Student Affairs

Within the US University and College organisational structures Student Affairs plays a large part in providing both services and support for students. It serves to compliment the academic programme by supporting the intellectual, cultural, personal, and social development of students while enhancing their physical and psychological well-being. Student Affairs may also be referred to as the Student Life Office.

Whilst each institution may vary, a typical hierarchy within Student Affairs might include the following roles:

  • Vice Chancellor/President of Student Affairs
  • Dean of Students
  • Associate Vice Chancellor/President(s)
  • Assistant Vice Chancellor/President(s)
  • Director(s), Departmental
  • Associate Director(s)
  • Assistant Director(s)
  • Coordinator(s)
  • Administrative Support Staff.

Student Affairs may include the following departments:

  • Academic Advising may be full-time advisors or full-time faculty with part-time advising responsibilities, often graduate students fulfill this role.
  • Admissions including recruiters
  • Assessment and Research
  • Athletics usually in small institutions and/or NACAAA Division III institutions
  • Campus Safety or Police Services, may be city law enforcement officers
  • Career Development or Career Services including employer relations, interview placement, course of study guidance and internships
  • College/Student Union or Student Centers, College Centers or University Centers, responsible for day-to-day operation of facility and may include food services/catering or other auxiliary services
  • Community Service and Service Learning engage students in community service and experiential learning opportunities
  • Commuter Services or Adult Students or Non-Traditional Students, services for students living off-campus including social programs and transition for non-traditional students
  • Counseling Services for students, faculty and staff, accredited counseling staff
  • Dining and Food Services may be auxiliary and/or part of the College/Student Union
  • Disability Support Services include note taking, accommodations and advocacy
  • Enrollment Management may include Financial Aid, Bursar and Registrar
  • Financial Aid assists students in financial matters including processing federal aid, payment plans and may include student employment
  • Fund Raising and Fund Development or Development or Advancement
  • Greek Affairs or Fraternity and Sorority Life, including advisement of governing councils, recruitment and leadership programming for new and initiated members
  • Health Services provides individual medical and/or mental health care, usually includes public health education programs and counseling services
  • International Student Services assists and supports international students, may include Study or Education Abroad
  • Judicial Affairs enforces community standards and campus codes of conduct, may include ethical programs/education and mediation
  • Leadership Programs provides leadership opportunities, may include Student Government
  • Multicultural Affairs provides support and programming to create an environment of respect and education
  • Orientation and First-Year Experience provides support and programming for first-year students, usually includes orientation and may include Parent and Family Relations
  • Recreation and Fitness Programs or Campus Recreation, provides recreational activities such as intramural sports, club sports and outdoor activities for promoting wellness
  • Residence Life or Housing provides housing, programming and support for on-campus residents, may include food services
  • Spirituality, Faith or Religious Services usually at private institutions regardless of institution’s affiliation



Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice

JSARP’s mission is to publish the most rigorous, relevant, and well-respected research that makes a difference in student affairs practice. Formerly known as NASPA Journal, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice fosters open and critical discourse within and across disciplines from the perspective of student affairs in higher education. The journal can be followed on Twitter: @JSARPtweets


Professional Associations

The two main professional associations Student Affairs educators and adminstrators may be members of are ACPA and NASPA. Members include graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in student affairs/higher education administration programs, faculty and student affairs professionals, from entry level to senior student affairs officers. Members of ACPA and NASPA are currently balloting on a proposed merger of the two associations. 

NASPA – National Association of Student Personnel Administrators 

NASPA as the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy, and practice affirms the commitment of student affairs to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning.
To provide professional development and advocacy for student affairs educators and administrators who share the responsibility for a campus-wide focus on the student experience. 
Core Values

  • Diversity
  • Learning
  • Integrity
  • Service
  • Fellowship
  • Spirit of Inquiry
  • Collaboration
  • Access 

NASPA provides professional development and advocacy for student affairs educators and administrators who share the responsibility for a campus-wide focus on the student experience.

ACPA – American College Personnel Association

ACPA leads the student affairs profession and the higher education community in providing outreach, advocacy, research, and professional development to foster college student learning.

ACPA supports and fosters college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices and programs for student affairs professionals and the higher education community.

Core Values

  • Education and development of the total student.
  • Diversity, multicultural competence and human dignity.
  • Inclusiveness in and access to association-wide involvement and decision-making.
  • Free and open exchange of ideas in a context of mutual respect.
  • Advancement and dissemination of knowledge relevant to college students and their learning, and to the effectiveness of student affairs professionals and their institutions.
  • Continuous professional development and personal growth of student affairs professionals.
  • Outreach and advocacy on issues of concern to students, student affairs professionals and the higher education community, including affirmative action and other policy issues.

ACPA supports and fosters college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices and programs for student affairs professionals and the higher education community.

Other Professional Associations

ACUI – Association of College Unions International: Members are from service areas such as Facilities, Food Services ansd Student Activities.

ACCRO – American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers: Members are Admissions and Registration professionals.

AAUA – American Association of University Administrators: Membership is open to any individual in the field of higher eduication administration but members have predominantly senior roles up to Vice President level.


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