The College Student Services Administration program at Oregon State University is situated in the College of Liberal Arts. The CSSA is a unique graduate program with emphasis on enhancing knowledge and implementation of social justice in a variety of higher education contexts. We have a historical legacy of over 50 years of outstanding programming in student affairs, higher education, and non-profit sectors and mentorship for CSSA graduate students. We also have a vibrant alumni community with over 500 alumni holding positions in nearly every state and in several other countries.

The CSSA Program is generally completed within two academic years if a student engages in the program full time. The program requires a completion of 54 graduate credits and successful completion and presentation of a capstone project (Ed.M. degree) or a thesis capstone (M.S. degree) during the final year. Full information about the CSSA degree program can be found on our curriculum overview page.

Yes! Benefits-eligible employees can apply their tuition reduction benefit to all our CSSA programs: CSSA on-campus, CSSA ecampus, and the CSSA graduate certificate. Eligible employees can also transfer their benefit to a qualifying family member to use for our program. To learn more about this program and how to apply your benefits to CSSA, visit this link

Each student has the option to select a minor or an area of specialization. The student works with their graduate advisor to discuss which option is most meaningful and appropriate for them based on their academic and career interests. Below are descriptions of a minor and area of specialization. Note that minor and specialization courses must be graduate level.


Minor Option:

This option requires 39 major core credits (listed above) and 15 minor credits formally declared to the Graduate School as a minor in conjunction with a minor professor outside of the CSSA department. List of CLA Graduate minors here | List of Ecampus Graduate minors here


Area of Specialization:

This option includes 36 major core credits. The area of specialization is meant to be an area of emphasis (functional area, topical area, etc.) selected by the student to enhance the learningexperience and meet program competencies. The area of specialization should include at  least 6 credits of formal (non-blanket number) coursework. The area of specialization does not require a formal Graduate School declaration and so will not appear on official transcripts. Additionally, six elective credits are required. Elective credits may be within CSSA or in another academic department.

The GRE or other standardized test is not required for admission or assistantships. If you are applying as an international Graduate Student or inquiring about the TOEFL Process please visit the link below:

Ecampus CSSA students only have one degree track to pursue, the Master of Education (EdM)


On-campus CSSA students CSSA students have two degree tracks from which to select, Master of Education (EdM) and Master of Science (MS):

  1. The Master of Education (EdM), is earned through successful completion of all required program course work and successful completion and defense of a capstone portfolio. The capstone portfolio is a cumulative, comprehensive, and reflective form of student assessment. Completing a portfolio requires that the student address each program competency in a comprehensive, meaningful, and creative way. The portfolio “product” can be shared in any number of formats, including, but not limited to, writings, pictures, audio or video clips, and electronic media (websites, PowerPoint documents, etc.). Final portfolios are distributed to and evaluated in writing by a committee just prior to the last term of course work. A public, formal committee meeting with oral presentation and defense serves as the second method of evaluation.

  2. The Master of Science (MS)*, is earned through successful completion of all required program course work and successful completion and defense of thesis. In addition to required course work and the thesis, students pursuing the MS degree must also demonstrate adequate evidence of competence and learning in each of the five CSSA competency areas. Demonstration of this evidence may take the form of an extended/detailed competency plan with select work samples or other methods approved by the major professor. This demonstration need not be a portfolio, but it should clearly show evidence of competency mastery. Thesis research should be reflected in the demonstration.

For thesis work, CSSA and university policies require students to assemble:

  1. a proposal meeting to present their research plan (generally spring of the first year for full-time students or fall/winter of the second year for part-time students) and

  2. a final defense for presentation and evaluation of the research and competency demonstration (final term of course work).

*Students who wish to pursue the MS should decide this early in their graduate program, ideally during the first term, since such research requires careful and lengthy planning. Major professors should be made aware of this decision.

CSSA has two different admission cycles depending on the program. On campus applications must be received by March 15. Admitted students will then matriculate as a cohort the following Fall.

Ecampus admissions occur on a rolling basis and students can enroll in any term (i.e., fall, winter, spring or summer).

Incomplete applications will not be considered for either program. For additional questions about the CSSA program and admission process, please contact the coordinator, Dr. Kirsten Hextrum at

The programs offer nearly identical content and curriculum with faculty teaching in both programs. Ecampus students have access to the range of resources and supports offered at OSU. CSSA also hosts workshops and events open to both on and ecampus students to integrate learning and professional development opportunities across our programs.

On campus


  • Located in Corvallis, OR
  • Course work is primarily in-person in the evenings
  • Cohort style enrollment
  • Completed in ~2 academic years (full-time enrollment)
  • Minimum of 54 graduate credits
  • Offers the Master of Education (Ed.M) & Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Virtual program
  • Course work is online asynchronous
  • Enrollment is on a rolling basis
  • Completed in 2-3 academic years (Full-time enrollment)
  • Minimum of 54 graduate credits
  • ONLY offers Master of Education (Ed.M)


The CSSA Graduate Certificate is available only via Ecampus. The Graduate Certificate in College Student Services Administration is designed to enhance core knowledge and skills for higher education professionals and aspiring professionals who seek to strengthen their skills, knowledge and professional practice in the arena of student services. Completion of 18 credits. Learn more here.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) are only available to on campus students

As part of the admission process, the CSSA coordinator will assist prospective students to secure campus assistantships. Please note that students admitted to the program are not guaranteed an assistantship, but it is our goal to help as many students as possible. We will communicate specific information about the assistantship process to all admitted students.

To learn more about OSU’s GTAs hiring contracts, policies, benefits, and more visit: Overview of OSU GTAs

For a list of Frequently asked questions about OSU’s GTAs, visit: FAQs about GTAs

The CSSA curriculum prepares students for a range of careers in higher education, student affairs, and non-profit sectors. We have alumni working across the US in a variety of higher education settings– community colleges, regional institutions, research-intensive universities–and positions. We also have alumni working in the public and private sectors. Our curriculum emphasizes skills in inclusive leadership, community engagement, management of programs/services, and student success. Our curriculum offers experiential learning opportunities in the following higher education areas:

  • campus cultural centers and student affinity groups

  • academic advising and student success

  • residence halls and student housing

  • enrollment management (admissions, orientation, and financial aid)

  • career services

  • college unions

  • student and co-curricular activities

  • Intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports

  • international programs

  • general student affairs/services

  • other student and academic support programs