Dean Job Description

Deans are higher education administrators working on behalf of the students and staff to create a functional and harmonious campus environment. They work at colleges and universities and may begin their careers as professors or in lower-level administrative positions. Deans of students oversee student services programs, while academic Deans provide guidance to the school’s faculty.

Deans supervise faculty and department chairs in most colleges and universities. They generally work under a provost or vice president. The job growth for Postsecondary Education Administrators is forecasted to be about 9 percent through 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will add an estimated 15,200 jobs during this period.


Deans Duties and Responsibilities

A Dean must juggle many duties and responsibilities to be successful. Although specific positions will dictate a Dean’s undertakings, there are several core responsibilities common to this occupation. A review of current job listings identified the following primary tasks and responsibilities.

Oversee Academic Programming

The coordinating, facilitating and quality control of academic programs is one of the responsibilities of a Dean. This may include strategic planning, budgeting and allocation of funds, implementation strategies and observing and evaluating professors in the classroom. Deans work closely with professors and staff to ensure all academic goals are being met and the curriculum is appropriate.

Develop Policies and Procedures

Deans may also be tasked with developing and overseeing policies and procedures for the department, college, or school they oversee. Some Deans may help draft these themselves, while others may oversee committees whose role is to work on policy drafting. Deans are also responsible for ensuring all accreditation criteria is being met for their programs and seeking out accreditation for new programs.

Participate in Admissions

Depending on the type of Dean, admissions related issues may be a large part of their job. Deans may work with teachers and staff to create admission criteria for each program the school offers. They may also oversee and assist students who are going through the admissions process by answering questions, reviewing documentation and financial information and advising students on the best suited program for their needs.


Dean Skills

Deans must be superb leaders and excellent communicators. They must be extremely organized and detail-oriented as well. Dependable, hardworking, and possessing a strong work ethic are also vital. Employers look for candidates with all of these traits as well as the traits listed here.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Deans with these core skills. If you want to work as a Dean, focus on the following.

  • Using common computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Creating budgets and policies
  • Fundraising and applying for grants
  • Writing and interpreting reports and data

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Broaden your career options by adding these skills.

  • Familiar with campus management software such as, CampusVue
  • Postsecondary degree


Dean Resources

The internet has more useful sites and resources for those considering a career as a Dean. We compiled a list of sites that will inspire, inform and entertain you on your path to becoming a Dean.

On the Web

Dean & Provost: Practical Advice and Strategies for Academic Leaders – This publication provides the latest news, legal developments and strategies for those working as deans and provosts. The subscription allows you to choose to have the magazine delivered electronically or in print.

Confessions of a Community College Dean – This blog is written by a father and Dean living in the Northeast United States. Updated nearly every day, it contains interesting insights into the Dean profession as well as news related to higher education.

On Twitter

@BU_FYI – This is the official account of the Boston University Dean of Students Office and is updated nearly daily with news and information aimed to the student body of Boston University.

@IowaDOS – Follow the tweets of Lyn Redington, the Dean of Students at Iowa University to see the types of duties and responsibilities common of the Dean.

Dean Books

The Academic Deanship: Individual Careers and Institutional Roles – This text looks at the changing role of deans in today’s universities and colleges and offers advice and tips to successfully becoming a dean and working in the field.

The Essential Academic Dean: A Practical Guide to College Leadership – This reference guide is based on workshops given by the author on subjects regarding college administration and management. It provides great details and advice on academic deanship and is a great resource for those interested in becoming a Dean.

The College Administrator’s Survival Guide – This easy to read and often humorous book provides real case scenarios and examples to help illustrate the staff issues an academic administrator will come across during their career. A good read for anyone in the field.

Industry Groups

Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges & Undergraduate Studies – The AD&D is a non-profit, membership association that provides professional development and networking opportunities for its membership of deans and directors.

National Association of Student Personnel Administrators – NASPA has over 15,000 members nationwide who work in the student affairs profession. They offer professional development, industry resources, and networking opportunities.


Dean Resume Help

Explore these related job titles from our database of hundreds of thousands of expert-approved resume samples:

Your Cover Letter, Made Easy.

You are looking for your dream job and need a cover letter? My Perfect Cover Letter is your solution and takes the hassle out of cover letter writing. Create the perfect job-worthy cover letter effortlessly in just a few clicks!