Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Programs in Student Affairs in Higher Education

What do I need to do to apply?

Complete the application for the School of Graduate Studies and Research. We require two letters of recommendation (one professional and one academic letter from a faculty member who can speak to your ability in the classroom), a GPA above 2.8, a Statement of Interest in Student Affairs, and a current resume. Applicants may also be asked to complete an interview with a current faculty member. Under special circumstances, exceptions to the minimum GPA will be considered.

When is the applications deadline?

The SAHE program begins reviewing admissions applications late the fall and continues into the spring. Students are strongly encouraged to submit all application materials by January 15. Late applications may be considered, but those students may not be able to participate in the Visitation Program where assistantship interviews take place.

How many students are in the program?

We hope to enroll approximately 30-35 students in each new cohort. There are usually approximately 60-65 students enrolled in the program at any point in time.

What is a graduate assistantship?

In most academic disciplines, graduate assistantships are viewed as rewards for past success, encouragement for future academic accomplishment, and enticement for enrollment. Tuition and/or stipend benefits are provided to students in exchange for service to the academic department awarding the assistantship. In SAHE, such assistantships are also viewed as important opportunities to gain valuable practical experience in the field of student affairs, because the sites for service are usually traditional student affairs offices. Assistantships are “half-time,” which commit the student to approximately 20 hours per week of service to the site. Because SAHE assistantships are served at IUP and other institutions in our region, compensation packages vary, but they are usually equivalent to IUP's compensation of a tuition waiver and a stipend of $5,540 per academic year. Assistantships which include service to Residence Life areas often also include apartments and/or meals within their compensation plans, especially for those positions entitled graduate residence directors.

How do I get an assistantship?

All accepted students are invited and encouraged to attend the Visitation and Assistantship Interview Weekend, typically in late February or early March. At this event, supervisors offering assistantships on and off campus will spend the day interviewing incoming students for positions. After the March event, individual interviews must be arranged with the offices and institutions who have not yet selected a graduate assistant.

Does everyone receive an assistantship?

Approximately 90 percent of our currently enrolled students have an assistantship. Occasionally, students are already working full time at an institution and therefore do not need an assistantship for experience or financial support, and a few enroll without having received an assistantship offer.

What are off-campus assistantships?

Off-campus assistantships are positions held at institutions within a commutable distance of IUP. Those students who participate in off-campus assistantships generally work and live at that institution and commute to IUP for classes. The advantage of an off-campus assistantship is experiencing an institution different from IUP (public vs. private, large vs. small, religiously vs. non-religiously affiliated), your undergraduate institution, or other professional experiences.

When are our classes?

All of our classes are held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the day. Students holding assistantships at off-campus locations can usually arrange their schedule to have class two days a week. Often, these off-campus students spend the night with friends living in Indiana to limit the time spent driving to and from class.

Can I start in the summer?

All students are admitted based upon the term indicated on their application. About half of our students start during IUP’s “Summer II” term that commences in early July. Students admitted for fall who later decide to start in summer need to write or e-mail the SGSR to request the change ( Students are encouraged to check with their assistantship supervisors to find out when their tuition waivers begin (i.e., summer session II or fall).

What is a practicum?

A practicum is similar to an internship. Students must complete 150 work hours in a semester to fulfill the requirements of the three-credit course. Two practica are necessary to obtain the degree. Generally, a practicum should be in a functional area other than the one where you are working as a graduate assistant.

What is the graduate placement rate?

Our placement rate annually ranges between 85 and 95 percent. The faculty members, SAHE alumni, and placement services at our national conventions are extremely helpful in assisting our students secure positions all over the country.

Where is Indiana, Pa.?

Indiana is located in Western Pennsylvania, approximately one hour (55 miles) east of Pittsburgh.

From other cities:
Altoona - 55 miles
Harrisburg - 175 miles
Philadelphia - 276 miles
Columbus - 244 miles
New York City - 322 miles

Are most students from Pennsylvania?

A slight majority of our students are from Pennsylvania or attended undergraduate institutions in Pennsylvania. However, at any time, students likely come from 12 to 15 different states or foreign countries.

Can I “survive” after being out of school for a few years?

We believe that our classes, faculty, and students are very supportive of individuals coming straight from undergrad, as well as those who have been in the profession or are seeking a new career path. Many students come to SAHE after having worked for several years.

If I've never been an RA, can I still apply for the program?

Absolutely! There is much more to student affairs and student development than what happens in the residence hall. Were you a Greek leader, member of the student government association, or a work-study in career services? Did you participate in multicultural activities, a women's cultural center, health and wellness promotion programs, religious organizations, or tutor other students? All of these positions and more may lead you to a career in student affairs.

Where do graduate students live in Indiana?

For the most part, graduate students who have non-residence life assistantships rent apartments or houses in the borough of Indiana. There are also a few on-campus efficiency apartments available to graduate students. Students serving assistantships at other institutions usually live in that community, but some occasionally commute to that location from Indiana.