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. Full-time faculty include Drs. Kimberly Griffin , Candace Moore, Julie J. Park, Michelle Espino, 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.  If you are unsure of your area of interest you may request information by submitting an Inquiry Form

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? 
The Graduate School requests that you apply online.  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). 

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 broadly considers all activity that takes place on a college or university campus or has broad implications for higher education.  Student Affairs is focused more specifically on student learning, experiences, and outcomes.  Students commonly take classes across the concentrations. In selecting one, we encourage you to review the curriculum and faculty in both concentrations.

What are some unique features of your program?  
Overall all of the faculty’s work addresses issues related to race, social identities, diversity, and inequality, and we often attract students who are interested in these issues. We also have affiliate faculty who work full-time in the Division of Student Affairs who serve as mentors for our 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? 
At least two of the three references should be from academic sources (faculty who have had you in class). Having all references from academic sources is fine as well. 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. Ten-month assistantship remuneration ranges from $11-16,000 plus full tuition remission and health benefits. Twelve month assistantships are also available with higher stipends.  Assistantships are available for all students.

GRE Scores, GPA, and Provisional Admission
SAC considers a broad range of application criteria in making its admissions decisions, and all parts of the student's application are reviewed carefully and holistically. GRE scores are OPTIONAL for both the masters and Ph.D. programs; however, scores older than five years from date of application will not be accepted. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required, along with a graduate program GPA of 3.5 for doctoral applicants. However, 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. 

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. 

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 3. 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 2021, click here.

We are offering online information sessions on October 4th for the master's program and October 5th for the doctoral program.

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

Please email for more information.

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 ranges from $18-20,000 plus tuition remission and health benefits. Ten-month assistantships are also available. 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.  Student submit resumes and cover letters, and employers review applicants' materials, with both students and employers submitting preference lists. Interviews are scheduled during the Preview visit, with students receiving offers shortly after the program has ended. 

Dr. Michelle Espino, Program Director (

Pearl Lo, Graduate Assistant (

Carol Scott, Coordinator (