Academic Dean Or Chairperson

Job Duties

Academic deans and chairpersons work in colleges and universities, providing various types of administrative support. Academic deans, including deans of faculty, provosts, and university deans, establish academic policies and programs, develop budgets, and make faculty appointments. They supervise and coordinate deans of individual colleges and chairpersons of academic departments. They often spend a good deal of their time working on raising money for their institution.

College or university chairpersons are responsible for departments that specialize in particular fields of study, such as English, biological science, or mathematics. In addition to their teaching duties, they also coordinate schedules of classes and teaching assignments; propose budgets; recruit, interview, and hire applicants for teaching positions; evaluate faculty members; encourage faculty development; serve on committees; and perform other administrative duties. A primary part of their job is balancing the interests of faculty, administrators, and students.

Job Skills

Academic deans and chairpersons need to have specific knowledge of leadership concepts gained through experience as well as formal education. Strong interpersonal skills are essential, due to the high percentage of time spent interacting with others. They must possess qualities such as leadership, determination, confidence, innovativeness, and motivation. Today, academic deans and chairpersons are required to be intimately familiar with computer technology. This is because they are required to gather information, collect data, and coordinate technical resources for their students, teachers, and staff. They should be good decision-makers and be able to organize and coordinate work efficiently.


In 2002, academic deans and chairpersons earned a median annual salary of between $73,595 and $107,414. Benefits for academic deans and chairpersons are typically very good, including 4 or 5 weeks of vacation each year and generous health and pension packages.

Training and Education

Academic deans and chairpersons most often hold a doctorate in their specialized field. Most have attained a professorship before they advance to dean or chairperson status. Many colleges and universities offer advanced degrees in higher education administration, educational supervision, and college student affairs. These programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council.

Education administration degree programs include courses in school leadership, school law, school finance and budgeting, curriculum development and evaluation, research design and data analysis, community relations, politics in education, and counseling. Education supervision degree programs include courses in supervision of instruction and curriculum, human relations, curriculum development, research, and advanced teaching courses. Education directors advance through promotion to more responsible administrative positions or by transferring to more responsible positions at larger schools or systems. They also may become superintendents of school systems or presidents of educational institutions.


In 2002, education administrators (the occupational category to which academic deans and chairpersons belong) held about 427,000 jobs. 60% worked for State and local governments, and 20% worked for private institutions. Less than 5% were self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of academic deans and chairpersons is expected to grow faster than the average. While colleges and universities are often subject to fluctuating economic cycles, overall student enrollment will continue to grow, creating more of these types of positions. A large percentage of academic deans and chairpersons are expected to retire during this period, and education continues to hold greater importance in people's lives. However, competition for academic deans and chairpersons, positions which hold a high level of prestige, is expected to remain fierce.

For more information on how to pursue this profession, please see our Education Degree directory.