Summary Profile

The demographic profile of America’s college and university presidents remains predominately white and male. However, there are signs of diversification. The percentage of women and minority presidents has increased, and the road to the presidency continues to extend beyond the academic posts that typically lead to the presidency.


In 2016, seven out of 10 college presidents were men, and fewer than one in five college presidents were a racial minority. The majority of presidents had some religious affiliation and were married.

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Path to the Presidency

In 2016, 15 percent of college presidents came from outside higher education. Of those who came from within higher education, a majority served in academic affairs; 31 percent came to the presidency from a chief academic officer or provost role. For most presidents, their highest degree earned was a PhD or EdD.

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A quarter of presidents in 2016 had previously served as a college president. The average age of presidents was 63, and 11 percent of presidents were 71 or older.

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