How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Dean: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $92,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Deans are leaders in colleges or universities that oversee faculty and programs for a specific department—for example, Dean of the School of Law or Dean of the English Department. They’re responsible for hiring faculty, increasing enrollments, overseeing instruction, and managing budgets.

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What is a Dean?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in dean roles:

  • Assist in the development, administration, and promotion of school/department curriculums, programs, and course offerings
  • Hire faculty and staff, monitor performance, and make recommendations for candidates for tenure and other promotions
  • Coordinate with deans of other departments to ensure programs and changes are consistent with overall college initiatives and goals
  • Manage department budget and make decisions on what programs and initiatives to fund each year

A Day in the Life

The role of a dean is one of leadership and administration. Usually, deans are former professors who are promoted into the position, but most shed their teaching responsibilities after becoming dean to focus on administrative and leadership tasks. Deans ae essentially the CEOs of an individual school or department in a college. They hire faculty and staff, manage department budgets, and maintain the quality of education provided.

One major facet of a dean’s responsibilities is to assist with the establishment of courses, programs, and curriculums within their department. They work with faculty members to make decisions on the types of courses to offer, the textbooks that will be used in those courses, and what courses should be required for completion of a program. Additionally, the dean of a school or department may be responsible for clearing students for graduation, ensuring all program and college requirements are met.

In addition to managing their schools and departments, deans must also coordinate with the deans of other departments and overall university leaders—like provosts and presidents—to report progress, agree on terms, and get approval on initiatives. They also serve as the face of their department within the community, and must maintain positive relationships with community and business leaders in order to provide and encourage opportunities for students outside of the college classroom.

Typical Work Schedule

Deans generally work normal business hours. While they may be required to work during summer sessions when fewer classes are offered, they may be allowed to work fewer hours over the summer.

Projected Job Growth

College enrollments have continued to grow in recent years, increasing demand for individuals in all roles at colleges and universities. Additionally, new jobs in the general workforce have increased demand for new college programs—like Informatics—that are creating an increased demand for individuals in to serve as deans and provide leadership and oversight for new schools and departments.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor
  • Mid-Career: Professor, Assistant Dean
  • Late Career: Dean, Provost

Typical Employers

While some private middle and high schools employ deans, most dean positions are with colleges and universities—both public and private.

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How To Become a Dean

The role of dean is often one of the last steps in a long career of teaching and service at a college or university. As such, the path to becoming a dean requires many steps. A bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree are generally required in whatever field of study you’re interested in teaching, and many years of teaching as a professor in that field is also likely to be required.

The typical progression to becoming a dean is to start by earning a bachelor’s degree. From there, you should earn a master’s degree, ideally in a program that provides a teaching assistantship that allows you to gain experience teaching college courses while still a student. After earning a master’s degree, you’ll be qualified to teach as an adjunct instructor and can gain additional teaching experience that way while pursuing a Ph.D. With a Ph.D., you’ll qualify for tenured professorships.

After many years working as a professor, you may qualify to move into the role of dean for your department or school. The process of hiring a dean, in many institutions, is through nomination and voting by department faculty members, though in some cases a provost or other college leader may make the promotion or hiring decision.

Some schools will not require deans to hold a Ph.D. if the more suitable degree is a professional one—such as an M.D. for doctors or a J.D. for lawyers. Additionally, some law school deans may have their responsibilities defined by a governing board like the American Bar Association, and some medical schools—especially those that conduct research on campus—have dean’s responsibilities defined, in part, by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

Dean Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Dean salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Dean's can make an average annual salary of $92,940, or --- per hour. On the lower end, they can make $72,380 or --- per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #88 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Deans

  • 13.2%   Doctorate
  • 44.8%   Masters
  • 23.5%   Bachelors
  • 5%   Associates
  • 8%   College
  • 4.6%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Dean job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 14,000 jobs for a total of 254,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #390 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Deans

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Elementary and secondary schools; local 187,400 11,000 11%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 37,500 2,300 2%
Self-employed workers 5,100 200 0%

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