The mission of the Master of Arts degree program in Higher Education and Student Development is to prepare individuals for professional positions in student affairs in schools, colleges, and universities, with a special focus upon emerging adult identity and spiritual formation. This program is intentionally aligned with the Guidelines for Master's-level student affairs professional preparation programs, as identified by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2019) and Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators. In addition, as part of the Master's degree, students complete coursework in conflict mediation and receive a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution. Students engage in coursework related to the history of higher education and student affairs, organization and administration of student affairs, discipleship and spiritual formation, characteristics and development of emerging adults, kingdom diversity and justice, student and staff well-being, legal issues in higher education, and program evaluation and research.
This degree is offered in partnership between the School of Mission, Ministry & Leadership, and the Student Development Division of Wheaton College. The program faculty members are full-time, tenure track professors in the School of Mission, Ministry & Leadership, or leaders in the profession who hold full-time appointments in student affairs.
We hope that our graduates will be characterized as academically grounded, spiritually maturing and practically skilled professionals who humbly, compassionately, and wisely develop emerging adults, as they minister the Gospel and build up God's people in a constantly changing world.
Academically grounded in that they…
- Articulate a biblical, theological, ethical, cultural, historical, and philosophical foundation in student affairs, in light of contemporary global realities.
- Identify student characteristics of emerging adults and how such attributes influence educational, developmental, and spiritual formation, as well as the effects of the college experience on student learning.
- Demonstrate comprehension of organizational, management, and leadership theory and practice; student affairs functions; legal issues in higher education; and professional issues, exhibiting the ability to synthesize knowledge across these content areas to apply to professional experiences with students.
- Complete a research project, using qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to assess an area of student affairs, grounded in a review of the literature pertinent to the field of study, and demonstrate the ability to understand valid and reliable methods of research and its implications for student affairs.
Spiritually maturing in that they…
- Demonstrate a life of discipleship, spiritual growth, and balanced self-care as the foundation of effective ministry and leadership.
- Identify their gifts, calling, and passions, and appropriately offer them in service to Christ and the world.
- Engage in authentic Christian community, valuing the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, traditions and individuals and effectively contribute as members of the Body of Christ.
Practically skilled in that they…
- Engage in conflict mediation and resolution practices and demonstrate effective intervention strategies.
- Teach and lead effectively, appropriately integrating truth, facilitating reflection, and experiences with integrity, humility, and grace, to build healthy communities and foster holistic development of individuals.
- Serve collaboratively and compassionately as part of a team, balancing the needs of others with adequate self-care.
- Demonstrate experiences in developing professional competencies in student affairs, including program planning, implementation, or evaluation; staff training, advising, or supervision; helping skills; ethical leadership and administrative functions or process in higher education.
- Directly connect theory with professional practice through a supervised practicum in an approved higher education setting and create a professional portfolio that exhibits evidence of their growth throughout the study program.
Admission to the Higher Education and Student Development graduate program is open both to those who are currently involved in higher education roles and to those who are preparing for future vocational service. Admission does not require a specific undergraduate major or a prescribed set of courses, but students are expected to possess a basic knowledge of the Bible and proficiency in written and spoken English. The MA in Higher Education and Student Development is aimed at preparing students for Christian vocation in the specific context of Student Development in a college setting. Continued enrollment in the degree program requires successful candidacy approval, which occurs after admission and before 12 hours of coursework have been completed. During the candidacy approval process, School of Mission, Ministry & Leadership professors and Student Development partners will evaluate the presence of essential professional and ministry skills and dispositions, as well as the student's demonstration of a commitment to growth in Christian virtues. At the time of acceptance into the program, the department will notify the student if there are any deficiencies which need to be met.
It is expected that all Higher Education and Student Development candidates will be engaged in a student development role while completing the degree, so that coursework is immediately integrated with student personnel practice.
Students apply for Graduate Assistantships or Graduate Residential Assistantships at Wheaton College, or another partner institution, as part of the application to the Wheaton College Graduate School. Students complete all courses as a cohort by taking modular intensive courses, combined with online or hybrid courses with faculty from the Wheaton College Graduate School campus in Illinois. All students assume roles as graduate assistants, coordinating some aspect of Student Development or Student Affairs , as the hands-on laboratory for student development practice and collaboration. An employment application process is required in addition to graduate school application.
Requirements for the MA degree in Higher Education and Student Development. Students are required to complete 40 hours of credit in the following courses:
|HESD 518||Research Methods||2|
|HESD 546||Facilitating Collegiate Learning||2|
|HESD 548||Law, Ethics, and Leadership in Higher Education||4|
|HESD 549||Theology and Philosophy of Ministry||2|
|HESD 575||Conflict and Mediation||4|
|HESD 595||Introduction to Higher Education||4|
|HESD 614||Diversity and Student Development: Building Communities of Shalom||2|
|HESD 634||Well-Being in Higher Education||4|
|HESD 641||Emerging Adult Development||4|
|MML 503||Cultural Engagement||2|
|MML 512||Leadership and Spiritual Formation||4|
|Theological Studies Requirement (TSR)|
|BITH 565||Christian Theology||4|
|HESD 696||Professional Practice and Portfolio: Capstone||2|
|or HESD 698||Applied Thesis|
As part of this 40-credit program, all graduate students are required to complete a theological studies requirement of 6 semester hours. For HESD students, this consists of HESD 549 and BITH 565 Christian Theology .