Example, example.

From the first example:

The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering invites applications for a full-time Assistant Professor of Teaching (Lecturer with Potential for Security of Employment (LPSOE)), comparable to a tenure-track assistant professor appointment. Professor of Teaching faculty are Academic Senate faculty members whose expertise and responsibilities center on undergraduate education and scholarly analysis/improvement of teaching methods. The successful applicant will be responsible for teaching both lower and upper division undergraduate Agricultural Sensing and Data Science lecture and laboratory courses (up to six courses per year) ... Qualified applicants must have a PhD in Engineering or a BS in Engineering with a PhD in a scientific field, preferably with postgraduate experience.

(Emphasis mine)

If this is a full-time teaching position, why are they looking for PhD degrees and postgraduate experience? How are these primarily-research degrees relevant to teaching?

  • 5
    Surely the fact that there are so many more people receiving PhDs and wanting to go into academia than there are tenure-track jobs has something to do with it.
    – user109454
    Oct 30, 2019 at 1:56
  • 1
    Guess: as this is a contract position, then the university is simply using it to get a full time academic without the long term commitment; e.g., they can easily get rid of you when the budget is tight. Oct 30, 2019 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


In order to teach new ideas in any field, you have to (1) understand how research is conducted, and (2) be current on the state of research in the field. By allowing you to do original research, doctoral programs prepare you for both, even if you do not continue research activity.

  • Why wouldn't high school teachers need PhD degrees too then? They communicate new ideas too, right?
    – Allure
    Oct 30, 2019 at 0:41
  • 2
    @Allure - The ideas in HS are new to the students, not the teacher. The ideas in many current engineering courses are quite different from 10-20-30 years ago - a prof has to keep up.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 30, 2019 at 0:45
  • 2
    @Allure there's also a certain difference in expectations - high school teachers generally are expected (or required!) to teach to a specific curriculum and textbooks designed and mandated by the school system; professors often are expected to create the curriculum, update it with new advances in their field (which didn't exist when they were students), and write textbooks for such new content if/when needed. You have to read research papers to properly teach most non-introductory subjects; and you have to teach students how research is done, and for both these things you need experience.
    – Peteris
    Oct 30, 2019 at 1:07
  • 1
    @JonCuster wouldn't a Masters degree suffice if keeping up with the current research is all that's expected? After all, performing a literature review is a standard Masters-level skill, isn't it?
    – Allure
    Oct 30, 2019 at 11:38

There is not a good reason. Some poor reasons are:

  • Tradition
  • Prestige
  • Student expectations
  • Regulation/accreditation
  • Narrowing the job applicant pool in the face of oversupply

They ought to require training in teaching the discipline instead of training in doing the discipline. The reality is that in the near future, both will be expected.

  • Almost all UK institutions now require lecturers to obtain a master's level qualification in teaching within the first 3 years of employment. Oct 30, 2019 at 13:29

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