I have asked my advisers this question recently (since in a year or so, I expect to go on the job market) and received a variety of answers, specific to the USA. Very generally, as I understand, with reference to the US, there seem to be jobs which are either primarily research based (R1 universities) or primary teaching based (liberal arts colleges).

I understand that in either case, you are expected to do some amount of teaching and some amount of research but the focus varies depending on the university. In my university, research is generally seen to have more importance than teaching.

I was wondering, specifically with reference to the whole world, whether there are academic jobs where teaching and research are both given equal importance.

I am very interested in discipline and country variations in this.


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    I think the most likely candidates here are the very best liberal arts colleges. Dec 22, 2013 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


As a TT at a small liberal arts college let me just say that to gain tenure I have to do both. In my field this amounts to having five or six new articles or a book before tenure. There is a very large spectrum of liberal arts colleges and the top end (figure top 100) all claim that research active professors are better able to teach up to date content in their field and to better demonstrate to their students why the field is exciting and worth studying. (By `all' I mean I do not know of a counter example.)

At the very top end of the liberal arts spectrum you have schools that give their professors R1 teaching loads and more funding. The only thing they would lack are the graduate students. Sure at the lower end of the spectrum are places that only expect teaching. Then there are the community colleges which openly admit they are teaching only institutions but they acknowledge that their mission is distinct.

Another section of schools I'd suggest you could take a look at are the second tier state schools, places like CSU Pamona, or University of Central Florida. These are not flagships and focus more on teaching than R1s but you still have to be research active to get tenure.

Next time you go to a conference, chat up those folks who seem to be pre-tenure and ask them what their institutions demand. The US is a country with other 4000 colleges and universities. They do not form a linear order from liberal arts colleges to R1 universities. So as always, the situation is more complex than you might think at first.

  • As a liberal arts college professor, are there any implicit "expectations" about your research productivity?
    – Shion
    Dec 24, 2013 at 12:48
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    @Shion I don't know about implicit expectations but the explicit ones are that I stay research active for the next fourteen years at a minimum. What counts as sufficient production is heavily field dependent. In article based fields a rough average of one decent publication a year is good. In history or literature a similar number if conference papers or a book is good. I guess the idea is that you should be always working and time not used for teaching should primarily go to research and some to service tasks. Dec 24, 2013 at 23:41
  • Thanks! This was very informative. I appreciate the response.
    – Shion
    Dec 25, 2013 at 0:03

I'm not sure what would constitute valuing teaching and research equally. As best I can tell, every department at every school has it's minimum standards in each category. If you are seeking institutions with high standards for both, I would second BSteinhurst and Noah Snyder's referral to top liberal arts colleges. There are many outstanding faculty at liberal arts colleges, and I am aware of a few faculty advising doctorates at nearby research universities. As an extreme example, Bryn Mawr's math department has a PhD program despite being at a liberal arts college. Additionally, there are research oriented institutions that pay more than lip service to teaching. In particular, Dartmouth and Wesleyan come to mind as having this reputation. This can also vary a great deal from department to department, even within the same institution. You may discover that certain departments in your area value teaching or research to an unexpected degree, relative to institution-wide standards.

  • You make an excellent point about Bryn Mawr - something I was completely unaware of.
    – Shion
    Dec 24, 2013 at 12:47
  • Wesleyan is a liberal arts college that happens to have a PhD program, like Bryn Mawr. Bowdoin is another liberal arts college that explictly states that research and teaching are equally important. Any of the NESCAC schools (e.g., Amherst, Williams, Middlebury) probably have a similar 50-50 ratio of research importance and teaching importance. Apr 16 at 13:10

The basic problem is that you have "research institutions" and "teaching institutions." As a result of this, most schools have a pre-selected bias toward placing either research or teaching as the primary metric in determining tenure.

As BSteinhurst indicates above, at most schools you do have to do both teaching and research. The difference is that in the "minor" area the standards are considerably lower. At a school such as MIT or Harvard, for instance, significant teaching credentials before tenure is awarded is not necessarily looked on favorably by all departments, as that is considered a potential sign that too much time is being spent on teaching relative to academic activities. Similarly, I doubt that faculty members at liberal arts colleges are expected to bring in large amounts of research grants or publish multiple papers per year in high-quality peer-reviewed journals.

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