School of Humanities and Social Sciences


M.S. in College Student Affairs

Program Description

The M.S. in College Student Affairs is designed to prepare students for the expanded roles and responsibilities of student affairs professionals in today’s diverse college and university educational environments. Students will learn and experience the practical application of the knowledge base and skill sets of student affairs administration and conflict analysis and resolution in higher education organizational settings. The program is designed for students who are interested in a career in student affairs, and for those currently working in student affairs who seek to advance their own personal knowledge and professional credentials. The M.S. program consists of a 15 course (45 credits) sequence that places emphasis on two core concentrations, Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Student Affairs in Higher Education.

*Students who are counting a concentration in College Student Personnel Administration towards their degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution will not be able to complete the M.S. in College Student Affairs as an additional degree.

Program Formats

The M.S. program is offered in both residential and distance learning formats. The flexible distance learning formats allow mid career working adults and those unable to attend the residential program, to study college student affairs in a creative, rigorous, and structured fashion. Students enrolled in the distance learning program participate in Residential Institutes on the Fort Lauderdale campus twice per year, as well as online Web-based courses. Each RI is 5 days long. Currently the RIs are held in February and October. Please visit for current information.

Students may enroll full or part time, taking six to nine credit hours per term. Students who attend full-time can expect to complete the program in two years. Part-time students can expect to complete the program in three years. Summer attendance is mandatory.

Degree Plans

Below is a sample of a degree plan for a full-time student who begins their studies in Fall term. Degree plans will be modified based on a student’s enrollment date and pace of study.

Table 1: Degree Plan: 45 credits hours
Year 1
Fall (September) CSPA 5001 -
The 21st Century College Student
CSPA 5004 – Administration in College Student Affairs Work
CSPA 5040 -
Human Factors
Winter (January) CSPA 5002 -
Current Issues and Trends in Higher Education

CSPA 5100 -
Mediation Theory and Practice

CSPA 5200 -
Research Design and Program Evaluation
Summer (April) CSPA 6000 - Organizational Conflict: Theory and Practice
CSPA 6140 - Facilitation Theory and Practice CSPA 5003 -
The College Student and the Law
Fall (September) CSPA 6130 -
Practicum I
CSPA 5006 -  
Student and Adult Development in College
CSPA 6300 -
Applied Research and Assessment in Student Affairs I
Winter (January) CSPA 6160 -
Practicum II
CSPA 5005 -
Student Affairs and the Greater University
CSPA 6300 -
Applied Research and Assessment in Student Affairs II
Summer (April) Comprehensive Exam Graduation  

For full course descriptions select current Catalog.

Program Specifics


To complete the M.S. in College Student Affairs, students must complete a total of 150 hours of practicum. Students are responsible for documenting practicum hours, and must have these hours verified and signed by an on-site supervisor. Practicum I and II must be passed with a grade of "B" or better. The practicum experience is designed to provide students with an experiential opportunity to utilize student affairs theory and practice within a diversity of professional settings. Students will have the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts within a practical framework.

Students complete two practicums during their course of study. Practicum I offers students the opportunity to explore a breadth of student affairs functions and gain exposure, knowledge and experience in the variety of programs and services that make up a college/university division of student affairs: residential life, housing, career services, student union, student activities, leadership development, recreation and wellness, volunteer services, special events, judicial programs and the office of the dean of students.

Practicum II will offer students the opportunity to gain in-depth exposure, knowledge and experience in a selected area of specialization in student affairs that supports their professional goals and prepares them to work in a professional student affairs position. Practicum experiences may take place at Nova Southeastern University or another college or university.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships will be available in the diverse functions within the Office of Student Affairs at NSU to students enrolled full-time in the CSA program.

Assistantships are 12-month appointments and offer partial tuition remission, a stipend, meal plan, and housing for those living on campus. Students accepted to the full-time CSA program may apply for a Graduate Assistantship position by contacting Dr. Gay Holliday, Associate Dean of Student Affairs in the Office of the Dean of Students at NSU.

For more information, click here.

Examinations and Evaluations

In addition to successfully completing all course work, and obtaining the required practicum hours discussed above, students must pass a comprehensive examination to be awarded the M.S. in College Student Affairs. When a student has completed all coursework and practicum hours, has maintained a "B" average in all classes with no "incomplete" grades, and is a "student in good standing" with no disciplinary actions pending or disciplinary tasks to complete, the student will be eligible to take the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam is an assessment of the student's ability to integrate the knowledge and skills gained through course work and the practicum experience. The exam tests the student's written ability to critically analyze and apply conflict assessment, theory, and research methodology to hypothetical conflict situations. The exam also tests knowledge of material specific to the academic curriculum.

The comprehensive exam is offered twice a year: in January and June. The exam has two sections; students must answer two questions from each section. The sections are:

The exam takes an entire day. The student is given four hours to complete each section, with a lunch break in between sections. Students have the choice of sitting for the exam on NSU’s main campus, at selected NSU Educational Centers, or at another site selected by CSA. If the student takes the exam at NSU or an NSU center, there are no assessed fees related to the exam. Some approved locations may charge a fee for proctoring the exam. Should the student choose to take the exam at such a location, that fee may be assessed to the student.

Two faculty members grade each question. Students are assigned an examination number. Thus, faculty members do not know whose answers they are reviewing. All four questions must be answered correctly to pass the exam. Passing three of four questions means the failed part of the exam must be retaken. Passing fewer than three questions is a failing score, and means the entire exam must be retaken. Students have five years to complete degree requirements.

Both reviewers must award a passing grade, in order for it to be deemed that the student passed each question. If one reviewer submits a passing grade and the other submits a failing grade, they will be asked to confer. If they subsequently concur, then the grade has been determined. If they do not agree, the chair shall appoint a third reviewer. The third reviewer’s grade shall determine whether the student has passed or failed the section.