What is an adjunct professor?
An adjunct professor, also might also be called an adjunct instructor, is a college or university teacher who works on a part-time, contractual basis. Adjuncts typically teach one or two courses per semester, and they may teach at multiple institutions.
In fact, I have been an adjunct professor at two different universities in the Chicago area. For both, I taught undergraduate courses in speech-language pathology. In addition for one of the schools I provided clinical supervision of graduate students in their second year of the two-year masters program.
Adjunct professors typically have the same qualifications as full-time professors, including a master’s degree or PhD in their field. However, they do not have the same job security or benefits as full-time professors. And, because they are part-time, they are not tenure track eligible. Tenure means that a professor has proven themselves via performance in some capacity in the university to earn special protection and/or privileges. To be on the “tenure track” means that the professor has a PhD and is engaging in special scholarly work at the university. The professor typically has to submit an application for tenure and it takes four years at minimum.
Adjuncts play an important role in higher education. They teach a wide range of courses, from introductory to advanced, and they provide students with valuable instruction and support. However, adjuncts often face challenges, such as low pay, lack of job security, and few benefits.
Advantages of being an adjunct professor
There are some advantages to being an adjunct professor. Adjuncts often have more flexibility in their work schedules than full-time professors. They may also be able to teach at multiple institutions, which can help them to supplement their income.
Adjuncts may also have the opportunity to teach in a variety of different fields. This can be a great way to learn new things and to develop new skills.
Additionally, adjuncts can “try out” each university they teach at to see if they prefer one over the other. Because they are contracted only to teach one or two courses, it’s like getting a taste of what it’s like. They can leave after the courses completed.
Disadvantages of being an adjunct professor
Adjuncts also face some challenges. Adjunct pay is often low, which means the adjunct can (and probably should) have other jobs. Because they are part-time, adjuncts do not have access to the same benefits as full-time professors, such as health insurance and retirement savings plans.
Adjuncts may also have to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet. This can make it difficult to devote the time and energy needed to be a successful teacher. I’m sad to say, but if you’ve ever had a professor you didn’t care for, there’s a high chance it was an adjunct who wasn’t invested in the course or the university like other faculty members might be.
Adjunct professors play an important role in higher education, especially in speech-language pathology. There is a shortage of doctoral professionals in speech-language pathology. There are rules put forth by accreditation bodies that stipulate how many doctoral professionals need to teach graduate students. Fifty percent of courses taught to graduate students in speech therapy masters programs need to be taught by someone with a doctorate (PhD or EdD). With shortages in the field, adjunct professors are vital to support graduate programs all over the country. But adjunct professors often face challenges, like we discussed above.
Adjuncts should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this career path before making a decision. Additionally, if you are a college student or a graduate student, it’s important to respect whoever is teaching you. Understanding your professors’ roles will help you as a student understand your masters program.