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How to Obtain the Qualifications of an Adjunct Professor

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Adjunct professors are part-time professors who teach for colleges, universities and community colleges. Adjunct professors can teach for just one school to supplement their income, or they can teach between several different schools at the same time, making a full-time career out of part-time teaching. Those who want to become adjunct professors can gain their credentials by completing the necessary graduate education. Most colleges and universities prefer applicants with a doctorate degree, but adjunct professors can often work with a master's degree, especially if colleges need to fill open classes.

Obtain a bachelor's degree. You do not necessarily have to have a bachelor's degree in the field you are going to teach, but it can be helpful. A bachelor's degree in a related field can be just as helpful. In fact, many professors have bachelor's degrees in fields other than what they teach. Some major in fields of study that can supplement or support their graduate education. For instance, religion professors may have a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Research your graduate field of study carefully and narrow down your school choices by narrowing your own research interests. For instance, if you intend to be a history professor, you need to determine which field of history you intend to teach. Fields might include U.S. history, women's history, or something even more narrowly defined, such as modern women's economic history.

Apply to schools who have professors whose research interests are closely aligned with yours. Students pursuing graduate degrees typically work closely with a graduate advisor who is also a faculty member in their major field of study. You will need to find a professor who can mentor you through your graduate studies.

Enroll in courses at the school of your choice. Regardless of whether you are pursuing a master's degree or a doctorate in your intended field, you will likely need to complete coursework during your first two or three years of graduate school. Master's degree and doctoral students often take coursework together in many fields of study.

Complete the additional requirements of your degree program. Master's degrees often require a research project or a master's thesis. Doctoral programs require the completion of a dissertation. A dissertation is a piece of original research that contributes new knowledge to your major field of study. A dissertation is usually written and then submitted to a dissertation committee. Once final revisions have been made, you may then be required to defend your research and conclusions in front of a dissertation committee.


Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.