Research and Teaching in Academia

Are you looking forward to a career in academia as a faculty member? It is important to note that there are substantial differences between institutions, in terms of research and teaching load, or funding support. If you are interested primarily in research, then a large research university would be a good fit. If you are mainly interested in teaching, but would also enjoy working on smaller research projects, then a position in a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) might be a better fit. If you are interested in a teaching career please check our Science Education page.

For a career in research and teaching, the step after the Ph.D. would be a postdoctoral fellowship. However, it is never too early to plan on how to gain essential skills for your career of choice. For example, if during your graduate work you are focusing on a particular technical area, it may be advantageous to look for a postdoc in a different area, so that you expand your skill set and demonstrate a breadth of research experience. Another important criterion for selecting a postdoctoral position would be the opportunities to publish, since publishing record would be a very important element on your job application, either for a research institution or a PUI. Similarly, if you are interested in teaching, you should start working on building your teaching portfolio.

Essential skills include leadership and mentoring skills, time management skills, written and verbal communication skills, and presentation skills.

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We thank Kara Cerveny, Cory Dunn, Peter Espenshade, and Donna Vogel for their assistance in compiling the information on this page.