hands typing on keyboard with the words Admissions RequirementsMA in Postsecondary Educational Leadership: Specialization in Student Affairs (M.A.) Application Process

Learn how to apply to the Postsecondary Educational Leadership: Specialization in Student Affairs (PELSA) (M.A.). 

Important Dates for Fall 2022

Item Due Date
1. Cal State Apply application
(opens October 1 each year)
December 15, 2021
2. Official Transcripts due January 12, 2022
3. Interviews (through Zoom) February 16 and 17, 2022


Program Information Sessions are upcoming this Fall, click here for more information. Virtual sessions available.

Steps to Apply

1. Submit the Cal State Apply and PELSA Application

For assistance, see Tips on Completing the Cal State Apply University Application

  • Please be sure to select the program on page 2 of the San Diego Graduate programs list:

    Education- Educational Leadership (Student Affairs in Postsecondary Education)

  • There is a $70 application fee to submit the Cal State Apply application.

Go to Cal State Apply (CSU Application) - Opens October 1

NEW!  For the Fall 2022 application cycle only 1 application will be required to apply to this Master's program.  In the past 2 applications were required - one to the University and one to the Program.  They have been combined into the Cal State Apply application.  If you have any application questions, please email Melanie Falkenberg [email protected]

Items Needed to Complete the Cal State Apply Application

Please gather the items below and have them ready to upload to the Cal State Apply application in the Program Materials box/quadrant:  

Download unofficial transcripts (or scan a paper transcript) from your degree institution and be prepared to upload to the Program Materials box in the Cal State Apply application. You can upload other schools transcripts as well, but faculty are most interested in your degree transcript. This is in addition to, not a substitution for, having official transcripts sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions office.
Prepare a resume or curriculum vitae.  We expect that this will at least include your education and work history, as well as your leadership experience and community activities.

Write a 500 word statement of purpose, double-spaced and at least size 12 font, that addresses the following questions:

    • Why are you interested in this graduate program?
    • How have your previous academic experiences prepared you to meet the academic demands of graduate education and learning outcomes of this graduate program?
    • How have your leadership experiences, community service/organizing activities, involvement in supporting equity, diversity & inclusion initiatives, or your professional experiences prepared you for success in this graduate program?
    • What are your professional goals? How will obtaining this degree facilitate your achievement of these goals?
    • Are there any other relevant insights you wish to add regarding your readiness for graduate education and/or your admission to this graduate program?

Contact two individuals who you have interacted with professionally and would be able to write a letter of recommendation for you. Recommenders will submit their letters directly into the Cal State Apply application.

Recommendations in the Cal State Apply application:

Within the application you will "make a request" to one of your recommenders, by entering their name and email address.  The system will email them and ask them to accept writing a letter and then ask them to upload that letter to your application.  Please note there are 3 stages that these requests go through in the application system:

  • Requested - the stage when you first make the request and the email is sent.
  • Accepted - the stage when your recommender agrees to write the letter for you, but no letter is uploaded yet.
  • Completed - when the letter has been uploaded to your application.

For us to be able to view your letter your requests have to be in the "completed" category.  If they only show as "accepted" no letter is present and you need to follow up with your recommender to have their letter completed.

2. Request official transcripts

Please wait to request these official transcripts until AFTER you have submitted your Cal State Apply application, then request that your official transcripts be sent to SDSU, following instructions on our Submit Official Transcripts page.  If you send them early they will take longer to process.

3. Complete the Graduate Assistantship survey

If you plan to apply for a student affairs graduate assistantship, please prepare a one-page statement of interest in which you describe your interests, background, and the reasons why you would be a good candidate for the position(s) in which you are interested. View a list of Student Affairs Graduate Assistantships.  

In late December or early January you will receive a Qualtrics survey or Google form through email where you will be able to rank your Graduate Assistantship preferences and upload a statement (described above) and resume.  The resume can be the same (or slightly revised) from the one included in your Cal State Apply application.

4. Interviews

Immediately after the December deadline, all applications will be reviewed by a committee of faculty in the ARPE department. Following this review, a select group of students will be invited to interview for admission to the program and for a student affairs graduate assistantship (if applicable).  Program and Graduate Assistantship interviews will be held  virtually in mid February. Students who do not apply for a Graduate Assistantship will be invited for a program interview only. Students will be notified of their admission status (admitted, denied, or waitlisted) shortly following the interview period.