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Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College IL
M.A. in Higher Education and Student Development

Why Pursue an M.A. in Higher Education and Student Development?

Formerly known as the M.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry (CFM), this newly-revised program features a more concentrated focus on the fields of Higher Education and Student Development. Our mission is to prepare individuals for professional positions in student affairs in schools, colleges, and universities, with a special focus upon emerging adult identity and spiritual formation. Our vision is to equip academically grounded, spiritually maturing, diversity-focused, and practically skilled professionals who humbly, compassionately, and wisely develop emerging adults, minister the Gospel, and build up God's people in a constantly changing world.

Why Study Higher Education and Student Development at Wheaton?

  • Articulate biblical, theological, ethical, cultural, historical, and philosophical foundations in student affairs in light of contemporary global realities;
  • Identify characteristics of emerging adults and how such attributes influence educational, developmental, and spiritual formation, as well as the effects of the college experience on student learning;
  • Comprehend organizational, management, and leadership theory and practice; student affairs functions; legal issues in higher education; and professional issues, gain the ability to synthesize knowledge across these content areas to apply to professional experiences with students.
  • Learn that a life of discipleship, spiritual growth, and balanced self-care is the foundation of effective ministry and leadership;
  • Identify your gifts, calling and passions, and appropriately offer them in service to Christ and the world;
  • Engage in authentic Christian community, valuing the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, traditions, and individuals;
  • Effectively contribute to your community as a member of the Body of Christ.
  • On campus students, apply for Graduate Assistantships in the field of student development. Flexible Learning Students, remain in your current leadership field and learn from there.
  • Engage in conflict mediation and resolution practices and demonstrated, effective, intervention strategies; 
  • Teach and led effectively, appropriately integrating truth, facilitated reflection, and experiences with integrity, humility, and grace, to build healthy communities and foster holistic development of individuals;
  • Serve collaboratively and compassionately as part of a team, balancing the needs of others with adequate self-care;
  • Gain experiences in the necessary skills of student personnel professionals including: program planning, implementation, or evaluation; staff training, advising, or supervision; and administrative functions or processes.
  • Learn from world-class faculty who set the industry standards for student development in both secular and Christian contexts;
  • Work alongside and receive mentorship from student development and higher education professionals while earning your degree.
  • Join the full-time, on-campus community, or
  • Join a Flexible Learning Cohort, and enjoy the journey of developing in your field with others who are still in their home, ministry, or work contexts.

Recent Mission, Ministry, and Leadership News

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My time at Wheaton allowed me to refocus on what I was doing in ministry. Without it, I think I would have only continued in overseas ministry for a few more years. — Brian Blackburn M.A. '06, Chief Administrator of Mercy Ships Academy, Africa

Our Statement of Faith

Dr. Laura Barwegen considers how the Wheaton College Statement of Faith is reflected in our program. View the full Statement of Faith video series..


Faculty Books

Modern Psychopathologies

Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal

Written by well-known and respected scholars Mark A. Yarhouse, Richard E. Butman, and Barrett W. McRay, this book provides an introduction to a set of disorders along with overviews of current research on etiology, treatment and prevention.

The Emergence of Evangelical Spirituality by Tom Schwanda

Emergence of Evangelical Spirituality: The Age of Edwards, Newton and Whitefield

Dr. Tom Schwanda introduces readers to the full range of writings arranged topically to create a narrative approach to the spiritual journey of evangelicals.

Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by David Setran

Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood

Dr. David Setran bridges the gap between academic and popular literature on emerging adulthood and offers concrete ways to facilitate spiritual formation among emerging adults.

Internships, Applied Learning, and Careers in Student Development

In order to best prepare our students for the jobs they will eventually pursue, internship opportunities are integrated into our program. Additionally, many students in the program work as Graduate Resident Advisors or in a related Student Development role at Wheaton College. Beyond these opportunities, our Center for Vocation and Career helps students find jobs in student development, church and parachurch ministries, and more.

Those seeking to be challenged to think critically about collegiate learning and discipleship as they pursue a master’s degree in student development for higher educational settings.

Our alumni have pursued careers ranging from working with Mercy Ships Academy in Africa, to serving as resident directors and directors of activities at colleges and universities, pastor positions, and many more.

Put your learning into action. Apply to be a Graduate Resident Advisor or for other related Graduate Assistant roles.