What Education Is Needed for College Professors?

In general, college professors must have a doctorate degree in the subject they want to teach. This article explains the additional educational requirements that may be needed for college professors. Schools offering Adult Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

College Professors

College professors instruct students at postsecondary schools. They usually specialize in one subject, and they often teach several different classes related to that subject. College professors teach at community colleges, as well as public and private universities.

The education needed to teach at community colleges and 4-year colleges differs. Community college teachers may need only a master's degree, but full-time college professors at universities generally need to have a doctoral degree in their subject of expertise. Each institution usually sets its own unique standards regarding professors' education level.

Important Facts About College Professor Education

Common Courses Dissertation, qualitative research methods, quantitative research methods, doctoral research, ethics (for doctoral programs)
Online Availability Doctoral and master's degree programs are available online from many colleges and universities
Degree Field Doctorates and master's degrees are available in most degree fields
Possible CareersResearcher, Education Administrator, Curriculum Specialist

Education Requirements

Most postsecondary institutions seek college professors who hold the top degree available in their subject of interest, which is usually a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Other types of doctorate degrees, from the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) to the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), also show a high level of expertise.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that obtaining a doctoral degree takes about three years of study, plus the time spent earning lower-level degrees. While colleges prefer to hire professors who have doctoral degrees for full-time, tenure-track positions, they do sometimes hire students working towards doctorate degrees for assistant professor or part-time instructor jobs.

Additional Educational Qualifications

Schools often have educational criteria that their professors must meet in addition to having an advanced degree. Most colleges and universities look for professors who are respected by their peers and who regularly contribute to scholarly publications in their field. Some colleges and universities may require that their professors publish a certain number of articles each year until they are granted tenure.

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