students
  • Career Services
  • Support Offices for Retention
  • Ombudsman
  • Historically Under-served Populations (Diversity, LGBT, Veteran, Women’s Centers)

Graduate Assistantships

Many students admitted to the HESA program secure Graduate Assistant positions (which provide tuition remission and stipend). Through these positions across the university, students gain valuable professional experience while completing their degree.  The HESA program welcomes applications for full-time and part-time enrollment.

For more information on Graduate Assistantships.

Graduate Assistant Interview Days 

Most departments/ functional units on campus seek GA applications in February/March for fall appointments. The University Advising and Career Development Center holds Graduate Assistant Interview Days (GAID) in March. Prospective students must have applied to the program (but do not need to have been admitted) to participate in interview days.

For more information on GAID.

Program Admission

Admit Terms and Deadlines

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; students may start the program in the Summer, Fall, or Winter. See Application Deadlines.

If you are seeking a Graduate Assistantship; it is recommended that you apply before February 1st.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

For full admission, applicants must have 1) Earned a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. institution, 2) a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale, or 3.0 in the last half of the undergraduate program. Conditional admission may be available to applicants not meeting minimum admission requirements.

Program Requirements

Applicants must also meet the following program requirements. Requirements may be more stringent than the minimum graduate school requirements.

  • Request recommendation forms from two professional supervisors and/or supervising professors that address the applicant’s professional work quality. Applicants may request recommendation letters in addition to completing the recommendation form. Applicants are encouraged to ask recommenders to submit a recommendation letter if this could enhance their application materials. Recommendation forms and letters must come directly from your reference.
  • A résumé that details their professional and educational experiences.
  • A personal statement of accomplishments and academic goals portion describing the reasons for requesting admission. This essay must be a minimum of 250 words and will be reviewed as an indicator of writing ability​


Your application will be submitted using GradCAS, a Centralized Application Service (CAS) hosted by Liaison. After reviewing the admission requirements, please review the application instructions  and select the appropriate application. 

Domestic Applicants Domestic applicants are required to submit only the transcript from the institution granting their bachelor’s degree if either of the following criteria is met: 1) Lists 30 or more credit hours with an overall GPA of 3.0 or over OR 2) Lists 60 or more credit hours with an overall GPA between 2.7 and 2.99. Within the application, follow the instructions to submit an official transcript. The University may ask applicants to submit additional transcripts after applying.

International Applicants Before applying, applicants must review the international application/process deadlines at emich.edu/international as they may differ from general program requirements.

For additional information regarding the application process, please see Graduate Admissions or International Admissions.

Admission Process

The admission process is as follows:

  1. The Office of Admissions will receive and gather ALL required documents. Completed applications that contain the required GPAs, confidential appraisal forms, and résumé are forwarded to the coordinator of advising for the educational leadership program.
  2. The faculty review committee will review completed applications. Those applicants who have submitted acceptable GPAs, résumé, recommendations, and personal statement are admitted, assigned an advisor, and invited for an advising interview. An application may be deemed “questionable” due to a combination of low GPA, fair or poor recommendations, poor writing ability, and/or statements inconsistent with the student’s goals as an administrator. The entire faculty will review these “questionable” applications, giving special consideration to the life experiences, verbal skills, writing skills, educational background, and GPAs.
  3. Those persons whose applications are accepted are notified.
  4. All decisions by the faculty regarding admissions are final.

Department Information

Leadership & Counseling 304 Porter, 734.487.0255

Kimberly Kappler Hewitt, PhD, Department Head

Advisor Information

Ronald Flowers, PhD, 304 Porter, 734.487.0255

Degree Requirements: 38 hours

In addition to completing a minimum of 38 credit hours, as outlined below, students must satisfy the program’s exit process.

  • The advisor must approve course substitutions/program changes before registration.
  • The faculty has prepared a suggested list of courses outside the program. Other courses may be used for electives in this area if approved by the student’s advisor.
  • Internship information is available from the director of the intern program or at emich.edu/coe/lc. Internship placements should be arranged at least one semester in advance and approved by the internship director.

Restricted Elective Courses: 10-11 hours

Students will take 10-11 credit hours of elective courses selected in consultation with their graduate advisor. The following is a list of recommended courses. With advisor approval, students may choose courses not listed below.

Exit Process

Portfolio Requirement

Students will be guided through the portfolio assessment process by their advisor as follows:

  • Following admission, students are required to schedule a meeting with their advisor to plan their program of study and to obtain information about the portfolio assessment and exit requirements
  • After completing 18 hours of coursework, it is recommended that students schedule a meeting with their advisor to discuss the progress of their portfolios.
  • A student who believes their portfolio is complete should contact the advisor to schedule the oral and written presentation. This will consist of an oral presentation by the student, followed by a discussion with faculty regarding the student’s learning and growth, along with perceptions of the overall program’s strengths and/or weaknesses.
  • Student achievement will be documented in a cumulative portfolio that contains artifacts representative of the educational leadership knowledge base.

An assessment of the portfolio will be made using the following criteria:

Cognitive complexity
Quality of content

In addition, the program component stressing effective written and oral communication skills will be assessed by examining the quality of writing presented in the portfolio and the quality of oral communication displayed in the portfolio presentation before the faculty. All of the portfolio components must be rated satisfactory for completion and presented through the use of Watermark.

The portfolio will be evaluated as one of the following:

Pass without revisions
Pass with minor revisions by date indicated
Pass with major revisions by date indicated
No pass

Critical Graduation Information

Each graduate student is responsible for fulfilling the requirements or equivalents of the Eastern Michigan University catalog in force at the time of their initial registration or a subsequent catalog, including the one in effect at the time of their graduation.

Master’s degree requirements must be completed within six (6) years of first enrollment in the master’s degree program.

In the event a student does not complete the master’s degree requirements within six years of the date of their original registration, the student may be required to have their credits re-evaluated by the academic department(s) of their degree in keeping with catalog requirements in force during the year of their graduation.

The following are minimum requirements for all master’s degrees awarded by Eastern Michigan University. Some programs require more than the minimum in one or more areas below.

  • A master’s degree must require a minimum of 30 credit hours.
  • No more than six credits of independent study courses and no more than 12 credit hours of special topics and independent study courses combined may be applied to a graduate degree.  
  • Residency Requirement:
    • For students admitted to master’s degree programs of 36 or fewer required hours, at least 24 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere). 
    • For students admitted to master’s degree programs of 37 or more required hours, at least 30 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. Minimum degree hours must still be met for graduation. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere).
    • Residency and enrollment in multiple programs: Students enrolled in multiple master’s/specialist degree programs must have 24 unique credit hours in each degree program.
  • Only credits from one completed graduate certificate may be applied to a master’s or specialist degree in a relevant field of study, as determined by the Graduate School and with the approval of the degree-granting academic department, and be included in the residency hours above.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all graduate-level courses taken at EMU and in their program of study to remain in good academic standing and be eligible for graduation. Students do not need to be registered for classes during the semester of graduation.
  • The Graduate School does not permit the use of undergraduate courses (499 and below) to meet degree requirements on graduate programs of study.
  • Some master’s programs require a thesis; others require a special project or internship; others require students to pass a final exam. See the Graduate School website for Thesis and Dissertation Manuals, all forms, and information about research and human subject approval. Every completed thesis or dissertation must be submitted to Digital Commons. Any form of graduate student work submitted to Digital Commons must first be approved by a faculty advisor and the Graduate School.