Academic Adviser Qualifications

What are, or should be, the minimum qualifications to become an academic adviser in higher education? What criteria are most critical? Are some qualifications “non-negotiable,” or are other experiences or combinations of education/training acceptable and perhaps desirable?

What is your opinion?

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  1. user gravatar

    I feel ability and personality are key. I can always teach someone the “information” that they need. The person needs to be a “people person.” A good listener, a team player, willing to go the extra mile, dedicated. Those attributes I cannot instill. The person has to come to the table with them. I have had people with Masters who were terrible advisors. The personality made more difference than the credential.

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    Paul Durkin

    In order to be hired as an academic advisor in higher education one should possess a Master’s degree in a field of study that directly relates to the position or has some kind of relation to the field. An academic advisor should also have prior experience as an advisor to college students. The advisor must be trained in specific areas that relate to mental health, having a background in psychology would be desired, and be able to handle various social situations that may incur. I believe that these are critical qualifications for the position because as an academic advisor you must be exposed to all kinds of backgrounds and knowledge of social situations. Most importantly an academic advisor should be skilled to handle different types of mental/psychological situations and be aware of warning signs in individuals. These qualifications should be considered non-negotiable.
    I believe that trainings should be mandatory for the position but not necessary to be initially hired. Being a great academic advisor comes with experience. I think that in this position you grow everyday due to the number of different situations that arise and you are exposed to, and this is how great advisors are born.

    • user gravatar

      Pearl, so how does one get a first job in advising? You express the need for prior experience as an advisor for getting hired as an advisor. That is stumping me. What would you suggest for a career changer, from an established career communications, with a master’s in communications management and a grad certificate in academic advising?

  3. user gravatar

    Academic Advisor Qualifications

    I think that an academic advisor should be someone who is excited about education and has a love for people and social skills. An academic advisor should have his/her master’s degree along with 2-3 years of experience or be in the midst of completing a graduate program for higher education/advising. Aside from this, an academic advisor should have a background working with diverse groups of people. It is important for academic advisors to understand that people come from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, customs, and values. It is also important for academic advisors to be organized and have a good memory, especially with names. It always makes me feel good to know that my academic advisor knows my name. This makes me feel as though she genuinely cares about my education. Another important skill absolutely necessary for an academic advisor to possess is confidentially and experience with mandated reporting. It is important for an academic advisor to be knowledgeable about on-campus services and resources. Finally, it is important for academic advisors to be professional, while also being laid back. They must be able to keep their home life and work life separate and stay calm in stressful times throughout semesters. It is important that academic advisors conduct themselves in a tranquil manner in order to make students feel at ease.

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    Fabia Josselin

    First and foremost, I think that an academic adviser should have an educational background, hands down. Meaning, he/she should have their Bachelor’s degree. I know that some people may think that a Master’s degree is a better option, but experience is always the best teacher. I definitely believe that this person should have experience in advising university students for at least three years. Aside from these qualifications, an adviser must present soft skills. The most important is that an adviser should be personable. You cannot expect to advise anyone if you’re not an approachable person. Also, being organized is a must. Working with a bunch of students in higher education equals a ton of paper work. A student should trust that their adviser won’t misplace a form that they need. Advising isn’t only where students learn but advisers too! There are many different types of people within a student body. You cannot deal with all of them the same way. Willing to learn how to communicate with different personalities is a plus.

  5. user gravatar

    I believe that as long as a student is maintaining a passing g.p.a and is passionate about advising their peers this is enough. Students need someone relatable to advise them. It is great to get advice from someone who is amazing at everything and has incredible work ethic but it can also be nice for struggling students to be advised by peers who know how they feel. I believe students who have had bumps along the way have more insight in terms of advising for how to avoid these bumps and what they would have done or are currently doing differently.

  6. user gravatar
    Marc Lowenstein

    Sorry I missed this topic when it was first posted.

    I don’t understand some folks’ conviction that a masters in education is necessary. That would rule out thousands of faculty who are advising effectively at many institutions. It would also exclude me.

    I do think a masters is a good idea, if only because it symbolically helps to put advisors closer to parity with other educators on campus, though probably not most tenure track faculty at 4-year schools. In this regard I think the more advisors have masters, the better for the field as a whole.

    Does the masters have any real, as opposed to symbolic, importance? Yes if it represents an understanding of the breadth of academic disciplines and methods of inquiry that will be represented at the advisor’s institution. No, in my opinion, if it’s in a narrow field and doesn’t represent any interdisciplinary context.

    Others have already made good points about the soft skills that advisors should have so I won’t repeat.

  7. user gravatar
    Cynthia Okawara

    -Master’s Degree in Education is essential
    -3-5 years of Higher Education experience
    -Ability to deliver interactive, quantity presentations
    -Ability to build rapport with students while maintaining a professionalism
    -Understanding of Student Development theories, basic counseling, and career development
    -Understanding of degree requirements and transfer (if CC) prerequisites
    -Ability to give students the tools needed to be independent
    -Ability to work holistically with each student to look at all aspects their academics including career choices and the “Big picture”
    -Active listener
    -Ability to discuss academic standards in a non-patronizing or non-judgmental manner
    -Understanding of intercultural communication, diverse populations, and cultural differences.

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    Brinnae Babineaux

    The minimum should be a master’s degree which is non-negotiable. Experiences include understanding the curriculum which will be discussed with advisees. It is desirable to have a Master’s in Education but that is not necessarily a requirement Good listening skills and being student-oriented are very important and desirable. Also experience working with different student populations and ethnic groups is an important skill. A willingness to join a professional association such as NACADA for professional growth is helpful.

  9. user gravatar
    Robin Burton

    Minimum requirements

    • Able to work with diverse groups of students
    • Experiences using holistic approaches to understanding students and processing student information
    • Three years of experience in higher education or comparable institution (negotiable)
    • Life-long learner
    • A student-centered individual
    • Able to effectively communicate with all stakeholders
    • Success in motivating students to fulfilling goals and finding their path to success

    bachelor’s degree required; master’s preferred

  10. user gravatar
    Christina Philbert

    I feel very strongly about having advising staff have a solid working knowledge of institutional and organizational culture.


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