All Things Political

Postsecondary Teaching Training

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities are most often required to have a doctoral degree in their field. However, some schools may hire those who have a masterís degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Doctoral programs generally take 6 years of full-time study after the completion of a bachelorís degree program. Included in the 6 years is time spent completing a masterís degree and then writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the studentís field of study. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

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Two-year colleges or career and technical schools also may hire those with a masterís degree. However, in some fields, there are more applicants than available positions. In these situations, institutions can be more selective, and they frequently choose applicants who have a Ph.D. over those with a masterís degree.

Postsecondary teachers who teach career and technical education courses, such as culinary arts or cosmetology, may not be required to have graduate-level education. Instead, schools may seek workers who have experience or certification in the field they wish to teach.

Some institutions prefer to hire professors who have teaching experience.

Some prospective professors gain experience by working as graduate teaching assistantsóstudents who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes in the institution where they are enrolled.

Other postsecondary teachers gain experience by working in other professions and have full-time jobs in other settings, such as government agencies, private businesses, or nonprofit organizations.

For postsecondary teachers, a major goal in the traditional academic career is attaining tenureóa guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. Tenure can take up to 7 years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor.

Tenure is granted through a review of the candidateís research, contribution to the institution, and their teaching. However, institutions are relying more heavily on limited-term contracts and part-time faculty, so tenure positions and positions on a "tenure track" are declining.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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