Hi all,


I think where we always stumble with this conversation is that there are so many variables that figure into the “right” ratio, and they’re going to differ from campus to campus.  This is a VERY complicated question to answer.  I’ve posted about this before, so if you search the archives you might find it, but right off the top of my head:


1.       The number of bodies on the staff will never be the right answer anyway.  It’s not how many tutors.  It’s how many total hours they’re working.  Are they full time or part time?  If part time, how many hours a week?  We need a compound unit of measure, like “tutor-hour” (TH)  Or maybe FTTE (full time tutor equivalent). 

2.       Even then, what’s the model?  The correct ratio of tutor-hours will be different if tutors are doing drop-in versus appointment-based tutoring.  Likewise, the correct ratio will be different for one-on-one versus group tutoring.  So maybe an even more complex compound unit of measure is needed, like the “tutor-seat-hour.” (TSH)

3.       Even if we could agree that the correct unit of measure is the tutor-seat-hour, how do we determine how many TSH’s are enough?  So many additional things to consider! 

a.       Does your center cover every single course in the college curriculum, or do you just focus on a few?

b.       If you cover the whole curriculum, what types of academic programs do you have?  Different subjects drive different amounts of students to tutoring.  STEM majors, on average, will create more demand for tutoring than majors in the humanities.

c.       What is the gap between the academic rigor of your college’s programs and the preparedness of the students you admit?  This to me is HUGE.  If you’re admitting students who showed up extremely well prepared, even if the academic programs are challenging, they might not need a whole lot of tutoring.  If you’re admitting students who didn’t have the same opportunity to show up well prepared, they’re going to need more support.

4.       Even if you could answer all of the questions above, fundamentally what it comes down to is this:  What would your campus leadership define as enough?  They cannot ask us to tell them what is the right ratio of tutors to students to achieve X if they cannot define the X.  Theoretically, if budgets, space, and qualified tutors existed in unlimited supply, it would be possible to achieve the perfect standard of “any student in any class can see a tutor one-on-one at any moment without delay and work with that tutor for as long as they want.”  None of us will ever have the resources for that, so the real question is, what is your administration’s opinion of how short of that standard you can fall and still be doing “enough”?  Until they can define this for you, you cannot answer the question of how many tutors you need per student.   Presidents, provosts, and deans have a responsibility to let us know what that is if they’re going to ask us what the appropriate ratio is of tutors to students.  To really answer the question about how many TSH’s is enough, you’d need to know how your campus leadership feels about:

a.       What is an acceptable amount of time for a student to wait to see a tutor?  Do we want enough TSH’s on the schedule for every student to get a same-day appointment the day before the midterm for the hardest course on campus?  Are longer wait times acceptable?  How much longer?  Do you have “enough” if every student can get an appointment within a week? 

b.       Is one-on-one the standard, or is your campus leadership okay with students having to share the attention of the tutor with other people?  If so, how many others?  What group size do they find acceptable?

c.       Should access to tutors be unlimited?  If not, what limit should be put in place that still ensures students “enough?”

d.        Do you have “enough” if your tutors have to take students in groups of ten?  Six?  Two?  Is it only “enough” if every student can see a tutor one-on-one without delay?  These are questions for our provosts and presidents to answer.

e.       What outcome are they looking for?  Are they looking to move the needle on DFW rates?  If so, by how much? 


As learning center professionals, we have a lot of information we can share with campus leadership to help them make these decisions.  For example, we can help them understand that both one-on-one and group tutoring have unique benefits.  We can probably show them schedule and payroll data that show how much idle time a tutor will have if they’re on duty often enough so no student ever has to wait to see a tutor.  We can even share with them our educated opinions about where the sweet spot is between ease of access to tutoring and unjustifiable tutor idle time.  It would be great to see CLADEA facilitate an organized effort along these lines.  But the leadership on each campus will have to plug in their own values to these models before their learning center directors can really answer the question of what ratio of staff to students is enough in the context of that unique campus.


Have a good weekend!




Michele Costabile Doney, M.S.Ed.


Director, Student Academic Consulting Center & Immersion Programs

Baruch College, CUNY

55 Lexington Avenue, Box B2-116

New York, NY 10010

[log in to unmask]


NCLCA Learning Center Leadership Certification Level Three

The SACC Website:

The Coalition for Undoing Racism at Baruch (CURB):


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From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Ira Fabri
Sent: Friday, March 5, 2021 8:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: ratio of learning assistance staff to students?




Rebecca, it is totally fine. Everything I do and share will always be free for the community.


David Reedy and I had also started a conversation about a study on this, a while ago. Then life got in the way. I don't know if he has worked more on it. 

When this question was asked on the Listserv, I always saw responses describing only each center's  ratio. However, there is a big difference between our individual realities and what we all wish we had, what would be really effective and efficient. I have not seen any studies addressing how to determine the ideal ratio. I would be interested in restarting the conversation and potentially come up with a questionnaire that would address this topic at a broader and deeper level.








On Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 5:27 PM Rebecca Tedesco <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Sarah,


I initiated a discussion on this topic in 2017. I went back into the LRNASST archive and found you some resources from that conversation.


Below is a reply and some attachments Ira Fabri set at the time. (I hope you don't mind me sharing this, Ira!)


Also at the time, Stacey Blackwell was collecting benchmarking information on this topic via Qualtrics survey. I received the report from her directly, but no longer have access to it, because it would be in my former institution's email.


Stacey, if you're not too busy, would you be willing to share your results from that survey to the list again?


Rebecca Tedesco

Southwestern College (San Diego, CA)

CRLA Level 3 Master Tutor
Certified Learning Center Professional - Level 3



P.S. Since this is a recurring question, if anyone out there wants to conduct a study and write a journal article about it, it seems there would be an audience.... I know I would read it! Just putting that out there! 😁





Re: Staff:Tutor Ratio


Ira Fabri <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Tue, 5 Dec 2017 14:44:36 -0500






text/plain (117 lines) , text/html (26 lines) , Professional staff numbers.docx (26 lines) , Tutoring numbers.xlsx (26 lines)

Hi All.


I saved some answers that were given to a similar question a while ago (see attached Word document). I also ask some questions in September that can help with this (see Excel file). The excel file is organized by institution and not by question. That might make it a bit difficult to read at first. I apologize but I have not had the time, yet, to reorganize it.


I hope these two documents can help and I would be very interested in other colleagues' insights.






On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 2:28 PM, Joe Salvatore <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Rebecca,


We've actually considered this question lately as well while preparing our strategic three-year budget.  Currently, we have one program manager supervising 218 study group facilitators and one program manager supervising 60 tutors and 12 mentors.  These programs do share one administrative assistant as well.   Obviously, this is far from ideal or a best practice and we are hoping to provide the evidence needed to convince our Dean's Office to grant our request for additional staff.









Joe Salvatore

Director at  Science Learning Center (SLC) - University of Michigan


A  1720 Chemistry, 930 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

P  734-763-9399  E  [log in to unmask]  W



Joe Salvatore

Director, Science Learning Center

University of Michigan

1720 Chemistry

930 N. University

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1055

(734) 763-9399




On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 3:03 PM, Rebecca Tedesco <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi everyone,


What have you found in your experience, or in the literature, to be an ideal staff to tutor ratio for supervision and training?  We are growing our team and want to follow best practices.


Applies for cross-posting.  Thanks in advance!


Rebecca Tedesco

Peer Connections Tutor Coordinator

San Jose State University

[log in to unmask]





On Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 5:55 AM Debbie Malewicki <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Sarah,


About five years ago I did a survey through here, but the results were informal. We also added to responses through here research into departments that had won awards through the ATP and NCLA. About the only conclusion I was able to present my supervisors at the time with any level of reliability is that the top departments had a ratio of between 1 to 13 to 1 to 17. The rest of the results were all over the place and could be as high as 1 to 35 or even above.


I don’t know if I even have access to that data directly anymore because I’ve moved on from the institution through which I gathered it, but I’m pretty sure that you will find the summation results that I posted here in the archives.


That much being said, I don’t think you can consider this information to be at the same level as a researched/published article.



Debbie Malewicki, President

USA Tutors, LLC

(203) 800-4100

Facebook: @USATutors

From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Sarah Feldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 4:53:12 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: ratio of learning assistance staff to students?


Hi all,


In the past few years, I know a few iterations of this question have popped up on this listserve in the past, but I wanted to follow up again today: is anyone aware of research or data related to an ideal ratio of learning assistance staff/services? 


Thanks so much!





Sarah Feldberg
Director of the Academic Support Center
1015 Philadelphia Ave.
Chambersburg, PA 17201
[log in to unmask]
o. 717-262-2762

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Ira Fabri

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Associate Director, Tutoring Services

Academic Success Center

Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA)


Sherman Hall East, 342

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250




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