Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Thomas E. Miller, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Ponticell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Schneider, Ph.D.


professional competencies, self-competence, student affairs, NASPA, ACPA


The purpose of this study was to examine the self-perceived competence levels of senior-level student affairs professionals. Additionally, the study aimed to learn about the experiences that contributed to the participants’ competence levels. A qualitative study, consisting of semi-structured interviews, was conducted to address the research questions. Common themes emerged from the interviews. When asked to rate themselves based on their competency level, the majority of the participants rated themselves advanced. The participants recounted numerous experiences that led to how they rated their levels of competence. Years of experience in the student affairs profession was most often noted. Other experiences included: graduate school education, mentoring, personal journey/upbringing, professional development opportunities and teaching. Implications for practice are outlined in Chapter Five, including supervisor support and increased involvement in specific activities to boost competence levels.