How to Become an Academic Dean

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Colleges and universities are complex institutions of higher education that require a variety of leadership professionals to ensure effective operation. Academic deans are trained professionals that have significant authority within post secondary institutions.


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What does an academic dean do?

Academic deans are typically responsible for running colleges and universities as a whole, specific academic units, and specific areas of concern. They are responsible for coordinating administrative activities, approving faculty hiring, evaluating faculty performance, supervising the budget, creating academic policies and programs, and fund-raising activities. They determine course scheduling and recommend the additional and implementation of additional courses to meet the needs of the students and the institution. They also supervise and coordinate the activities of many different staff members such as associate deans, chairpersons, student advisors, and administrative staff. Academic deans assess programs and development partnerships with internal and external organizations. They sometimes provide counseling and support to students on personal and academic matters. Academic deans are typically regarded as the highest-ranking administrator of an institution.

What kind of training does an academic dean need?

Academic deans typically need a master or doctorate degree in higher education. Many academic deans begin their career as professors or administrative staff and advance into higher positions as they gain the essential skills and experience. Prospective academic deans typically complete courses in higher education administration, college student affairs, educational leadership, school law, politics in education, and school finance. Most postsecondary institutions provide on the job training to new academic deans to enable them to learn the procedures and policies of the institution. Academic deans must keep their skills up to date and stay abreast on advancements in the field. They often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as an academic dean?

Employment of academic deans is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increase in college students and expansion of higher education institutions will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good, especially for academic deans with extensive experience. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace academic deans that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do academic deans make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of academic deans earn annual salaries between $72,425 and $105,427. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $119,696 (2).

A career as an academic dean is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing leadership in postsecondary academic institutions. Academic deans must have a solid understanding of the mission and policies of their higher education institution. Confidence, determination, leadership, motivation, and innovativeness are essential characteristics. Academic deans must have excellent communication and ability to interact with a variety of students and other professionals. They must be able to make effective decisions and coordinate a variety of administrative activities.

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