So_ You Want to Be an English Professor

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					So, You Want to Be an English
Professor?
Or Get a Ph.D. in English?
Confessions of a second-generation
English prof.
                                Dr. Russell Willerton
                                   February 5, 2009
    The views stated herein are my own and do not necessarily
    represent those of any other person, organization, or entity.
                 Overview
•   Types of Professorial Jobs
•   Types of Institutions
•   Requirements for Jobs
•   Types of Terminal Degrees
•   Pros of College Teaching
•   Cons of College Teaching
•   Summary
    Types of Professorial Jobs
Tenured or tenure-track
• Tenured professors have benefits and lifetime
  appointments, unless they do something
  heinous or the university eliminates the
  programs in which they teach.
Renewable contracts/lectureships
• Some teach full-time on contracts that may be
  renewed; usually receive benefits.
Adjunct/Part-time
• Temporary positions; usually no benefits; usually
  no guarantees for subsequent work.
        Three Types of Institutions
Note: There’s a continuum of schools and types; these categories aren’t absolute.

Research (a.k.a., Doctoral; Research 1)
• Focus on research; “publish or perish”
• Fewer classes taught (~2 classes/semester)
• Ex: UW, Stanford, U of Utah, Harvard
Comprehensive (a.k.a., Regional)
• Faculty must do research, teaching, and service
• More classes taught (~3 classes/semester)
• Ex: BSU, Missouri St., Northern Arizona
        Three Types of Institutions
Note: There’s a continuum of schools and types; these categories aren’t absolute.

Teaching (a.k.a., Liberal Arts Schools; junior
  college/community college)
• Focus on teaching and service
• More classes taught (~4 classes/semester)
• Ex: NNU, Eastern Oregon U, LCSC, CSI
• Some smaller institutions require teaching of 5
  or more classes/semester.
        Requirements for Jobs
Research Institutions
• Terminal degree (Ph.D.; MFA for creative writers)
• Research or publication agenda
• Publications
Comprehensive Institutions
• Terminal degree (Ph.D.; MFA for creative writers)
• Research/publication agenda; demonstrated teaching
  ability
• MAs typically work only as adjuncts—low pay, few
  benefits if any, little security
Teaching Institutions
• Terminal degree preferred; minimum of MA
           Terminal Degrees
In English Studies, the terminal degree is a Ph.D.
  in the specific area of interest (literature; tech
  comm; rhet/comp.; sometimes in creative
  writing).
An MFA is a terminal degree for people in the field
  of creative writing.
Ed.Ds. are degrees in the field of education. You
  won’t need an education degree unless you
  have specific interests in teaching people how to
  teach English in public schools (K-12).
 Things You Should Know about a
         Ph.D. in English
A Ph.D. in English prepares you to teach and do
  research at the college level.
There are way more people Ph.D.s than there are
  full-time jobs, especially in literature.
The narrower your focus, the narrower your job
  possibilities may be.
Many holders of Ph.D.s in English find that they
  need a “Plan B.”
Younger fields like rhetoric & composition,
  technical communication, and “new media” may
  offer more opportunities for growth.
English is losing its standing in a lot of universities.
                      Pros
•   College teaching can be rewarding.
•   It can be fun.
•   It is a privilege.
•   It has a nice ‘ring’ to it.
•   “Summers off, right?”
•   Stability for people with tenure/tenure-
    track jobs; somewhat recession-proof.
                        Cons
• Requires a lot of work behind the scenes.
• Reductions in public support for higher ed, financially
  and otherwise.
• High number of available workers drives down
  salaries.
• No other group goes to school so long for salaries that
  are lower than in many fields; no yearly bonus checks.
• Many people get Ph.Ds. and then try to subsist as
  adjuncts, and that’s difficult.
• The time spent to get a Ph.D. could be spent making
  money in a “real job.” Many Ph.Ds. accrue huge debt.
                 Summary
•   Know the rewards.
•   Know the risks.
•   Know what the competition will be like.
•   Choose carefully.

				
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posted:3/28/2013
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