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Hi! Long-time lurker, first-time poster here. I'm currently about halfway in my program at a top 10 PhD program in stats and was wondering if anyone here could give any insights on getting a teaching-focused faculty position at a reputable school. From my understanding, it seems that there are two kinds of positions like this that exist: a lecturer (non-tenured) and teaching prof (tenure-track), both of which I don't really know much about. So in that respect, I had some questions on being able to secure this sort of position: 

1. What do schools look for? I'm guessing this depends on whether it's a LAC vs. public research university (currently open to all options) and also whether this is a lecturer vs teaching prof position. Is it really just looking for applicants with a relevant PhD and good teaching evals / recs?

2. How competitive is it to obtain these positions in general / how can I prepare myself to be a competitive applicant? The bar obviously seems to be higher for a tenure-track teaching prof, where it seems like schools also want a solid publication record. 

3. Are there any other notable differences that I'm missing between being a lecturer vs teaching prof (presumably the latter being tenure-track, getting less of a teaching load, more inflexible in doing outside projects like consulting)? Are there other positions out there that I'm missing?

 

 

 

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I think the teaching professor tenure track positions at research universities are relatively rare.  For both these positions, what I hear is that teaching experience (preferably having taught your own class) is preferable.  A lot of these professors have research in the field of statistics education too, so they take that dedication to teaching and pedagogy very seriously.

Lecturer positions are not only not on the tenure track, but they're for set terms of a year or two so the job security is much less.

Another option is to become a regular professor at a teaching oriented institution.  Liberal arts colleges, directional state universities, community colleges, etc.

Maybe someone else will be able to weigh in.  I'm looking to go in the same direction and honestly, it's hard to find much info because not many people aspire to these jobs.  Most people want a regular assistant professor job at an R1, or even a research position at an R1, or go into industry, or teach at a prestigious LAC.

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Posted (edited)

Lecturer positions at research universities are not tenure-track but are usually fairly secure. At my PhD institution, all the lecturers were able to renew their contracts. It seems like a sweet gig if your passion is teaching.

I would have to say that "teaching assistant professors" (i.e. that are tenure-track) are indeed extremely rare. If you want a TT job that prioritizes teaching, you should look for jobs at PUIs -- that is, liberal arts colleges and regional state schools that do not award doctorate degrees. It is a buyer's market though, so even these institutions will want to see some publications, and a lot of newly hired stats faculty will have done a postdoc. You would still need to publish as an Assistant Professor at a PUI,  but the publishing requirements would be considerably lower than at a research university for most of these schools (outside the very elite SLACs). Interdisciplinary articles also count towards tenure, and papers written with undergrads are especially well-received. The main criteria for tenure is teaching and service, though.

To be competitive for these jobs at PUIs, you should have some publications in respectable venues (not necessarily the top ones like Annals or JASA, but ones in places like Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, etc.) and you should have taught at least one class as an instructor of record. Many PUIs ask you to submit teaching evaluations with your application, and they pay special attention to the cover letter and the teaching philosophy. So you really need to convey in your application materials your passion for teaching and how you can involve undergrads in your research. The search committees are always trying to weed out any applicants who aren't serious about the school's mission and who view the job as a "backup" or as a "stepping stone" to a job at a research university.

The campus interview for lecturer positions and AP positions at PUIs also always includes a teaching demonstration, so you would need to prepare for that (in addition to a research job talk if the job is tenure-track).

 

Edited by Stat Assistant Professor

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Thank you both for the thoughtful responses!

Regarding TT jobs at PUIs: Would you say it would be be helpful to try to involve undergrads in my research at my institution currently? Is it also fair to say a lecturer position has a lower bar in most all of those aspects that you mentioned? Is service a component of the application?  What other factors do you also think are considered (e.g. diversity, PhD institution, industry experience)? Obviously can't change those now but wondering if those could potentially hurt/help me. I'm not very inclined to do a post-doc after graduation and want to be a good spot then. 

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5 hours ago, eclectic said:

Thank you both for the thoughtful responses!

Regarding TT jobs at PUIs: Would you say it would be be helpful to try to involve undergrads in my research at my institution currently? Is it also fair to say a lecturer position has a lower bar in most all of those aspects that you mentioned? Is service a component of the application?  What other factors do you also think are considered (e.g. diversity, PhD institution, industry experience)? Obviously can't change those now but wondering if those could potentially hurt/help me. I'm not very inclined to do a post-doc after graduation and want to be a good spot then. 

I don't think it is necessary to involve undergrads in your PhD research. I know several faculty at PUIs and none of them did this for their PhD/postdoc. It's more that your application needs to convey that you understand that the main purpose of a PUI is centered around the undergraduate experience and education. So you should be able to come up with some project ideas that can involve undergrads.

Lecturer positions do not require any research at all (and hence, there are a lot of lecturers at math and stat departments who only have Masters degrees). A TT position at a four-year college will have at least some research/publishing requirements. But at a PUI, the teaching load would typically be anywhere from 2-2 to 4-4, so you aren't expected to do as much research (unless you're at a prestigious school like Amherst College).  They actually want you to spend most of your time on teaching and service to the department/college.

As for service, I would not expect most faculty applicants for AP jobs to have a lot of meaningful service to a university. But I do think PUIs would be very partial to applicants who have done some sort of mentoring (e.g. participating in a summer program where you taught a short course to students, programs where you mentored students from underrepresented groups in STEM, etc.).

Diversity is a plus for any type of faculty job, at both research universities and PUIs. I don't think industry experience matters all that much.  PhD institution doesn't matter as much as publications, letters of recommendation, and teaching experience, and in Statistics, that's true for either research universities or PUIs. The caveat to this, of course, is that people from more prestigious institutions are more likely to have more competitive profiles (especially for research). 

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I think business school positions have similar research requirements to stat departments if you're tenure track faculty. This is from a sample size of 1 business school prof I know of who does very theoretical research still.  Not sure though. Business school positions supposedly pay a lot though. 

OP, I think getting undergrads involved in research is rare, but I think showing that type of experience would be invaluable for hiring along with any other outreach efforts. I do think diversity is important to a lot of these departments, especially small liberal arts colleges, and a lot of the faculty at the elite LACs seem to specifically do research/outreach/activism in the diversity area.

I'm not sure about industry experience, but I don't think it could hurt - I am hoping mine does, as schools may want to start data science programs, etc.

I don't think a post doc is necessary for these positions, especially at less elite schools. 

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32 minutes ago, StatsG0d said:

Out of curiosity for @Stat Assistant Professor and @bayessays, what about business schools? Aren't they more teaching-oriented but also get tenure?

For tenure-stream faculty at business schools, it is also mainly research-oriented, with a typical teaching load of 2-1. A typical tenure-stream professor in a business school would teach maybe one undergrad class and one MBA class, and they usually teach the same class(es) from year to year. The rest of their time is spent on research and service. 

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Some of OP's questions seem like they might be answered with the slides and video recordings from eCOTS's workshop on preparing for teaching-focused faculty positions; here is the website to access that: https://preparingtoteach.org/agenda/ (there was recently a review of this posted via Sara Stoudt and Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel, posted here for a quick summary: hathttp://www.citizen-statistician.org/2020/06/preparing-to-teach-2020-what-did-we-learn/). That said, they seem to largely agree with our experienced posters, so this may not be worth your time.

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I have a variation on the original question.  Some of the posters seem very knowledgeable in this area.

If someone attends a top 10 stats program what do the schools look for if the applicant wants a tenure track   research  based assistant professorship at an R1?

Do teaching skills  matter?
 

Is there any way to bypass a postdoc these days and go straight into an AP?  Is there any way to quantify how many publications and in what journals are needed for the AP?  How much do LORs really matter?   
 

 

 

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Stat Assistant Prof answered some of your non-teaching questions here: https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/116685-good-productivity-benchmarks-for-a-strong-research-advisor 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, statsnow said:

I have a variation on the original question.  Some of the posters seem very knowledgeable in this area.

If someone attends a top 10 stats program what do the schools look for if the applicant wants a tenure track   research  based assistant professorship at an R1?

Do teaching skills  matter?
 

Is there any way to bypass a postdoc these days and go straight into an AP?  Is there any way to quantify how many publications and in what journals are needed for the AP?  How much do LORs really matter?   
 

 

 

For jobs at R1's (and R2's to a lesser extent -- though R2's do seem to care more about teaching and have a typical teaching load of 2-2), your publication record and your letters of recommendation are the most important aspect of your job application. Teaching doesn't matter as much, though you should put some thought and effort into the teaching philosophy. Most R1s ask you to submit a teaching statement, but it generally won't be given as much weight as the research. It's not necessary to have teaching experience to land an AP job at an R1. If you get a campus interview at an R1 or R2, they most likely won't make you do a teaching demonstration, whereas a PUI or a lectureship position would definitely make you do one.

Yes, it is possible to go straight from PhD to Assistant Professor, but your publication record would need to be especially strong in that case. One of my PhD classmates got an AP job at UMinnesota without a postdoc, but he had six papers by the time he graduated, including one in Annals of Statistics. If you have two or more papers in JASA, Annals, Biometrika, JRSS, Biometrics, etc. as a PhD student, then you could probably bypass the postdoc. Of course, the top journals count for more, so if you have two papers in Annals/JASA/JRSS/Biometrika, then you might be competitive with "only" three or four papers total.

I did not have any papers in the very top journals from my PhD, but got two either accepted or invited revision at JASA from my postdoc. So that helped make my profile a lot stronger.

Edited by Stat Assistant Professor

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Posted (edited)

Going back to the teaching positions question, what would it take to obtain a tenure-track teaching position at a top and very desirable LAC (such as, say, Pomona College) in terms of research/publications, assuming that you go to a top 10 program and can build a strong teaching portfolio? Would the above publication guidelines detailed by @Stat Assistant Professor (i.e. at least 2 papers in Annals/JASA, 6ish papers total, etc) still hold true? Also, would you still need a superstar advisor, or would it be ok to work with a very young advisor (who could become well known in a few years)?

 

I plan to do some stalking by looking at the teaching faculty profiles at such places...but I want to put it off a bit, I suspect I will get scared by finding some super strong CVs. 

 

Edited by MathStat

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, MathStat said:

Going back to the teaching positions question, what would it take to obtain a tenure-track teaching position at a top and very desirable LAC (such as, say, Pomona College) in terms of research/publications, assuming that you go to a top 10 program and can build a strong teaching portfolio? Would the above publication guidelines detailed by @Stat Assistant Professor (i.e. at least 2 papers in Annals/JASA, 6ish papers total, etc) still hold true? Also, would you still need a superstar advisor, or would it be ok to work with a very young advisor (who could become well known in a few years)?

 

I plan to do some stalking by looking at the teaching faculty profiles at such places...but I want to put it off a bit, I suspect I will get scared by finding some super strong CVs. 

 

Yes, looking at the CV's of recently hired Assistant Professors at these schools is a good way to get some "baseline." It's not a clear-cut set of criteria for TT jobs, so you don't need [x] number of papers, exactly. It's more like if you have *at least* one paper in a top journal AND your research area is something that the department is interested in (so for example, a probabliitist with a very prolific record won't get an interview if the department isn't interested in hiring a probabilitist), then you will usually make it past the initial cut where they trim down all the applications into a set of 20 or so that they look at more carefully.  And the more papers you have in top journals, the fewer *total* number of papers you need (for example, an Assistant Professor at UPenn Wharton who joined the department in 2019 had "only" four papers, but three of them were in Annals of Statistics).

I don't think working with an Assistant Professor is necessarily an issue. There was one job candidate on the job market in the 2019-2020 hiring cycle who got like, 20 interviews, and her advisor was an Assistant Professor. She also got offers from UIUC, UNC, UFlorida, UMinnesota, Columbia, and probably others as well.

Edited by Stat Assistant Professor

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1 hour ago, MathStat said:

, what would it take to obtain a tenure-track teaching position at a top and very desirable LAC

The research records of people at these places do not have to be anywhere near if you were getting a job at a top 50 statistics department. An average person at these places will have one article in a journal like Statistics in Medicine or Bioinformatics, and some more applied papers, approximately. I'd highly encourage you to take an hour or two and look at the top 50 or so LACs' faculty pages. Also pay attention to the years of the publications. Some I've seen don't have many publications before starting but had papers in progress.  I think liberal arts colleges have a lot of incentive to get people doing applied research in things like environmental science, health, social science, etc because they'll get students interested in research. Harder to get a college student to help you with your Annals paper.

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1 hour ago, bayessays said:

The research records of people at these places do not have to be anywhere near if you were getting a job at a top 50 statistics department. An average person at these places will have one article in a journal like Statistics in Medicine or Bioinformatics, and some more applied papers, approximately. I'd highly encourage you to take an hour or two and look at the top 50 or so LACs' faculty pages. Also pay attention to the years of the publications. Some I've seen don't have many publications before starting but had papers in progress.  I think liberal arts colleges have a lot of incentive to get people doing applied research in things like environmental science, health, social science, etc because they'll get students interested in research. Harder to get a college student to help you with your Annals paper.

The elite LACs also care a lot about teaching, even if their research expectations might be somewhat higher than a "typical" PUI. So if you are aiming for an elite LAC, you should definitely try to obtain teaching experience. I recommend that those who are aiming for jobs at PUI's create a personal webpage that highlights teaching experience (e.g. you should put examples of your teaching evaluations or a "teaching portfolio" on there). Those aiming for jobs at research universities should emphasize the research aspect on their personal webpage. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Stat Assistant Professor said:

The elite LACs also care a lot about teaching, even if their research expectations might be somewhat higher than a "typical" PUI. So if you are aiming for an elite LAC, you should definitely try to obtain teaching experience. I recommend that those who are aiming for jobs at PUI's create a personal webpage that highlights teaching experience (e.g. you should put examples of your teaching evaluations or a "teaching portfolio" on there). Those aiming for jobs at research universities should emphasize the research aspect on their personal webpage. 

When you say "teaching experience" and "teaching evaluations" here, does this refer to only classes taught as instructor of record? Do they look at teaching evaluations where you served as a teaching assistant too and if so, is that weighted a lot less heavily than as an IOR if I'm aiming for a top LAC? 

Again, I really appreciate everyone's responses thus far. 

 

Edited by eclectic

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, eclectic said:

When you say "teaching experience" and "teaching evaluations" here, does this refer to only classes taught as instructor of record? Do they look at teaching evaluations where you served as a teaching assistant too and if so, is that weighted a lot less heavily than as an IOR if I'm aiming for a top LAC? 

Again, I really appreciate everyone's responses thus far. 

 

It should look something like this guy's webpage: http://www.travisfreidman.com/

Notice how he has his teaching philosophy, teaching goals, teaching competencies all very visible on his site. He also has a page for his teaching evaluations, including summary statistics, and he has the syllabi and course materials for the courses that he has taught. Your site should really sell your abilities as a teacher.

If you were to apply to a research university, you don't need to include as much (or anything, really) about teaching. A more "typical" webpage for someone seeking an R1 job would probably be something more along the lines of this: http://web.stanford.edu/~songmei/

 

Edited by Stat Assistant Professor

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@Stat Assistant ProfessorI don't think working with an Assistant Professor is necessarily an issue. There was one job candidate on the job market in the 2019-2020 hiring cycle who got like, 20 interviews, and her advisor was an Assistant Professor. She also got offers from UIUC, UNC, UFlorida, UMinnesota, Columbia, and probably others as well

What was the profile of this candidate? 

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6 hours ago, statsnow said:

@Stat Assistant ProfessorI don't think working with an Assistant Professor is necessarily an issue. There was one job candidate on the job market in the 2019-2020 hiring cycle who got like, 20 interviews, and her advisor was an Assistant Professor. She also got offers from UIUC, UNC, UFlorida, UMinnesota, Columbia, and probably others as well

What was the profile of this candidate? 

6 total papers, I think... 5 of which were accepted/published (the other one under review) and one of which was in Annals of Statistics. 

As I said though, it isn't just about having some number of papers. It also depends on things like your research area and other factors beyond your control. If the search committee is, for instance, prioritizing applications from job candidates working in environmental/spatial statistics (say) and that isn't your research area, then you won't be hired no matter how long your CV is. If the department just recently hired somebody with very similar research as you, then they may opt to go with other job candidates who can "add something new" to the department. Search committees may also have their own preferences -- for instance, a member of the search committee might be really good friends with a job candidate's PhD or postdoc advisor, and they will forcefully advocate for that job candidate. It's stuff like that. 

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1 hour ago, Stat Assistant Professor said:

6 total papers, I think... 5 of which were accepted/published (the other one under review) and one of which was in Annals of Statistics. 

As I said though, it isn't just about having some number of papers. It also depends on things like your research area and other factors beyond your control. If the search committee is, for instance, prioritizing applications from job candidates working in environmental/spatial statistics (say) and that isn't your research area, then you won't be hired no matter how long your CV is. If the department just recently hired somebody with very similar research as you, then they may opt to go with other job candidates who can "add something new" to the department. Search committees may also have their own preferences -- for instance, a member of the search committee might be really good friends with a job candidate's PhD or postdoc advisor, and they will forcefully advocate for that job candidate. It's stuff like that. 

I don't want to be excessively nosy, but can't help and wonder: did the above-mentioned person do her Phd at Stanford or Berkeley or somewhere else? 

And yes, of course this is an amazing profile: http://web.stanford.edu/~songmei/. He was also one of the top picks for new faculty asst. profs. at UChicago. 

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1 hour ago, MathStat said:

I don't want to be excessively nosy, but can't help and wonder: did the above-mentioned person do her Phd at Stanford or Berkeley or somewhere else? 

And yes, of course this is an amazing profile: http://web.stanford.edu/~songmei/. He was also one of the top picks for new faculty asst. profs. at UChicago. 

The job candidate did go to one of the top 15 schools (according to the USNWR rankings).

And yes, that person's profile is *especially* good. I will also note that  during the the 2019-2020 hiring cycle, some people got campus interviews at the likes of UPenn Wharton, Columbia, Cornell, etc. with more on the order of 5 or 6 papers, though (and the candidates weren't all from Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, etc. either, but some were from schools like UC Davis and Rice University). But the publications they did have were in top venues. One of the people I'm referencing had 1 paper in Biometrika, 1 in JRSS-B, and 1 in Annals.

For R1's, there are usually a few 'superstar' job candidates that will get 15+ interviews (including at all the top programs), and then for the rest of us, it is a combination of research record and luck.

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1 hour ago, statsnow said:

“The job candidate did go to one of the top 15 schools (according to the USNWR rankings).” @Stat Assistant Professor
 

One last question.  What was her research area?  Was she applied, theoretical or methodological? 

I would not choose a research area based on trying to "maximize" your chances of getting hired. A department's perception of your research "fit" is just not one of those things that you can control, and departments' needs change from year to year. For example, if the department's only probabilitist or ecological/spatial statistician is retiring, then the department may want to hire a new Assistant Prof who is a probabilitist or a spatial statistician. There were some departments I applied to that wanted to hire more Bayesians because their department currently didn't have that many people working on Bayesian statistics, and there were others that were already overwhelmingly Bayesian and they wanted to keep it that way (so they only had campus interviews for people working in Bayesian statistics). 

The best way to maximize your chances of getting some interviews is to apply to a wide number of schools (to account for the things beyond your control) and to put together a strong application (i.e. strong CV/publication record, strong research and teaching statements, and strong recommendation letters). 

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