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Advisor Certification at Utah Valley State College

Authored by: Jeffrey L. McClellan, Clint Moser, J. Waterreus


Advisor training at Utah Valley University, began in 2001 through a collaborative effort among multiple campus entities. Since then, the program has become a national "best practice" in advisor training, as demonstrated by the programs inclusion in two NACADA monographs on advisor training. In spite of this success, however, leadership at UVU has been striving to take advising and advisor training to new levels over the past few years. Consequently, using NACADA resources and literature, the CAS standards, and a collaborative development process, UVU has completely revamped advisor training. In July 2007, UVU launched a new advisor certification program. This article overviews the structure and content of this program. 

Program Structure and Content
The certification program structure is based on advising literature which suggests the typical learning curve of academic and career advisors and counselors is approximately 2 years(Folsom, Joslin, & Yoder, 2005) and involves development in five training areas: conceptual, informational, relational, technological, and personal (Habley, 1995; Higginson, 2000; McClellan, 2007). It also builds on the proposed NACADA certification standards or competencies(NACADA Certification Task Force, 2003). Consistent with this literature, the structure consists of four stages of academic advisors development, each of which has a different focus and requirements: initial training, first year training, second year training, on-going certification.

Training Stage

Initial Training

1st Year Training

2nd Year Training

3rd to 5th Year (Cycle)

Purpose of Training




Focused Professional


Requirements for Certification



Skill Development Workshops SDW (4 sessions)

Observational Visit (6 months)

Advisor Forum (80% attendance)

Annual Advisor Conference

Advising Course

Advisor Forum (80% attendance)

Annual Advisor Conference

SDW (4 sessions)


3 Year Cycle

Annual Advisor Conference (3)


Advisor Forum (80% attendance)

Continuing Development hours (TBD)

Certification Level


Level I Advisor

Level II Advisor


Advisor Recertification


Initial Training/Certification
The first stage is initial training. This stage assists advisors to begin their work at the college with a sufficient foundation of knowledge and skill in advising. This initial stage consists of nearly two weeks of training wherein advisors spend the morning in training sessions and the afternoon in their departments shadowing, observing, and applying what they have learned. The training includes a conceptual overview of advising in general and at UVU, training in the use of Banner and other technological resources, information regarding basic policies, procedures, and resources, and development of relational advising skills. Throughout the process, the personal aspect is also addressed through discussion of what it means to be an advisor and why advising matters. The personal values that contribute to successful advising of students are also explored and discussed. The content has been designed to insure that the training is not only adequate to build a solid foundation but is outcomes and assessment oriented. Following the initial training, the advisors receive a certificate documenting their completion of the initial advisor training.

First Year Training: Level 1 Certification
Following the initial certification, academic and career advisors and counselors move into their first year of training. The focus of this training level is on furthering and strengthening the advisors familiarity with policies, procedures, processes, and programs specific to the institution. During this year, academic and career advisors and counselors are be required to attend the annual advisement conference, at least 80% of advisement forum meetings, and 4 skill development workshops (for more information on these, see the monographs Advisor Training and the New Advisor Guidebook). Skill development workshops in the first year largely consist of mandatory sessions designed to develop critical competencies related to the first-year outcomes for advisors.

In addition, academic and career advisors and counselors receive at least 1 six-month visit from an advisor trainer to review their progress and development, the purpose of this visit is assess the training programs effectiveness and to insure that the academic and career advisors and counselors are progressing towards certification. This visit is assessment oriented and outcomes based and focuses on strengthening the development of the advisor to ensure that the advisor is developing the skills necessary to achieve certification and that the training program is meeting the developmental needs of advisors and counselors. Near the advisor’s one-year anniversary, an assessment is conducted to verify the achievement of advisor outcomes and to assess the effectiveness of the program (This process is under development). Upon demonstrating achievement of the appropriate competencies and documentation of training, he or she will receive a level 1 certificate.

Second Year Training: Level 2 Certification

Following the first year certification, academic and career advisors and counselors begin their second year. This year is focused on fostering fluency in relation to advising knowledge and skills. This is achieved through continued participation at the advisement forum (80% or better), the advisement conference, and the completion of four skill development workshops. These trainings consist of some mandatory and some optional sessions. In addition, academic and career advisors and counselors complete a college course on academic and career advising, an undergraduate course offered through the college’s behavioral science program, to deepen their knowledge and understanding of advising. Advisors and counselors can audit the course if they wish, but must satisfactorily complete training specific assignments and maintain 80% attendance in the course. This course was piloted in spring 2007 and the training office is working with the behavioral science department to establish it as a regular course offering.
At the end of the second year, as at the end of the first year, a program assessment and advisor evaluation takes place. Based on the outcome of this evaluation, and based on the recommendation of the Director of Advisor Training and Development and their supervisors, advisors/counselors are awarded second-level certification as academic and career advisors at UVU.

Ongoing Certification
On-going certification is focused on professional development. Once certification as a level 2 advisor is achieved, advisors maintain their certification by continuing to attend the advisement forum (80% min.), the annual conference, and 12 skill development workshops over a three year period of time. For the most part, these workshops consist of optional development trainings during this stage of ongoing certification; however, some mandatory training does occur as a result of changes in policies, procedures, technology, etc. In addition, advisors complete 15 hours of supervisor approved development during the three year period of time. How these hours are to be spent is determined by the advisor and his or her supervisor based on the developmental goals and needs of the advisor and the department.

Performance Management

In order to insure that the certification process is managed appropriately and effectively, it is integrated into the performance management process. Academic advisors and their supervisors meet to review and discuss performance evaluation according to college policy. As part of this process they and their supervisors review and discuss advisor certification and personal/professional development plans as well as the other aspects of the performance management process. The Director of Advisor Training and Development is responsible for facilitating and tracking the advisement certification process. Progress and fulfillment of certification requirements are overseen by supervisors in collaboration with Advisor Training and Development under the purview of performance management guidelines.



Over the past year, major changes have taken place in the advisor training program at UVU. These changes are moving toward full implementation. The results appear positive as qualitative and quantitative are assessment results are coming in. While the program still faces some challenges and minor roadblocks, it is well on its way to being fully implemented, largely as a result of the support, contributions, and efforts of advisors across campus and of the administration. With this continued support, the program will continue to develop and improve in the future.


Authored by: Jeffrey L. McClellan, Clint Moser, J. Waterreus

Advisor Training and Development

Utah Valley University


Folsom, P., Joslin, J., & Yoder, F. (2005). From advisor training to advisor development: Creating a blueprint for first-year advisors. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site

Habley, W. R. (1995). Advisor Training in the Context of a Teaching Enhancement Center. In R. E. Glennen & F. N. Vowell (Eds.), Academic Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process (Vol. National Academic Advising Association Monograph Series, no. 2., pp. 76). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.


Higginson,L. C. (2000). A frame work for training program content revisited.In V. N. Gordon, Habley, W. R., and Associates (Ed.), Academicadvising: A comprehensive handbook (pp. 298-306). San Francisco:Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from


McClellan, J. (2007). Content Components for Advisor Training: Revisited. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources at


NACADA Certification Task Force. (2003). Proposed Advisor certification. Academic Advising Today. Retrieved from

Cite this using APA style as:

McClellan, J., Moser, C. and Waterreus J. (2008). Advisor Certification at UtaR Valley State College. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site:

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