So you want to be a professor in the US

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In summary: Network hierarchies play a role in faculty hiring. The more prestigious the university, the more likely it is to hire faculty from other prestigious universities. However, this tendency is not universal. For example, new hires at Harvard are more likely to be trained at the University of Wisconsin-Madison than at Harvard.For the most part, faculty are male. This is true at all levels of prestige. However, when prestige increases, the percentage of male faculty increases more than the percentage of female faculty.
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Some highlights from a a study of tenured or tenure-track faculty employed in the years 2011–2020 at 368 PhD-granting universities in the United States

- Only 11% US faculty have non-US doctorates
- Of those with non-US doctorates, 35.5% come from the United Kingdom & Canada (3.9%)
- In the Natural Sciences 19% of faculty have non-US doctorates

- Among the departments that are ranked top-10 in any field, 23.2% are occupied by departments at just 5 universities: UC Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Columbia

- 80% of all domestically trained faculty were trained at just 20.4% of universities
- 5 doctoral training universities account for 13.8% of domestically trained faculty: UC Berkeley, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford

- Professors who are employed by their doctoral university account for 9.1% of all US professors
- Faculty hiring networks in the United States exhibit a steep hierarchy in academia and across all domains and fields, with only 5–23% of faculty employed at universities more prestigious than their doctoral university
- These patterns create network structures characterized by a closely connected core of high-prestige universities that exchange faculty with each other and export faculty to—but rarely import them from—universities in the network periphery
-The typical professor is employed at a university that is 18% further down the prestige hierarchy than their doctoral training
- New hires in all domains are substantially more likely to be trained outside the United States as prestige increases
- Both new and existing faculty are more likely to be men as prestige increases for academia as a whole
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I'm not surprised.

The highly ranked schools are big. This is at least partially how they are ranked.

There are maybe 800 schools that offer a BS in physics and maybe 140 offering the PhD. So (ignoring foreign faculty) that means we expect most faculty to be trained at 20% of the universities. Further, half of all physics PhDs are granted by about 10% of the PhD-granting institutions. It's not surprising that a similar distribution if exhibited in faculty hires.
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1. What are the qualifications for becoming a professor in the US?

In order to become a professor in the US, you typically need a doctoral degree in your field of expertise. This can be a PhD, MD, JD, or other terminal degree. You will also need to have a strong research portfolio and teaching experience. Additionally, most universities require candidates to have publications in reputable journals and a track record of success in their field.

2. How do I find open positions for professorships in the US?

There are several ways to find open positions for professorships in the US. You can check university job boards, professional organization websites, and job search engines. Networking with colleagues and attending conferences can also lead to potential job opportunities.

3. What is the salary range for professors in the US?

The salary range for professors in the US varies depending on factors such as location, field of expertise, and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for postsecondary teachers in 2020 was $80,790 per year. However, salaries can range from $45,000 to over $200,000.

4. What is the tenure process like for professors in the US?

The tenure process for professors in the US can vary depending on the university, but typically involves a probationary period of several years during which the candidate's teaching, research, and service are evaluated. This period culminates in a tenure review, where the candidate's work is assessed by a committee of their peers. If granted tenure, the professor is granted job security and academic freedom.

5. What is the difference between a tenure-track and non-tenure track position?

A tenure-track position is a probationary faculty position that leads up to tenure. This means that after a certain number of years, the candidate may be evaluated for tenure and granted job security. A non-tenure track position is typically a temporary or contract position without the possibility of tenure. Non-tenure track positions may still offer job security and benefits, but do not lead to tenure.

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