HESA Students

Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) Leadership Program

The HESA concentration is offered in-person in Kalamazoo with opportunities to take some electives online. HESA operates like a cohort-based  program with most students starting in Fall semesters.  Students from all undergraduate majors are welcome and HESA  works well for both full-and part-time students.

The 39-credit hour curriculum combines a student development and leadership theory core, diversity and inclusion electives, and two individualized field experiences. Curriculum and experiences highlight intercultural development and advocating for historically marginalized and underserved student populations in all areas of professional practice.  Complete your HESA leadership ePortfolio emphasizing professional competencies, in lieu of thesis or exams. Graduate assistantships (GA) are available in multiple areas focused on student development and higher education. 

  • Full-time students typically complete the program in two years.
  • Part-time students are welcome and complete the program at a pace that works for them. Typically part-time students are those who are already working full-time in higher education positions. If taking one class per semester (including summers) the program can be completed in three years. This flyer for full-time working professionals provides some highlights.

Apply now to meet the January 15 priority deadline!

Why HESA at Western Michigan University?

HESA at WMU is a cohort-based program providing you an individualized experience that includes:

  • Choice of diversity cognate courses with advisor support
  • Involved faculty who know you and are focused on your success
  • Emphasis on intercultural development through coursework and co-curricular engagement and personal coaching in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)
  • Global engagement opportunities through courses and study abroad focused on higher education
  • Choices of experiences such as co-teaching, research, or presenting at conferences
  • Opportunity to interact with administrators and intern at several local public, private and community colleges
  • Create your HESA Leadership ePortfolio for future employers, highlighting competencies and transferable skills
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 
  • Graduate student association (GSA) funding sources available to attend conferences and department funds to support presenting at conferences or conducting research

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New affiliation creates opportunity for international experiences in student affairs education


"In every class so far in the program I've been able to learn and apply it directly to my position."

Terry Burleson, current student

Prospective students

Are you looking to make a difference in the lives of others? Are you passionate about education? Are you committed to diversity and inclusion and seeking and entry- and mid-level positions in higher education.  Students from all undergraduate majors are welcome. We welcome applicants considering full-or part-time attendance. GA positions are  available for full-time students. Employees working in higher education at WMU or other college campuses encouraged to apply.

  • Applicants are encouraged to review the website and our mission and reach out to discuss your interest prior to applying at elrt-hesa@wmich.edu.
  • HESA applications are for Fall start. The application process is online. Find us under Master of Arts in Educational Leadership - the concentration is higher education and student affairs. 


Additional information

  • Application requirements
    • Bachelor's degree with GPA of 3.0 or higher in last two years of undergraduate work.
    • Resume of curriculum vitae (CV).
    • Written statement addressing specific questions (2-3 pages)
    • Three reference forms (via online system).
  • Career opportunities

    WMU HESA graduates hold student affairs positions all over the country and have secured these and other positions upon graduation.  

    • Academic advisor, Fordham University (NY) 
    • Academic coach, University of Tennessee (TN)
    • Admissions counselor, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (MI)
    • Career services specialist, Purdue University Northwest (IN)
    • Coordinator of pre-college programs, Ferris State University (MI)
    • Coordinator for admissions & student engagement, Michigan School of Psychology (MI)
    • Financial aid specialist, Grand Rapids Community College (MI)
    • Graduate program coordinator, Emporia State University (KS)
    • Student leadership coordinator, Purdue University (IN)
    • International student advisor, University of Texas-Austin (TX)
    • Peer advocate leader, University of Colorado (CO)
    • Program advisor, Indiana University (IU)
    • Residence hall director, San Diego State University (CA)
    • TRIO student support services, Grand Valley State University (MI)
  • Certificate in higher education and student affairs

    The certificate in higher education and student affairs is designed for full-time professionals working in student affairs or related areas who do not have the academic background or training in higher education, or for graduate students enrolled in another master’s program who demonstrate commitment to and experience working in higher education.