The image above is taken of a Baruch College lecture hall that seats 500 students (creative commons license).
In today’s academic job market, it is essential to consider all of your career options post-PhD. Many have spoken at length about the value of leaving academia altogether (also here, here, and here). But for some, it may be a better fit to choose a non-traditional career inside academia. There may be tenure-track positions in your field at many different types of institutions (e.g. liberal arts colleges or art schools). Your PhD advisor was likely at an R1 or R2 institution and may not have accurate advice for seeking a job outside of the R1 or R2 job market. The first thing you may want to do is read more about general guidelines for a broader academic job search at different types of institutions. Particularly, the differences between small liberal arts colleges and R1 institutions (TLDR: the key is demonstrating excellence in the classroom).
But once you get that first academic interview (whether at an R1 or non-R1 school) there is a huge range of differences in how your time will be allocated. You could be teaching anything from one to four classes per semester. You could have 15 students in your average classroom, or 200 students. The institution may expect you to spend lots of one-on-one time with students, or the institution may de-emphasize the importance of teaching. The differences between different academic institutions may seem like they are in the details. But these “small” differences can mean the difference between becoming a professional stadium-speaker and becoming an armchair psychologist. These are very different careers.
My goal with the survey below is to offer some important questions to ask when interviewing for academic positions. Beyond this, I have seen little data available that offers some insight into what’s “normal” at different types of institutions and how different this idea of “normal” can be. I’ll also be making the results of this survey available here on the PLoS Ecology blog.
Thank you for participating!