PROV 701: Preparing for Careers in the Academy

PROV 701: Preparing for Careers in the Academy is a selective year-long cohort program designed to help PhD students and terminal degree MFA students (e.g. Visual Arts) prepare for their future careers in the Academy, the academic job market and to strengthen their instructional effectiveness.

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2018-2019 cohort. Selected students will receive email notifications in early April. To apply to join the 2019-2020 cohort, please check back here in Fall 2018.

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What are the objectives of this program for students?
  • To construct a meaningful statement of teaching philosophy, grounded in best practices within your discipline/field of study and your beliefs about what an education means.
  • To demonstrate an awareness of how to distinguish oneself in the academic job market, especially with respect to preparing strong application materials.
  • To describe strategies for enhancing student engagement and critical thinking in the classroom.
  • To design a course syllabus that evidences key ideas from the program.
  • To understand and practice strategies for effectively managing classroom and student challenges.
  • To develop a better understanding about various academic career paths, the transition to a faculty role, and life as a faculty member.
Who should apply for this program?

This program is recommended for advanced PhD and MFA students who:

  • Are enrolled as a graduate student through the entire PROV701 program.
  • Are considering a career in academia.
  • Will be on the academic job market the year of the PROV 701 program or the year following the PROV 701 program.
  • Have some teaching or TA experience and/or expect to have some teaching or TA experience in the future.
How will the program benefit students?

Chosen participants will join a select cohort of Mason PhD and MFA students who are preparing to go on the academic market. This program offers students the opportunity to prepare for a career in academia by developing teaching and mentoring expertise, drafting important components of the academic job application, and exploring different types of academic careers. In particular, participants will learn about best practices in teaching and learning, enhance their understanding of the academic job search process, and develop strategies for mentoring graduate students.

When is the program?

It will take place across the 2018-19 academic year. In the fall semester, participants will enroll in a one-credit course that meets every other Friday. There will be a total of eight three-hour sessions as well as an online discussion forum. In the spring semester, participants will take part in an online discussion forum and will receive individualized mentoring, which may include a classroom visit or an observation of their teaching. At the end of the spring semester, the Provost will host a reception for all program participants.

What will the program cost?

There is no cost for selected students. The Office of the Provost will pay for student tuition for this 1-credit course and the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly Center for Teaching & Faculty Excellence) provide the supporting course materials.

How do interested students apply?

Admission to the program is competitive and requires an application. Applications can be found via our Google Form link (TBA). Applications are due by Monday, late March (TBD). An electronic letter of support from the dissertation or thesis project advisor is required, to be submitted via our Google Form (link TBA). Note: This is in addition to the application form. Students will be notified of acceptance by late April. The program will be limited to a maximum of 18 students.

Criteria for selection into program: Advanced PhD student (PhD candidates preferred) or MFA students nearing completion of their thesis projects, interest in an academic career, teaching experience as instructor of record or graduate teaching assistant (GTA), and alignment of student goals with program goals. Must be enrolled as a degree-seeking graduate student for the entire program.

What if I have additional questions?

If you have further questions about the program, please contact us.

Fall Semester Program Requirements:
  1. Actively participate in and attend all eight of the sessions, which will meet every other Friday.
  2. Complete all assigned readings and activities between sessions.
  3. Create a job portfolio that includes:
    1. A teaching philosophy statement
    2. A cover letter for an academic job application
    3. A research statement
    4. An updated CV for an academic job application
    5. A course syllabus
Spring Semester Program Requirements:
  1. An active role in our online discussion forum.
  2. Participation in individualized mentoring meetings, which may include a classroom visit or observation.

Preparing for Careers in the Academy Program from the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning on Vimeo.

Aren’t able to participate in the cohort? Join us for associated program workshops this fall that are are open to all graduate students. REGISTER with our partner GradLife for individual events. **All workshops are in Fenwick 1014B unless otherwise noted.**

WORKSHOP 1: Understanding the Academic Job Search Process (September 29th, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)

Description: Are you interested in a career in higher education? This presentation will introduce you to the essential elements of planning for an academic career with a focus on those steps when you are close to being on the job market. Topics will include: understanding the job market cycle and the realities of the academic job market, determining readiness to go on the market, identifying job opportunities, understanding how to present yourself for different types of institutions, how search committees work and preparing for screening interviews. There will be time for Q & A.

WORKSHOP 2: Basics of Preparing an Academic CV and Cover Letter (October 13th, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)

Description:  This workshop will introduce the major elements of an academic CV, discussing the general guidelines to follow, the most common categories listed, and the best ways of presenting material. It will also look at the basic elements of an academic cover letter, review best practices and common mistakes, and discuss ways of tailoring your application. Part of the workshop will be spent analyzing and discussing example documents. Participants are encouraged to bring their own cv and cover letter drafts to receive peer feedback.

WORKSHOP 3: Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement (October 20th, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)


This workshop will explain the theory and practice of crafting a good teaching philosophy statement. The key points of a well-written teaching philosophy will be covered and participants will begin to construct their own teaching philosophy statement during the workshop through a series of reflective and small group discussion activities.

WORKSHOP 4: Designing a Course (November 10th, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)


Are you contemplating an academic career but are unsure about what’s involved? Do you want to learn more about the differences in faculty roles and expectations placed on faculty at research institutions, four-year colleges, and community colleges? We will explore the range of job choices in academia and how the faculty role is influenced by characteristics and culture of the institution. We will also discuss positions outside formal faculty roles, such as work in policy institutes, research think tanks, and university administration.

WORKSHOP 5: Work-Life Balance in Academia (November 17th, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)

Description:  Participants will learn how work-related behaviors impact physical and psychological well-being. The discussion will focus on how to create and sustain boundaries regarding work responsibilities within an academic setting while maintaining a strong work ethic. Attendees will create personal plans to remain effective workers while balancing work and personal values.

WORKSHOP 6: Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Faculty Job (December 1st, 2017 1:30-2:45pm)

Description:  It’s hard to ask questions when you don’t know what you don’t know. This workshop includes a panel discussion with faculty from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. These faculty members will provide a perspective on what they wished they had been taught and/or mentored about prior to starting their first academic position. In addition, the panel will provide useful strategies that they utilized in transitioning into an academic position.