Mission Statement:

We are committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened professionals who will pursue productive and meaningful careers.

This mission is accomplished by offering students the opportunity to develop broad skills, in-depth knowledge and the ability to address the needs of a changing student body. Students are prepared for positions in student services and student development programs in post-secondary education through graduate and in-service education and through research and consultation efforts.

Vision Statement:

Our graduate-level program in College Student Personnel Administration will provide:

  • Students with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful entry into the profession.
  • The university with a diverse and talented pool of graduate assistants, and
  • The field of student affairs with individuals who will sustain and advance the profession.

Goals and Objectives: 

Consistent with standards and beliefs promulgated by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the CSPA course of study offers opportunities to experience the dynamic reciprocity between theory and practice. Students are expected to meet the intellectual challenges of course work, assistantships and professional involvement. Students participate in learning experiences which lead to an understanding of college student development, various collegiate subcultures, organizational dynamics and the nature of higher education as an institution in the United States. Students are encouraged to appreciate a variety of psychological perspectives while developing communication, consultation and interpersonal relations skills. Graduates of the JMU CSPA program must demonstrate competency in the areas designated below through successful completion of course work, assistantships, and practica; participation on university and divisional committees; and professional development opportunities.


The CSPA program committee and faculty expect that students who complete the College Student Personnel program will acquire, demonstrate and develop the following program goals. The bulleted statements below each goal will prove successful acquisition, demonstration and development.

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of American higher education including its history, legal foundations and major areas and their influence on contemporary trends and practices.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Explain the changing nature of American higher education and the role it plays in a multicultural society.
    • Identify the major historical periods and purposes of American higher education, including significant institutions and individuals, the types of students educated, the curriculum, the roles of the faculty and administration, characteristics of student life, and the role of government for each period.
    • Summarize the United States Constitutional amendments and federal and state legislation that have had a major impact on American higher education, including their major provisions, areas of American higher education most affected, varying perspectives of related major issues and ways the risk of criminal or civil liability can be reduced.
    • Explain the major constituent areas of American higher education (i.e., governance, faculty, instructional methods, administration and students), including the area's history or evolution; how the area manifests itself in different types of institutions, trends, and issues; and future implications.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of student affairs as a profession and the influence student affairs has on contemporary higher education and society.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Identify the historical and philosophical influences and organizational structures that have guided the evolution of the student affairs profession.
    • Explain integration and collaboration within a student affairs division, among student affairs and other divisions of the institution, with the institution’s local community, and with national and global communities.
    • Explain the role of student affairs philosophy, theory and programs on influencing the mission, culture and organizational design of the institution.
    • Explain and analyze examples of the application of standards, ethics and professional development in professional practice within student affairs.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of selected theories including student development, career development, counseling and organizational theories and their application to student affairs practice.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Identify and explain major student development theories, their significance and application, and their role in developing and assessing student outcomes.
    • Identify and explain basic career development theories, their significance and application.
    • Identify and explain fundamental counseling theories and techniques.
    • Identify and explain significant theories and practices in leadership, organizational models, planning, supervision and consultation within student affairs practice.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to purposefully apply student development, counseling and organizational theories in professional practice, programs and services.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Identify psychosocial, cognitive and environmental student development theories and appropriately apply them to the development and assessment of student affairs programs, services and practices.
    • Identify individual and group counseling theories and techniques and appropriately apply them in professional practice.
    • Explain how diversity impacts the application of student development and counseling practices and effectively deliver programs, services and professional practices to diverse student populations.
    • Identify and successfully apply concepts related to organizational principles, leadership, supervision and consultation in professional practice.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to apply analytical skills related to research methods, problem solving techniques, evaluation techniques, case studies, computer technology and assessment methods.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Independently identify appropriate sources of information, analyze the value of information, and generate professional documents and presentations.
    • Communicate orally and in writing (individually and collaboratively) in a method that demonstrates professional planning, organization, appropriate use of technology, analysis of information and compelling presentation of concepts.
    • Demonstrate an ability to analyze and appraise a critical incident from a variety of perspectives.
    • Recognize, summarize and apply statistical concepts.
    • Appraise program evaluation and outcome assessment efforts and use such efforts in program formation and summation.
  6. Demonstrate an ability to appraise one's own personal dynamics, values, ethics, interpersonal skills and professional standards and demonstrate an ability to improve knowledge, skills and abilities in a way that leads to more effective professional practice.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Assess one’s personal knowledge, skills and abilities and seek opportunities to improve each of these areas and to assess improvements in professional practice.
    • Explain and apply professional standards and ethics in professional decision making and practices.
    • Articulate a personal philosophy of professional practice that indicates an integration of course content and professional experiences.
    • Create a professional development plan appropriate for the individual and his/her career aspirations.
    • Explain personal identity and biases and the impact of each on professional practice.
    • Demonstrate effective supervisory and consultation skills.
  7. Develop an understanding for the way human differences and societal frameworks influence the work of student affairs professionals.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Describe the characteristics of the underrepresented college student.
    • Explain and appraise how cultural stereotypes influence personal and societal frameworks.
    • Explain the various impacts of cultural experiences on underrepresented students.
    • Appraise the developmental needs of underrepresented students and generate appropriate programs and service options.
  8. Demonstrate professional skills in a variety of areas to be competitive in student affairs positions.
    A successful graduate will be able to:
    • Apply management and supervisory skills.
    • Demonstrate effective group facilitation skills.
    • Apply basic consultation skills to diagnose and intervene in management problems.
    • Demonstrate proficiency in job knowledge and professional development.
    • Pursue professional development by learning, researching, and understanding new issues and trends in student affairs and becoming involved in professional organizations.
    • Demonstrate proficiency in decision making by identifying issues, bringing problems to resolution, managing crisis situations, reaching conclusions and making recommendations.
    • Demonstrate technological proficiency by showing an understanding of personal computing, familiarity with basic research methods through the use of a personal computer and awareness of technologies used in student affairs.

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