Frequently Asked Questions

Why do students choose to attend GVSU and the College Student Affairs Leadership program?

Click here to read what current graduate students had to say about why they decided to attend GVSU and what their experience has been in the CSAL program

What is the difference between the CSAL and the Adult and Higher Education program?

The College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program prepares its students on a more theoretical base to enter the Student Affairs job market in positions such as Admissions, Orientation, Housing, Campus Recreation, etc. whereas the Adult and Higher Education program prepares students for working with adult and higher education students and more administrative positions in higher education.

Where do CSAL students come from?

Students entering the CSAL program earned undergraduate degrees from one hundred seven different institutions in twenty-six states and three other countries, click here for a full list of where our students did their undergraduate degree

What is the cohort model like?

Each incoming class of new students comprises a cohort of students to provide a shared learning experience and community. Each cohort completes many of the core classes together. Student chose their own electives to fit what they want out of the program.

How many students are in each cohort?

There are approximately 25-30 students in each cohort. 

What are the unique components of the CSAL program?

One of the most unique components of the CSAL program are the different options students have to study abroad (yes there is more than one option!). Also CSAL program has two practicum experiences built into the curriculum, providing ample experiences to apply theory to practice.  Additionally, the cohort model creates a dynamic where graduate students have a supportive community to help with their journey through the graduate program.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The CSAL program is a two year, 42 credit hour program with most students taking 6 credits during the summer after their first year.  Due to the cohort nature of the program all CSAL students must be full time and begin during the fall semester. 

Are classes offered online?

Yes.  However, a majority of classes are on-site. 

Do I need to take the GRE?

The GRE is not required for admission unless your cumulative GPA is less than a 3.0.

Can I plan a visit to meet faculty and students in the CSAL program?

If you would like to visit campus before interviewing for a graduate assistantships contact Aaron Haight at to set a visit up.

Is there an academic interview that goes along with the application to the College of Education?

No, but those interviewing for a graduate assistantship must be admitted to the College of Education.

What needs to be included in my personal statement?

Please submit a two to three page statement, which addresses the reasons you are interested in the student affairs profession and graduate study in the CSAL program. This statement should also address the skills and experience you will bring to not only a graduate assistantship but also to the academic program. 

Do I need to submit an official transcript from every institution that I have attended?

Yes, you need to submit an official transcript from every institution that you have attended prior to submitting your application.

Do I need an assistantship in order to be a member of the cohort?

Though it is highly encouraged to have a graduate assistantship while going through the CSAL program, it is not a requirement. 

How do the Graduate Assistants receive their stipend?

All graduate assistants are paid via bi-weekly paycheck beginning two weeks after their start-dates and ending a week after their end-dates.

Is there a difference in the amount of a housing graduate assistantship stipend and a non housing graduate assistantship?

Yes, the housing graduate assistants receive $6,000, an apartment, and a meal plan. Non-housing graduate assistants receive $9,000.

If I accept a graduate assistantship in housing, am I required to live in on campus housing?


What is the difference in a CSAL designated extended contract and an academic year contract?

A CSAL designated extended contract (ten month contract) begins in August and runs through May. An academic year contract (nine month contract) starts when the Fall semester begins and ends when the Winter semester ends.

Is out of state tuition paid for in full?

If you have a CSAL designated contract (ten month contract), then yes all 42 credit hours will be paid for whether you are an in state or out of state student. 

Is there an orientation for CSAL students?

Yes, all incoming CSAL student are invited and highly encouraged to attend a CSAL specific orientation that is usually held during the last week in July.  Both first and second year students attend orientation. 

Where can I find information about assistantships outside of the CSAL program?

The Graduate School lists open academic-year assistantship positions as they become available. These openings are found here. The Student Employment website also lists available assistantships. The website can be found by found here.

What is SAGA?

The Student Affairs Graduate Association (SAGA) is a student organization for graduate students who are aspiring student affairs professionals.  SAGA provides opportunities for both professional and personal development through various opportunities including workshops, speakers, and networking events.

What majors do most incoming CSAL students have?

CSAL students enter the program bringing a variety of undergraduate majors including business, sociology, art, biology, etc.  Such a diverse range of undergraduate experiences creates a rich classroom dynamic. 

Is the program open to international students?

Yes.  The CSAL program welcomes international students. 

When are applications due?

Preferably by the beginning of January.

Do you offer rolling admission?

Admission to the College of Education and the application for a CSAL Graduate Assistantship can be done on a rolling basis. Candidates for graduate assistantships in the CSAL program are invited to the Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus each year for a visitation day usually in February. All decisions to offer Graduate Assistantships are made by the staff in each office that sponsors an assistantship. Typically, these decisions are made by April 1.

Are current students right out of their undergraduate experience or do they have prior full time work experience?

Students entering the CSAL program come with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some come directly out of an undergraduate degree program. Others have been working in higher education or other areas and they realized they lacked the foundational knowledge and the credential of the masters degree. Some students were actively involved in student affairs as undergraduates and decided early on to make it a career. Others came later to a realization that working with students in colleges and universities can provide a challenging and rewarding career.

Are there opportunities to cultural immersion and study abroad in the CSAL program?

Yes. Click here to find out more about study abroad opportunities.

Whom should I ask to write my three letters of recommendation?

It's probably best to have a combination of previous faculty, supervisors, or advisors.

Page last modified July 25, 2016