How do You Become a Dean of Academics?

The dean of academics, sometimes referred to as a dean of faculty, is a position of considerable authority within the American educational institution. They are most frequently found at the college and university level, although some larger and more prestigious schools at the middle- and high-school level also style their faculty administrators as “dean.”

At a major university, each individual academic program, school or area of operations within an organization will typically have its own dean, although some positions may have multiple areas of authority (depending upon the size of an institution). Examples include the dean of admissions, and the dean of applied sciences.

The dean of academics is a high-level position with an overall charge of academic programs within their particular school. They may report to the school’s chancellor. They may also occupy a position of similar authority to that of chancellor, and report to the board of directors. The requirements for becoming a dean of faculty are considerable, but the position is one of considerable responsibility, reporting well above-average job satisfaction.

What are Job Prospects Like?

Overall, postsecondary educational administrators are experiencing a rapid expansion of career opportunities. That being said, a position like dean of faculty is very exclusive. There isn’t a lot of upward mobility beyond that level, other than going to work for a larger or more prestigious institution. Acquiring a position at this level of administrative authority usually relies upon a position being vacated by another individual. As such, many qualified academic administrators look outside the educational industry for further career opportunities. Their administrative skills and high level of education make them frequent candidates for corporate executive positions, as well as viable individuals to hold political office.

What Are the Qualifications for Dean of Faculty?

A high-level dean working at a community college or other, smaller institution may be able to retain his or her position with a Master’s degree in a related field. However, an individual with a PhD will always stand out, and at more prestigious institutions this may be a fundamental requirement. Many deans at this level of administration have additional, more specialized degrees, often reflecting a history of postsecondary instruction. A Master’s degree in educational administration, business administration or management may fill this secondary role as well, reflecting the overall managerial and organizational component of the position.

Related: Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

What Positions Come First?

Before becoming dean of faculty, particularly for a major institution, many individuals frequently find work as the dean of admissions. Some start out as the dean of an individual academic program or school, within a much larger organization. Depending upon an organization’s size, this may more likely be a prerequisite for the position of dean of admissions itself, which can subsequently lead to dean of academics. For lower-level positions within the academic administrative hierarchy, a bachelor’s degree may be acceptable, but a Master’s in educational administration or educational leadership will always be preferred. Most qualified candidates for dean of faculty will have a PhD in a related educational field, and a long history of both instructional and administrative responsibilities.

When a position as the academic dean becomes available at an institution of interest, qualified individuals are best served by immediately applying, regardless of its location or relationship to their current position. The qualified candidate will have, in addition to a PhD in education, educational leadership, or educational administration, supporting qualifications in some executive or academic qualification. Some measure of instructional experience is also usually expected, and any citations related to exceptional administrative work performed in the past should be emphasized.