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Higher Education, Student Affairs, & International Education Policy--Student Affairs Concentration, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Student Affairs prepares scholar-practitioners and researchers for advanced work in the field.  The Student Affairs Concentration (SAC) emphasizes student learning, development, and social justice, and is enhanced by the unique resources of the Washington, D.C. area including government agencies, professional associations, and non-profit organizations.

Entrance requirements include a Master's degree in college student personnel/student affairs, higher education, counseling, or a closely related field. Faculty include Drs. Kimberly Griffin (Currently not taking new advisees due to serving as Dean of the College of Education) , Candace Moore, Julie J. Park, Michelle Espino, Christopher Travers, and Bridget Turner Kelly.

For more information visit the graduate admission requirements webpage. Select an area of interest from the various offerings in the College of Education to determine the admission requirements and deadlines. 

Admissions Information

Information about applying to the Student Affairs Concentration can be found here

Also, please refer to the University of Maryland Guide to Applying for guidance on the steps to follow and how to apply for graduate admission. If you have questions or concerns about the administrative process, we ask you to first review their list of Frequently Asked Questions.  For questions about the application process, or to check on the completion of your application please contact:

Judy Foster, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
Office of Student Services, College of Education
(301) 405-2359                  

After you apply for graduate admission you may check your application status by logging into the online graduate application using your user name and password.  Graduate faculty in the Academic Department you applied to will review your completed application for graduate admission. 

Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply? What is required? 
You can access the application from the UMD webpage. We require a resume, personal statement, transcript(s), and three letters of recommendation. GRE scores are optional. Typically statement of goals/experiences are about 4-5 pages for a doctoral applicant and 3.5-5 pages for a masters applicant. Additional information about graduate admissions can be found here:  

When will I find out whether or not I have been accepted?
We usually notify applicants about admission decisions in February.

Didn’t you used to be called CSP? Where do you exist in HESI/CHSE?
Yes! We have been the Student Affairs Concentration since 2011. We are a concentration/program within the broader program of Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy (HESI), which exists in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE). Please note that “Higher Ed” and “Student Affairs” are separate concentrations/degree programs within HESI.

What can I do to strengthen my application?
Use your personal statement to show us more than just your resume. We appreciate reflection on meaningful personal or professional/academic experiences (something that has made you who you are today), as well as reflection on social identities such as race, class, gender, or sexual orientation, etc. It is strongly recommended that Ph.D. students discuss research interests, as well. 

What is the difference between the Student Affairs and Higher Education concentrations in the HESI program? 
The Higher Ed concentration generally has a strong orientation towards policy and some of the macro-level dynamics that shape higher education. SAC required Ph.D. courses include courses on student learning, advanced student development, and social justice. For SAC masters students, the SAC curriculum has a counseling-based sequence and some required classes that focus on the development and experience of the college student. Students commonly take classes across the concentrations, and 1st year Higher Ed and SAC students take a first-year seminar together. In selecting one, we encourage you to review the curriculum and faculty in both concentrations.

What are some unique features of your program?  
Overall our faculty address issues related to race, social identities, diversity, and inequality, and we often attract students who are interested in these issues. For the masters program, unique features include the opportunity to take an intensive practicum with either the Counseling Center or to facilitate an Intergroup Dialogue. Students note that our seminar project/seminar paper/thesis option provides a particularly rigorous culminating experience. We also have affiliate faculty who work full-time in the Division of Student Affairs who serve as mentors for our students. For Ph.D. students, our location near Washington, DC offers a plethora of opportunities to do internships at local associations, think tanks, or the government. Our strong partnership with the Division offers additional opportunities to connect theory, research, and practice.

Who should write my letters of recommendation? 
For Ph.D. students, ideally at least two of the three references should be from academic sources (faculty/instructors who have had you in class). If you are unable to submit at least two academic references, you may offer an explanation in your statement of goals/experiences. Applicants may submit more than three letters of recommendation but we can only guarantee that three will be reviewed due to the high number of applications we receive.  

What about assistantships, stipends, and tuition?
Admitted students are invited to the Preview Program. Employers review resumes, students review job descriptions, and both send in preference lists. Interviews are scheduled during Preview. Over 60 assistantships were posted this year. You do not need to apply for assistantships prior to notification of admission. Both 9 and 12 month assistantships are available. Generally all attending students hold assistantships unless they are working full-time. 

GRE Scores, GPA, and Provisional Admission
GRE scores are OPTIONAL for both the masters and Ph.D. programs. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required, along with a graduate program GPA of 3.5 for doctoral applicants. Students who do not meet one of these requirements, but show other evidence of outstanding potential, may be considered for provisional admission. Provisional status is removed when students maintain a graduate grade point average of 3.5 or better after 12 credits of course completion.

Part-time vs. Full-time
We aim to admit the strongest group of students regardless of status, so we fully consider applications from part-time Ph.D. students, although we encourage full-time enrollment when possible. In general, masters students are expected to be full-time, on rare occasion we have accepted masters students on a part-time basis.

Can I take classes without being admitted to the program?
Yes, you can take several classes without being admitted to the program. If you contact Graduate Admissions (, they can advise you as to how to be admitted as an "advanced special student" so that you can take any course that is open enrollment or with instructor permission.  You can view open courses at Some, but not all courses, may not be open to you. We generally restrict masters core courses to admitted students, doctoral courses are up to the discretion of the instructor so please contact the instructor for permission. Generally electives are open to advanced special students.

Master's Degree for Ph.D. Students
Generally we expect that Ph.D. students have a Master's degree in Student Affairs, Higher Education, Counseling, or another Behavioral Science or Education-based field. However we understand that people come to student affairs from a diversity of backgrounds. If admitted, you may need to plan a course of study with your advisor that may incorporate some Master's-level courses or a schedule of independent readings. (For example, taking Student Development Theory before taking Advanced Student Development)

Work Experience for Ph.D. Students
We encourage several years of full-time work experience for Ph.D. applicants. In rare cases, we may consider students who are coming straight from a masters program if they demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and aptitude. This trajectory is usually only recommended for those who desire to pursue a research-related position following the Ph.D. position. If an applicant's general goal is to work as a student affairs practitioner following graduate study, we generally discourage going straight into a Ph.D. program (or applying with limited work experience) from a Master's program due to the dilemma of being "over-prepared but under-qualified." 

Please feel free to email if you have additional questions.

Applications are due December 1. Please refer to the Guide to Applying for instructions on how to apply for graduate admission. International applicants should visit the International admissions webpage for additional information. If you have questions or concerns, we ask you to first review the Graduate School’s FAQ. We also have a special FAQ on the Student Affairs Concentration specifically, which addresses questions like the difference between SAC and the Higher Education Concentration. For other questions or to check on the completion of your application please contact:

Judy Foster, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
Office of Student Services, College of Education
(301) 405-2359                 

After you apply for graduate admission you may check your application status by logging into the online graduate application using your user name and password. Questions regarding application reviews and decision recommendations should be directed to Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE). Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384

To sign up for a virtual admissions info session in October 2023, click here.

The PhD Webinar will be held on Thursday, October 12th, from 6:30pm-7:30pm ET.

To sign up for one of the virtual admission info sessions, please complete this form

Please email for more information.

Academic advisement for graduate students is provided by the graduate faculty in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE).   For advising information, please contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Carol Scott at (301) 405-8384 or

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Our students are largely funded through graduate assistantships.  These assistantships offer students high quality professional experiences, complimenting their student affairs graduate curriculum. Twelve-month assistantship remuneration starts at a minimum of $30,914 plus tuition remission and health benefits. Nine-month assistantships are also available. See the University's stipend memo for more information.  Some doctoral students may be recommended for fellowships.

Admitted students are invited to participate in our Preview Program, which offers students a structured opportunity to apply for graduate assistantships across campus.  Students submit resumes and cover letters, and employers review applicants' materials, with both students and employers submitting preference lists. Interviews are scheduled during the Preview Program, with students receiving offers shortly after the program has ended. 

Required Core Courses are: EDHI 750 (International Higher Education or equivalent global issues course), EDCP 774 (Advanced Student Development Theory), EDCP 775 (Facilitating Student Learning), EDCP 776 (Social Justice in Student Affairs), EDCP 870 (First-year Ph.D. seminar held jointly with Higher Education Concentration), and EDCP 871 (3rd year capstone).

Students are required to take six research courses plus 12 credits of dissertation credits. Required research courses are EDHI 672 (Modes of Inquiry in Educational Research), EDCP 742 (Examining College Environments and Outcomes—Quantitative Research Design), and EDCP 772 (Dissertation Proposal Development). Student are also required to take both EDCP 773 (Qualitative Research), a quantitative methods course, and an advanced methods course of their choosing.

Students design a three course (9 credit hours) professional concentration, which represents efforts to develop an area of expertise through coursework aligned with a general theme. They also take 9 credit hours of electives, only 3 credit hours of an internship or practicum can count towards this total.

Dr. Candace Moore, Program Director (

Juanita Ariza, Graduate Assistant (

Carol Scott, Coordinator (

Academic deadlines are provided by the Office of the Registrar for the academic year. Students should refer to the deadlines listed in Important Dates  prior to the beginning of the degree completion semester.  

Students should check with their Department or Program for any deadlines it may have.  Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384


The student affairs program handbook is available here

Visit the Department of Counseling, High Education and Special Education program handbooks and forms page.

The Graduate Student Life Handbook provides information on academics, campus resources, finances, health, job opportunities, and information on how to get involved as a graduate student. 


Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements.   The Graduate Catalog  is the official listing of Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland.  The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.


Graduate students are required to submit various forms at specific points in the program and as part of the degree clearance process.  Please refer to Steps Toward Graduation to determine the steps and forms that are required.  The forms for use by graduate students are available here.