Related Searches


Student Affairs

Student affairs staff are responsible for academic advising and support services delivery at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. The chief student affairs officer at a college or university often reports directly to the chief executive of the institution.

Student Affairs areas

The Student Affairs division of a university can include:

  • Academic Advising: depending on the institution or the academic department within a college/university, advisors may fall under student affairs or academic affairs. While some advisors are faculty in the appropriate discipline and others are graduate students with an assistantship as an advisors, some advisors are degree-holding student affairs professionals.
  • Community Service-Learning and Volunteerism: engages students in community service within the local community, often including national alternative spring break programs
  • Commuter Services: provides services for students who do not live on the campus such as social programs and other opportunities these students are often perceived to miss or be unaware of due to their status as non-residents
  • Graduate Student Services
  • Living/Learning Programs in campus residence halls are almost exclusively joint ventures between student affairs--particularly residence life and academic departments or an over-arching division for undergraduate education
  • College Health Services: provides individual medical and/or mental health care to students to improve their physical and/or emotional health and serves as the public health arm of the university community. Health services at colleges and universities may include primary care medical services, counseling and psychological services, health promotion/health education services, disability services, and/or sexual violence prevention services--each of which provide a unique set of services and programs on campus.
  • Health Promotion in Higher Education: works to support students by creating healthy learning environments. Based on a public health/population health model, health promotion services often coordinate primary prevention and secondary prevention on campus.
  • International Student Services: assists incoming students with passport and visa issues in addition to providing programming and support for international students; this area may also report to Academic Affairs
  • Leadership Development
  • LGBT Campus Centers
  • '''Fraternity & Sorority Life/Greek Affairs
  • Multicultural Affairs
  • Orientation and First-year programming
  • Disability Support Services
  • Residential Facilities Management: or similar departments handle maintenance of on-campus housing, including emergency response and support
  • Psychological Counseling and Counseling Centers: fully accredited counselors staff most counseling centers on college and university centers, most institutions with graduate programs in counseling-related fields (including college student personnel) have graduate students who are required to complete a practicum in the counseling center, counseling and advising students
  • Recreation and Intramurals: provides recreational activities and events for students, often including intramural sports, club sports, and outdoor activities (kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, etc.)
  • Residence Life, Residential Education, or Housing: oversees programming and operations of campus residence halls
  • Student Activities: provides co-curricular programming on campus, advises program boards and student governments, provides leadership development opportunities
  • Student Development
  • Judicial Affairs and Conduct: enforces community standards and campus codes of conduct.
  • A Dean of Student Affairs: often a first administrative contact point when problems come up for a student
  • Career Services
  • Athletics can sometimes fall under student affairs, particularly on smaller campuses (often NCAA Division II or III).
  • Public Safety or university police can also fall under student affairs.
  • Public Transit Systems can fall under student affairs at some institutions

Enrollment Management areas

The following areas traditionally either fall under student affairs or a separate area called Enrollment management:

History of Student Affairs

As early higher education in the United States was based on the Oxbridge model of education, most early institutions were residential colleges where the tutors lived in the halls with the students. These men were the precursor to student affairs professionals in the United States.

The profession of student affairs came out of the first Dean of Men, created at Harvard University in 1870. LeBaron Russell Briggs was appointed as Dean of Men in charge of academic advising as well as disciplinary duties. This appointment took the day-to-day administration of student issues away from the president and gave it to an individual. In 1892, Alice Freeman Palmer at the University of Chicago became the first Dean of Women.

In December 1918 Robert Rienow, the dean of men at the University of Iowa, wrote a letter to Thomas Arkle Clark, dean of men at the University of Illinois, suggesting a meeting that is now recognized as the founding of the organization now known as NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

In 1924, May L. Cheney, who organized a teacher placement office at the University of California, Berkeley helped form the National Association of Appointment Secretaries (NAAS). That year, NAAS met for the first time and came as guests of the National Association of Deans of Women (NADW) to a convention sponsored by the Department Superintendence of the National Education Association. In 1929, forty-six NAAS members registered for the Sixth Annual Convention. NAAS became the National Association of Personnel and Placement Officers (NAPPO). The name American College Personnel Association (ACPA) was adopted in 1931. Association communication consisted of one mailed newsletter, the Personnel-O-Gram (P-O-G). In 1937, the Student Point of View statement was developed by leaders of the American Council on Education (ACE) and ACPA.

The Student Personnel Points of View, written in 1937 and 1949, further developed the area of student affairs.

In the 1970s the landscape of student affairs began to change when the voting age was lowered and 18 year olds were granted adult status in the eyes of the law.

Recently, things have begun to change again as case law has begun to set a precedent that colleges and universities have a special relationship with their students which requires special duty under the law.


The "professional" trend in Student Affairs has been criticized for its emphasis on formal training. The degree to which available postgraduate programs actually represent a distinct discipline is a matter of debate. The field's resemblance to psychology, counseling, and other general concentrations has called into question whether Student Affairs degrees are an example of "degree inflation" and whether students' vocational choices are limited by this specialization.

The late liberal education critic Allan Bloom wrote that the "...idea of a separate 'Student Affairs' profession in academia is pure rubbish. It is fiction. The range of work involved requires a high school diploma on the low end and a PhD in psychology on the high end. The constituent disciplines (with their quality controls) already exist and can be readily applied to students. Breeching a new 'discipline' for this purpose is nothing more than professional egotism. I see it as a spasm of self-justification for a profession that largely lacks any scholarly work, past or present. This is the worst episode of academic cheapening I have witnessed. In a continuum ranging from Nuclear Physics to Romance Languages, 'student personnel' is almost certainly the most pathetic graduate field yet conceived. It is an embarrassment...

Critics point out that scholarly journals that do exist in this field rarely mention empirical work and typically contain anecdotal case studies. The lack of a formal and universal process for dealing with student judicial proceedings (in contrast to the common law practiced across the land) has also reinforced the image of an undefined profession.

Preparation for Student Affairs work

Today, student affairs practitioners almost always have at least a Bachelors degree. Many institutions require student affairs professionals to have earned a Masters degree in College Student Personnel, Educational Leadership, Higher Education Administration, College Counseling, Student Affairs Administration, or some other relevant discipline (e.g.: Human Resource Management, Organizational Psychology, Public Administration, etc.) as a prerequisite. A Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in either higher education or another academic field are often required for senior student affairs officers. These degrees typically include course work on Student Development Theory, College and University Environments, Multicultural Competence, and the organization and functioning of colleges and universities.

Both NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and ACPA - College Student Educators International publish directories of graduate preparation programs.

See also

External links


Search another word or see profes'soriallyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature