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Core Competencies

As the fraternity/sorority profession evolves, so do the competencies needed to align the fraternity/sorority experience with the changing dynamics and enduring principles of higher education. In 2016, the Educational Resources Strategic Framework Workgroup recommended the Association revise and revisit the Core Competencies of the Profession.


Over the past year, a cross-section of professionals worked to develop the next step in the evolution of AFA’s Core Competencies. The results of their work are built on the following ideas:

  • Updated Taxonomy
  • Framework for Continuous Development
  • Progressive Structure
  • Self-Guided Pathway
  • Focus on Progress
  • Opportunity to Adapt

Core Competencies Summary

Foundational Knowledge

Foundational knowledge includes information, concepts, and ways of thinking that are unique to fraternity/sorority life and essential to serving as a fraternity/sorority professional.



Collegiate fraternal organizations are subject to various sources of authority, each with their own expectations. Fraternity/sorority professionals must accurately identify, interpret, navigate, and support compliance with these expectations. This includes:

  • Applying relevant federal and state laws.
  • Applying local laws and ordinances.
  • Applying university/organization policy for individuals and organizations.
  • Applying stakeholder expectations.
  • Navigating overlapping scopes of authority among multiple entities.
  • Managing compliance.

Student Learning

College students make significant gains in learning and development in college, and fraternity/sorority membership influences their outcomes. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be able to explain and apply theory, research, and good practice in student learning and development to their advising, training, and educational efforts. This includes:

  • Applying research and theory on student learning and development.
  • Designing and developing learning experiences.
  • Delivering learning through various methods.
  • Using various strategies to facilitate learning.

Student Safety

Collegiate fraternal organizations present both challenges and opportunities to enhance student safety on campus. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be familiar with the nature of these issues, the campus partners who work to prevent them, and research-supported strategies for addressing them. This includes:

  • Describing and examining student safety issues.
  • Employing research-supported approaches to facilitate student safety.
  • Managing crisis response procedures.
  • Assessing and managing institutional/organizational liability.

Fraternity/Sorority Systems

Collegiate fraternal organizations have many unique operating practices, and they operate across a variety of functional areas. Professionals must be familiar with, provide accurate advice about, and be able to navigate all relevant functional areas and operating practices. This includes:

  • Navigating fraternal community organization structures.
  • Coordinating membership management processes.
  • Facilitating joining processes.
  • Managing expansion and extension of new chapters.
  • Closing and reorganizing chapters.
  • Managing housing strategies and systems.
  • Applying good practice in relevant functional areas.

Program Administration

Fraternity/sorority professionals are responsible for contributing to the core functions of an organizational unit. They must be capable of identifying, managing, planning, and executing the basic duties of a departmental program. This includes:

  • Managing financial systems.
  • Managing personnel.
  • Managing information and communication systems.
  • Developing and managing operational systems.
  • Maintaining accountability to ethical and operational guidelines.


Professional Skills

Professional skills include abilities that help fraternity/sorority professionals excel in their positions.


Navigating Complexity

Supporting collegiate fraternal organizations involves multiple functional areas and complex issues that have multiple causes and contributors with no perfect or obvious solutions. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be able to acknowledge, navigate, make quality decisions, and lead through these complex issues. This includes:

  • Embracing complexity.
  • Thinking critically about situations.
  • Making decisions in complex situations.

Operating Strategically

There is no shortage of work to be done in supporting collegiate fraternal organizations, and not all work is equal in importance or urgency. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be able to coordinate multiple competing priorities, consider long-term implications of their work, use limited resources intentionally, and organize work in a way that produces the best results. This includes:

  • Monitoring and adapting to trends.
  • Defining priorities for allocating resources.
  • Implementing long-term plans.

Collaborating with Stakeholders

Fraternities and sororities are supported by a network of stakeholders who each have their own authority, perspective, priorities, and interest in the community. Professionals who work with these organizations must take personal responsibility for working collaboratively with each stakeholder group in order to capitalize on shared interests and navigate conflicting priorities. This includes:

  • Explaining the role, purpose, perspectives, priorities, relationships, and interests of stakeholders.
  • Cultivating and maintaining relationships with stakeholders.
  • Forming partnerships with stakeholder groups.
  • Navigating conflict.
  • Working with each stakeholder.

Driving Results

Universities and fraternal organizations are being called to demonstrate measurable progress in the many issues they face. Fraternity/Sorority professionals must be able to deliver on institutional/organizational outcomes and demonstrate effective use of institutional/organizational resources. This includes:

  • Assessing and reporting outcomes.
  • Organizing work around institutional/organizational priorities.
  • Prioritizing high impact initiatives.

Working across Differences

College fraternal organizations serve a diverse population of students and are supported by various stakeholders with contrasting viewpoints. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be able to engage productively with those who have differing experiences and views to create environments where people are valued, respected, treated with dignity, and given the opportunity to participate fully in the community. This includes:

  • Embracing our differences.
  • Facilitating interactions across differences.
  • Advocating for inclusive policies, practices, and learning environments.

Driving Vision and Purpose

Facilitating continuous improvement in fraternity/sorority life requires interpersonal skills to align stakeholders around shared aspirations for the future. Fraternity/sorority professionals must be able to dream, create, articulate, design, and champion a vision and milestones for fraternal organizations that support their mission and values. This includes:

  • Generating support for vision and purpose.
  • Facilitating continuous improvement.
  • Connecting work to fraternal purpose
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