My undergrad and masters degree was in materials engineering. All my coursework and lab experience is in materials engineering. During my PhD, I had taken just two courses which did not directly help with my PhD research. My undergrad and masters courses were also not aligned with my PhD research.

My PhD thesis was on using finite element analysis and smoothed particle hydrodynamics to study mechanical damage under extreme conditions. As for credentials: I have 5 publications in applied journals (IF~4).

Now, I was applying for tenure track positions in mechanical engineering department where they want my academic transcripts to be submitted.

My question is in two parts:

  1. How do I justify my ability to teach and contribute to the mechanical engineering department if my degree and coursework experience was not in that field? My research is however in that field.
  2. Since my colleagues in the department would be from mechanical engineering background with dedicated coursework experience, would my application be considered seriously for a position in the department? I have been asked to submit my transcripts with my application package. They would know that I lack the coursework.

I understand that noone have been in my peculiar position before. Usually people take necessary courses during their PhD. I got away with not taking them as I could self learn the required basics and was able to apply them successfully to my research work. However that doesn't make me technically thorough and strong in the topics.

Hoping for some insights on how to go about with my faculty position applications in my case.

  • Many mechanical engineering departments have various bits of materials science in them. I bet they teach properties of materials, as well as have finite element courses.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 4, 2021 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


This is not necessarily a big problem, or an unusual one. Not every professor in a department is expected to be able to teach every course. I trained as a physicist, but I'm now in a nuclear engineering department.

As part of your application, you may be asked to write a teaching statement. In this, you should identify i) a few existing courses within the department which you can teach and ii) some brief ideas for new courses you could teach. These new courses could easily be tailored to your expertise. It is also entirely possible to learn new material and to teach it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .