University Administrator: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a university administrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and experience required to find out if this is the career for you.

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University administrators work at colleges or universities, managing student activities, academic departments, public relations initiatives and more. Some positions that fall under this category include Dean of Students, Registrar, or Department Head.

Essential Information

University administrators work in higher education settings and oversee student activities, university professors and programs. They also might work as chairpersons within university departments and dictate the direction of academic teachings.

Required Education Master's degree typically required; doctorate sometimes required; bachelor's accepted for some positions
Other Requirements Field experience or student activities experience sometimes necessary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $102,610 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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University Administrator Job Description

University administrators develop and coordinate the academic and student programs at universities and colleges. Their responsibilities and duties vary, but might involve curriculum choices, financial aid, student recruiting, admissions, scholarships and student affairs. Some careers in university administration are detailed below.

Department Head

A department head might work as a senior professor in addition to his or her supervisory position. These professionals counsel students, coordinate schedules, recruit new professors, hire applicants, evaluate faculty positions and serve on committees.

Dean of Students

The dean of students coordinates academic and non-academic campus programs, such as financial aid, students services, counseling, housing, residential life and related social programs. The dean also oversees financial aid directors, housing directors and athletic directors.


These administrators are in charge of keeping students' records in tact. They also prepare transcripts and collect tuition and fees. Registrars must prepare statistical reports for government and educational agencies.

Education Requirements

In most cases, university administrators are required to have a master's degree; however, many hold a doctoral degree. Prospective administrators should also have a strong background in accounting, statistics, admissions, finance and record keeping. These skills help administrators manage budgets and oversee student schedules.

Many schools throughout the United States offer graduate programs in higher education administration, college student affairs and educational leadership. Courses within these programs prepare students for administrative positions and include school budgeting, finance, community relations, politics in education and other leadership-related courses.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports postsecondary education administrators should see a 9% increase in job openings over the 2014-2024 decade. As more students enroll in postsecondary institutions, more administrative staff will be needed to accommodate these students. The average annual income for postsecondary administrators was $102,610 in 2015, according to the BLS.

University administrators typically have a master's degree or higher, although a bachelor's degree with relevant experience may also be acceptable to some employers. Knowledge of budgeting and finance in higher education is helpful when it comes to overseeing programs and events.

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