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Academic Careers

Are you interested in a career in Academia? Before applying, you may consider if you are applying for research-intensive or teaching-intensive roles.

Research-Intensive Faculty

These positions are typically situated in academic departments and university centers that emphasize research as well as teaching. The types of higher institutions with faculty positions range from research-intensive doctoral institutions, four-year institutions offering master's degrees, and liberal arts colleges.

Teaching-Intensive Faculty

These positions require as many as 5 or more courses each term, student advising and institutional service. These careers are found at many kinds of institutions, including 4-year comprehensive public universities, private liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and more. Regardless of the type of faculty you endeavor to become, there are steps that you should take from as early as possible to ensure that you build a competitive record for an academic job application.

Depending on where you are in your PhD process, here are some tips to get you started on your academic job search:

Early Stage PhD Job Search Tips

  • Actively engaging in professional development activities to learn more about faculty careers
  • Reading job ads so you can relate your work to trends 
  • Intentionally building an organized and professional CV
  • Building connections; expanding network
  • Building mentoring relationships
  • Leveraging writing that you do for courses and creating a publishing plan
  • Attending departmental and university-wide events such as seminars and lectures
  • Attending on-campus, regional, and national conferences
  • Applying for fellowships/grants no matter how small
  • Presenting your work often for practice and visibility

Later Stage PhD Job Search Tips

  • Spending time on "valuable" publications
  • Presenting at national conferences
  • Propose and organize a panel or symposium at national conference
  • Cultivate reference letter writers from outside your institution
  • Write your dissertation with a strict publication plan in mind
  • Be the instructor of record of 1-3 courses
  • Apply to "new investigator grants" - deadlines and eligibility vary by funding institution
  • Apply to postdoctoral positions (more information below)
  • Go on the academic job market as ABD for practice
  • Perfect your teaching portfolio - take advantage of workshops offered on-campus by the Teaching & Learning Transformation Center
  • Clarify and develop YOUR persona/identity as a new scholar

Helpful Resources

Preparing for your documents? Want to understand the entire process?

Go to Beyond the Professoriate, a virtual learning platform. Under "Faculty Careers," you can begin to learn more about various documents you need to compile for a faculty position. 

The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. 

The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) is an independent faculty development center, with a community of over 450 colleges and universities, dedicated to supporting academics in making successful transitions throughout their careers.

To take advantage of this opportunity, you can activate your confidential, personal membership by completing the following steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Choose your institution from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select “Activate my Membership”
  4. Complete the registration form using your institutional email address (i.e.
  5. Go to your institution email to find a confirmation email. Click “Activate Account” in the confirmation email.


Recommended Reading

Is a Postdoc the right choice for you? 

Many faculty recommend that new PhDs take up a postdoctoral position after graduation, while other scholars recommend against it.

Completing a postdoc is typically a requirement for tenure-track faculty research jobs and for most college teaching positions, and many postdocs engage in such training in order to progress toward these positions. Outside of the tenure track, it is much less likely that a particular position will require postdoctoral training, though there certainly are instances where PhDs can use such experience to enhance their candidacy. Some PhDs take on a postdoc to increase their number of first-author papers, and others seek to apply for transitional grants. More resources on postdoctoral appointments are available from the UMD Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Remember: Your faculty mentors are the best source of information about the academic job search process in your discipline! Your academic advisor and other faculty in your department should be your first point of contact when starting your academic job search.

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