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Educational Objectives


Counseling Programs

The Educational Objectives for Department Counseling programs are aligned with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Counseling-Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP learning objectives are as follows:

Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice-studies that provide an understanding of all of the following aspects of professional functioning:

  • history and philosophy of the counseling profession.
  • professional roles, functions, and relationships with other human service providers, including strategies for  interagency/interorganization collaboration and communications.
  • counselors' roles and responsibilities as members of an interdisciplinary emergency management response team during a local, regional, or national crisis, disaster or other trauma-causing event.
  • self-care strategies appropriate to the counselor role.
  • counseling supervision models, practices, and processes.
  • professional organizations, including membership benefits, activities, services to members, and current issues.
  • professional credentialing, including certification, licensure, and accreditation practices and standards, and the effects of public policy on these issues.
  • the role and process of the professional counselor advocating on behalf of the profession.
  • advocacy processes needed to address institutional and social barriers that impede access, equity, and success for clients.
  • ethical standards of professional organizations and credentialing bodies, and applications of ethical and legal considerations in professional counseling.


Social and Cultural Diversity-studies that provide an understanding of the cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in a multicultural society, including all of the following:

  • multicultural and pluralistic trends, including characteristics and concerns within and among diverse groups nationally and internationally.
  • attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences, including specific experiential learning activities designed to foster students' understanding of self and culturally-diverse clients.
  • theories of multicultural counseling, identity development, and social justice.
  • individual, couple, family, group, and community strategies for working with and advocating for diverse populations, including multicultural competencies.
  • counselors' roles in developing cultural self-awareness, promoting cultural social justice, advocacy and conflict resolution, and other culturally-supported behaviors that promote optimal wellness.
  • growth of the human spirit, mind, or body.
  • counselors' roles in eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination.


Human Growth and Development-studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of persons at all developmental levels and in multicultural contexts, including all of the following:

  • theories of individual and family development and transitions across the life span.
  • theories of learning and personality development, including current understandings about neurobiological behavior.
  • effects of crises, disasters, and other trauma-causing events on persons of all ages.
  • theories and models of individual, cultural, couple, family, and community resilience.
  • a general framework for understanding exceptional abilities and strategies for differentiated interventions.
  • human behavior, including an understanding of developmental crises, disability, psychopathology, and situational and environmental factors that affect both normal and abnormal behavior.
  • theories and etiology of addictions and addictive behaviors, including strategies for prevention, intervention, and treatment.
  • theories for facilitating optimal development and wellness over the life span.


Career Development-studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors, including all of the following:

  • career development theories and decision-making models.
  • career, vocational, educational, occupational and labor market information resources, and career information systems.
  • career development program planning, organization, implementation, administration, and evaluation.
  • interrelationships among and between work, family, and other life roles and factors, including the role of multicultural issues in career development.
  • career and educational planning, placement, follow-up, and evaluation.
  • assessment instruments and techniques relevant to career planning and decision-making.
  • career counseling processes, techniques, and resources, including those applicable to specific populations in a global economy.


Helping Relationships-studies that provide an understanding of the counseling process in a multicultural society, including all of the following:

  • an orientation to wellness and prevention as desired counseling goals.
  • counselor characteristics and behaviors that influence helping processes.
  • essential interviewing and counseling skills.
  • counseling theories that provide the student with models to conceptualize client presentation and that help the student select appropriate counseling interventions. Students will be exposed to models of counseling that are consistent with current professional research and practice in the field so they begin to develop a personal model of counseling.
  • a systems perspective that provides an understanding of family and other systems theories and major models of family and related interventions.
  • a general framework for understanding and practicing consultation.
  • crisis intervention and suicide prevention models, including the use of psychological first aid strategies.


Group Work-studies that provide both theoretical and experiential understandings of group purpose, development, dynamics, theories, methods, skills, and other group approaches in a multicultural society, including all of the following:

  • principles of group dynamics, including group process components, developmental stage theories, group members' roles and behaviors, and therapeutic factors of group work.
  • group leadership or facilitation styles and approaches, including characteristics of various types of group leaders and leadership styles.
  • theories of group counseling, including commonalities, distinguishing characteristics, and pertinent research and literature.
  • group counseling methods, including group counselor orientations and behaviors, appropriate selection criteria and methods, and methods of evaluation of effectiveness.
  • direct experiences in which students participate as group members in a small group activity, approved by the program, for a minimum of 10 clock hours over the course of one academic term.


Assessment-studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation in a multicultural society, including all of the following:

  • historical perspectives concerning the nature and meaning of assessment.
  • basic concepts of standardized and non-standardized testing and other assessment techniques, including norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment, environmental assessment, performance assessment, individual and group test and inventory methods, psychological testing, and behavioral observations.
  • statistical concepts, including scales of measurement, measures of central tendency, indices of variability, shapes and types of distributions, and correlations.
  • reliability (i.e., theory of measurement error, models of reliability, and the use of reliability information).
  • validity (i.e., evidence of validity, types of validity, and the relationship between reliability and validity).
  • social and cultural factors related to the assessment and evaluation of individuals, groups, and specific populations.
  • ethical strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment and evaluation instruments and techniques in counseling.


Research and Program Evaluation-studies that provide an understanding of research methods, statistical analysis, needs assessment, and program evaluation, including all of the following:

  • the importance of research in advancing the counseling profession.
  • research methods such as qualitative, quantitative, single-case designs, action research, and outcome-based research.
  • statistical methods used in conducting research and program evaluation.
  • principles, models, and applications of needs assessment, program evaluation, and the use of findings to effect program modifications.
  • the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.
  • ethical and culturally-relevant strategies for interpreting and reporting the results of research and/or program evaluation studies.


Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education Program


According to the Board of Directors of both the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) upon entering the student affairs field, all student affairs professionals are expected to exhibit a set of basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes, regardless of their area of specialization or positional role, or the functional area in which they serve.  All student affairs professionals should be able to demonstrate the ability to meet the basic level outcomes for each of the following competency areas: Advising and Helping; Assessment, Evaluation and Research; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Ethical Professional Practice; History, Philosophy, and Values; Human and Organizational Resources; Law, Policy, and Governance; Leadership; Personal Foundations, Student Learning and Development. In accordance with the guidelines and standards set forth by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) for Masters Level Student Affairs Professional Preparation Programs the basic level outcomes for each competency area listed below serve as the learning outcomes and objectives for the Masters of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education Administration. 

Advising and Helping - The Advising and Helping competency area addresses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to providing counseling and advising support, direction, feedback, critique, referral, and guidance to individuals and groups.

  • exhibit active listening skills (e.g., appropriately establishing interpersonal contact, paraphrasing, perception checking, summarizing, questioning, encouraging, avoiding interrupting, clarifying).
  • establish rapport with students, groups, colleagues, and others.
  • facilitate reflection to make meaning from experience.
  • understand and use appropriate nonverbal communication.
  • strategically and simultaneously pursue multiple objectives in conversations with students.
  • facilitate problem-solving.
  • facilitate individual decision-making and goal-setting.
  • challenge and encourage students and colleagues effectively.
  • know and use referral sources (e.g., other offices, outside agencies, knowledge sources), and exhibit referral skills in seeking expert assistance.
  • identify when and with whom to implement appropriate crisis management and intervention responses.
  • maintain an appropriate degree of confidentiality that follows applicable legal and licensing requirements, facilitate the development of trusting relationships, and recognize when confidentiality should be broken to protect the student or others.
  • recognize the strengths and limitations of one's own worldview on communication with others (e.g., how terminology could either liberate or constrain others with different gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, cultural backgrounds, etc.)
  • actively seek out opportunities to expand one's own knowledge and skills in helping students with specific concerns (e.g., suicidal students) and as well as interfacing with specific populations within the college student environment (e.g., student veterans). 


Assessment, Evaluation, and Research -The Assessment, Evaluation, and Research competency area (AER) focuses on the ability to use, design, conduct, and critique qualitative and quantitative AER analyses; to manage organizations using AER processes and the results obtained from them; and to shape the political and ethical climate surrounding AER processes and uses on campus. Objectives:

  • differentiate among assessment, program review, evaluation, planning, and research and the methodologies appropriate to each.
  •  effectively articulate, interpret, and use results of assessment, evaluation, and research reports and studies, including professional literature.
  • facilitate appropriate data collection for system/department-wide assessment and evaluation efforts using up-to-date technology and methods.      
  • assess trustworthiness and other aspects of quality in qualitative studies and assess the transferability of these findings to current work settings.
  • assess quantitative designs and analysis techniques, including factors that might lead to measurement problems, such as those relating to sampling, validity, and reliability.
  • explain the necessity to follow institutional and divisional procedures and policies (e.g., IRB approval, informed consent) with regard to ethical assessment, evaluation, and other research activities.
  • explain to students and colleagues the relationship of AER processes to learning outcomes and goals.
  • identify the political and educational sensitivity of raw and partially-processed data and AER results, handling them with appropriate confidentiality and deference to the organizational hierarchy.
  • align program and learning outcomes with organization goals and values.



Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) competency area includes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to create learning environments that are enriched with diverse views and people. It is also designed to create an institutional ethos that accepts and celebrates differences among people, helping to free them of any misconceptions and prejudices. Objectives:

  • identify the contributions of similar and diverse people within and to the institutional environment.
  • integrate cultural knowledge with specific and relevant diverse issues on campus.
  • assess and address one's own awareness of EDI, and articulate one's own differences and similarities with others.
  • demonstrate personal skills associated with EDI by participating in activities that challenge one's beliefs.
  • facilitate dialogue effectively among disparate audiences.
  • interact with diverse individuals, and implement programs, services, and activities that reflect an understanding and appreciation of cultural and human differences.
  • recognize the intersectionality of diverse identities possessed by an individual.
  • recognize social systems and their influence on people of diverse backgrounds.
  • articulate a foundational understanding of social justice and the role of higher education, the institution, the department, the unit, and the individual in furthering its goals.
  • use appropriate technology to aid in identifying individuals with diverse backgrounds as well as assessing progress towards successful integration of these individuals into the campus environment.
  • design culturally-relevant and inclusive programs, services, policies, and practices.
  • demonstrate fair treatment to all individuals and change aspects of the environment that do not promote fair treatment.
  • analyze the interconnectedness of societies worldwide and how these global perspectives impact institutional learning.


Ethical Professional Practice - The Ethical Professional Practice competency area pertains to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to understand and apply ethical standards to one's work. While ethics is an integral component of all the competency areas, this competency area focuses specifically on the integration of ethics into all aspects of self and professional practice. Objectives:

  • articulate one's personal code of ethics for student affairs practice, which reflects the ethical statements of professional student affairs associations and their foundational ethical principles.
  • describe the ethical statements and their foundational principles of any professional associations directly relevant to one's working context.
  • explain how one's behavior embodies the ethical statements of the profession, particularly in relationships with students and colleagues, in the use of technology and sustainable practices, professional settings and meetings, global relationships, and while participating in job searching processes.
  • identify ethical issues in the course of one's job.
  • utilize institutional and professional resources to assist with ethical issues (e.g., consultation with more experienced supervisors and/or colleagues, consultation with an association's Ethics Committee).
  • assist students in ethical decision-making and make referrals to more experienced professionals when appropriate.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the role of beliefs and values in personal integrity and professional ethical practices.
  • appropriately address institutional actions which are not consistent with ethical standards.
  • demonstrate an ethical commitment to just and sustainable practices.


History, Philosophy, and Values - The History, Philosophy, and Values competency area involves knowledge, skills, and attitudes that connect the history, philosophy, and values of the profession to one's current professional practice. This competency area embodies the foundations of the profession from which current and future research and practice will grow. The commitment to demonstrating this competency area ensures that our present and future practices are informed by an understanding of our history, philosophy, and values. Objectives:

  • describe the foundational philosophies, disciplines, and values on which the profession is built.
  • articulate the historical contexts of institutional types and functional areas within higher education and student affairs.
  • describe the various philosophies that define the profession.
  • demonstrate responsible campus citizenship.
  • demonstrate empathy and compassion for student needs.
  • describe the roles of faculty and of student affairs educators in the academy.
  • explain the importance of service to the academy and to student affairs professional associations.
  • articulate the principles of professional practice.
  • articulate the history of the inclusion and exclusion of people with a variety of identities in higher education.
  • explain the role and responsibilities of the student affairs professional associations.
  • explain the purpose and use of publications that incorporate the philosophy and values of the profession.
  • explain the public role and societal benefits of student affairs and of higher education generally.
  • articulate an understanding of the ongoing nature of history and one's role in shaping it.
  • model the principles of the profession and communicate the expectation of the same from colleagues and supervisees.
  • explain how the values of the profession contribute to sustainable practices. 


Human and Organizational Resources - The Human and Organizational Resource competency area includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes used in the selection, supervision, motivation, and formal evaluation of staff; conflict resolution; management of the politics of organizational discourse; and the effective application of strategies and techniques associated with financial resources, facilities management, fundraising, technology use, crisis management, risk management and sustainable resources. Objectives:

  • describe appropriate hiring techniques and institutional hiring policies, procedures and processes.
  • demonstrate familiarity in basic tenets of supervision and possible application of these supervision techniques.
  • explain how job descriptions are designed and support overall staffing patterns in one's work setting.
  • design a professional development plan in one's current professional position that assesses one's strengths and weaknesses in their current position, and establishes action items for fostering an appropriate level of growth.
  • explain the application of introductory motivational techniques with students, staff and others.
  • describe the basic premises that underlie conflict in organizational and student life and the constructs utilized for facilitating conflict resolution in these settings.
  • effectively and appropriately use facilities management procedures as related to operating a facility or program in a facility.
  • articulate basic accounting techniques for budgeting, monitoring and processing expenditures.
  • demonstrate effective stewardship/use of resources (i.e., financial, human, material).
  • use technological resources with respect to maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of one's work.
  • describe environmentally sensitive issues and explain how one's work can incorporate elements of sustainability.
  • develop and disseminate agendas for meetings.
  • communicate with others using effective verbal and non-verbal strategies appropriate to the situation in both one-on-one and small group settings.
  • recognize how networks in organizations play a role in how work gets done.
  • understand the role alliances play in the completion of goals and work assignments.
  • describe campus protocols for responding to significant incidents and campus crises.
  • explain the basic tenets of personal or organizational risk and liability as they relate to one's work


Law, Policy, and Governance - The Law, Policy, and Governance competency area includes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes relating to policy development processes used in various contexts, the application of legal constructs, and the understanding of governance structures and their impact on one's professional practice. Objectives:

  • explain the differences between public and private higher education with respect to the legal system and what they may mean for students, faculty, and staff at both types of institutions.
  • describe the evolving legal theories that define the student-institution relationship and how they affect professional practice.
  • describe how national constitutions and laws influence the rights that students, faculty, and staff have on public and private college campuses.
  • explain the concepts of risk management and liability reduction strategies.
  • explain when to consult with one's immediate supervisor and campus legal counsel about those matters that may have legal ramifications.
  • act in accordance with federal and state/province laws and institutional policies regarding non-discrimination.
  • describe how policy is developed in one's department and institution, as well as the local, state/province and federal levels of government.
  • identify the major policy makers who influence one's professional practice at the institutional local, state/province and federal levels of government.
  • identify the internal and external special interest groups that influence policy-makers at the department, institutional, local, state/province, and federal levels.
  • describe the public debates surrounding the major policy issues in higher education including access, affordability, accountability, and quality.
  • describe the governance systems at one's institution, including the governance structures for faculty, staff and students.
  • describe the system used to govern or coordinate one's state/province system of higher education including community college, for-profit, and private higher education.
  • describe the federal and state/province role in higher education.


Leadership -The Leadership competency area addresses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of a leader, whether it be a positional leader or a member of the staff, in both an individual capacity and within a process of how individuals work together effectively to envision, plan, effect change in organizations, and respond to internal and external constituencies and issues. Objectives:

  • describe how one's personal values, beliefs, histories, and perspectives inform one's view of oneself as an effective leader.
  • identify one's strengths and weaknesses as a leader and seek opportunities to develop one's leadership skills.
  • identify various constructs of leadership and leadership styles that include but are not limited to symbolic, expert, relational, and inspirational.
  • identify basic fundamentals of teamwork and teambuilding in one's work setting and communities of practice.
  • describe and apply the basic principles of community building.
  • use technology to support the leadership process (e.g. seeking input or feedback, sharing decisions, posting data that supports decisions, use group support website tools).
  • understand campus cultures (e.g. academic cultures, student cultures) and collaborative relationships, applying that understanding to one's work.
  • articulate the vision and mission of the primary work unit, the division, and the institution.
  • explain the values and processes that lead to organizational improvement.
  • identify institutional traditions and organizational structures (e.g., hierarchy, networks, governing groups, nature of power, policies, goals, agendas and resource allocation processes) and how they influence others to act in the organization.
  • explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of decision-making processes (e.g. consensus, majority vote, and decision by authority).
  • think critically and creatively, and imagine possibilities for solutions that do not currently exist or are not apparent.
  • identify and then effectively consult with key stakeholders and those with diverse perspectives to make informed decisions.
  • explain the impact of decisions on diverse groups of people, other units, and sustainable practices.
  • exhibit informed confidence in the capacity of ordinary people to pull together and take practical action to transform their communities and world.
  • identify and introduce conversations on potential issues and developing trends into appropriate venues such as staff meetings.



Personal Foundations -The Personal Foundations competency area involves the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to maintain emotional, physical, social, environmental, relational, spiritual, and intellectual wellness; be self-directed and self-reflective; maintain excellence and integrity in work; be comfortable with ambiguity; be aware of one's own areas of strength and growth; have a passion for work; and remain curious. Objectives:


  • identify key elements of one's set of personal beliefs and commitments (e.g., values, morals, goals, desires, self-definitions), as well as the source of each (e.g., self, peers, family, or one or more larger communities).
  • identify one's primary work responsibilities and, with appropriate ongoing feedback, craft a realistic, summative self-appraisal of one's strengths and limitations.
  • describe the importance of one's professional and personal life to self, and recognize the intersection of each.
  • articulate awareness and understanding of one's attitudes, values, beliefs, assumptions, biases, and identity as it impacts one's work with others, and take responsibility to develop personal cultural skills by participating in activities that challenge one's beliefs.
  • recognize and articulate healthy habits for better living.
  • articulate an understanding that wellness is a broad concept comprised of emotional, physical, social, environmental, relational, spiritual, and intellectual elements.
  • identify and describe personal and professional responsibilities inherent to excellence.
  • articulate meaningful goals for one's work.
  • identify positive and negative impacts on psychological wellness and, as appropriate, seek assistance from available resources.
  • recognize the importance of reflection in personal and professional development.


Student Learning and Development-The Student Learning and Development competency area addresses the concepts and principles of student development and learning theory. This includes the ability to apply theory to improve and inform student affairs practice, as well as understanding teaching and training theory and practice. Objectives:

  • articulate theories and models that describe the development of college students and the conditions and practices that facilitate holistic development.
  • articulate how differences of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and religious belief can influence development during the college years.
  • identify and define types of theories (e.g., learning, psychosocial and identity development, cognitive-structural, typological, and environmental).
  • identify the limitations in applying existing theories and models to varying student demographic groups.
  • articulate one's own developmental journey and identify one's own informal theories of student development and learning (also called "theories-in use") and how they can be informed by formal theories to enhance work with students.
  • generate ways in which various learning theories and models can inform training and teaching practice.
  • identify and construct learning outcomes for both daily practice as well as teaching and training activities.
  • assess teaching, learning, and training and incorporate the results into practice.