With the rapidly evolving teaching-learning environment, the demand for part-time teaching contracts is also on the rise. This brings us to the question – What is an adjunct professor? An adjunct professor is a temporary, part-time appointment for teaching provided by college administrations. Most adjunct professors teach on a part-time contract at short notice. Several of them teach at more than one university, hoping to augment their earnings from their other occupations. Adjuncts may also have to develop their program for their class, often with days to spare before their appointment commences. Colleges and universities also favour hiring adjunct professors if the attendance of the course varies each semester. Online adjunct faculty are a great boon to educational institutions that are now shifting to the virtual teaching-learning space and are yet to cope with this significant change.
Did you know? About 54% of adjuncts teach for more than one educational institution.
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- What is an adjunct professor?
- Adjunct work environment
- Pros and cons of being an adjunct professor
- Qualities of a great Adjunct professor
- Requirements for an Adjunct professor role
- How to become an Adjunct professor
What is an adjunct professor?
Usually, online adjunct faculty spend much of their time engaging with and teaching students, while retaining versatility in performing different duties. It is essential to know the adjunct professor job description before applying to such a position.
Typical duties of adjunct faculty
- Educating graduate and undergraduate students in a particular area of expertise.
- Developing and handling the syllabus of the class and ensuring that the syllabus meets departmental and college requirements.
- Lecture preparation and development, scheduling and holding online class meetings, and assigning tasks.
- Grading assigned documents, tests, and quizzes.
- Evaluating student grades based on attendance, class performance, assignments, and exams.
- Tracking learning outcomes for students, reviewing classes and analysing student results.
- Collaborating on course training with colleagues.
- Advising students on how to excel and achieve goals.
- Staying informed of developments and improvements in their area of study.
- Participating in programs surrounding professional development.
Adjuncts can use a learning management system (LMS), as well as other communication media outlets, to teach a course in a distance education environment. If you have enrolled in an online training program or have already served in that area, you could bring additional expertise and experience to an adjunct assignment. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the adjunct professor job description when considering adjunct faculty positions, as these may vary. Adjuncts are not required for many of the duties expected of full-time professors. As a condition of their appointment, for instance, adjuncts are not likely to perform research, publish articles or attend staff meetings and events.
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Adjunct professor salary
The average adjunct professor salary in India is around 4.8 LPA – 5 LPA. Considering the fact that an adjunct professor is a part-time position, the job prospects are quite lucrative.
Adjunct professor work environment
Teaching hours are only a small fraction of the working day because these professors only educate for eight hours a week. Most of the time, instead, is spent making syllabuses, assessing student work, executing academic research, and meeting students and other faculty members. Most of these professors are also seen on faculty panels to address a variety of departmental issues such as budget planning, departmental organisation, and course development. Multiple professorships are popular at several colleges or universities so that some transitions will be present.
What are the pros and cons of being an adjunct professor?
- Adjunct status can act as a framework for seeking a role in full time.
- Have flexibility in their time obligations, allowing them to pursue personal or other career opportunities while also fulfilling their teaching needs.
- Adjunct instructors can concentrate on teaching and curriculum rather than departmental or committee work.
- The setting is intellectually stimulating and collegial.
- The adjunct teachers can have a positive impact on the students they teach.
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- Salary is typically less than that of a full-time instructor. Sometimes, it is paid per course or on an hourly basis.
- Roles are contractual and usually renewed after each course.
- Adjunct faculty can spend the same amount of non-classroom hours as full-time faculty.
- Adjuncts typically do not get health insurance, retirement plans or other perks that employees can avail.
- At a university, an adjunct faculty may not have a physically designated office space.
What is an adjunct professor’s desired quality?
Someone who is an effective adjunct professor is:
- A strong communicator who gives students value-added feedback and details.
- Able to teach using knowledge of the real world.
- Able to teach and deliver information confidently to a class of students.
- Technologically knowledgeable: can use e-mail, a variety of online learning platforms and other ways of communicating with students.
- Passionate regarding particular academic areas and general education.
- An understanding of how to use curriculum design, pedagogy, and alignment of learning outcomes.
- Has worked successfully with colleagues.
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Adjunct professor requirements
To become a great adjunct professor, you will have to check the adjunct professor requirements. Once you fulfil all the requirements, you can proceed with your application for the same.
1. Education requirements
- Education: Master’s or Doctoral Graduate Degree
- Typical time is taken to earn degree: 3-7 years
One of the most necessary adjunct professor qualifications is to have finished a master’s degree. This will allow one to teach in the online higher education environment. Community colleges or technical schools might require only a bachelor’s degree, along with appropriate experience in certain disciplines. Previous teaching experience is often preferred within a university or college’s online environment. There has been a growing demand for adjunct professors. The competition is also increasing. Many study areas have more applicants than the available vacancies. As an effect, several institutions do favour applicants who have completed a teaching assignment already or who are currently enrolled in a doctoral program. Adjuncts are mostly employed to teach a particular course in which other faculty do not have the required high-demand skills. Individuals who fill these positions can find opportunities to teach these classes often.
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2. Work experience
Many organisations may choose to recruit those with teaching or other work experience. But, for many educational institutions or employers, this is not one of the most demanded adjunct professor qualifications. However, having work experience will definitely give one an upper hand during the recruitment process. Hands-on work experience in the industry may be valuable in health specialities or art education fields. Adjunct professors also gain experience in these fields by serving in a profession similar to their field of expertise.
Many post-secondary teachers have postdoctoral research expertise in areas such as biological science, physics, and chemistry. Such short term positions also referred to as “post-docs,” typically include serving as a research associate for 2 to 3 years or in a similar role, sometimes at a college or university. A few adjuncts gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants. This implies those who are students enrolled in a graduate program and are teaching classes at the institution they are enrolled in.
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3. Certifications and licenses
Adjunct professors who train students for a profession requiring a certificate, license, or registration might need or gain from having the same credential. For example, a post-secondary nursing adjunct professor may need a nursing license or a psychology adjunct teacher may need a psychology practising licence.
- Critical thinking: The adjunct professors need strong critical thinking skills to question existing theories and beliefs, perform original research, and design experiments.
- Interpersonal skills: Most adjunct professors have to be able to work well with others. They would serve on committees and give lectures. For this, they must have strong interpersonal skills.
- Resourcefulness: Adjunct professors must be able to convey knowledge in a manner that is accessible to students. They have to adapt to their students’ various learning styles and teach students who have little to no knowledge of the subject matter.
- Speaking skills: Adjunct teachers need strong communication skills to give lectures.
- Writing skills: The majority of adjunct teachers must be competent writers to publish original research and analysis if they are aiming for a full-time position.
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How to become an adjunct professor?
If you want to know how to become an adjunct professor, you can follow the steps provided below.
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s degree
A person seeking to become an adjunct instructor must first receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. A candidate should have a major in the area in which he or she wants to teach or a subject that is closely related to it. For example, aspirants wishing to teach post-secondary microeconomics can benefit from earning an economics undergraduate degree. This may improve their chances of recruitment to teaching a similar graduate degree programme. In some instances, vocational and technical schools can employ adjunct educators who only have bachelor’s degrees and relevant experience.
Step 2: Finish Grad school
Adjunct educators will usually have advanced degrees in the areas they plan to teach. Although some community and junior colleges accept teachers with master’s degrees, most 2-year schools and 4-year colleges and universities favour doctoral candidates or those currently working towards doctoral degrees. Master’s degree generally take two years to finish, while PhD programs can last up to six years. Prior experience in teaching with a 2-year or 4-year institution can be valuable to securing an adjunct educator position. Students could obtain this experience through assistantships for graduate teaching, which are mostly paying jobs.
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Step 3: Get work experience
Adjunct professors are respected outside of academia for their study or work experience. Also, aspiring adjunct educators frequently add professional roles in industries to their part-time jobs. Aspiring educators may start their careers after college by taking up related full-time employment with private companies, government agencies or non-profit firms. For example, an aspiring professor of computer science may take a position as a manager of the information systems.
Step 4: Work in an Assistant Adjunct Professor position
Assistant adjunct faculty are generally hired as required for a college or university that needs more faculty to meet demand or broaden the curriculum. A candidate is usually expected to submit comprehensive education and associated job experience, a letter of interest, and three relevant references for his or her resume.
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Step 5: Progress as an Adjunct Professor
Adjunct educators are not qualified for tenure, which means that if they do not perform well or if the school no longer needs an adjunct teacher for a specific course, they may be dismissed. There are also promotion incentives that can contribute to job protection. Some colleges use ranking systems for the adjunct assistant professor, adjunct associate professor, and adjunct professor job titles. Entry-level educators can begin as adjunct assistant professors, and then undergo a performance review after a designated term.
The department will assess the adjunct assistant professor based on his teaching, research and professional productivity. If the professor meets college or university requirements, he or she may advance to an adjunct associate professor and then, eventually, adjunct professor. These promotions could arise with extended service terms and the ability to teach more classes per semester which may result in higher earnings.
Did you know? The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) predicts that by 2028, the bulk of post-secondary teaching job growth is expected to be in part-time positions.
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Tips to be a great adjunct professor
1. Set the tone for how you wish to run your class.
Stick to whatever action plan you and your team agree upon. Do not obsess over making frequent and unnecessary changes. Devote the first day to discussing the basics of the course, but it is also your time to set the tone for how you want the class to function. If you want the course to be more discussion-based instead of lecture-style, then let your students know your expectations. Be authoritative yet accessible and demonstrate your enthusiasm for what you teach.
2. Focus on details
The first concerns that the students will have is about continuing or dropping out of the class, and the grading scale of the university. You may feel more like an administrator than a teacher but be ready to respond well. Guide students as to how their problem can be solved. Make sure that your class reading, examination, and paper due dates schedule is planned for the duration that you are expected to teach. Look out for holidays that may fall on one of your days of teaching or due dates. Inform yourself about school policies. It is easy to forget simple details such as when the last day before the finals is to turn in assignments, or how to send an incomplete grade to a student. Set reminders so you do not miss out on anything important.
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3. Scaffold your teaching
One teaching challenge is to explain the content to the students in a meaningful manner. You have been learning the area of content for years and you are now charged with communicating it. This will allow you to go deeper into your subject field because you are still in training. You will be fascinated by how teaching grants knowledge you did not have when you were on the other side of the desk. Find lots of different ways of explaining the same concept. Do not only let your students read what you need them to know but interact in class about it. Utilise the board to explain the idea, find engaging material online, ask students leading questions that you have never wondered about. Help them understand the intricacies of every concept and its application.
4. Handle the virtual learning environment well
One of the satisfying moments of teaching a college class is communicating your lesson and inspiring the students to engage actively. You have to be on the watch for the one student who takes up the discussion, or the chronically late student that interrupts you mid-reading. Choose your battles wisely with students but do not make the mistake of calling the student out in the middle of class if you need to fix a problem. Contact him or her personally and express your concerns.
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5. Make lecture notes
Suppose this is your first teaching of the subject, then it might not go smoothly or as expected. Maintain mental notes of what has worked and not. What readings really caught the attention of the students or made them ask more questions? These adjustments can be made in your future classes, and your experience and confidence in teaching the material will increase.
6. Connect with fellow adjuncts and faculty
Exchange your teaching experience with other graduate students, your research mentor or other members of the faculty. More than half of college teachers are adjuncts and you are not going to be alone in expressing your concerns. Speak about what succeeded in your classroom, and what changes you felt were needed. Listen to stories from other colleagues to get more insights. You will be surprised to find out that other adjuncts have stories similar to yours. Importantly, you can gain valuable information by sharing what you know and learning from others.
Did you know? If you publish your research work often, your chances of being considered for a full-time position will be high.
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Now that you know how to become an adjunct professor check all the requirements and apply for the position.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How is a professor and adjunct professor different?
A: The major difference between a professor and an adjunct is the working hours. Adjuncts are fundamentally part-time professors for an institution while professors are in full-time employment.
2. Do I need a PhD to be an adjunct professor?
A: Generally, you need a master’s or doctoral degree to be considered for a job as an adjunct professor. However, some community colleges or technical schools hiring for those faculty positions may require only a bachelor’s degree in addition to work experience.
3. What makes a good adjunct teacher?
A: To be an excellent adjunct teacher, you must be proactive, learn to prioritise, and have effective interaction strategies with students.
4. How are adjunct professors paid?
A: The format is a fairly universal one. Adjunct professors are paid on a short-term contract basis. Sometimes, they are paid on an hourly basis but never on an annual basis. The pay structure and length of contracts can vary from job to job.
5. Are adjunct professors given offices?
A: Many institutions do not offer office space for adjunct teachers. You might even need to be using your computer. A workroom is available in some cases, but the adjunct faculty members are typically on their own.
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