(Closed) Need teaching career/ college professor advice

posted 6 years ago in Career
Post # 16
Member
1244 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - San Francisco, CA

If you want to teach psychology full-time at the university level, you will have to obtain a PhD in  psychology (probably clinical or possibly health/social/IO), complete a dissertation, and complete a 1-year pre-doc internship. There are often other requirements like a certain number of publications, but those will vary school by school. PhDs are generally fully funded if the instituted you are attending is accredited, and you would speak to each school individually about that process. Clinical psych PhD programs often have acceptance rates in the 3-7% range and will require at least the general GRE, if not the psych subject test. Once you’re in that position, there’s enormous variability; you can make anywhere from $45k – $135k depending on the school. (My Brother-In-Law [eldest SIL’s hubby] is working on his clinical psych PhD, I’ve learned a lot about it in the past couple of years.)

Other than that, I can’t speak to what you’ll need to teach at the university level. I do know, though, that where I live I don’t believe you can teach without a degree (usually MA, possibly BS) in education. I’d recommend finding a terminal master’s program first so you can eplore whether teaching is really your passion, and in what field?

Post # 17
Member
4998 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I haven’t read all the responses, but yes to teach at a university as anything other than a lecturer, you need a PhD. You might be able to be a lecturer are a lower-tier university or private school with just a master’s, but you will probably never make over $50K. You could also teach at a community college with a master’s, but I assume the salary isn’t much higher. If you get a PhD, you could make $60-80K starting as an assistant professor and somewhere in the range of $110-140K as an associate professor after 5+ years. The academic job market is insane right now though, so keep in mind that you will not have your choice of geographic location when it comes to finding a job (or probably even a PhD program). It’s a long haul, so I recommend being damn sure it’s what you want to do!

Post # 18
Member
569 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

I’m in my last year in a social psych PhD program, so I wanted to offer my thoughts, a lot of it is echoing PPs.

First off, the academic job market is really rough right now…so take that into consideration. Most of my colleagues are applying for jobs across the US and in Europe, and still sometimes taking more than a year to get a full-time, more permanent position. I’m locationally bound, so I know I will likely have to adjunct longer than planned (which I also do now). Also, you might have to move for the program itself…I was lucky in that I got into a program that was a great fit for me and happened to be very close to where I live…that’s not always the case.

Yes, you should get a PhD if you want to teach at a college-level. Even places like community colleges that have traditionally hired MAs have gotten more and more competetive, so you will vastly increase your chances by getting a PhD.

Also keep in mind that many jobs in this field will also want you to do research—this is becoming increasingly true even at teaching-centric jobs (though of course they expect less research than other schools might). This isn’t true of EVERY job, but is true of many of them. And it’s definitely true of the PhD program itself. It is not true that you will neccesarily have to do a pre-doctoral internship in a PhD program—that’s true of clinical/counseling psych, but not true of all the different sub-disciplines.

It’s also not true that a PhD program HAS to take over your life as a PP suggested. Admittedly, the first year and a half or so, I did let it take over my life. But since being in the program, I have gotten married, bought a house, am now pregnant, have been teaching 2-3 classes a semester, seeing friends, used to play soccer recreationally, attend family functions, etc. Yes, it takes over your life more than some jobs, but doesn’t have to completely take it over….you find your balance.

In terms of funding, most psychology PhD programs are funded, at least for the first 4 years, sometimes beyond. This generally includes tuition remission and a stipend that you earn through being a teaching assistant or a research assistant. This is part of the program itself.

Also, many PhD programs aren’t focused on preparing you to be an educator, but instead focus more on research. However, if teaching is your focus, you can seek out that experience and preparation. (This is the boat I am in…hoping for a teaching-centric job myself and have done a lot of independently-driven work to get that experience.)

This is all probably pretty jumbled, but I hope its helpful. Good luck deciding!

Post # 19
Member
569 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

Oh, and regarding working as an adjuct/part-time instructor at a college…you do get paid per class, but the actual scale seems to vary pretty widely. I’m in Mass….teaching night classes at one school, I made $1800 per semester-long course. At the school I teach at now, I originally made a little under $5000 per class, but now that I’m in my 3rd semester there/part of the union, I make around $6000 per class (before union fees). I have a colleague who teaches at a school in Boston, and she makes $7500 per class. So it totally varies, though most of my friends seem to make between $4000-5000 per class. You don’t usually get benefits for these positions though, which is something to consider. And they technically are not stable, so you may be bouncing from school to school.

Post # 20
Hostess
10362 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

Marriedtomywork is spot on with everything that she’s said. You definitely need a PhD to teach at the college level, even community colleges as far as I have experienced. (I have friends with PhDs that want to teach at community colleges because they are burnt out on research).

To get into a PhD program, you first need to figure out what you want your research to be. Then you need to find a faculty member whose research goals are aligned with yours. You’ll need to take the GRE and apply generally to the department, but with the mention that you would like to work with said Prof. This is assumed that you have had open lines of communication with that professor and they have expressed interest in funding you.

Once you submit your application, the department will decide if you are eligible to be considered for a spot. This is when that professor you reached out to comes in handy. They will tell the admissions board that they have a spot for you in their group and funding.

Once you’re in, you’ll need to do research, take classes, pass qualifiers, pass candidacy and write your dissertation all while being a TA. After that, finding jobs in academia is pretty cut throat, because tenured professors tend to stay around until they basically die and government funding has been less and less every year. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but I’m in the 3rd year of my PhD and, well, that’s my excuse.

Post # 22
Member
4998 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

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CaliforniaLovin:  I would say probably for sociology just because there are so few job options other than academia. In psychology, some people go on to become psychologists or do consulting or other things. I technically have a PhD in psychology (neuroscience) and I work in the pharmaceutical industry, so I’m not taking up an academic job like I probably would if I had a PhD in sociology.

Post # 23
Member
144 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

IME sociology is even worse of a job market. Have you considered studying to be a school psychologist? It requires more hours than an MA, but in the two states where I’ve lived, the job market was pretty good (assuming you went to a good program). They have a lot of the benefits that teachers have (good schedule, working with kids), but they make more money and aren’t in the classroom. That’s what I’d do with elementary school experience + an interest in psychology.

Post # 24
Member
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

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CaliforniaLovin:  I would take the advice of HughJazz.  The brutal, but true answer is that there really IS no such thing as a good or stable academic job market (a decent job in pretty much any discipline will be competitive); that Ph.D. programs are often emotionally brutalizing (just check the stats on depression among Ph.D. students and be aware that the vast majority of dissertation advisors do not care and will consider you to be “weak” if you allow your depression to affect your work); and that the idyllic liberal arts college that gives its professors time to really teach and work with students is a vanishing breed.  Nothing that you have said in any of your replies gives me the sense that a Ph.D. would be best for you, and if you were one of my students I would do everything in my power to direct you toward another path. 

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HughJazz:  

Post # 25
Member
9916 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

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CaliforniaLovin:  I find it very strange that your college didn’t have professors with PhDs.  That’s not a new thing…it’s like very old.

Anyway.  I have a master of science in education, and I teach a community college class.  I am paid $3000 for the class, which comes out to 9 payments of like $275.  I do this in addition to teaching full-time.  It’s not a good way to make a living. 

I recommend looking at what jobs are available in your state and what the requirements are.  Higheredjobs.com lists them all, pretty much.  That should give you an idea of what’s available, and then you can determine what you do your masters in from there.

Post # 26
Member
5890 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

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CaliforniaLovin:  I would look into School Psycologist (like PP mentioned) or Education Technology. In my job search there was a great need for people to teach, setup, manage or create e-learning classes. Plus classroom teachers are struggling with how to incorporate technlogy into the classroom. 

Post # 27
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

I have a Master’s and taught a course as an adjunct while working at a university in a student affairs department.  I didn’t make $2,000 for that class, I want to say it wasn’t even $1,500, but that’s just one of many reasons I left that job!  It was nice to teach a class “on the side” in addition to my regular duties, but as PPs have stated, I don’t think you could make a real living as an adjunct.

In the student affairs field at least, many community colleges pay higher than four year institutions. This was discussed by our faculty when our cohort was looking for jobs, so it’s not just something I noticed.  It surprises a lot of people because of how community colleges are often “looked down upon,” but just because they’re not prestigious doesn’t mean they can’t offer a competitive salary.  However, I’m not sure how much the student affairs side of things and the teaching side compares as far as community college salaries.

Your professors probably were adjuncts if they were teaching with Master’s degrees.  I had several too at a four year institution.  More and more classes are being taught with adjuncts.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by  Lavender28.
Post # 28
Member
1521 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

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CaliforniaLovin:  Adjunct professors get paid hourly per contact hour – ie the hours they are in the classroom.  Full-time professors get paid salary.

A typical courseload is 4 classes per semester.

I have an MFA which is the terminate degree in my field, but I would assume if you want to pursue a career as a professor in psychology you’d need a PhD.

Post # 29
Member
5082 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

Just to echo PPs… you really must have a PhD to teach at a 4 year college (there are some exceptions, but generally the schools I know of are moving to all PhD for faculty). Community colleges do accept people with masters degrees to teach, but given the teaching job market, a lot of PhDs are taking those jobs too. If I were you, I would NOT get a PhD if all you want to do is teach. You could certainly get an adjunct position, but it’s all on a per class basis, with few exceptions. If you wanted to be a research professor, I may suggest different, but there are very few professors with good tenure track positions that teach only. For the most part your worth as a professor is in your ability to bring in research grants, not teach. This is why so many tenure-track professors that you may have had in undergrad are the most horrible teachers, it just isn’t as important. As a research professor too, you are expected after a reasonable amount of time to fund at least part of your salary with your own grants. 

If you do decide on graduate education, don’t go anywhere that won’t fund you. You shouldn’t be paying for this on your own if you are in a researched based program. My program funds both MS and PhD students through teaching assistantships. This includes tuition waiver and stipend. Getting a PhD can be a lot of work (as PPs have said, it can consume your life). My experience hasn’t been bad, but it definitely can be, depending on the person you are and who you are working for. 

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