Division of Student Affairs Professional Development

NASPA Student Affairs Competencies

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.

  • Demonstrate culturally appropriate advising, helping, coaching, and counseling strategies*

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.

  • Prioritize 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.

  • Demonstrate personal skills associated with EDI by participating in activities that challenge one’s beliefs

Ethical Professional Practice

The Ethical Professional Practice competency area pertains to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to understand and apply all 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.

  • Engage in effective consultation and provide advice regarding ethical issues with colleagues and students

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.

  • Explain the public role and societal benefits of student affairs and of higher education generally

Human and Organizational Resources

The Human and Organizational Resources 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 effective application of strategies and techniques associated with financial resources, facilities management, fundraising, technology use, crisis management, risk management, and sustainable resources.

  • Align evidence-based decision-making strategies and planning with resource allocation and reallocation

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 effect on one’s professional practice.

  • Appropriately consult with students or represent the student voice in departmental, divisional, and institutional policy development efforts


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.

  • Establish and sustain systems of mentoring to ensure students and professionals receive the support they need

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 passion for work; and remain curious.

  • Analyze personal experiences for potential deeper learning and growth and engage with others in reflective discussions

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.

  • Build and support inclusive and welcoming campus communities that promote deep learning and foster student success

*Each bullet point is an example of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes a student affairs professional should be able to demonstrate for each competency area. A complete list of basic, intermediate, and advanced knowledge, skills, and attitudes for each competency area is available on the website.