Residence Life at Messiah University A girl's dorm room.jpg

Residence Life at Messiah University

Residence Life at Messiah University

RA Applications will go live at 2 pm on November 1st!


Our Mission

The Residence Life department's mission is to foster safe, hospitable and holistic living-learning environments

The Residence Life mission statement unpacked:

Residence Life seeks to foster... 


  • We intentionally and thoughtfully look for and respond to emergencies, mental health​ concerns, physical safety concerns, facilities needs, and emotional safety concerns.


  • We intentionally and thoughtfully welcome all into our lives with a spirit of generosity and kindness as agents of God’s love.


  • We intentionally and thoughtfully seek to grow each of our students spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, and civically individually and communally.

Living-Learning Environments:

As a result of on-campus living, residential students will:

  1. Formulate connections to academic learning outside the classroom within a living-learning environment  
  2. Purposefully explore the Christian faith and their sense of self through interactions with friends and community members 
  3. Demonstrate a commitment to growing in diversity, reconciliation and fostering safe living spaces    
  4. Nurture community through hospitality, integrity, and responsibility to their living area 
  5. Establish meaningful relationships rooted in respect, belonging and healthy communication 
  6. Develop holistic self-sufficient living practices that cultivate healthy coping skills during and after college toward purposeful living. 

…toward achieving the mission of Messiah University:

Our mission is to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.

Meet Our Staff

Our Annual Programming:

First Year Experience:

  • Picnics (each semester) – an event held each semester for students to enjoy a meal together outside the residence hall rather than in a dining facility.
  • New Student Games (fall semester) – a community-bonding friendly competition between residence halls that provides space for students to get to know their classmates within the first weekend.  This event also assist in beginning to build pride in their living area with the chance to win the golden torch.
  • Life Hacks (fall semester) - an event with break-out sessions on topics pertaining to adjusting to college, covering topics such as study skills, communicating with professors, time management, etc.
  • Hall Trick or Treating  (fall semester) – who says you can’t trick or treat in college?  Dress up and meander around the residence hall enjoying candy from various rooms.
  • Deck the Halls (fall semester) – this friendly floor competition allows each floor to pick a theme and literally deck their halls with Christmas cheer pertaining to that theme.  Faculty/staff judges go to each floor and announce the grand wining floor, which gets the golden rocking horse!
  • iFast (spring semester) – this event allows space for students to unplug from any non-academic technology to reflect on the role of technology in their lives and consider connecting with the Lord and others in different ways.  This events culminates with a worship service at the end.
  • Sync the Halls (spring semester) – get your lip sync on! The floor competition allows floors to create a dance and lip sing to a song, competing for the golden mic!
  • Sneak Peak (spring semester) – an opportunity for students to visit other residence hall spaces to see where they might want to live before housing sign-ups begin.

Upper Class Experience:

After College Life Hacks (each semester) – an event with break-out sessions on topics pertaining to life after college covering an array of topics from job readiness, to budgeting and repaying student loans, finding a place to rent, cooking strategies/tips, car maintenance, etc.  

Sophomore Chapel Series (fall semester) – a chapel series focusing on the sophomore experience. This series normalizes the sophomore experience and helps students understand what they might experience during their sophomore year, providing resources and helpful tips for how to navigate their evolving experience and combat “the sophomore slump”.  

Coffee and Calling (each semester) – This one-time chapel focuses on vocation and calling, exploring the different ways God calls people and directs them in their vocation.  

Sneak Peak (spring semester) – an opportunity for students to visit other residence hall spaces to see where they might want to live before housing sign-ups begin.

Various Res Hall Specific events (spring semester) – each residence hall puts on their own building-wide events from cook-outs, to cereal & cartoons to study breaks and more.

Available Supports:

Resident Assistants (RAs) – these student leaders oversee a floor or section’s living area providing holistic support to their residents while also planning and implementing opportunities for deeper connections, learning, and growth.

Residence Directors (RDs) – these professional staff members oversee one or two residential spaces and provide supervision to the RAs and overall care to residents while navigating facilities needs and promoting ongoing student learning outside the classroom.

Ambassadors for Residential Ministry (ARMs) – this student leader provides living areas with a go-to person for ongoing spiritual encouragement, prayer, and faith-enriching activities.

RA On Clock—every residence has a Residence Life student staff person (RA) on duty from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM seven days a week. Their purpose is to answer any calls from residents in the building, assisting with lock-outs or serving as a listening ear.  These numbers are located throughout each residential building.

RD On Call—should an RA and/or student need additional support in caring for and coming alongside a student, the RA can reach out to the RD On Call who is available 24/7.

Student EMTs – Messiah students who are certified EMTs can continue to gain valuable experience by serving as on-call student EMTs responding to on-campus medical concerns.  These students provide support and first aid, and assist the Department of Safety in calling an ambulance when needed.

Counselor On Call – should a student be experiencing a mental health crisis and need to speak with a Messiah counselor, the RD On Call can connect the student with this counselor.   

Timely Care – all current students have access to this free mental and physical health support that includes being connected to a professional within five minutes utilizing the Talk Now feature.  Additionally, there are de-stress opportunities like virtual yoga and tips on various concerns such as boundaries, relationship concerns, anxiety, etc.  This resource is available to enrolled students 24/7 even on breaks and over the summer.

Department of Safety – Safety Officers work 24/7 year-round to foster safe environments for students.  Safety Officers respond to concerns and also patrol campus promoting the safety of students and facilities.

First-year experience at Messiah University

Move-in Guide Move-in FAQs An all-year Experience

Transfer Student Information

Messiah University’s First-Year Experience encourages students in navigating the new opportunities and unique challenges of the first year of college.  Facilitated through the collaboration of committed educators and student leaders, all serving the specific needs of new students, the First-Year Experience is a year-long, intentionally delivered program.  Relieving anxiety and promoting holistic growth, Messiah University's First-Year Experience provides a solid foundation for the years ahead.


Residency Requirement

Messiah University is primarily a residential campus. All single, full-time students under the age of 23 are required to live on campus. Campus housing is generally limited to students who are registered for at least 12 credit hours.  Exceptions to the residency requirement are granted to students who meet the commuter criteria and have signed a commuter housing contract.  Commuters are those students who meet one of these criteria:

Important Dates   Early Arrival 

 Storage Policy Residency Requirement

Housing FAQ Housing Sign-up

Commuter Definition:

A commuter student is a student who is living locally (within a 50-mile distance) and at least one of the following criteria applies:

  1. The student is living locally with parents
  2. The student is living locally with family members (i.e. parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles)
  3. The student is classified as having independent status by the Office of Financial Aid and is living locally.
  4. The student is married or has a dependent child
  5. The student is 23 or older


If you meet any of the above criteria your commuter status is valid for the academic year. You will need to notify the Office of Residence Life in writing and provide the following:

  1. Your local address
  2. The name and relationship of the person(s) with whom you are residing.
  3. Sign a Commuter Contract 

If you do not meet the above criteria you will need to meet the on-campus residency requirement. Additionally, if the granting criteria changes, you must notify the Office of Residence Life and may be subject to meet the on-campus residency requirement.

If you should have questions please contact our office at (717) 796- 5239.

Off Campus Housing

Since Messiah is a residential campus, our on-campus housing capacity is deemed sufficient to house all undergraduate students. At this point, there are no off-campus housing applications. All students (except those who qualify as a commuter) are expected to live on campus based on our residency requirement. If you feel your situation is unique, you may email to find out how to appeal the residency requirement. Please note that appeals are granted very infrequently and are only considered when a student is deemed to have high financial need based on the Financial Aid Office (and FAFSA). For more information, please read the document linked here


  • Residence Halls -each student will have a bed, dresser, desk, desk chair and a closet. Each room also has a bookshelf and corkboards on the wall.
  • Apartments - in the apartments each student will have the same bedroom furniture found in the residence halls (a bed, dresser, desk, desk chair and a closet. Each room also has a bookshelf and corkboards on the wall). In the shared living space the kitchen is furnished with an oven and refrigerator as well as a dining room table and chairs. The living room is furnished with a couch or an upholstered chair.
    • One bedroom apartments (3 person): one triple room
    • Two bedroom apartments (5 person): one double and one triple room

Types of Rooms/Apartments - 

  • Single Rooms—These rooms are constructed for one resident.
  • Double Rooms—These rooms are constructed for two residents.
  • Designed Triple Rooms—These rooms are designed to accommodate three residents. The beds provided may be bunked two high for metal-framed beds and three high for wood-framed beds.
  • Quads—These rooms are designed to house four residents

Room Rates

Room Conditions:

  • Rooms on campus are in a variety of conditions, ranging from the newly renovated Witmer Residence Hall, to some of the more worn spaces. If there are any facility needs that your room/apartment has, please reach out to The college will work to promptly respond to the need. Each student will be given a Room/Apartment Condition Inventory at the beginning of their stay, so they can mark the areas of the room/apartment that are well used. This form must be filled out thoroughly to prevent being fined at the end of the year (pre-existing damages must be marked). 

Room Dimensions

What is a Living Learning Community?

Messiah’s living learning communities house in one learning community students of common interests / majors toward increased connection, belonging and engagement in-and-outside the classroom.  In order to promote opportunities for interactions among a diverse group of students, each living learning community also houses students who are studying other majors too.  Messiah currently has three living learning communities.  Click below for specific information.

First-Year Honors Program Living Learning Community (LLC)

Engineering Living Learning Community (LLC)

Performing Arts Living Learning Community (LLC)



10 Tips for Having a Child in College

  1. All Grown Up. Your role with your child will change, but your bond will not. You will still serve as the primary influence in your child's life. Your relationship with your child as an adult will last for more years than when your child lived at home. The transition to this new relationship will take a while and may be challenging at times as your child establishes his or her independence. However, you will both benefit if you are able to provide appropriate challenges and support.
  2. Communication 101. You will be communicating less frequently, but keep the communication lines open. Use email or other social media as a resource as your student may be busy. Do not call every day.
  3. Keep them on Campus. Welcome your student home, but encourage him/her to stay on campus as much as possible. We work diligently the first six weeks to help students acclimate to campus, develop friendships, and get involved in campus activities.
  4. Avoid "managing." Encourage your child to take ownership of his/her college experience. Rather than trying to solve her problems for him/her, guide him/her to make smart decisions and to talk to someone on campus who can help your child work through the problem. Resist Calling to solve problems for your child.
  5. FERPA. When your child becomes a college student, he assumes the rights over educational information, even if you pay the bill. Your child will need to sign a FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) form in the Registrar's Office or online to allow you to have access to their educational records.
  6. Applaud Academics. Encourage your student to keep in good academic standing and be understanding if he/she struggles in a class or two.
  7. Have a Discussion. Make sure you and your student take time to discuss the Community Covenant and Code of Conduct.
  8. Make Connections. Encourage your child to know his RA, RD, and academic advisor.
  9. Celebrate! Try not to focus on departure or being away from your child. Instead, celebrate him or her college acceptance and be excited for him or her to enter this new phase of life.
  10. Keep them Updated. Talk to your child about what is happening at home. Nothing can be more shocking to a student than coming home to a place that doesn't "feel" like home because of change. Keep him/her updated once in a while so your child still feels like part of the family even while away at college.


Homesickness Parent Supports Move-in FAQs 

View Our Residences

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Upperclass Halls

Campus Apartments

Special Interest Houses