Five common myths about being a part-time professor

myths stampAs you enter the field of adjunct faculty, you will hear both positive and negative things about how part-time faculty are treated and respected. In this article, I will debunk the five most common myths.

Myth 1 — You have to have a PhD to teach in a college or university.
Although the traditional four-year university primarily that hires people have doctoral degrees to reach upper division and graduate level courses, a masters degree is often all that is required for lower division or community college courses. Trade schools may only require a bachelors degree and experience and notable accomplishments are also taken into account when evaluating credentials for teaching in higher education.

Myth 2 — You must publish
As a part-time professor there is no need for you to publish. If you have written a book or articles, that’s great; but generally the publish or perish paradigm is referring to a very specific type of publishing. Peer reviewed articles and university press publications are the valued publications. Publish or perish is more applicable to tenure-track and tenured faculty as it relates to review and promotion. Bottom line, you don’t have to publish to be a part-time faculty member.

Myth 3 — Adjunct faculty aren’t respected
If you have heard this myth, you are probably talking to an adjunct who had thwarted dreams of parlaying their part-time gig into a full-time tenured professorship, and who does not have a profession aside from teaching part-time. Most students don’t know the difference between an adjunct faculty member and a tenured or core professor. If you are introducing yourself at a professional conference and mention that you teach part-time at a university people will be impressed. You will definitely be viewed with respect as an adjunct professor.

Myth 4– Most adjuncts want a full-time job
Most adjunct faculty either have full-time jobs, are retired, or are self-employed and don’t want a full-time job. According to a report by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), titled Who Are the Part-time Faculty, only 38 percent of the part-time faculty would like to teach full-time. Most of those are recent graduates with little other work experience.

Myth 5 — Adjuncts are overworked and underpaid
This is a matter of perception. I think the majority of people in most professions would say that they are overworked and underpaid. If you are teaching at a university part-time strictly for the pay, you may feel it isn’t worth the effort. If you are driving an hour each way to teach a one-hour class three times a week, it is probably not the best way to supplement your income. However, if you teach close to home or teach online, the intangible rewards and supplemental pay may be just perfect for your needs.

If you are interested in teaching part-time in a college or university, CLICK HERE to get a free copy of the book Become a Part-time Professor.

2 replies
  1. Qualified Academic
    Qualified Academic says:

    I do not recommend that those considering adjunct teaching rely on the claims made on this site. Those in search of accurate information about pay and working conditions for adjunct faculty may find it here, broken down by institution:

  2. Lesa Hammond
    Lesa Hammond says:

    Dear Qualified Academic:
    As a person who has worked in higher education for more than 20 years, my goal is to provide information to professionals and retired people who are interested in teaching part-time in higher education – it is not targeted for people seeking a full-time job by starting as an adjunct.
    I think the “adjunct project” by the Chronicle provides excellent information and discussion. And the information I am providing is also very valid. As you might have noticed, the Adjunct Project is added to the sidebar as helpful information.

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