How to become

How to Become an Adjunct Professor

How to Become an Adjunct Professor


Universities and colleges are increasingly hiring adjunct professors to teach many classes rather than tenure-track academics. An adjunct professor can choose which classes to accept and can work full- or part-time. Adjuncts create lesson plans, instruct courses, and evaluate student work just like any other professor would.

An adjunct professor is what?

Part-time professors are known as adjuncts. They are neither on the way to a tenured post nor are they regarded as members of the permanent staff. They are free to design a teaching schedule that works for them because they are a contract employee.

While some only have one class to teach, others have many. They might accept tasks from several different schools or even work a regular job. After the semester is over, the adjunct is free to look for new teaching jobs either at the same school or elsewhere.

While adjuncts don’t have the same duties as full-time, tenured professors, such as performing university research, they nonetheless carry out many of the “normal” chores related to teaching a class. 

These consist of:

  • preparing class lectures and discussion topics.
  • reading and practicing materials to be distributed.
  • setting up an office.
  • giving pupils constructive criticism.
  • presenting tests.
  • assessing student work.

What is the role of an adjunct professor?

In higher education institutions, such as community colleges and four-year universities, adjunct instructors are employed. They frequently specialize in a single subject of study—typically one in which they have earned a doctorate degree—but they may switch between them if they have further training. These professionals frequently teach courses at various colleges to earn a sufficient wage because adjunct roles might be competitive.

In order to develop pertinent lesson plans and guarantee students’ academic success, adjunct professors—regardless of the school or department in which they are employed—must abide by institutional requirements. An adjunct professor’s typical additional responsibilities include:

  • Evaluating essays and tests.
  • Tracking of grades and assignment submissions in online learning environments.
  • Holding consultations with students during office hours to talk about the course.
  • Using email to communicate with pupils.
  • Composing recommendation letters for students applying to graduate programmes or professional careers.
  • Entering grades into a grade management system online.
  • Attending departmental meetings to be informed on the requirements and goals of the programme

Getting started as an adjunct professor

The following actions can be taken to pursue a career as an adjunct professor:

  • Finish your undergraduate studies.
  • Pick a subject area to study.
  • Study in a graduate programme.
  • The application supplies you need.
  • Apply for roles that are open.

1. Finish your undergraduate studies

You will study a range of math, science, history, English, and other classes while enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree programme. It’s crucial to maintain a strong grade point average throughout your undergraduate studies because graduate programmes sometimes need a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Consider asking your undergraduate instructors about their teaching experiences if you wish to pursue a job as an adjunct lecturer. If they are adjuncts themselves, they may be able to give you valuable information about the labor market and typical responsibilities. Your lecturers can still provide valuable knowledge on lesson planning, grade tracking, classroom management, and other topics even if they are full-time, tenure-track academics.

2. Pick a subject area to study

Think about the subjects that you are most interested in studying while you are studying general courses. If you wish to work in higher education as a teacher, you must pick a field and devote at least two years to it in order to get a master’s degree.

For the remainder of your undergraduate education, concentrate on taking courses in the discipline you’ve chosen. For instance, you should enroll in literary classes in various time periods and genres, as well as rhetoric and creative writing courses, if they are offered, if you wish to work as an adjunct English professor.

3. Study in a graduate programme

After receiving your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to enrol in graduate school and complete it. You might need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in order to be admitted, depending on your programme. In addition to geometry, algebra, calculus, and data analysis, the GRE assesses fundamental language abilities including vocabulary and reading comprehension. An essay assignment with a 45-minute time limit makes up the test’s last component. You might have a better chance of getting accepted to graduate school if you receive higher GRE scores.

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and the Medical College Admissions Test are additional popular exams for graduate school admission.

Even though some institutions allow you to teach with just a bachelor’s degree, an adjunct professor normally needs at least a master’s degree. The majority of master’s programmes last two to three years.

Many of these programmes are supported by graduate assistantships, which means that in exchange for working for the school, you will receive reduced or free tuition. A lot of graduate assistants are appointed as instructors, which might give you useful teaching experience that you can apply to an adjunct post.

4. The application supplies you need

Most adjunct positions demand a range of additional documentation in addition to a regular job application containing your employment history, such as:

  • Teaching philosophy or a teaching statement

This one- to two-page essay covers your teaching philosophies, including how to create projects, deliver lectures in the classroom, and evaluate assignments or examinations. Examples of effective teaching strategies you’ve used in the classroom are typically included in a strong teaching statement. In contrast, if you have never taught before, you may usually only mention the educational practices you find interesting.

  • Statement of diversity

The majority of American colleges enroll students from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and ecclesiastical backgrounds. Your commitment to promoting diversity in your classroom, school, and community is outlined in a diversity statement, which is normally one page long.

You can provide your personal history, such as how you came to value diversity or any obstacles you overcame as a member of the social groups you identify with. A hiring committee for academic positions probably wants to see proof that your teaching approach and way of life in general value cultivating a variety of cultural perspectives.

  • Personal statement

A CV is a comprehensive overview of your academic career, detailing your training, publications, publications, research experience, professional organizations, and more. A CV can be as long as necessary to describe your professional history, unlike a resume, which is normally one page.

  • Request letter

Academic positions commonly demand a cover letter, just like jobs in other sectors. Although there might be some overlap with your diversity statement or teaching philosophy, you should concentrate more on why you’re applying to that particular school and the advantages you’ll offer if hired.

Review the school’s website, paying special attention to the goal statement, before you compose your cover letter. Use phrases like “diversity” and “intellectual development” to demonstrate how your commitments and beliefs align with those of the institution. You can distinguish yourself as a devout aspirant adjunct by tailoring your cover letter to the specific objective of the institution.

  • Letter of recommendations

While many schools would only call the people listed on your CV as references, some could insist that you provide recommendation letters along with your application. Regular writers of recommendations include past instructors, employers, or colleagues in the workplace.

5. Apply for roles that are open

You can pick your hours and places because an adjunct position isn’t typically thought of as full-time work. To ensure you are working full-time hours, you might be able to work at numerous campuses if you live in a city with a range of educational institutions. As an alternative, you could teach one or two classes if being an adjunct professor is your side job and leave the rest of your time free.

Community colleges frequently have open adjunct roles in addition to universities. Make sure you have all the necessary information before applying by carefully reading the application guidelines. A member of the hiring committee may get in touch with you after you’ve completed your application to schedule an interview, which occasionally involves a group.

The committee can give you an immediate offer of open classes if you impress them during the interview. If they don’t have any vacant places, though, they might add you to an “adjunct pool” so that you’ll be first in line if any new courses come up.

Average pay for adjunct professors

As of November 2019, the hourly wage for an adjunct professor in the United States was $67.58. Hourly wages range from $34.25 to $200. The pay of an adjunct lecturer varies greatly based on the institution and educational degree. For instance, a doctoral-trained adjunct who works at an Ivy League university will earn more than a master’s-trained adjunct who works at a small college.

It is crucial to keep in mind that the bulk of adjuncts are not paid hourly wages but rather by course or credit hour. As a result, depending on the particular requirements of each class, the average remuneration of instructors who are teaching the same course can also vary.

Job prospects

Postsecondary teachers, often known as adjunct professors, are expected to see an 11% increase in employment from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national average for other professions is normally 5%, therefore this rate is greater. Certain specialties may also see faster job growth rates. The following are some of the fields with the best prospects for job growth:

  • Teachers of biological science 12%
  • Psychology specialists 12%
  • Instructors in computer science 15%
  • Nurses’ educators 20%
  • Teachers with expertise in health 23%

Assisting points

Education possibilities

Although adjuncts are often not compelled to engage in the activities of their employing department, simply being on campus might present possibilities for additional learning, such as:


Postsecondary universities of all stripes organize conferences with eminent academics from many fields. Since you’ll be working on campus as an adjunct, you’ll probably be more aware of the conferences that will be held at your institutions.

Visiting academics

Schools frequently invite academics from other universities to offer lectures in addition to conferences. You might have easier access as an adjunct to hearing these speakers or perhaps engaging in intellectual dialogue with them.

Access to teachers on the tenure track

It’s possible that some of your department’s instructors have adjunct experience and would like to support you in your endeavors. You might be able to establish connections with tenure-track professors and ask them for advice on how to deliver excellent lectures or how to advance your subject-matter expertise.

Associations for professionals

You will be qualified for membership in particular professional associations as an adjunct lecturer. Adjunct Action and the American Association of Adjunct Education are two organizations that offer their members resources for studying and teaching.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Adjunct Faculty Positions

Many different sorts of teachers may be ideal candidates for an adjunct teaching career. Before participating, you should weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

The Benefits of Working as a Adjunct Professor
  • It’s an excellent method to decide whether teaching college-level courses is the right vocation for you before making a commitment.
  • The work is adaptable. Since adjuncts typically only have to teach one subject per semester, they have more opportunity to pursue other interests or spend time with their families.
  • They are not required to carry out the duties that full-time academics must, such as attending meetings, carrying out research, supervising graduate students, or writing papers.
  • Since full-time professorships are uncommon, working as an adjunct allows you to continue teaching while looking for a full-time post.

The Drawbacks of Adjunct Professorship

  • Pay for adjunct teachers is significantly lower than that of full-time academics.
  • As contract and part-time employees, adjuncts are not eligible for benefits.
  • Adjuncts typically do not have access to an office on campus, which makes it challenging to provide office hours and interact with students.
  • There is no assurance that you will still be employed after the period is through.

Which Skills Are Needed for an Adjunct Professor?

The willingness to instruct pupils is not enough for adjuncts. Additionally, they require functional abilities like:

  • excellent interpersonal relations.
  • good public speaking abilities.
  • skills with technology (not only email but the ability to create and share documents and other course materials, for example).
  • the capacity to generate course materials, conduct class activities, and construct lessons that adhere to the university’s teaching standards.


How are adjunct salaries determined?

In general: For each credit hour assigned to a semester-long course, adjunct teachers should typically be given credit for three hours of labor every week. An adjunct

a professor teaching a single, three-hour class, for instance, would be considered to have worked nine hours that week.

What distinguishes a professor from an adjunct lecturer?

A Ph.D., which is often the ultimate degree for a field, is required for full professorship. A doctorate, a master’s degree, or even a bachelor’s degree could be held by an adjunct, however qualifications would differ by institution. Here are a few more distinctions between full professors and adjuncts.

What does a load hour in a classroom mean?

Load Time A load hour is the amount of work that would be required for a sixteen-week course to consist of one contact hour of direct instruction and one hour of weekly class-related activities (preparation, grading, etc.), or the equivalent amount of work for an online or hybrid course.

What is more superior to a professor?

Academic rankings show a person’s influence and relevance within their field. Each nation’s academic rankings are unique; there is no global, centralized ranking system. Professor, associate professor (docent), assistant professor, and instructor are among the typical ranks.

What characterizes an excellent professor?

passionate about the topic, education, and learning. knowledgeable about the subject and adept in communicating it. having knowledge of both new and traditional materials and techniques. Confident, willing to acknowledge ignorance and not afraid to make mistakes.