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How to Become a Postsecondary Education Administrator

Although a bachelor’s degree may be acceptable for some entry-level positions, a master’s or higher degree is often required. Employers often require candidates for some positions, particularly for registrars and academic deans, to have some experience. 


Educational requirements vary for different positions. For entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient. Degrees can be in a variety of disciplines, such as social work, accounting, or marketing.

For higher level positions, a master’s degree or doctorate is generally required. Provosts and deans often must have a Ph.D. Some provosts and deans begin their career as professors and later move into administration. These administrators have doctorates in the field in which they taught, such as English or chemistry. Other provosts and deans have a Ph.D. in higher education or a related field.

Work Experience

Employers often require candidates for some positions, particularly for registrars and academic deans, to have some experience. For other positions, such as those in admissions and student affairs, experience may or may not be necessary depending on the position.


Education administrators with advanced degrees can be promoted to higher level positions within their department or the college. Some become college presidents. For more information about college presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Registrars often need to be adept at working with computers so they can create and maintain databases and computer programs to manage student and school records.

Organizational skills. Regardless of their field, administrators need to be organized so they can manage records, prioritize tasks, and coordinate the activities of their staff.

People skills. Postsecondary education administrators need to build good relationships with colleagues, students, and parents. Those in admissions and student affairs need to be outgoing so they can encourage students to apply to the school or participate in co-curricular activities.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators often need to respond to difficult situations, develop creative solutions to problems, and react calmly when problems arise.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition