Counseling - Student Affairs, Master of Education

Department of Educational Psychology

College of Education

This plan is appropriate if you are seeking graduate preparation in counseling with a specialization in student affairs within higher education.
Our plan is built on the philosophy that counseling is a foundation for student affairs work. When you complete this program, you are prepared for professional roles in student affairs positions in higher education.
This plan meets the CAS standards for professional preparation programs in student affairs and the coursework requirement for the national counselor certification of the National Board of Certified Counselors.

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 48
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The Counseling-Student Affairs MEd is for students seeking graduate preparation in counseling within the higher education realm of student affairs.  Our approach is built on the philosophy that counseling is a foundation for student affairs work. Students develop strong counseling skills, including the understanding and application of student learning and development theory.  Coupled with a foundation in the historical, philosophical, ethical, cultural, and research foundations of higher education, and knowledge of organization and administration of student affairs, our students have the well-rounded knowledge and skills to be successful in a broad range of Student Affairs areas (residence life, multicultural affairs, student life, recreation services international education, athletics and academic advising). 

Student Learning Outcomes

Foundational Studies: study in the historical, philosophical, ethical, cultural, and research foundations of higher education that informs student affairs practice.

  • Reference historical and current documents that state the philosophical foundations of the profession and to communicate the relevance of the these documents to current student affairs practice.
  • Articulate the values of the profession that are stipulated or implied in these documents and indicate how these values guide practice.
  • Knowledgeable about and be able to apply a code of ethics or ethical principles sanctioned by a recognized professional organization that provides ethical guidance for their work. 
Professional Studies: studies of basic knowledge for practice and all programs must encompass at least five related areas of study including (a) student learning and development theories; (b) student characteristics and effects of college on students; (c) individual and group strategies; (d) organization and administration of student affairs; and (e) assessment, evaluation, and research.
Student Learning and Development Theory:
  • Extensive examination of theoretical perspectives that describe students' growth in the areas of intellectual, moral, ego, psychosocial, career, and spiritual development; racial, cultural, ethnic, gender, abilities, socioeconomic status, and sexual identity; the intersection of multiple identities; and learning styles throughout the late adolescent and adult lifespan.
  • Study of collegiate environments and how person-environment interactions affect student learning and development must also be required.
  • Ability to use and critique appropriate theory to understand, support, and advocate for student learning and development by assessing needs and creating opportunities for learning and development.
Student Characteristics and Effects of College on Students
  • Knowledge of student characteristics, how such attributes influence student educational and developmental needs, and effects of the college experience and institutional characteristics on student learning and development.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how student learning and learning opportunities are influenced by student characteristics and by collegiate environments so that graduates can design and evaluate learning experiences for students.
Individual and Group Strategies
  • Knowledge of studies, techniques, and methods of advising and helping skills as well as assessing, designing, implementing, and evaluating developmentally appropriate strategies with individuals and organizations.
  • Knowledge and skills necessary to design and evaluate effective educational interventions for individuals and groups.
  • Ability to identify and appropriately refer persons who need additional resources.
Organization and Administration of Student Affairs
  • Knowledge of studies of organizational, management, and leadership theory and practice; student affairs functions, organizational models, and partnerships; legal issues in higher education; human and organizational resources; and professional issues, ethics, and standards of practice in the context of diverse institutional types.
  • Ability to identify and apply leadership, organizational, and management practices that assist institutions in accomplishing their missions.
Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
  • Study of assessment, evaluation, and research that centers on evidence-based practice to further accountability and continuous improvement.
  • Studies must include assessment planning and design, outcome development, both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, measurement of learning processes and outcomes, assessment of environments and organizations, measurement of program and environment effectiveness, effective reporting, and critiques of published studies.
  • Ability to critique a study or evaluation and be able to design, conduct, and report on a sound research study, assessment study, or program evaluation, all grounded in the appropriate literature. Graduates must be able to use assessment results to inform and improve professional practice and student learning.
  • Awareness of research ethics and legal implications of research, including the necessity of adhering to a human subjects review.
Supervised Practice: A minimum of 300 hours of supervised practice, consisting of at least two distinct experiences, must be required. Students must gain exposure to both the breadth and depth of student affairs work. Students must gain experience in developmental work with individual students and groups of students in program planning, implementation, or evaluation; staff training, advising, or supervision; and administration functions or processes.
  • Reserved for students who have successfully completed a sequence of courses pertaining to basic foundational knowledge of professional practice. Before participating in practicums and internships, students must demonstrate basic knowledge and skills in interpersonal communication, consultation, and referral skills. Students must comply with all ethical principles and standards of appropriate professional associations.
  • Ability to develop and maintain personal plans for professional development and habits that support life-long learning.


  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test required if GPA is under 3.0
    • 3 letters of recommendation; with at least two from faculty
    • Responses to specific essay questions
Master's Requirements
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.