NACADA Academic Advising Core Competencies Model

At the request of the association’s leadership, the NACADA Academic Advising Core Competencies Model (2017) was developed by the association's Professional Development Committee.  The purpose of the model is to identify the broad range of understanding, knowledge, and skills that support academic advising, to guide professional development, and to promote the contributions of advising to student development, progress, and success. It is intended that the model may be used by:

  • Primary Role Advisors for self-assessment and evaluation, and to guide learning, career development, and advancement.
  • Faculty Advisors and Advising Administrators to clarify academic advising roles and responsibilities, and to highlight the contributions of academic advising to teaching and learning.
  • Advising Supervisors, Managers, and Mentors to identify strengths and areas for staff development, and to guide hiring, training, and evaluation.
  • Learning Professionals,Trainers, and Researchers to support curriculum development, establish learning priorities, and advance the scholarship in the field


Underpinning the core competencies for academic advising and serving as the foundational elements for effective advisor training programs and advising practice are three content categories – the conceptual, informational, and relational.  An understanding of these three major areas provides advisors the knowledge and skills to be effective guides for their students. 

  • The Conceptual component provides the context for the delivery of academic advising.  It covers the ideas and theories that advisors must understand to effectively advise their students.
  • The Informational component provides the substance of academic advising.  It covers the knowledge advisors must gain to be able to guide the students at their institution.
  • The Relational component provides the skills that enable academic advisors to convey the concepts and information from the other two components to their advisees.

To achieve excellence in their work, regardless of the specifics of their individual campus’ advising mission, all advisors must understand all three components, and be able to synthesize and apply them as needed in advising interactions.

Core Competency Areas


Conceptual icon.png

Core competencies in the Conceptual component (concepts academic advisors must understand) include understanding of: 

C1 icon.png The history and role of academic advising in higher education
C2 icon.png NACADA's Core Values of Academic Advising.
C3 icon.png Theory relevant to academic advising.
C4 icon.jpg Academic advising approaches and strategies.
C5 icon.png Expected outcomes of academic advising.
C6 icon.png How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained.


Informational graphic.png

Core competencies in the Informational component (knowledge academic advisors must master) include knowledge of:

I1 icon.png Institution specific history, mission, vision, values, and culture
I2 icon.png Curriculum, degree programs, and other academic requirements and options
I3 icon.png Institution specific policies, procedures, rules, and regulations.
I4 icon.png Legal guidelines of advising practice, including privacy regulations and confidentiality.
I5 icon.png The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
I6 icon.png Campus and community resources that support student success.
I7 icon.png Information technology applicable to relevant advising roles


Relational graphic.png

Core Competencies in the Relational component (skills academic advisors must demonstrate) include the ability to:

R1 icon.png Articulate a personal philosophy of academic advising
R2 icon.png Create rapport and build academic advising relationships
R3 icon.png Communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner
R4 icon.png Plan and conduct successful advising interactions.
R5 icon.png Promote student understanding of the logic and purpose of the curriculum.
R6 icon.png Facilitate problem solving, decision-making, meaning-making, planning, and goal setting.
R7 icon.png Engage in on-going assessment and development of the advising practice.


Cite the Core Competencies using APA style as:

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model.

Members say:

  • While it clearly builds on perspectives and approaches already in existence, the new model offers a great new way to identify and categorize the core competencies that advisors should have or develop.Oscar van den Wijngaard, Coordinator of Academic Advising, University College Maastricht
  • As an administrator, I am excited to have this blue print available to help influence the professional development of advisors on my campus!Kimberly Smith, Director of Advising, Virginia Tech
  • Kudos to the Professional Development Committee for this great work! It is well written and covers the extent of what advisors need to be able to know, do, and understand.Melanie Burton, Academic & Career Advisor, Brigham Young University
  • Very practical and something I can sink my teeth into every day and use to make sure my advising approach is in sync with those around me.Brad Cunningham, Academic Advisor, College of Business, Kansas State University
  • Having agreed upon core competencies will further the goal of professionalizing advising and will aid greatly in assessment efforts… I am thrilled to see the development of this project come to fruition!Shanai Lechtenberg, Assistant Director of Academic Advising, Linfield College