Academic Advising Resources

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Concept of Academic Advising


The NACADA Board of Directors endorses three documents that champion the educational role of academic advising in a diverse world.

The three "Pillar" documents of academic advising are:

These sets of guiding principles affirm the role of academic advising in higher education, thereby supporting institutional mission, while at the same time, anticipating the needs of 21st century students, academic advisors, and institutions.

They can be used for a variety of purposes including professional development of academic advisors and program assessment. They also can be used when implementing a new advising program or revising a current one.

Academic advising is carried out by a vast array of individuals, including faculty and staff members. These guiding principles are intended for use by all who advise.

These documents support all categories of institutions with every type of advising delivery system. Intentionally, they do not address every detail and nuance of academic advising. Rather they should be used as starting points and references for a discussion of academic advising, providing the framework for a coherent approach to implementing a well-functioning academic advising program that would meet any specified institutional goals.


Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education. Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community. Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institution. Regardless of the diversity of our institutions, our students, our advisors, and our organizational structures, academic advising has three components: curriculum (what advising deals with), pedagogy (how advising does what it does), and student learning outcomes (the result of academic advising).


Academic advising draws primarily from theories in the social sciences, humanities, and education. The curriculum of academic advising ranges from the ideals of higher education to the pragmatics of enrollment. This curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the institution’s mission, culture and expectations; the meaning, value, and interrelationship of the institution’s curriculum and co-curriculum; modes of thinking, learning, and decision-making; the selection of academic programs and courses; the development of life and career goals; campus/community resources, policies, and procedures; and the transferability of skills and knowledge.


Academic advising, as a teaching and learning process, requires a pedagogy that incorporates the preparation, facilitation, documentation, and assessment of advising interactions. Although the specific methods, strategies, and techniques may vary, the relationship between advisors and students is fundamental and is characterized by mutual respect, trust, and ethical behavior.


The student learning outcomes of academic advising are guided by an institution’s mission, goals, curriculum and co-curriculum. These outcomes, defined in an advising curriculum, articulate what students will demonstrate, know, value, and do as a result of participating in academic advising. Each institution must develop its own set of student learning outcomes and the methods to assess them. The following is a representative sample. Students will:

  • craft a coherent educational plan based on assessment of abilities, aspirations, interests, and values
  • use complex information from various sources to set goals, reach decisions, and achieve those goals
  • assume responsibility for meeting academic program requirements
  • articulate the meaning of higher education and the intent of the institution’s curriculum
  • cultivate the intellectual habits that lead to a lifetime of learning
  • behave as citizens who engage in the wider world around them


Academic advising, based in the teaching and learning mission of higher education, is a series of intentional interactions with a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a set of student learning outcomes. Academic advising synthesizes and contextualizes students’ educational experiences within the frameworks of their aspirations, abilities and lives to extend learning beyond campus boundaries and timeframes.

Cite the Concept of Academic Advising using APA style as:

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site:


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