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College Student Personnel Administration, MS

About CSPA

The Master of Science degree program in College Student Personnel Administration prepares outstanding generalists for a broad range of entry-level and mid-level positions in student life, student development, student services, and other professional staff areas in institutions of higher education. The curriculum integrates theory and practice in classroom and field-based settings to graduate professionals with the necessary knowledge, skills, commitment to ethics, respect for diversity, and caring to enrich the lives of students. The curriculum meets the standards set by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education for Student Affairs graduate preparation programs.

A major strength of the CSPA program is the close partnerships between the program and student affairs professionals on the campus. Practitioners in student life, housing, student activities, the campus union, and a variety of other settings mentor and teach students in the program. Students benefit from working closely with recognized leaders in their areas of expertise.

Admission Requirements

Submit a transcript showing an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with an overall undergraduate grade-point average of at least 2.70, or a 3.0 in the final 60 hours (requirements for those receiving a graduate assistantship may be higher). The transcript is submitted with the online application to the graduate school (see application process below). A copy of the transcript (or transcripts) will be sent to the CSPA Program Coordinator with the graduate application.

Candidates also must submit a writing sample describing his or her career goal and how the academic program fits with that goal. Two letters of recommendation are required. One letter should come from a former professor, while the second should be completed by a work supervisor.

These items must be sent electronically to

Student Outcomes

With a degree in College Student Personnel Administration, you will use the knowledge and skills obtained through your studies to:

  • Create programs to promote development in which a clear understanding of student development theory is translated into applied practice.
  • Describe the various "cultures" which exist on a college campus, including in terms of governance and "political" dynamics, and identify how interaction among members of each culture affect the mission of the institution and the quality of teaching and learning on campus. Graduates will be able to create environments in which members of different cultures learn to appreciate and cooperate with each other in common cause.
  • Understand management, organizational and leadership dynamics, including organizational theory, financial responsibility, legal issues, the preparation and implementation of a budget, and similar operational issues.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of the various student cohorts seeking higher education in which respect for their individual differences, and understanding of their diversity, as well as an appreciation of their individual and shared concerns, are taken into account.
  • Construct environments, based on a clear understanding of entering and continuing student characteristics and needs so that these students are provided optimal opportunities to learn along with appropriate support in meeting predetermined and evolving intellectual and developmental goals.
  • Describe, in clear and precise language, the standards and ethical guidelines which inform the profession and demonstrate, through her/his own behavior, that these codes are "lived" in daily practice.
  • Understand how to employ assessment techniques and to evaluate outcomes from the framework of individual, group, and environmental perspectives and use the information obtained to make judgments about those programs and services offered others. Students will be familiar with methods and techniques of quantitative and qualitative research and gain the ability to critique such research. Students will be provided with opportunities to design, implement and report about a research study.
  • Comprehend how organizational, management, and leadership theory apply to various student affairs functions such as financial aid, academic advising, residence life, etc. They will also be able to discern how management, leadership, and other theories evolve overtime and how to adapt theory and practice to emerging demands and expectation.
  • Communicate, in language appropriate to each audience addressed, the cultural/historical underpinnings of American higher education and the college student personnel profession as well as the purposes served by CSPA professionals in today's higher education.
  • Construct, including in partnership with students, faculty, and others, a series of intentional activities, programs, and events designed to achieve well-defined developmental outcomes as well as predetermining how such outcomes will be assessed and success measured.
  • Demonstrate competency as agents of change including being able to analyze unique situations, cope with unexpected challenges, as well as be able to demonstrate the flexibility and the ability to cope with ambiguity and chaos necessary to function as a professional in the post-modern university.


See our Scholarships Page for information about applying for scholarships. Scholarships that are specifically for CSPA students are:

  • Dr. David Sundberg CSPA Scholarship
  • Sarah W. Schwartz Scholarship in Educational Leadership and Human Development (preference given to a female student)

Standards & Practices

Our CSPA Program follows the standards and practices of the following organizations:

CSPA Graduate Assistantships

Get Ready for a Great Experience!

This information applies to Graduate Assistants hired for the CSPA program. Information about other Graduate Assistanships is available through the Office of Graduate Education and Research.

CSPA GAs work with committed staff who not only welcome diversity and creativity, but encourage student development. The close working relationships between and among students, student services faculty, professional staff, and administrators promote an environment in which students are mentored, challenged, and offered a broad spectrum of experiences to create themselves as the outstanding professionals they seek to become. 

CSPA GA Application & Selection Process

Application Process

To be considered for a CSPA GA position, you will need to submit all of the following materials:

  • Cover letter expressing interest and listing which specific assistantships you are interested in (one cover letter can address multiple assistantships)
  • Resume
  • List of three professional references with contact information
  • Unofficial transcripts (official transcripts will be required later, upon request)

All materials should be sent to the Selection Coordinator, Alan Nordyke, at (e-mail submission preferred). They can also be mailed to Alan Nordyke, Ellis Hall L23, Warrensburg, MO 64093.

The priority application date is February 1 for those not attending the Oshkosh Placement Exchange.

Candidates are also be required apply to the on-line job posting which will be posted on the UCM Jobs Page.

Selection Process

  • If you are selected as a candidate, you will be invited to participate in campus CSPA Visit Days. This invitation will come as an e-mail from Alan Nordyke.
  • CSPA Visit Days are limited to a specific number of candidates for each day and time slot. Day and time preferences will be taken into consideration when planning the schedule, candidates should provid as many options as possible to facilitate scheduling.
  • The 2019 CSPA Visit Days will be March 8-9, 12-13, 22-23.
  • Candidates should plan to be on campus for one and a half days. Lodging and meals during the formal interview time will be provided, all other expenses will be the responsibility of the candidate.
  • Job offers will be extended following the conclusion of the CSPA Visit Days.

GA Position Job Descriptions

FAQ & Other Information

  • Do I have to have an assistantship to be in the CSPA Program?
    • No, the CSPA program does not require students to have a graduate assistantship to be admitted to the degree program.
  • I am not finishing my undergraduate degree until this summer; can I still apply for a GA position?
    • You must have a completed your undergraduate degree and submit transcripts that show completion to UCM before you can start a graduate assistantship. It is very important that your final official transcript is received by UCM prior to the start date for your assistantship.
  • I will finish my undergraduate degree in December; are there GA positions available for the Spring?
    • Most graduate assistants are hired for the full academic year, so it is unlikely there will be a position open that begins in January.
  • My current cumulative GPA is not a 2.70, but I expect it to be by end of the current semester. Can I still apply for a GA position?
    • You may apply, but it is likely you will not be considered during the selection hiring process as offices do not like to risk losing other qualified candidates.
  • I have a pet and many of the graduate assistantships require living on campus. May I bring my pet?
  • I have a significant other and many of the graduate assistantships require living on campus, can my significant other live with me?
    • We do have a partner policy for GAs required to reside in on-campus housing. For more information, email Alan Nordyke ( 

Previous CSPA GA Responses to Common Questions

For more information about CSPA Graduate Assistantships, contact Alan Nordyke (

Course Rotation Schedule

Not all CSPA courses are offered each semester. The rotation of classes is arranged to allow a full-time student entering in fall to graduate by the second May. Students beginning in January should still be able to finish within two calendar years (although this is not required). 

Early enrollment is highly recommended. Delayed enrollment may result in a class being canceled for insufficient enrollment.

Set up a meeting to speak with Dr. Michelle Conrad to discuss the course rotation that would best meet your needs.


Program Coordinator

Michelle Conrad
Associate Professor
Lovinger 4200 B
Tel: (660) 543-4432


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