How to Become an Adjunct Professor

Ginger Abbot

Apr 15, 2022

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Teachers can impact student’s lives and inspire the next generation of workers. Although, some professors may not have the time for a full-time role. Adjunct professors work with schools on a part-time basis. So, if you’re wondering how to become an adjunct professor, follow these steps. 

What Is an Adjunct Professor?

The school employs an adjunct teacher on a contract basis. This means they’re hired for a predetermined amount of time to complete a specific task. Unlike traditional educators, they aren’t required to publish articles or conduct research. 

Colleges hire professors to teach specific classes in their expertise. Some even use adjunct teachers to fill high-demand courses. Employers might then have them instruct the class the following semester. 

Steps on How to Become an Adjunct Professor

If you’re ready to pursue a career in education, follow these steps for how to become an adjunct professor. 

1.  Get the Proper Education

The first step to becoming an adjunct instructor is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You want to select a major relevant to the field you want to teach in. Consider what topics you’re passionate about. Since you will be in school for multiple years, you want to study something you enjoy learning about.  

Also, when picking a major, keep in mind the job market. For example, nursing and engineering jobs are in demand. 

Here are some of the other high-paying subjects to consider teaching:

  • Law
  • Business
  • Architecture
  • Computer science
  • Cultural and gender studies 

2.  Go to Graduate School

Once you earn your bachelor’s degree, the next step is attending graduate school. Keep in mind you may need to complete an exam before entering. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a common one. This tests you on basic reading and math skills. The last portion is a timed essay. To do well on this exam, consider setting aside two to three months to study. During this time, use test prep materials and take online practice exams. 

Once you get into graduate school, obtain a master’s degree. It takes around one and a half to two years to complete the program. However, you may also want to earn a Ph.D. While community colleges accept a master’s degree, most four-year institutions require doctorates. This requires extensive study in a particular field and a research proposal. 

3.  Obtain Relevant Experience in Your Field of Study

During your undergraduate college career, you may have had some teaching opportunities. Besides relevant teaching experience, you may want to gain practical experience. Many institutions value professors that have real-world knowledge in the subject they teach. 

So, consider working with a business or non-profit agency within your field of study. For example, a computer science professor could work with an established IT company. 

4.  Gather Your Application Materials 

When preparing your job applications, you may need other documents besides your resume.  Often a teaching statement or philosophy may be part of the application. This is a document outlining your theories about teaching. In the paper, highlight any successful teaching strategies you have tried or want to try. 

Another component is a diversity statement. This is a few paragraphs explaining how you will foster diversity in the classroom. Consider writing about any diversity challenges you have faced. Some colleges may ask for a curriculum vitae(CV). This document covers your academic career. 

Also, many employees will ask for a cover letter and letters of recommendation. When writing a cover letter, make sure you write a unique one for each job you apply for. Also, make sure you expand on what you wrote in your resume. 

5. Apply for Jobs 

With your materials in order, you can start applying for open positions. If you have a university in mind, you can start there. Check their website for available positions. If not, then search online job sites, like Linkedin. Also, besides traditional four-year institutions, consider looking into community colleges. 

Qualities That Make a Good Professor 

Once you have learned how to become an adjunct professor, here are some skills you will need to succeed. Communication is a vital skill to have. As a professor, you want to be able to explain the subject materials to your students clearly. 

Here are some other traits that make an effective educator:

  • Can teach using real-world experience
  • Excellent presentation skills
  • Technologically savvy
  • Passionate about their academic field
  • Understanding of curriculum design 
  • Team player 

Benefits of Becoming an Adjunct Professor 

Now that you’re prepared on how to become an adjunct professor, here are some of the benefits of the position. One of the perks is learning more about an area of study you’re interested in. Since you don’t attend meetings, you can dive further into the course material.

You also form better connections with students through personalized attention. Besides stronger student relationships, a flexible schedule is a key perk. This allows you to take care of responsibilities outside of work.  Also, since you only work part-time, you can have time to explore your other passions. 

Tips for Becoming an Adjunct Professor 

Teaching can be a rewarding career field. Becoming an adjunct teacher can provide you with a more flexible schedule. So, if you’re ready to pursue this career, follow these steps for how to become an adjunct. 





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