How to Become a College Professor

A lot more goes into teaching at a college level than just teaching. College professors must be adept research and writing as well. Many professors engage in the writing of scholarly books and articles and are masters in their specific subject areas of study. When considering the field of teaching as a college professor, it’s important to realize that these instructors often need to teach during the evenings and sometimes over the weekend. So scheduling is entirely different when compared to elementary and high school teachers.

What type of degree do I need to become a college professor?

You will not enter this field without the minimum of a master’s degree. A master’s degree is required to teach on a community college campus, while other college institutions may require a doctoral degree. Initially, when deciding on your field of study, you’ll want to choose a program with a focus in your subject of interest. While in college you can expect to conduct independent research studies and to also write and publish scholarly journal articles.

Academic fields of interest that you may wish to specialize in as a future professor may include anything from Mathematics or Chemistry to History or Dance. You’ll likely want to choose a subject area in which you have a high level of interest and despite to know inside and out, subject that you would feel comfortable teaching because it’s a subject that you know well and have always felt passionate about.

Are there any special skills that I need to become a college professor?

To teach at any level, you’ll need the ability motivate and inspire a desire to learn. You’ll need the ability to lead and the ability to capture the attention of the age group that you’re working with and getting them to understand new skills through your personalized teaching methods. You’ll also need excellent research, writing, and communication skills. College professors need to possess critical thinking skills. And now with the wide availability of online classes for college students, you may wish to learn how to effectively teach online classes as well.

Most Important Skills for College Professors

Motivation
Able to inspire students to learn and study.
Expert Knowledge
Subject matter expert on the area of study you are teaching.
Public Speaking
Able to speak concisely to keep students interested.

The Role of a College Professor

A college professor bears the responsibility of equipping students with the knowledge they need in order to succeed in their field of study. Most professors work nine months out of the year, while others teach workshops, conduct research or secure grants during the summer months. The hours of a college professor vary, based on the number of courses taught and the office hours kept. A professor may teach day, evening and weekend classes, or oversee an online class.

Degree Requirements

There are a range of degree requirements, depending on where you choose to teach. As a professor teaching at a community college, you will be required to hold a master’s degree in your field of study. A professional that plans to teach at a university as a tenure-track, full-time professor will generally be required to hold a doctoral degree in their chosen field.

Other Requirements and Expectations

To secure a job in a competitive environment, a prospective professor will be expected to hold an undergraduate degree in his field of study, a master’s degree in a related field, and to have completed a Ph.D. with a dissertation.

Experience in conducting independent research and having written articles that have been published in scholarly journals may also be required by colleges and universities. In addition to this, a college professor should have experience in teaching and conducting research, which can be acquired by working as a graduate assistant. Practical work experience in your field of study is also highly beneficial.

College professors are also expected to have reached a reasonable level of proficiency in computer skills. As more schools utilize technological resources, professors are expected to be able to incorporate these in their classes and lessons. Other skills such as organizational skills, relational and communication skills and the ability to think independently and critically is also necessary to succeed as a professional in the academic field.

A career as a college professor may be demanding and stressful, but is also highly rewarding. Professors have the opportunity to shape the minds of their students, and hard work may be rewarded with tenure.

Featured Post-Secondary Education School Listings

To teach as a college professor, you’ll need a Master’s degree at a minimum. For some colleges, you’ll need your Ph.D. or Doctorate degree. See some of the below featured programs, which offer both Master’s and Doctorate programs, and talk with them about what options you’d have with each degree.