Student Affairs Administration (M.S.Ed.)

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Every M.S.Ed. student is assigned a faculty advisor from among the full-time faculty and instructional academic staff. Advisors reach out to students at least once per semester, providing guidance on electives (special topics courses, field experiences, etc.) and offering academic or career advice, as requested. Current students can locate their assigned advisor in the student information system, WINGS. Additional commonly asked questions (and answers) are below.

How long does it take to complete the SAA program? expanding section

All M.S.Ed. options (on-campus, online, and blended) are completed in two years.


Am I required to complete a research project or thesis? expanding section

Students must complete a Capstone project as part of SAA 780 and SAA 790 to meet program requirements. To complete a thesis, a student must have department approval. 

How many classes are taught online? expanding section

In the on-campus cohorts, the vast majority of courses are taught face-to-face, though may have  online content. The one exception is our 720 Special Topics courses, which are all taught completely online, and give students from all cohort types the chance to interact with each other.Students are in class together roughly nine hours per week.

In the blended cohort at UW-River Falls (UWRF), all classes are taught online, though faculty offer regular face-to-face instruction in most courses. Students are in class roughly three hours per week on the UWRF campus, and six hours per week online.

In the online cohorts, all classes are taught online. Courses are designed as asynchronous (students are not required to be available at the same day/time), but most include synchronous (live) virtual meeting options.  Students are in online classes roughly six hours per week.

For every hour in class, students should plan on spending two-three hours outside of class on readings, projects, papers, etc.  Thus, the on-campus and blended students commit 25-30 hours per week to their studies during the academic year.  The online students commit 15-20 hours per week to their studies year-round.

How can I obtain more practical experience while in the program? expanding section

SAA requires students to hold at least half-time employment in student affairs and higher education throughout their time in the program.  Additionally, students must complete a 1-credit practicum (SAA 775) in a different area than their primary position.

Students seek these practicum experiences at an institution of their choice and should meet with their faculty advisor to discuss options.  One practicum credit equals 70 hours of work, and students can select a 1- or 2-credit practicum (completing 70 or 140 hours in a semester).  SAA 775 is graded on a pass/fail basis, and hours must be completed in the term the student registers for the credit(s).

Do the online classes "meet" at certain times during the week? expanding section

No.  All online classes are taught asynchronously, where teacher(s) and learner(s) are not physically at the same place at the same time. Each course includes weekly due dates for discussions, assignments, and other course activities. Many online courses offer students the opportunity to interact with peers or their instructor(s) synchronously to work on assignments or have course discussions. 

Are there additional degree requirements? expanding section

Yes, in partial fulfillment of all requirements for the M.S.Ed. degree, all students are required to participate in the SAA Capstone Day to present their Capstone project. The UW-La Crosse Capstone Day (for on-campus and online students) takes place the Friday before Commencement weekend at UWL. UW-River Falls students hold their Capstone Day at UWRF one week earlier so UWRF supervisors and colleagues can attend.

What happens if I don't complete the Capstone project in time for the May graduation but have completed all of my other coursework? expanding section

The Capstone Project has been designed so it can be completed over the two courses, SAA 780 & SAA 790, taken the final two semesters in the program. In case of communicated emergencies, students can request a grade of incomplete in the course and complete their final assignment after the course ends. This happens at the discretion of the faculty member in communication with the student.

Per UWL Graduate Studies policy, students who have completed all coursework required for a graduate degree but who are still working on required research, comprehensive exams, or terminal projects (thesis, capstone or other culminating graduate project) must register for GRC 799 for up to two semesters of continuous registration. If students can complete their work in one semester, then only one semester is necessary. If students take more than one semester, they must take two and no more than two continuous semesters of GRC 799. Fees for GRC 799 will be equivalent to 1 in-state graduate credit each semester.

Is there a current student I can contact about their experience in the SAA program? expanding section

Absolutely.  Our ambassadors include:

On-Campus Program:

  • Mitch:  2nd year student, Graduate Assistant in SAA 
  • Paige:  2nd year student, Graduate Assistant in SAA
  • Megan: Class of 2018, Student Support Services Advisor at UWL.
  • Callie: Class of 2017, Education Abroad Advisor, Binghamton University

Online Program:

  • Katie:, Class of 2017, Associate Director of Academic Advising, UW-Madison Wisconsin School of Business
  • Christine:, Class of 2016, Advising, Diversity, and Success Specialist, Northcentral Technical College

UWRF Blended Program:

  • Kayla:, 2nd year student, GSI - Career Fair Coordinator
  • Joann:, 2nd year student, GSI - Transitions Program Coordinator
  • Sergio:, Class of 2015, Director of Intercultural Programs and First Generation Scholars Program, Loras College


How can I schedule a visit to SAA? expanding section

To arrange a visit, please contact Clarify if you are interested in the on-campus, online, and/or blended program at UW River Falls. The visit may include a meeting with current students, faculty, site supervisors, or an in-person or online class observation (depending on day and time of visit). 

Is there a time limit on completing the degree? expanding section

Per UW-La Crosse policy, students must complete their degree in seven years. The start of the first course in the first term starts this period. Please see the Graduate Catalog for more information.

What happens if I need to stop out of the program? expanding section

Please discuss your plans with your faculty advisor and/or the program director. If you leave while in good academic standing, you can apply as a re-entry student to return to the program. Since some courses are only offered once per year, you will work with your advisor to develop a revised degree completion plan.  

See Records & Registration for more information on course drop / add deadlines. If you need to withdraw after the drop deadline due to a health emergency, work with your advisor and the Student Life office to discuss medical withdrawal options. 

Does SAA accept any graduate credits from other programs (transfer credits)? expanding section

Depending on the coursework, you may be able to transfer up to nine credits from other graduate programs. Per UWL policy, only courses completed within the past seven years can be considered for transfer credit. All transfer credits must be approved by the M.S.Ed. Program Director. For a course to be considered for transfer credits, the course must closely resemble a course in the SAA curriculum. Submit a Transfer Credit Request Form for credits to be considered for transfer.

Can I take classes as a special student even though I am not formally admitted in the program? expanding section

Decisions about allowing students to enroll in classes as a "special" or non-degree-seeking student are made on a case by case basis. Please contact the Department Chair if you are interested in a particular SAA course.

Can I get scholarships or grants to help cover my student costs? expanding section

Currently, the UWL Foundation has some scholarships named after SAA alumni and friends. The application deadline is February 1 of each year.  Go to the UWL Foundation website for more information. 

Because online and blended program students do not pay segregated fees, they are ineligible for most grants offered by Graduate Studies or International Education

More information about additional options can be found on our financial information page.

What types of jobs are available for graduates of the program? expanding section

Students in our program have found jobs in all aspects of student affairs or academic affairs at both 2 and 4-year institutions. This includes positions in Admissions, Academic Advising, Residence Life, Career Services, Multicultural Services, Student Centers and Student Unions, Financial Aid, Registrars Offices, Dean of Students Offices, International Education and more.

How quickly do SAA graduates find professional jobs? expanding section

Generally, most of our students find employment within a few months of graduation. Chances for employment increase exponentially when graduates increase the areas (geographic or functional) in which they're willing to consider employment. Those who are looking for positions in a small geographic community tend to take the longest time to find positions.