March 23rd, 2015
Will it hurt my chances for a tenure-track job to have adjunct work on my record?
There is a lot of anxiety out there about that question, and a lot of what I consider undue paranoia. Adjunct teaching does not typically harm anyone’s chances of getting a tenure-track job, at least in the humanities and social sciences. Indeed, at this point, adjuncting may well be almost an expected part of a successful candidate’s record.
Despite its terrible reputation, adjunct work is evidence that you’ve taught a course entirely on your own, and that type of experience is a critical element of a competitive candidate’s record. No amount of TA-ing, even at highly ranked universities, will substitute. The fact is, teaching one course on your own at a local college counts for far more on your record than four semesters of TA work at your doctoral institution. Because TA-ing is, fundamentally, not teaching. (Unless of course your institution is one where TAs actually teach a whole course on their own, in which case that experience is as valuable as any other sole-teaching experience. If that is your situation, make sure your application materials identify you as the instructor of record for those “TA-ed” courses.).