My blog gets a lot of visits from people who are searching the web for information on student affairs higher education administration graduate programs. I get an email every couple of months asking me for my opinion on programs like Oregon State University’s College Student Services Administration EdM degree program.
Here is a series of questions from MR. MR is considering a career in student affairs and a graduate degree in higher education administration / student affairs.
- Like you, I am an INFP, which is partly why I am drawn to this field (helping others, university environment, etc.), but is also partly why I have a bit of trepidation about entering the field. I am best when interactions are one to one; I could see myself doing counseling, overseeing wellness programs, etc., but being a residence advisor or running student groups with large groups of students would be more of a challenge for me. How do you square your personality with the more extroverted demands of being a Student Affairs leader? What has been the most difficult aspect for you in terms of having to push yourself beyond your INFP comfort zone? Is this field a good fit for an INFP (not that Myers-Briggs is the be all end all)?
- What schools did you consider applying to for a masters? what did you base your final decision on? Right now I am leaning towards Northeastern because of their emphasis on student interaction, counseling and the co-op requirement, but I am concerned their program may limit me, as they do not have so many of the general administrative courses some of the other programs do…
- What is the general salary range for a recent masters grad and also for someone 5-10 years out? Is this a viable field for supporting a family? What are job prospects like?
- What are the typical positions someone with this degree would get upon graduation?
I think I had to realize that although I enjoy working with large groups of students, my personality required me to take time to re-charge my INFP batteries. I think that it’s all about how you re-charge your personal energy. Introverted folks use up their energy when they are interacting with large groups of people while extroverted folks re-charge. Being an “I” does not mean that you can’t work effectively with large groups of students. I am extremely biased, but I think the student affairs profession is a great fit for someone who is an INFP.
I looked at the University of Vermont, Oregon State University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Maryland.
I ended up only applying to Oregon State University. I had a great conversation with their faculty and their program’s blend of practical experience and theoretical knowledge seemed liked a good fit.
Recent graduate salaries can vary quite a bit depending on previous experience, geographic region, size of school, public or private, etc. Most post-graduate jobs are still considered entry level for a lot of places. It depends on whether you had previous student affairs experience prior to starting graduate school or if you went straight from undergrad to grad. Salaries can range from $30,000 to $45,000.
For someone with 5 – 10 years of experience, I have seen salaries from $40,000 to $70,000. It’s really variable.
I think this is a field/profession that is definitely viable for supporting a family. There are quite a few universities and quite a few jobs.
There are a lot of functional areas in Student Affairs: Student Life, Student Conduct, Leadership, Development, Multicultural Affairs/Social Justice/Diversity, Orientation, Advising, Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar, Disability Services, Career Services, Student Health/Health Promotion/Wellness, Residence Life, Campus Activities/Programs, etc.
4 thoughts on “Higher Education Administration”
Hi Eric, Thanks for your blog- it’s really helpful for finding out more about student affairs careers! I wanted to ask you about the degree you did at OSU because I’m interested in doing it myself. I already have quite a bit of student loan debt so I wanted to ask- when you get a graduate assistantship in College Personnel Services at OSU does that include pay as well as a tuition waiver? In other words, as a graduate student at OSU do you end up earning a small living, or do you just break even (as in, you make money from the assistantship but you use that to pay for tuition), or do you end up on debt (as in, the tuition costs more than the money you make from the assistantship). Thanks so much for letting me know!
Check out the OSU Graduate School’s web page on assistantships:
I’m no Eric, but I can answer a lot of questions about assistantships about OSU. Just ask.
My graduate assistantship provided me with a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend (paycheck $$$ :-)). I had to work 20 hrs per week for my GA position and take 12 credits worth of classes per term. I still had to pay fees, but I was able to pay my rent, buy food, etc.