Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


National Job Satisfaction of Enty- and Mid-level Student Affairs Professionals

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

William Knight (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Michael Coomes (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Audrey Ellenwood (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Maureen Wilson (Committee Member)


Most workers aspire to jobs where they are highly satisfied. This satisfaction may come from remuneration, opportunities for advancement, the work itself, or other factors. Although an awareness of job satisfaction has the potential to reduce absenteeism and employee turnover, we know little about the satisfaction levels of student affairs professionals. This study examined a population of entry- and mid-level student affairs practitioners in order to develop a profile of their levels of satisfaction with the overall job and five facets of satisfaction. In addition, differences were examined among demographic characteristics and predictors of job satisfaction for entry- and mid-level staff were explored.

Findings indicated significant differences between entry- and mid-level student affairs professionals' levels of job satisfaction when compared to the neutral level of job satisfaction established by the general population of workers. In addition, significant differences were identified in relation to age, gender, position level, and student affairs functional area. Predictive models were identified for entry-level professionals' satisfaction with opportunities for promotion and mid-level professionals' satisfaction with pay.

Suggestions for future research are provided. Implications for practice are noted including the recommendation that student affairs leaders should make much of the fact that student affairs is a satisfying line of work. In addition, results suggested that leaders within student affairs should attend to the differences in satisfaction levels between older and younger professionals at the entry and mid-levels. Further, results implied a generational influence on job satisfaction levels that has bearing on effective supervisory and leadership behaviors. Finally, practitioners may find it useful to attend to the differing satisfaction levels between various functional areas and what these variations imply for leadership practice.