James Madison University

Why Choose Our Program?

Here is what some of our CSPA graduates have to say about the program…

"I didn't know it at the time but the information I used more than any other was the campus culture discussions. After graduating from JMU, I went to work at UT Arlington in Texas and at the time, they were beginning a culture shift. I used what I learned in those discussions almost daily and ended up helping them to create a more intentional orientation program and the first ever parent weekend. The information I learned in that class was invaluable."
Gayonne, Class of 2002

"I looked at many graduate programs across the country when I was selecting a program and chose JMU because I knew the faculty would invest in me.  It was clear to me that students were the priority for this program and that value has served me well in all of my professional roles including faculty member and Vice President."
Keith, Class of 1998

"I chose the (JMU) CSPA program because I saw a clear intention to place value on developing strong practitioners of this work.  With faculty members who have researched and practiced this work, assistantships and practicum opportunities, and courses to develop counseling and practical skills, it was obvious that I would graduate from the program with a strong foundation of skills and experiences.  The small cohort also attracted me for an opportunity to not only know my classmates, but build relationships as colleagues that would last far beyond our two years of graduate school."
Katie, Class of 2010

Why did you choose the JMU program over others you applied to?

"There were definitely concrete reasons to choose this program over others: I had a guaranteed assistantship and experience required in various offices; I was given practical classes that gave me transferable skills, not just theory; finally, the balance between administrative classes and counseling classes seemed to be just right. Of course, there’s also the student affairs-ey reason - JMU has that little extra bit of friendship and camaraderie that is present from the moment you set foot on campus."
Dusty, Class of 2006

"I chose the JMU program because of the focus on counseling, I really liked that over other programs that focused more on administration. I also felt that JMU's overall package was the best -guaranteed assistantship, two practicums, tuition waiver, stipend, etc. I also remember having a great campus visit. I felt a strong sense of community not only within the program but on the campus as well. Everyone was really welcoming and I thought that JMU would be the best fit for me."
Cathy, Class of 2008

"I chose JMU because of the people. Coming from a small town the atmosphere and support that the students and faculty created starting as early as interview day made JMU the clear choice for me."
Sarah, Class of 2008

What do you want future applicants to know as they are working through the process?

"Think carefully about the type of program you are interested in - counseling based, research based, admin, etc.; Find out what assistantships are available and what the process is to get one. Not all schools guarantee them and the opportunities greatly vary; Be open to an assistantship in an area you may not have thought of before. Grad school is a great opportunity to explore your options and see what is out there; Take advantage of emails "buddies" and overnight hosts - asks them questions and gain a better understanding of what CSPA has to offer."
Cathy, Class of 2008

"Don't feel bad about calling schools to ask questions because every school you apply to will have a different process and it can get really confusing."
Laura, Class of 2008

"Just remember to be who you are and do not get too nervous in having that perfect answer to every question."
Sarah, Class of 2008

"The number one piece of advice I have for future applicants is to connect with your cohort during the first few weeks of the semester. There are so many planned activities during training that it's easy to just do things with your staff and ignore opportunities to make other connections. The first semester was incredibly overwhelming and emotionally challenging for everyone I knew of in the program. It was very important for us to have social outlets and bonding time during that first semester."
Whitney, Class of 2007

"Graduate school is about surviving and changing, not about grades. If you can survive and are proud of the process and the work that you have to show for yourself, then you have succeeded. Don’t stress about a 4.0; stress about a phenomenal learning experience. Every paper you turn in should sit in the back of your brain and continue to grow and change as you learn new things throughout the time in school. Graduate school is a change agent, not a resume booster."
Dusty, Class of 2006

What stands out as being a moment in your experience that shaped you into the student affairs practitioner you are today?

"One of the most amazing experiences is sitting in a chair across from Al Menard during your first few days/weeks of graduate school. He doesn’t give you information about things; he gives you information about the people that have the BEST information about things. It was during my time in that chair that I realized the importance of meeting all of the people on campus and learning as much from every individual as I possibly could. Though it is difficult to put yourself out there, the rewards of building relationships and “picking the brains” of the upper administration last far beyond your two years as a grad student."
Dusty, Class of 2006

"I can't recall one specific epiphanal moment that completely transformed or solely shaped my current professional career, but my experiences in the JMU office of Judicial Affairs provided me with a great deal of challenge and responsibility. I recall several hearings that seemed innocuous in the report and yet the hearing revealed a student who was seriously struggling with a personal problem or with the college experience as a whole. Having a "tough" freshman male start to cry in my office when I simply asked him how he was doing confirmed for me that we are providing a necessary service in Judicial Affairs."
Whitney, Class of 2006

"During my first year in the CSPA program, my assistantship in Student Organization Services changed my perspective of Student Affairs. JMU allows students the opportunity to choose their own assistantship in an office with the best “fit” for them. This allowed me to work with and learn from mentors that inspired and motivated me to develop, both personally and professionally."
Austin, Class of 2008