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A chancellor is the chief executive or ceremonial officer of a college or university, and is often the executive or ceremonial head of the institution or of a university campus within a higher education system.

With most Commonwealth and former Former colonies, the chancellor is a ceremonial non-resident head of the university who does not teach or supervise students. In such institutions, the vice-chancellor, who may also hold other titles such as president, is the chief executive officer of the university and serves as its top executive (e.g. "president & vice-chancellor"). Occasionally, the chancellor also will serve as chairman of the governing body; however, in most cases, this position is handled by a chairperson who is known as a pro-chancellor.

The president, principal, or rector are all titles used to refer to the administrative and pedagogical leader of a university in different nations. In the United States, the president of a university is the most popular title for the institution's leader. In university systems in the United States that include more than one connected institution or campus, the executive leader of a single campus may have the title of chancellor and report to the president of the broader system, or vice versa, depending on the situation.