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Non-Tenure/Teaching-only Academic Positions

  1. Nov 4, 2015 #1
    I understand tenure track academic professorships are extremely competitive. However, are there any academic positions that are more avaliable?

    I was thinking of professors at liberal arts colleges, professors who only teach and do not research, or other types of college lecturers (or something else I haven't considered).

    For any such career, what is it like (job stability/permanence, etc.)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2015 #2


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    I think you have a bit of a confusion here.

    First, let me correct the impression that a faculty position at a "liberal arts college" is something that is easier and less "prestigious" than a faculty position at a research institution. If you have seen some of the rankings done in the US, some of the most competitive (and most expensive) universities to get into includes many liberal arts colleges (eg: Williams College in Mass). These schools do not skimp on the quality of the faculty members, and they are as good as any faculty members from other bigger-name institutions.

    Secondly, just because a school is a liberal arts institution, it doesn't mean that the faculty members do not engage in research work in the sciences. While there often is a bigger emphasis on academic instructions due to the nature of smaller, more personal approach to education, these faculty members are, in many instances, expected to carry on research work, often involving their students.

    Thirdly, liberal arts college faculty members go through the same rigorous tenure process like any other big institutions.

    So, do not lump liberal arts college faulty members with non-tenure track faculty They are no different than faculty members at any other major institutions, and a position at such an institution can be as competitive as any!

  4. Nov 4, 2015 #3
    I appologize! I did not mean to offend. I was curious about positions that are more open than professorships. It is good to know that positions at liberal art institutions are just as compeitive, so thank you!

    To other repliers, to be clear: I do not mean to degrade such professions, or imply they are less prestigious.

    I merely mean to ask what professions are more acheivable. If such positions still research, all the better.

    EDIT: Also, ZapperZ, perhaps I meant to say less know or community colleges, which, while valuable institutions, are easier to become a faculty member at (perhaps? Well, that is what I'm trying to figure out). In any case, I'm not trying to be specific - any academic position that isn't impossible to get into.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  5. Nov 9, 2015 #4


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    I taught math (primarily) in a community college between 1979 and 1997, and participated in many hiring committees for tenure-track positions. As time went on, the competition became heavier and heavier, with as many as 150 applications for a single position. Some of these applications didn't meet our minimum qualifications, so we might eliminate 30 to 40, and then still need to winnow the remainder down to the top 10 or 12 to interview.

    A lot of schools hire for non-tenure track positions a quarter or semester at a time, and these tend to be not quite so competitive.
  6. Nov 9, 2015 #5
    The American Association of University Professors has published a report siting only 42% of University teaching positions are tenure track. It also notes that community colleges depend heavily on non tenured teaching position with part time positions making up more than 50% with many community colleges having no tenured positions except perhaps for department or program directors.

  7. Nov 9, 2015 #6


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    Note that that report is from 1993, although I would be very surprised of the % of tenure-track positions has increased since then.

    Also note that there may be significant differences between fields, e.g. on the one hand English and math which have huge numbers of students in introductory classes, and on the other hand fields like physics which don't have as many such students and classes.
  8. Nov 10, 2015 #7
    As I. Particularly since 2008 when the great recession started there has be a significant shift to what is know a the "Gig Economy" . More and more professionals are excepting temporary employment or Gigs aka consulting. Full time employees are usually the single greatest expense that an organization has so from a business prospective it is reasonable to reduce that number. I vaguely recall a report recently that the number of tenured positions is now around 30%.. However in a more recent AAUP report the following is commented


    While this does not single out any one discipline I would expect a similar situation for physics.
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