Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Johnson, Ane Turner

Committee Member 1

Kerrigan, Monica

Committee Member 2

Ieva, Kara


academic affairs, job satisfaction, motivation, self-determination theory, student affairs, transition


Student affairs administrators; Job satisfaction


Higher Education


Up to 61% of student affairs professionals exit the field within five years of completing their graduate program (Holmes, Verrier, & Chrisholm, 1983; Lorden, 1998; Rosen, Taube, & Wordsworth, 1980; Rosser & Javinar, 2003). Existing research has explored why attrition is high but has not accounted for what happens after they leave, what fields, if any, they gravitate towards, or how satisfied they are in their new roles. It is uncertain what percentage of academic affairs professionals formerly worked in student affairs or if their needs vary because of their previous student affairs experience. The purpose of this study was to explore levels of satisfaction and motivation among student affairs professionals who transition into academic roles. The study used Deci and Ryan's (1985) Self-Determination Theory as a theoretical framework, measuring variables using the Abridged Job Descriptive Index and the Basic Psychological Needs at Work Scale (Deci, Ryan, Gagne, Leone, Usunov, & Kornazheva, 2001; Ilardi, Leone, Kasser, & Ryan, 1993; Kasser, Davey, & Ryan, 1992). A total of 468 participants completed the survey. The findings suggest that academic affairs professionals exhibit higher job satisfaction and motivation, that student affairs professionals transition well into academic roles, and that job satisfaction and motivation increases post-transition. Implications for policy, practice, research, and leadership are discussed.