Post # 1
Hello Bees I am currently an elementary school teacher. In my school district a MA degree is not required to teach but earns us a pay raise. I am considering getting my MA degree and am faced with the options in either education or to go with an MA in psychology, what I got my BA in. Part of the reason I’m considering psychology is because I am really drawn to the idea of teaching at a college level and psychology is the subject I’m passionate about.
Now, I know college professor teaching positions are available to those with only an MA degree (as opposed to a phd) however does anyone know how much of a future is there in teaching at a college level with only an MA? If I wanted to make the full transition to full time college professor, would I need a phd?
I am in California, but if you know what’s relevant to your state, please still post as I’m not sure if I will be in California for all of my life.
Also, I am a little confused about how college professors are paid, and it would be great if anyone could answer the following questions:
Do they get paid hourly for hours taught, or do they receive salary?
Does that depend on whether they are full time or part time?
How many classes/units does a full time professor usually teach?
Would a person with an MA be eligible for a tenure position?
I would have to take out student loans for this degree so I would Like to make sure I would financially earn more as a professor rather than a teacher, and when I check salary websites I see a high salary that does not correlate to the hourly rate I see posted on actual job listings.
Also if anyone has made the transition from teacher to college professor I would love to hear your story/advice. Thank you!
Post # 2
CaliforniaLovin: The vast majority of four-year institutions (and everything I type here is about four-year institutions–I don’t know two-year institutions well enough to comment) in the USA (and by “vast majority” I mean “literally every single one I know, but I’m sure there’s some place out there that I don’t know about that doesn’t require a Ph.D. or other terminal degree so I’m hedging my bets”) require a terminal research degree for full-time, tenure-track positions.
Adjunct positions will often look at candidates with only a MA/MS, but these are not jobs that you should aspire to–they pay by the class (and very poorly at that) in most cases, and do not come with benefits or access to institutional resources in most cases. Most people consider adjunct labor to be exploitation of the overpopulated academic labor force.
You would need a Ph.D. or possibly some other terminal degree (someone in the Psych discipline can fill in more here).
Full-time faculty are salaried in every case that I’m familiar with.
Teaching load varies from 1/0 (or less!) if you are a top researcher at a top research university to 4/4 (or more) at some teaching-intensive institutions.
In my personal opinion, you don’t want to teach at an institution where someone with an MA is eligible for a tenure-track position. Again, I’m not actually familiar with any institution where this would be possible, but I’m sure there is one out there somewhere.
You should not pay for a Ph.D. If you are not able to get an award that includes tuition remission and a stipend you should not pursue a Ph.D.
Post # 3
MarriedToMyWork: I have been out of the field for a while as I pursued a teaching credential. How does one even start to find an award/stipend to earn a phd in my position? Is it through federal fafsa? Thank you
Post # 4
First – I would go with the subject matter MA. I got a MEd in Secondary English and I feel like it was a huge financial and intellectual waste. A lot of it was talking about feelings and experiences, which was interesting – but not my idea of a proper master’s program. Had that program not been tied to my licensure, I would have elected to do a Master’s in English.
Unfortunately, it seems that most college professor positions are going adjunct, which is not a sustainable way to make a living, though I’m sure it would be a sweet gig for someone who might be in the position to make supplemental income for a family. Adjunct professors only make around $2k/class each semester where I am in the northeast. I believe that you would need a PhD to gain any financially significant work as a professor. However, securing tenure is insanely difficult. Are you willing to go wherever there is a job available? Is your spouse on board with all of this? Are you willing to make personal and family sacrifices in order to put your career first? All important questions to ask.
That said, the psycholgy PhD is one of the most intense experiences. I have heard, anecdotally, that admission to mid-high tiered psych PhD programs is as competitive as many top tiered med schools. I love psychology (got my BA in Psychology and English) and briefly flirted with the idea of pursuing my PhD, but it apparently sucks up your entire life. I also looked into the PsyD, but that option felt prohibitively expensive for me, as it is almost never funded. In fact, I have never heard of an assistantship for a PsyD. From what I understand, too, the PsyD is more oriented toward being a practicing clinician.
Post # 5
CaliforniaLovin: Universities require that you have a PhD, colleges require that you have a PhD if you’re teaching anything other than education. If you’re an education professor, they will hire you with a masters, but you need to have a PhD to be granted tenure.
Post # 6
CaliforniaLovin: These packages vary across fields (I’m in the humanities, where tuition remission + a research fellowship or TA stipend is the standard–the formula in Psychology may be different, especially if you are on the Neuroscience side of the discipline) and they are awarded by the schools themselves. In other words, University X’s department of Psychology will choose 10 students from its applicant pool to offer these packages to, and financial need is not usually taken into consideration when making the awards. (You can fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for certain loans…check with each Graduate School’s admissions page.)
There are also nationally competitive fellowships offered via NSF and other organizations.
Also, what PP have said about the very competitive nature of admission (and completion) in these programs, as well as the competitiveness of the academic job market, is quite true. You could be looking at nearly a decade (degree time + visiting positions, etc.) of uncertainty here.
Post # 7
Doed anyone know if the same is true for teaching at community collges? My community college district publically published their professors salaries, and they are somewhat high (80,000-120,000). I always thought most community college professors only had an MA, so I was very surprised to see these numbers.
Post # 8
I’m actually one of the lucky people who got an assistant professor job with an MS. I teach exercise science classes, and I’m actually a “visiting professor” so my job is temporary. i was floored when I even got the chance to interview for the job let alone get it. There were very poor profs in my position previously, so I guess I was a bit of fresh air because I was young and ambitious. My contract was for 1 year, but got extended for one more. This is my last year, only because I only have an MS, and I am not eligible for tenure. You can get instructor or adjunct positions with a masters, but they usually dont pay well and may not be full time. It’s unlikely that you can get promoted as well. But as a professor, I do get paid via salary, and I teach 12 credits (4 classes) per semester. I get paid extra to teach an additional class, but it really is a difficult work load with more than four. Because I’m visiting, I don’t have to do any advising or really do anything other than teach, which doesn’t cut it if yiu are permanent / tenured. Long story short though, if you want to be a professor you have to get a PhD. I’m actually going to go back to school after my contract is up because I absolutely love teaching at the collegiate level. It’s such a fun atmosphere and the flexibility of the schedule is awesome, I wouldn’t trade my job for the world, it is so fufuilling! I’m also looking forward to going back to school though, because I love learning and also most PhD programs are funded so I wouldn’t have to take out more student loans (I was a TA for my masters program so I got a tuition waver and a stipend, but still have a lot of student loan debt due to undergrad). Although it is a long road, I think it is totally worth it if your heart is in it!
Post # 9
These are the requirements from a random college
<h3>Minimum Requirements for Academic Areas</h3>
The Academic Teaching Fields require the following from an accredited college or university:
- a masters degree in the teaching field, or
- a master’s in any teaching field with 24 upper division and/or graduate semester hours in the teaching field, or
- master’s in any teaching field with 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching field.
- EDU 250 – Teaching and Learning in the Community College — or equivalent must be completed within two years of date of hire.
<h3>Minimum Requirements for Occupational Areas</h3>
The Occupational Teaching Fields require the following from an accredited college or university:
- the same qualifications as those listed for Academic Teaching Fields, or
- a bachelor’s degree plus 3 years work experience in field to be taught, or
- an associate’s degree or 64 semester hours and 5 years work experience in the field to be taught, or · 5 years work experience in the field to be taught.
- EDU 250 – Teaching and Learning in the Community College-or equivalent must be completed within two years of date of hire.
I’d just search around for schools near you and see if they have anything similar posted
Post # 10
CaliforniaLovin: The academic job market has grown so competitive that increasing numbers of newly-hired instructors at two-year institutions hold a terminal degree (this will be especially so in CA). See more here: http://chronicle.com/article/What-Graduate-Students-Want-to/131600/
Also, depending on how those salary reports are created, those figures might represent the salaries of all faculty members of all ranks, including very senior people. I would be surprised to learn that a junior professor at a non-research/non-top liberal arts institution makes that much, even in a state with a higher COL like CA.
If you want to teach at the college level you will need a terminal research degree from a good program, which means that you yourself will have to think about how you will present yourself as a researcher in order to be accepted to one of these programs.
Post # 11
I’m currently finishig up my PhD in Molecular Genetics, and have been at both R1 and teaching instiuitions in the states of OH, IA, and FL. To be completely honest, I would highly discourage going the PhD route, and only get your MA if 1) someone else pays for it 2) you can do it part time so you can maintain your current career. Unforutnately academia is going through many tough times (funding is awful), and teaching positions are being hired-out through adjunct positions. There’s SO FEW teaching-only, tenure-track positions left in this country. As PP said, it’s about $2000 per class with NO benefits to adjunct, and it’s a LOT of work (hourly rate < McDonalds). I have many colleagues going through this backwards system now and it’s actually really heartbreaking for them. They have a PhD in the hard sciences because they’ve dreamed of teaching college, but they can’t find anything but adjunct opportunities! I actually have two friends with MA and/or PhDs, and they are teaching HS because you get better pay, benefits, and time off. I will say that if you can get a pay raise then it may be worth pursuing the MA if you get your tuiton paid for and can keep working. If you decide to go PhD…it’s an…awful process lol. It’s really exciting to be at the edge of current knowledge, but I have crappy beneifts, a 28K salary (and that’s a lot compared to many!), and work 12+ hours a day with an uncertain job market ahead of me. But if you’re up for it, then you can get a tenure-track positon with a PhD. However you have to have a research focus 98% of the time, so you will be split between teaching and research..and you ususally will not be tenured without substantial soft money coming in to support your research program (federal and private grants). So academia is an illogical, backwards place right now 🙁
Post # 12
MarriedToMyWork: I totally agree! There’s more and more people with terminal degrees trying to get those coveted positions at 2-year instiutions. I know 3 people duking it out for one positions at a CC nearby…and they all have good first-author publications and PhDs.
Post # 13
I teach community college full time (major metro area) and I make $10k less than I did as a high school teacher. Adjuncts are paid hourly or by credit hour (this varies by stats/county). It is not, IMO, enough to live on. (I work in a large district and the adjuncts I know make $10-20k per year with no benefits.)
Teaching full time is much better, but it’s very, very difficult to get a job. I think psychology, English, history and polisci have it the worst. In my district, we have between 50-300 applicants for every FT position. It took 5 years of adjuncting before I got hired full-time.
Don’t get me wrong– I love my job, but it was very, very difficult to get. With an MA + 10 years of teaching experience and near-perfect evaluations, I was still lucky to get hired, and my experience was similar to my colleagues’. If it’s something you want to pursue, I would absolutely do it, but do NOT go into debt, and go into it with your eyes open.
I HIGHLY recommend checking out the Chronicle of Higher Education (esp the job-seeking forums) for a better idea of the state of academia at both 2- and 4-year colleges.
Post # 14
Oh, and while some people at my college make $80k+, they are either a) administrators who also teach FT (so, they have two jobs), or they are PhDs with 25+ years of experience. Most of us make $45-60k, depending on how many extra service classes we choose to teach. I could make $80k with a masters, but I would literally be teaching 10 classes per semester.
Post # 15
I live in Florida. The adjunct pay is 1700 per class. I was hired temporarily at a CC in my small hometown. I have a MS. When they posted the position as full time permanent, there were 30+ applicants including an MD, multiple Ph.Ds, and multiple D.Cs. Mind you this job was posted as 34k-37k for the salary. Technically you can get a tenured position with a MS but you just aren’t competitive. I didn’t get the position even. My brother has a Ph.D and has been looking for a tenure track for years. Definitely take the advise from the women above. They are spot on. As far as the pay. I taught 4 classes and 3 labs and it was about 37k which is actually less than what our public school teachers make. Now if you get full time and do overload for the fall and spring and do a couple classes in the summer then the pay looks better. Summer classes were 3400 each if you were full time. At our school those positions were taught by profs that were there for a long time. Have you tried looking up the salary in your state. I know ours is public record. You don’t want the averages you want starting pay with an MS or Ph.D with a few years of experience. The salary you mentioned seems really high. Good luck with your decision.