How to Become a University Chancellor in the US

University chancellors are the topmost employees in universities. They are the leaders who are charged with the duty to guide these institutions into greater academic and research heights. Chancellors work win consultation with faculty heads to ensure the universities achieve their objectives. If you possess an advanced degree in education administration, several years of administrative experience and excellent leadership skills, this is a job that could suit you.

What do university chancellors do?

The duties of university chancellors include:

  • Creating institutional standards
  • Receiving and implementing directives from the university’s board of governors
  • Collaborating with faculty heads to design competent education programs
  • Presiding over events such as graduation ceremonies, and chairing staff meetings
  • Serving as the university’s ambassador by representing it conferences and seminars
  • Improving relationships with alumni groups, professional associations and other stakeholders
  • Working to create a conducive workplace for staff and an environment that supports learning.

It is crucial to note that in universities that have multiple campuses, chancellors are the heads of these campuses and report to a president who is in charge of the entire system.

Work conditions

A university chancellor’s day begins at 9am and ends at 5pm. They work from Monday to Friday. Although these chancellors execute most of their tasks from an office, they frequently travel to attend meetings and conferences, some of which are held in foreign countries.


The salaries for chancellors vary by the size and location of universities. The following table highlights the average annual salaries for chancellors in US universities.


Annual salary

Lowest-earning university chancellors

$163, 477 - $206,814

Middle-earning chancellors

$206,814 - $307,011

Highest-earning chancellors

$307,011 - $354,898



To lead a staff that comprises scholars and well-trained lecturers, you must also be a highly-educated and experienced professional. As such, to land this job, you should hold a doctoral degree in education leadership and administration.

Besides this degree, many universities prefer aspiring chancellors with scholarly credentials in a specific academic field. For instance, if you want to become the chancellor of a business university, you should have a doctoral degree in business.

For this reason, many university chancellors begin as high education lecturers and rise through the ranks as they gain more administrative experience and advanced qualifications.

Important qualities

This can be a high challenging position. To succeed, you must have:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • A high level of integrity
  • An awareness of shared governance practices
  • An interest in improving education standards
  • An intricate understanding of various cultures
  • Good communication skills
  • An awareness of national education standards.

Career development

The position of a university chancellor is one of the highest in the education sector. It is no surprise that after serving their terms, many chancellors say goodbye to their professional lives. However, there are still career progression opportunities for determined chancellors. Some of the avenues you can pursue to move another step ahead include:

  • Pursuing education leadership certifications
  • Joining professional associations, such as the International Association of University Presidents
  • Pursuing doctoral degrees in other fields, such as public administration.

Job opportunities

Universities are the only employers of university chancellors. After gaining vast work experience and showing superior leadership abilities, a chancellor who works for a multiple-campus university may be appointed president of the entire system. Those heading stand-alone universities may be hired by education agencies or government departments as senior education researchers or education policy makers.

Finally, this is not a profession with a promising job outlook. In fact, there can be as little as 50 new job openings in a year. This is usually a result of a retiring or advancing chancellor, or the creation of a new campus. Only your determination, drive, hard work and professional networks can help you reach this position. If you believe you got what it takes, go for it.