How to Become a College Art Professor

“Adjuncts” are those teachers who work part time at a college or university.
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If you love art and wish to share your technique and positive outlook with budding artists, you may thrive in a college classroom. Most community colleges and universities require a master’s degree of full-time professors, but some community colleges may accept a bachelor’s degree for adjunct positions if you have compiled a significant and impressive portfolio. Adjuncts are those professors who are employed part time by colleges and universities, though there should be nothing part time about the enthusiasm and commitment all professors should bring to the classroom – and the canvas.

    Step 1

    Research community colleges, colleges and universities within a desirable geographic area and ensure that they offer art classes that were part of your own college curriculum. All institutions of higher learning follow accreditation standards, which often require them to achieve symmetry between a professor’s college background and the classes that she is allowed to teach.

    Step 2

    Look up the names of the respective art department heads at these schools. For follow-up purposes, write down their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

    Step 3

    Create a spreadsheet or other document so that you can track your outreach efforts to the department heads. Include whether the schools follow a quarter, semester or “rolling” enrollment system so you can time your outreach efforts accordingly. Rolling enrollment means that classes begin not on a predetermined date but when a bare minimum number of students have enrolled to launch a class.

    Step 4

    Place calls to the department heads to inquire about their teaching needs and potential openings. Be prepared to hear the refrain known to job seekers everywhere: “Send me your resume.”

    Step 5

    Write a targeted cover letter to the colleges and universities. Outline your artistic accomplishments and professional experience. Cite the names of the schools you have taught at and the specific names of the courses. List your educational credentials. Specify, to the best of your ability, the names of the courses the school offers that you believe you would be most qualified to teach. Describe why you enjoy teaching or, if you haven’t taught before, why you think you would be an effective and inspiring art professor.

    Step 6

    Include your resume and a list of references with your cover letter. Share copies of your best artwork or a Web link to your online portfolio.

    Step 7

    Prepare a follow-up and communication strategy, knowing that while department heads may try to assign professors to classes several months before the beginning of a term, last-minute vacancies often occur. This means that without being a pest, you will have to stay in regular contact with the department heads to ensure that you don’t miss out on a teaching opportunity. With persistence, your efforts should lead you to create a new canvas of experiences in a college classroom.


    • Professional experience, an impressive portfolio and a genuine passion for teaching can trump previous teaching experience, so don’t undersell yourself and your abilities.


    • Adjunct professors often are called upon to fill classes that regular, full-time professors have passed on, meaning that the open classes may be offered at less than opportune times, such as first thing in the morning, in the middle or the day or on weekends. Once you have established some seniority, you should enjoy a better choice of teaching assignments.

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