Certificate in Higher Education and Student Affairs

Photo of a higher education environment.

The higher education and student affairs certificate in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at Western Michigan University is designed for full-time professionals working in student affairs or related administrative areas who do not have the academic background or training in higher education or graduate students enrolled in another master’s program who demonstrate commitment to and experience working in higher education.

The certificate:

  • Is a 15-credit hour certificate designed in consultation with a faculty advisor.
  • Will provide basic theoretical and administrative knowledge of higher education and student affairs.
  • Includes one three-credit hour field experience at the end for students to solidify their learning.

Following university and graduate college policies, individuals who earn the certificate in higher education and student affairs may apply to the master’s program in higher education and student affairs leadership and use the courses completed toward their degree. Additionally, students pursuing the Ph.D. in higher education leadership may complete this certificate as part of their doctoral program.


The certificate is intended to provide full-time professionals in higher education with:

  • Working knowledge of the typical developmental changes that occur for most traditional aged students in college.
  • Understanding of the theory base and relevant literature that explains student development and behavior.
  • Basic understanding of the history and larger system of higher education from which to frame current issues and decisions made.
  • Working knowledge of relevant Constitutional law as it impacts administrative decisions in higher education.
  • Relevant skills in developing interventions to work with difficult students, parents, colleagues and or skills in assessing college environments.


The following is required as part of your application package:

Part A

  1. Completed graduate application form. You must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  2. One official transcript from every higher education institution you have ever attended, except Western Michigan University, even if you didn’t receive a completed degree.

    Send transcripts to:
    Office of Admissions
    Western Michigan University
    1903 W Michigan Ave
    Kalamazoo MI 49008-5211 USA

Part B

  1. Submit a certificate application.
  2. Submit a two-page written statement presenting your rationale and fit for pursuing the certificate.
  3. Submit a letter of support from your supervisor in higher education or your academic advisor.

Send Part B to:
Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5283 USA

You may also drop off the application at 3571 Sangren Hall to Diane Bourgeois.


  • EDLD 6510: Foundations of Student Affairs, three credit hours
    Introduction to the history of higher education setting where the profession is practiced, and skills and competencies necessary to be successful in the field of student affairs.
  • EDLD 6530: The College Student, three credit hours
    Examines the theoretical and research literature on contemporary college students from a variety of perspectives.
  • EDLD 6540: Administration and Assessment of College Environments, three credit hours
    Emphasizes the administration, management, and assessment of and within student affairs practice in higher education or EDLD 6550*.
  • EDLD 6550: Intervention Skills for Higher Education Professionals, three credit hours
    A theory-to-practice course that teaches basic interpersonal skills necessary for successful higher education professionals. Addresses crisis management skills, interventions, and approaches for handling different people in the higher education environment or EDLD 6540*.
  • EDLD 6580: Field Experience in Higher Education and Student Affairs, three credit hours (300 clock hours)
  • EDLD 6590: Higher Education Law, three credit hours
    Addresses the importance of knowledge of legal issues and their necessity for effective college administrators.

*Individuals will choose both or between EDLD 6540 and EDLD 6550 depending on their previous academic work and specific skills needed for their current role.

Program total: 15-18 credit hours

Most, if not all, courses are offered on the Kalamazoo campus. Please email us with any questions.