Exploring Options Inside The Academy

Associate Professor of Anthropology Joao Biehl. Photo by Princeton University, Office of Communications

There are many career paths to consider within the academy. Whichever way you choose to go, your choices will be influenced not only by your academic discipline, but also by your personal short- and long-range goals.

Define Your Direction

Your goals are shaped by understanding the value of the strengths and accomplishments you gained through graduate school. As you consider options, think about the experiences that gave you the most satisfaction. Was it your teaching, research or leadership involvement? These can be important cues as you look ahead.

A Range of Options

Depending on the answer to the questions above, along with some additional self-assessment, you may find certain opportunities more attractive. 

  • Faculty positions: Faculty positions may be tenure-track, and often involve a mix of teaching, curriculum development and research.
  • Postdoc fellowships: These 1-3 year positions allow you to expand or deepen scholarly research, while gaining teaching experience.
  • Administration positions: There are many ways to apply your transferable skills in an academic setting beyond faculty positions.
  • Non-tenure-track teaching: Adjunct or part-time instructors may work at a state university, private two- or four-year college or community college.

Be open to change.

Your career may transition several times as your skills and abilities develop. Your values and preferences may also change, and your experiences and knowledge will definitely broaden. Where you begin may not be where you ultimately land.