Frequently Asked Questions

About the master's program...

  • Aspiring student success leaders seeking entry-level positions in college and university divisions of student affairs and academic support services.
  • Current student success professionals seeking to advance their careers and enhance their theoretical knowledge, framing, and skills.

Our master's program:

  • is intentionally designed to provide a foundational framework for professionals and aspiring professionals to discover how to foster student success for all students.
  • is informed by decades of student success research as well as emerging student success research and neuroscience.
  • uses a cohort design to foster collaborative learning.
  • uses a Reflective Student Portfolio as the master's culminating experience.
  • students gain vital on-the-job technical and executive skills as they work with other professionals in student success programs and services, which complements the theoretical foundations that underpin student success work learned in the classroom.
Courses are held during the week (Monday – Thursday) between 4:00 pm and 9:40 pm. Students who enroll in this graduate program MUST be available for courses during these days and times between late August and early May of each year. Classroom learning in this program is characterized by group discussions and flipped classrooms. Classroom projects, such as job shadows and undergraduate student interviews, provide opportunities for collaborative and experiential learning.

Gain real-world experience through:

  • Graduate assistantships at San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos, and UC San Diego. We offer opportunities in community colleges as well.

Connect with classmates through our:

  • Peer Mentoring Program: Entirely student-run, the peer mentoring program matches incoming first-year students with a second-year student mentor to guide them through their first year in the program.
  • Cohort socials: Occur approximately once a month. Activities include bonfires, potlucks, and holiday celebrations.

Get involved on campus through:

  • Student Advisory Board: Consists of five students in each cohort who meet once a month to discuss upcoming program events as well as brainstorm solutions to student concerns and issues. Click here to view more information on the Student Advisory Board.
  • Volunteering: The PELSA Assistant Program Coordinator sends regular updates on both program-related and campus-related volunteer opportunities.
  • Professional Involvement: The PELSA Assistant Program Coordinator sends regular updates about local and national conferences to attend.
  • Professional Development Seminars: Offered 2-4 times per semester. The seminars are intended to target learning needs outside of the classroom. Topics are determined through a combination of student, alumni, faculty, and employer feedback. 

About admissions …

A minimum 2.85 grade point average is required for admission to SDSU graduate programs. However, in reviewing applicants, we consider multiple indicators of preparedness for graduate studies, including: the personal statement, letters of recommendation, student leadership experience and professional work experience.  Important: Please note that the GRE is not required in the application/admissions process for the PELSA MA program.

 Both professional and academic references are accepted. A combination of both is preferred.
Although the Cal State Apply Application asks for a statement of purpose, you can simply write See Supplemental Application in the section that asks for a statement of purpose. The supplemental application is where you will include your actual statement of purpose.
For most master’s degree programs, the maximum transferable course credit is nine units including transfer courses taken at another institution, or courses taken through the SDSU Global Campus. Exceptions are the Master of Business Administration degree, Master in Regulatory Affairs degree, Master of Science in Nursing degree which permits 11 units; the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree which permits 18 units; the Master of Science degree in Counseling which permits 24 units; and the Master of Fine Arts degree in Art, the Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts, the Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, and the Master of Social Work degree which permit 30 units. All transfer credit earned in other colleges and universities including foreign universities and those earned through the SDSU Global Campus must be approved by the graduate adviser and graduate dean. Credit earned by correspondence or by examination is not acceptable as satisfying advanced degree requirements. Transfer limits for most advanced certificate programs are limited to a maximum of three units including courses taken through the SDSU Global Campus. For advanced certificates requiring more than 12 units, maximum transfer limits are 30% of degree units and must have the recommendation of the program adviser and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
International students are eligible to work on-campus and they should inquire with their International Student Advisor at the International Student Center.
One unofficial transcript of all graduate and undergraduate coursework must be uploaded with your online application to the College of Education. One official copy of all graduate and undergraduate coursework must be mailed to the SDSU Graduate Admissions Department in a sealed envelope (NOTE: This is a recent update. In the past, two transcripts were required).
Students are only allowed to officially apply to one program per admission cycle. Only one Cal State Apply application is allowed and if a student attempts to submit a second one, it will not go through. Generally, students will contact the second program they are interested in and simply follow through with submitting the supplemental materials only. Since only one official application is allowed, only one official admission decision can be updated. The student will need to make sure to be in contact with both programs because of this system policy.
Non-SDSU students who have the degree in progress are admitted "provisionally/conditionally". Students are told they are required to complete their degree no later than the term prior to matriculation and that they must provide a final transcript with the degree posted, by the end of their matriculation period. If they fail to submit the final transcript by the end of the matriculation period, a hold is placed on their registration for the next term. Our staff sends out several email reminders to the students about the final transcripts being required.

About Graduate Assistantships…

An assistantship is not required for admission.
Our assistantships are paid hourly positions and do not include tuition assistance. Students holding assistantships in residential education typically receive some room and board plus compensation.
Our assistantship positions are always contingent upon the availability of funds in the offices/institutions that provide them. Thus, there are no guarantees of employment for any set amount of time. However, students who hold assistantship positions typically stay in these roles for 1-2 years. To date, no PELSA student has been dismissed from their GA role due to a lack of funding. Further, some PELSA MA students decide to pursue other GA roles in their second year. This is a decision you will navigate and negotiate with your Site Supervisor.


As a general rule, we do not allow students to transfer courses in from other graduate programs. In the past, we have done so in extremely unusual and unforeseen circumstances. If you intend to transfer courses from another graduate program, please discuss the situation with your academic advisor once you are admitted to the program. You should assume you will not be allowed to transfer courses and should plan your academic program accordingly.