Certificate in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA)

The certificate program in higher education and student affairs (HESA) is designed to enhance the work of current professionals in student affairs and related administrative positions by providing the theoretical and academic knowledge associated with the field. Applicants to this certificate program must be employed full-time in higher education, or be enrolled in another graduate program and demonstrate commitment to, and experiences within, higher education.

The HESA certificate:

  • Is a 15-credit hour certificate designed in consultation with a faculty advisor.
  • Will provide basic theoretical and administrative knowledge of higher education and student affairs.
  • Includes one three-credit hour field experience at the end for students to solidify their learning.

Following university and graduate college policies, individuals who earn the certificate in higher education and student affairs may apply to the Masters in Educational Leadership in higher education and student affairs and use the courses completed toward their degree. Additionally, students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in higher education leadership may complete this certificate as part of their doctoral program.

Per advisor approval, courses used in graduate certificate programs may also be counted in the masters or Ph.D. programs and courses from masters or PhD programs may be eligible to be counted in the graduate certificate programs.  For example, a student in the MBA may be able to use an applicable course from the MBA required program of study in the HESA Certificate program. Thus courses may be double counted. These course(s) will need to be approved by the faculty advisor and be directly related to the goals of the HESA Certificate curriculum.

Admissions criteria

  1. A completed Bachelor’s Degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  2. Rationale and fit for pursuing the certificate (through a two-page written statement).
  3. Hold a full-time professional position in higher education that is relevant to the certificate being pursued; be enrolled in another graduate program and demonstrate a commitment to, and experiences, within higher education; or have advisor approval.

GRE scores are not required.


It is recommended that HESA Certificate students submit applications for Fall admission by the preferred admission deadline of January 15. Students are admitted to the Certificate program on a space available basis. It is highly recommended that HESA Certificate students contact the HESA Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Ramona Lewis, before submitting their application to discuss interest and program fit.

Admission procedures

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Prospective students will apply within the WMU online application system. Below is a list of the items that will need to be included in the application.

  1. A resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is required and must be submitted within the online application system.
  2. Written statement. A statement which covers the following information in a two-page, typed, double-spaced document. Present your rationale and fit for pursuing the certificate. Please note that this statement is also viewed as a writing sample.
  3. Education history information and transcripts.
    1. Applicants must list all previously attended higher education institutions (even if you did not receive a completed degree).
    2. Applicants must submit one official transcript from every higher education institution you have ever attended, except Western Michigan University, even if you did not receive a completed degree.
  4. Letter of support. The certificate in higher education and student affairs does not require any supplemental recommendation letters; however a letter of support from the appropriate individual is required. (Scan and attach the letter within the other program materials section of the online application).
    • For those working full-time in higher education the letter of support should be from the supervisor in the higher education setting.
    • For those students enrolled in other graduate programs the letter of support should be from the academic advisor.

The application does not require graduate (GRE) test scores.

Questions about the application?

Contact the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology graduate office at (269) 387-3893 or contact Dr. Ramona Lewis.


For course descriptions visit the higher education and student affairs (HESA) leadership master’s concentration page. Courses required to complete the certificate are listed below; all courses are three credit hours unless otherwise indicated. Most, if not all, courses are offered on the Kalamazoo campus. A minimum of 15 credit hours is required for the certificate. All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

  • EDLD 6510: Foundations of Student Affairs in Higher Education
  • EDLD 6530: The College Student 
  • EDLD 6580: Field Experience in Higher Education and Student Affairs

and choose two of the following courses in consultation with and approval of Faculty Advisor.

  • EDLD 6545: Higher Education Environments and Administration
  • EDLD 6548: Assessment and Accountability in Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • EDLD 6550: Intervention Skills for Higher Education Professionals
  • EDLD 6570: Equity and Diversity in Higher Education
  • EDLD 6590: Higher Education Law

Questions about the certificate in higher education and student affairs (HESA)?

Contact the HESA program coordinator Dr.Ramona Lewis.