Online courses are now prevalent in higher education—and that includes two-year colleges, state universities, and private colleges. As such, the options for teaching as an online adjunct is, if not limitless, pretty far-ranging.
You can teach as an online adjunct faculty member at any level of higher education: community colleges, four-year universities both private and public, and for-profit colleges. To determine your eligibility, you will have to narrow your search and look closely at the requirements each college holds. There are limitations ranging from required degrees and experience to your state residency status.
The challenge, then, is to hunt down the vacancies for these positions. Where do you start? And where can you get some initial experience in creating and implementing an online course? One answer would be, close to home.
Colleges in Your City and County
Begin with where you are; after all, you may have contacts where you live who can help you get a foot in the door for teaching online. By way of example, let’s begin with where I am: Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is a municipality that covers the whole of Jefferson County and is home to 13 colleges, ranging from two-year to four-year and spanning from public to private.
Of the public colleges, the University of Louisville is the largest and most visible, a four-year institution, and it’s followed by Jefferson Community and Technical College, a two-year community college. Others, like Bellarmine University and Spalding University, are private but still fairly large and well-attended. There are also for-profit schools like Galen College of Nursing, a two-year college that focuses on, you guessed it, nursing.
A quick search for “online adjunct teaching” jobs in Louisville, Kentucky, quickly turned up two positions at Galen College of Nursing—in the areas of philosophy and cultural diversity. Expect the unexpected! Galen is an accredited college, and one with campuses across the country, and you might not suspect that your philosophy degree can be used here, a nursing college.
As far as colleges in Louisville go, I can also look across the Ohio River to southern Indiana, where Indiana University Southeast and Ivy Tech Community College find their homes. Ivy Tech, for one, appears to also be hiring for a philosophy instructor, and some of the options for that coursework include online teaching.
In all cases, and because people in Louisville frequently teach in southern Indiana, and vice versa, networking is entirely possible.
Colleges Far From Home
Part of the experience of teaching as an online adjunct is that you don’t have to work solely for colleges close to home. You can teach anywhere in the country—even anywhere in the world—and the students will be as close as your screen.
If I shift my attention to out-of-state jobs (scrolling, for the moment, through AdjunctWorld’s job listings), I find that just this week, ECPI University (a private, for profit school with a home base in Virginia Beach, VA) uploaded 17 online teaching postings in a wide variety of discipline areas, including English, criminal justice, information systems and technology, business, and healthcare administration.
Note, however, that to teach at ECPI University that one will need to meet credentialing requirements through the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS). But this is precisely the investment one might want to make to teach in another state. In the long run, that credentialing might open the door to more opportunities. Additionally, for many of these positions, having online teaching experience is “a plus”, but not necessarily required.
No matter the requirements, it pays to look beyond one’s region. Unity College is an excellent example that has very different requirements.
Colleges That Align with Your Vision
Unity College of Maine is enthusiastic about sustainability. “Distance Education Adjuncts” teach a number of their courses remotely. If you, too, hold environmental sustainability as a value, then you may want to look into a college like Unity, who, historically, posts open online adjunct positions in a wide variety of discipline areas. In other words, Unity College not only offers sustainability-specific courses, but also seeks distance educators to teach Spanish, communications, mathematics, and chemistry. Talk about a common vision!
Also, within each discipline area, there are a variety of courses one could teach – and at Unity, these courses would have an environmental conservationist lean. For example, under the umbrella of “Communications” one could teach Environmental Communication, Crisis Communication, Writing for Environmental Professionals, and more. Same with “Biology,” which includes Conservation Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Biodiversity, and more. If conservation is of deep interest to you, then this would lend your teaching a pointed purpose.
Religious schools also, as you might suspect, hold their values in esteem. Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is a private Evangelical college that expects its faculty to adhere to a Christian worldview. The potential candidate must consider this when applying to teach any of its number of online courses, including business, healthcare administration, and information systems. For some, this may be a limitation, and for others, an opportunity.
Experience, and How to Get it
An online job search turned up a call for teaching applicants from Monroe College in the Bronx for its Master of Public Administration program. Three roles are offered in what could be an entirely online class, though the requirements to teach—it is a graduate program, after all—are quite stringent.
Being a specific program, a master’s degree in public administration, or an equivalent area, is required, as well as five years—or more!—of teaching at the master’s level in an online setting, in addition to professional experience of at least three years.
But Villanova University in Philadelphia is hiring in the same field for its online undergraduate and graduate programs and its requirements are not as stringent. Its minimum qualifications call for having an MPA or a master’s degree in a related field—but having taught isn’t required at all! Rather, it is a “preferred” qualification, but even there a specific number of years isn’t detailed.
While the Monroe College position may seem extreme in its requirements, I point it out to suggest that, for a position like Villanova which is perhaps less demanding in its requirements, one might be able to begin now to build experience in teaching online. How?
Designing Your Own Online Course for Experience
Creating your own course can help you hone your skills in course development, teaching skills, and time management. It’s a good way to dip your toe in the proverbial water!
Platforms like Thinkific—which boasts more than 50,000 course creators—or MoodleCloud, an open-source platform, or Teachable (they boast more than 100,000 course creators), to name several brand names, each allow you to create course content and deliver it in an online learning platform.
Sharing what you love, even with a small group to begin, will give you a taste of what teaching in an online environment might be like, whether that’s a good fit for you, and best of all, how to do it so that it works for you and your students.
Where Can You Teach Online? Start the Job Search
An astonishing number of online adjunct faculty jobs are posted on any number of job boards online. Just this week alone, AdjunctWorld uploaded 56 online adjunct teaching jobs to its job search database, from 25 different college and universities.
What each school requires must be researched, of course, but this will begin to give you a sense of where the jobs lie. It seems important at this point to mention that the first place you might want to teach is a college that actively recruits teachers who don’t have tons of experience! Small colleges in rural areas, for example, may struggle to find good teachers—and you may fit their bill. Working at a college for even a year gives you a big step up in the hiring process. Three years, even better.
In any regard, start now. Begin with researching and get a clear sense of requirements, then work to meet those requirements. So long as they line up with your vision, your pursuit will not be in vain!