An adjunct professor is someone who teaches on a part-time basis at a community college, four-year college or university. Some adjunct professors teach one class while others teach two or more classes. Adjunct professors often work full time in a professional vocation or have retired from one, and teach in the field where they have education and experience.
Adjunct professors must meet certain educational standards that vary by institution and program area. At more prestigious colleges and universities, adjunct professors must often have doctorates or advanced degrees in the area in which they teach. Some less stringent college and university requirements balance educational and work experience requirements and educational standards might vary based on the field. Programs with larger talent pools more often require adjuncts to have advanced degrees. Others that struggle to find qualified instructors might accept bachelor's degrees in combination with work experience.
Proven success in post-secondary teaching is also typically required of adjunct instructors. If you are applying for an adjunct professor position for the first time, you might get an opportunity if your education and professional achievements warrant it. Some universities might require you to do some work as an assistant teacher or take a special adjunct instructor training program. Some four-year schools have training programs specifically for professionals that want to get into post-secondary teaching.
At four-year research institutions, adjunct instructors are often required to have proven accomplishments in research, published works, or other notable achievements in their area of expertise. In business or professional fields, adjunct instructors are often required to have a certain amount of professional experience in their fields. This is especially true at community colleges or nonresearch institutions that are more concerned with a teacher's practical background.
Community involvement and service have become important to post-secondary schools and educators in the early 21st century. As such, many colleges require adjunct professors to get involved in institution building by participating on committees or in service programs in which the college participated. Adjuncts applying for positions at service-driven institutions are sometimes required to have a strong background in community service. This shows your understanding of community and makes it more likely that you will actively participate in service requirements with the school.