A provost at an institute for higher learning usually is the official who is second in command. He or she has a wide range of responsibilities, including making decisions on academic programs, overseeing student affairs and overseeing the university when the head official is away. There are no strict guidelines in place for how to become a provost, but it usually involves obtaining at least an education administration master’s degree, gaining skills in student affairs and leadership within an educational institution and holding lower-level university leadership positions in preparation for this role.
To become a provost, you likely will need at least a master’s degree. Many individuals obtain doctoral degrees before becoming provosts. It might be advisable to obtain your degree in education administration, but some individuals get their degrees in fields that interest them and go on to pursue professorships and research grants based on their degrees. If you get your degree in a field of study that interests you, it might be wise to take education administration and leadership continuing education courses so that you can gain knowledge in those areas as well.
Knowledge of student affairs and leadership skills are important if you want to become a provost. As a provost, you will be handling matters that usually involve an entire student body. Knowing how to properly maneuver in these areas is of vital importance. Proper student interaction, leadership and confidence are all skills that should be developed if you would like to become a provost. When the university's head official is away, the provost often acts as decision-maker on his or her behalf, so understanding how your university system works is imperative.
Seeking out lower-level university positions can help you become a provost. Many provosts start off as assistant or associate professors. You might not become a provost at the institution where you first started teaching, but working in these positions still allows you to learn how an academic environment works as an administrative official. As you demonstrate your ability to successfully lead students and make decisions that benefit both the students and the university, it is likely that you will be in a good position to become a provost eventually.
Learning does not stop after you become a provost. Trends in education are always changing, so it is important for a provost to attend continuing education courses to learn of the changes in his or her career. This might be one of the best ways to continue making decisions that benefit everyone involved as you continue your career as a provost.