Understanding the Terminology for Entry Level Faculty Positions

Searching for an academic job can be confusing when you are new to academia.  Understanding the terminology for the various positions can help you weed through potential jobs to locate the best fit for your situation.  Here are some examples of the terms you may see more frequently in your search for an academic teaching position.

  • Adjunct Faculty:  This is a part-time position.  Sometimes an adjunct faculty position may lead to a full-time teaching position within the college or university.  Adjunct faculty positions typically do not include any benefits.  Class schedules are based on demand.
  • Lecturer:  When the position requests a lecturer, it normally indicates that a PhD may not be required for the position.  Some university faculty at the undergraduate level may have a Master’s Degree in the area they teach.
  • Professor :  This title typically indicates the need for an instructor who holds a PhD in their discipline.  Most universities have a requirement of scholarship activity associated with this rank.  In addition to the research requirement, there is normally some type of structure within the rank of professor as follows:
    • Assistant Professor:  The Assistant Professor’s position is the entry level for most universities.
    • Associate Professor:  This rank typically requires experience in university teaching.
    • Full Professor:  Faculty that have been with the university for several years (typically referred to as tenured faculty).
    • Professor Emeritus:  This rank is rare, and is a title of honor that may be given around retirement by the university where the faculty member has served.
    • Visiting Professor:  These are short-term positions in which there is a limited teaching term.  Sometimes, this rank may be given to a professor that is a faculty member at another university.  This position is also referred to as a Distinguished Scholar. 
    • Open-Rank Professor:  When you see this type of listing, it indicates that the university is willing to consider a person who may fit into any of the categories of professors.

There are several other types of academic teaching positions, but this list will help give you the first clue on what type of educator the university is looking for in the job description.

Dr. Rebecca Sanders has been an educator for 33 years and has experience teaching elementary through doctoral level classes. 

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