Home » Topics » Academics » Master of Science in Leadership and Learning adds Student Affairs concentration

Master of Science in Leadership and Learning adds Student Affairs concentration

As demand grows for post-secondary education administrators, so too does the need for programs to train and prepare them. 

That’s why Dr. Stephanie James, associate professor of educational leadership, launched a new concentration of the Master of Science in Leadership and Learning degree. The Student Affairs in Higher Education concentration is designed to do just that: prepare students to advance and take on leadership roles in postsecondary education.

The concentration will provide students with an in-depth understanding of student affairs philosophy, higher education law and student development theories. 

The 34-credit hour program, which officially launched in the Spring, is offered in a hybrid format, in partnership with Jacksonville University’s Division of Student Affairs.

“One uniqueness about SAHE is that learners study the requisite leadership and student affairs content, and are also exposed to areas on the academic side of post-secondary education,” Dr. James said. “SAHE graduates will be a set of exceptionally prepared student affairs professionals.”

The program originated after an internal survey of undergraduate students showed a strong interest in offering such a program. 

“We received many positive responses,” Dr. James said. 

The general MSLL degree offers leadership education through teaching theories of human motivation, team-building and more. SAHE complements the degree well, as the goal for both is to “produce competent and humane leaders who will positively impact the people and organizations they serve,” Dr. James said. 

The SAHE concentration adds courses on curriculum design and adult learning and development. The coursework will align with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) competency areas for student affairs professionals

Possible career paths for graduates of the MSLL with an SAHE concentration include leading residence life, diversity and inclusion, career services and other student-focused efforts on a college campus.

“(SAHE) targets the population of adult learners who aspire to leadership roles in the career arena of post-secondary education student affairs, and those who may be working in the field and wish to obtain a graduate degree in leadership that includes student affairs specific content,” Dr. James said. 

The MSLL program was launched in 2009 to educate professionals in the non-profit, education and for-profit sectors. It also offers a concentration in Instructional Leadership, Training and Development. There is also an option for a graduate certificate in Instructional Design. 

Jordan Loar, a Jacksonville University human resources generalist, will graduate this Spring with her MSLL concentrated in Instructional Leadership, Training and Development. She said her experience in the program has been well worth it, teaching her to create change in an organization, create training curricula and how to be a leader in her department. 

“My friends and colleagues, who recently earned their master’s degrees or are about to earn their master’s degrees, have asked me, ‘Did you get anything out of your program?,’” Loar said. “Every time I am asked these questions, I happily reply, ‘Absolutely!’ This program not only instilled relevant knowledge, but moreover revealed how to approach leading, learning, and life.”

Like Loar, other graduates have gained a great deal from the program. Dr. James hopes the SAHE concentration will have a similar impact. 

“We are not the biggest program, but our graduates have tended to leave a big impression on the people and organizations they serve,” Dr. James said. “I am hopeful SAHE graduates will do the same.”

By Katie Garwood and Jenna Blyler