Investigating academic jobs

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Faculty life is not singular. The balance among research, teaching, and service varies significantly by institutional type: expectations at research-focused institutions are often quite different from those at teaching-oriented colleges, and faculty at two-year institutions may have different job descriptions than faculty at four-year institutions. This page describes aspects of faculty life at different institutions and offers suggestions on how to tailor academic job materials for these institutions.


Landscape of Higher Education. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne offers a comprehensive overview of the types of US academic institutions based on the Carnegie classifications.

Higher Education Screencast. Learn more about different types of U.S. institutions with the tools in this screencast. Read more »

small graphic of a magnifying glass Unsure about whether a faculty job is a good fit for you? You have options! Many PhDs go on to find career satisfaction in non-academic or alt-ac jobs. These resources present some possibilities for non-faculty jobs, including strategies for non-academic job searches.

Defining Terms. Alt-ac careers, or alternative academic careers, can be an excellent possibility for those who wish to remain inside the academy but off the tenure track. This blog post offers multiple resources for those interested in exploring alt-ac careers.

U-M's Humanities PhD Project. This site offers many resources for graduate students' career explorations.

Ten Simple Rules for Choosing Between Industry and Academia. This editorial from PLOS Computational Biology helps science PhDs assess the choice between industry and academia.

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Teaching, research, conferences, giving talks, classroom prep, administrative tasks... how do faculty members really spend their time? Learn about faculty members' working hours and days with the resouces here.


What Do College Professors Do All Day? This blog post summarizes a study that assessed how college professors use their time.

The Work Time of Professionals. This document summarizes research from the article, "The work-home crunch" by Kathleen Gerson and Jerry Jacobs (2004), among others, and puts some numbers to the question of hours worked by profession. 

Some Lesser-Known Truths About Academia. This article describes critical aspects of academic life that graduate students and faculty must cope with.

small graphic showing magnifying glass Are you curious what exactly is in a tenure file, how it’s assembled and reviewed, and how a new tenure-track faculty member can set a course for success? Learn about what it means to be on the tenure track, how a decision will be made to tenure a faculty member or not, and what graduate students and faculty can do to prepare themselves for a tenure decision. 

The Truth About Tenure in Higher Education. Does having tenure mean that you can never be fired? Find out the truth behind some myths about tenure.

Starting on the Tenure Track: Some Questions to Ask Early. The path to tenure differs from one institution to the next. When considering your job options, ask these questions about the tenure process. Read more »

small graphic showing a magnifying glass According to the AAUP, “non-tenure-track positions of all types now account for 76 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education.” What kinds of work do faculty do in such roles? What are some of the benefits and challenges of pursuing a faculty career off the tenure track?

AAUP on the Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty. A report from the American Association of University Professors offers an overview of how faculty positions have shifted from largely tenured to largely non-tenure track in recent years.

Satisfaction and Discontent: Voices of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty. This page describes a study of the working conditions and motivations of non-tenure track faculty.

How To Be Off the Tenure Track and Love It. Gina Brandolino, a lecturer at U-M, explores four common misconceptions about non-tenure track jobs.