By Catherine Connors
Two-year colleges, sometimes referred to as community colleges, enroll 30-40% percent of all college students in the country. However, many of these students are seeking training in technical and vocational courses. Other two-year institutions function as places where students prepare for entry into four-year institutions. In some circumstances, graduates with an MA in classics, as well as those with a PhD, are employable at such institutions. While Latin or Greek is taught at some of these schools, the numbers are low. Persons employed in these institutions would be more likely to teach a variety of courses in broad humanities fields with a stress on classical literature: mythology, etymology, literature surveys, and perhaps ancient history. The ability to teach a second foreign language, especially Spanish, can be beneficial in this context. Teachers in two-year colleges sometimes hold the PhD, but more often the MA. Sometimes a Master of Arts in Teaching or a Master of Arts in College Teaching is the requirement. Strong emphasis is placed on interaction with the students and personalized teaching. For an excellent overview of the two-year college landscape and advice on how to seek employment in two-year colleges, see the home page of the MLA’s Committee on Community Colleges. The home page of the American Association of Community Colleges is also helpful. Another useful community college web site is that of the Community College Humanities Association.
Preparing for the Job Market
For university and four-year college positions, the PhD is the normal requirement. The competition for these positions is strong and candidates should be aware that this phase of their careers requires as much planning and consideration as do their graduate seminars and papers. Typical qualifications include the following.
- A thorough knowledge of Greek and Latin is a strong selling point to prospective employers. This is true no matter what specialty the candidate has pursued. Historians, archaeologists, and numismatists may not specialize in languages, but, if they are part of a classics department, most are regularly asked to teach language classes at their institutions. The majority of employers will be departments that do not have a graduate program. While they seek a balance among faculty (e.g., among specialists in Greek and Latin or prose and poetry) and will hire to address gaps in this balance, most such departments require faculty members to teach a variety of courses at all levels, including the beginning levels of language instruction. Indeed, even larger departments with graduate programs often employ their faculty in similar ways.
- A broad training in multiple aspects of antiquity helps prepare a candidate to contribute to a hiring department’s curriculum in a variety of ways. During your graduate training it is useful to think about how you might approach teaching a range of typical classics courses (e.g. mythology, Greek or Roman civilization) as well as more specialized courses focusing on particular periods, genres or issues.
- It is customary for graduates to have acquired teaching experience. Even if you have won a fellowship that requires no teaching, it would be a good idea to acquire such experience before entering the job market. It is common for prospective employers to ask for teaching evaluations or to request a sample class be taught during the on-campus interview. When teaching as a graduate student, it is useful to devote some care to learning your craft. If your graduate program does not have an active and systematic program to train its teaching assistants, seek out at least one experienced teacher to act as your mentor. Many jobs are offered by institutions where teaching is a priority. Some institutions request that you provide a teaching portfolio, which typically includes a statement about teaching, sample syllabi of courses taught and of a proposed course or two, along with some evidence of student evaluations of your teaching if available. Faculty in your own department may provide constructive feedback on such materials, and many institutions have centers for teaching and learning that can help you plan your teaching portfolio.
- It is increasingly common for graduates to enter the job market with publications. A record of presenting one or more talks at scholarly conferences can also be a plus.
A student's department chairperson, director of graduate studies, and dissertation director can ordinarily be expected to help in the job search. You should also consult the SCS's list of suggestions for job seekers, which includes a link to Going on the Market...and what comes before: An Affable Guide to Gaining a Classics PhD, by Joy Connolly.
Applications for academic jobs typically require the submission of a dossier of letters of recommendation. Many candidates and institutions use the dossier services of Interfolio (https://www.interfolio.com). Candidates should begin setting up a dossier about six months in advance, choosing carefully those who will write letters of recommendation. Letters should be updated every year in which you are on the job market. The candidate should establish that the dossier is complete before submitting applications. You should contact a number of professors who know you and your abilities well and discuss your plans with them as soon as you make the decision to apply for teaching positions. It is useful to provide your recommenders with a draft copy of your application materials: e.g., CV, sample of your cover letter(s), research statements, teaching portfolio and writing sample. You should inform your recommenders of the deadlines for each of the schools to which you plan to apply and ensure that recommenders have an extended period of time to write their letters of recommendation.
The Society for Classical Studies facilitates communication between hiring institutions and job candidates within the fields of classical studies and archaeology. The SCS provides a placement service that is the most common source for candidates who wish to learn of job openings. For members of the SCS and AIA there is no charge to register for the service. The service offers an online portal where registered candidates can see new listings one business day or less after institutions submit them and receive a monthly digest of all advertisements posted during the previous 30 days;it also coordinates interviews at the joint SCS/AIA annual meeting. Consult the resources listed under the Placement Service tab at classicalstudies.org for all details.
Other useful sources for job announcements include:
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, which regularly lists job openings in classics on its jobs page.
- An online service called HigherEdJobs allows a free search for positions using key words (e.g., “classics”) or location.
- Academe, a journal that comes with membership in the American Association of University Professors, occasionally list jobs for classicists, and also covers a wide range of college opportunities that may help you to recognize many alternative careers.
Candidates with a specialty in ancient history may also wish to interview at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, which generally takes place at the same time as the SCS/AIA meeting. Check their web page under the “Jobs & Professional Development” tab for further information and advice and be aware that many ancient historians are hired by History Departments. In addition, the Association of Ancient Historians meets in the spring.