Investigating academic jobs

CRLT is accepting applications through Friday, February 24, for the May 2017 Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Seminar. Interested graduate students can learn more about the program here. In this guest post, past participant Leigh Korey (Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature) shares her reflections about the program:

Past Preparing Future Faculty Seminar participant Leigh Korey (Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature) I realized in my second year of grad school that I wanted to pursue a career in teaching. It was in the middle of winter term, and I had solicited feedback from students in my first-year writing class. We had spent the first few weeks discussing in detail the idea of “context,” both in a literary sense and in terms of their own writing. In their feedback to me, they communicated that the pop quizzes I administered in class to hold students accountable for their reading assignments were not working. They didn’t object to the idea of pop quizzes as an assessment tool, rather, the problem was that the questions on the quizzes felt, in their words, “decontextualized.” I knew at that moment that they had finally understood the importance of context. Moreover, I learned that the feeling of working with a group of students until they truly comprehend something is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable parts of teaching.

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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 »