Leadership in Student Affairs

Designed through a collaborative effort of student affairs leaders and program faculty, the Master of Arts degree in Leadership in Student Affairs prepares you to lead in higher education. Our program has a unique focus on leadership, social justice, and theory to practice providing an opportunity for broad application upon graduation. Student affairs professionals work side-by-side with faculty and staff to create a dynamic learning environment for students. Every day, they help to shape the mission and culture of their college or university.  Here's what some of our alumni are doing:

Academic Advisors and Career Counselors – University of Minnesota
Residence Hall Directors – University of St. Thomas
Director of Disability Services – Macalester College
Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid – St. Catherine University
Director of Undergraduate Student Programs – University of Wisconsin River-Falls


What you can earn

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)



Where you will learn

  • On our Minneapolis campus



When to start

  • Fall semester begins: September 6, 2017
  • Application deadline for fall 2017 start: July 1, 2017



MA: 42


For the MA:

EDLD 703   Introduction to Student Affairs
EDLD 806   College Student Development Theory
EDLD 707   Introduction to Higher Education
EDLD 864   Leadership in Student Affairs Capstone
EDLD 621   Research, Analysis, and Critique
EDLD 715   Administrative Leadership in Student Affairs
EDLD 785   Clinical Practice in Student Affairs I
EDLD 786   Clinical Practice in Student Affairs II
EDLD 801   Leadership and Organizational Theory
EDLD 804   Legal Issues in Higher Education
EDLD 855   Social Justice in Higher Education

Full course catalog with Descriptions


Find current course offerings

How to Apply

1 | Meet the Requirements:

  • A Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • A cumulative minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 (4.0 scale).  If below 3.0, please reference our special admissions policy.
  • Applicants will be required to submit an official GRE score report to complete their application.
    • There is no minimum or cut off score factored in to the admissions decision.
    • Prior test scores accepted.
    • For information on testing dates and centers, please visit the ETS website.
    • If you have questions regarding this requirement, please email the college directly at celc@stthomas.edu
If you do not meet the above requirement(s), you may be eligible for special admission, which requires:
  • A cumulative minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 2.75 (4.0 scale).
  • A possible interview with an admissions person/committee.

 2 | Submit the following application materials:

  • Application form
  • Two positive letters of reference from non-related individuals.
  • Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work (unless that work was completed at the University of St. Thomas).
  • Personal statement.

3 |  Submit the supplementary materials:

  • International Applicants:  (1) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for any candidate whose primary language is not English. (2) Transcript Review: All international transcripts must be reviewed by an accredited evaluation service to determine U.S. equivalency of the degree awarded and the institution awarding the degree. Applications will not be reviewed for admissions until the official review is submitted.

Assistantships and Internships

Through the Leadership in Student Affairs (LSA) Assistantship and Internship opportunities, you will work alongside college or university student affairs staff at a variety of higher education institutions in the Twin Cities, which provide a diverse selection of professional experiences. The LSA program requires two separate internship or assistantship experiences within the two-year program.

Center for Experiential Learning Graduate Intern
Inver Hills Community College
2151 Grand Hall Director
University of St. Thomas
Career Services Graduate Intern
Saint Paul College
Community-Based Service and Learning Graduate Intern
Gustavus Adolphus College
Accessibility Resource Center Intern
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Global Leadership Enrichment Programs Intern
University of Minnesota
Strommen Center Career & Internship Services Graduate Intern
Augsburg College
Graduate Intern for Study Abroad Concordia University


Learn More

To schedule a meeting and tour of our Minneapolis Campus, please contact Quinn K. Nelson, the Graduate Assistant for the LSA program.

Below you will find informational documents and videos describing the Leadership in Student Affairs program in greater detail. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the focus of the Leadership in Student Affairs program? 

The Leadership in Student Affairs program is a general preparation program to enter the field of student affairs. Our program specifically focuses on leadership within student affairs administration offering  specific coursework  in student development theory, organizational theory, administrative leadership, social justice theories , as well as electives in higher education law, feminist perspectives on leadership, and more. 

Is the program practitioner-based or research-based? 

Our program is an applied program, where you complete two internships/assistantship experiences.       Students write research papers, but the focus is on the applied nature of the field.  Most of the faculty have been or currently are practitioners who use a wide variety of pedagogical approaches including case study, group work, individual research, and personal reflection.  Many of the courses have a focus on personal, group, and societal leadership. 

What Student Affairs employment experience do students have prior to enrollment?  

Students in the program have a variety of professional work and experience.  Some students have little to no student affairs experience and others have a few to several years of experience as full-time professionals.  Due to the required internship classes, students gain experience in at least two functional areas of student affairs throughout their two years in the LSA program.

Does the LSA program have a Catholic focus?

Graduate coursework in religion and spirituality is not required in the program.  However, moral coursework is part of the curriculum; ethical leadership is discussed in Organization and Leadership Theory; and spirituality/making meaning is discussed in the elective course Future Trends in Student Affairs.  The Campus Ministry Office on the St. Paul campus provides an internship and students can speak with Campus Ministry staff, which may inform class projects and student’s future practice.  LSA has also placed students who would like an evangelical Christian experience in internships at Bethel University. 

 What is the job placement rate upon graduation?

Alumni have over a 90% job placement rate upon graduation.  

 What can I do with a Master degree in Student Affairs?

Graduates of our program obtain positions at a variety of institutional types and in many different functional areas: Admissions, Academic Advising, Alumni Relations, Campus Activities, Athletics, Career Services,   Disability Services, Greek Life, Financial Aid, Judicial Affairs, Orientation, First Year Programs, Residence Life, Service Learning, and many more!

How long is the program? 

The program is two academic years (including the summer between) as a full-time student.  Federal full-time status is at least five credits.  For full-time program status (in order to graduate in two years), students take nine credits (three classes) every fall and spring, and enroll in six credits over January and/or summer terms (two classes).  

Is the program accredited?  

The College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling, where the LSA program is based, is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


How many people are generally admitted each year?  

On average, about 20-25 students in each cohort enroll every year.

 How rigorous and competitive do you consider the program?    

We typically have 130-140 students inquire; 40-45 apply, and admit 20-25 each year.  

 When do I apply?

You may apply at any time, as the program has a rolling admissions process between now and June 1st. The      program begins each fall term.

 What is the cost of the program? 

Tuition is $750/credit. 

 Are there scholarships available?

Graduate school in general has limited scholarships available for students.  However, limited opportunities can be found on the Graduate Financial Aid webpage (diversity grant, other small opportunities identified each year): http://www.stthomas.edu/financialaid/graduate/

Additionally, every student in LSA program is automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship from the College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling.


What kind of graduate assistantships and internships are available?  

We offer over 40 opportunities at a variety of institutions each year. In early January, we will begin to post positions to our program website. The program has a variety of assistantships/internships each year.  Click on the tab labeled Assistantships and Internships to see a list of current openings.

What is the compensation for internships and Graduate Assistant positions? 

As our positions are located at several different institutions throughout the Twin Cities, payment arrangements vary and most do not include tuition remission.  Internships may be paid or unpaid ( the range is anywhere between $0 to $10,000).  When paid, internships are often paid hourly.  

Graduate assistantships are paid an hourly wage or a stipend (again this varies by institution and functional area). The majority of assistantships offer a stipend of approximately $10,000 per year. 

How may I apply for a Graduate Assistant or internship position?

Visit Day for the LSA program is held in February each year.  This day provides you with a wonderful opportunity to hear an overview of the program, speak with current students and faculty, meet other prospective students.  It also offers you the opportunity to interview for fall graduate assistant and internship positions.   If you are not available to attend Visit Day, often graduate assistant and internship positions become available later in spring and summer.

All current openings on posted on the LSA website under the tab labeled “Assistantships and Internships”.