Finding a Job in Academia

Many Brown graduate students will eventually get tenure-track positions after finishing their PhDs, some straight after finishing their degrees. But more often, post-doctoral candidates will begin with adjunct teaching positions, research post-docs, or visiting professorships with fixed term, often renewable appointments. Others will also take advantage of opportunities to work in higher education administration.

The key when deciding on your career path after the PhD is to listen to your own values and interests. If your passion is teaching, a position at a smaller school that emphasizes students may be a good fit. If you’re interested in the  inner workings of the university, you may want to pursue a career in administration. This section describes the major kinds of jobs available in academia, including faculty positions, post doctoral positions, and administration. Learning about these options can help you craft a job search plan that is right for you.

Faculty Positions

The requirements, demands, and timing of an academic job search vary from discipline to discipline. In some fields, the majority of interviews for faculty positions take place at a major conference; in others, the process is more decentralized. Because the nature of the academic job search is discipline specific, the scholars in your department are often the best source of information and advice. Work with your advisor and committee members to develop an action plan for your search process. If your department has a job placement officer, consult him or her for tips on how to navigate the job market in your field.

Learn About the Market

One of the best resources for learning about the academic job market is The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s not only the premier source for higher education job listings. It’s also the best source for getting the inside scoop on the nature of the market in any given year. Each year The Chronicle publishes first-person accounts of life on the market as well as advice from the pros, including faculty who’ve served on search committees.

Plan Your Search

Although the process of looking for a faculty appointment differs from discipline to discipline, all searches require an expenditure of time and money. You will spend an enormous amount of time preparing materials to send out to prospective employers. In addition to cover letters, CV’s, and preparing for interviews and job talks, you will correspond with the institutions you’ve applied to and travel to conferences and universities for interviews.

Further Information and Resources

  • The Smart Scholar Series on the Interfolio Blog is a good source for info on a variety of topics touching on academic life and careers, including tips on organizing and planning the Academic Job search. The two following items are recent particularly helpful examples:
  • Dr. Ramon Goings on Navigating the Academic Job Market
  • Dr. Ramon Goings Three tips for Organizing the Job Search
  • A useful and widely recpmmended academic job search tool and database.
  • Administration 101: A well regarded series of essays by David Perlmutter in The Chronicle of Higher Ed. on topics in administration and leadership in Academia.