I'm having difficulty isolating tenure track positions in applied mathematics at institutions with more emphasis on teaching than research. I've heard that 'liberal arts colleges' and 'four-year colleges' are the way to go, but it seems difficult to find ones with openings for applied mathematics professors.

I tried mathjobs.org, but there seem to be an overwhelming bias toward research-oriented institutions and I can't seem to isolate the ones with less research focus. How do I find applied math tenure track positions at four-year / liberal arts colleges with little to no focus on research? Do they even exist? Or these institutions prefer pure / unspecific mathematicians for general classes?

For the record: I'm starting a job search for fall 2015.

  • 3
    One unfortunate phenomenon is that many not-so-great schools like to pretend that they are top-flight research universities. They try to support graduate programs that are never going to be high in quality, and for hiring and tenure they look for research. At many of these places, junior faculty do a little research until they get tenure, and then they quit doing research.
    – user1482
    May 1, 2014 at 17:43
  • 2
    You can assume applied mathematicians are welcome to apply to any mathematics position that is not otherwise specified. Mathjobs.org includes some teaching-oriented institutions, but it does seem to be less common among them than among research universities. There are also jobs ads in various other places (e.g., the AMS, SIAM, and MAA web sites), and teaching-oriented schools are particularly likely to interview at the joint AMS/MAA meetings in January. As a general rule, this isn't the right time of year to be starting to look for job openings, and you'll find more in the fall. May 1, 2014 at 17:48
  • @BenCrowell: how can you tell if that is the case for a particular school ahead of time before even getting hired or applying?
    – Paul
    May 1, 2014 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


Context: I'm a professor at a mid-sized regional university, non-research oriented, but taught for 14 years at small liberal arts colleges.

It sounded in the question like you have only just begun the job search process. I'll assume this is the case in my answer. With that assumption there could be a few things in play here.

  1. Pretty much all small colleges have closed their searches for Fall 2014 by this point. There may be a few exceptions, but for the most part small colleges tend to adhere to the usual ebb and flow of the hiring process -- advertise in mid- to late summer, initial screening and phone interviews in the fall, initial interviews at the Joint Meetings in January, on-campus interviews in February, hiring decision in March. Unlike research universities where sudden influxes of grant money or sudden faculty turnover is more common, smaller schools deviate less from the basic pattern.

  2. Likewise, if you are looking for a position for Fall 2015 and are early, most of these places won't have advertised yet. Check back in July. I know for a fact that MathJobs.org does get ads from smaller schools so it's not that you're looking in the wrong place. Also look at the EIMS, the Chronicle, and Inside Higher Ed.

  3. If you are doing a search with the term "applied" it, take it out and see what happens. At smaller or non-research oriented schools, you'll see only ads for mathematicians, not "applied mathematicians" or "pure mathematicians". (There are exceptions.) In such places, like where I am, its expected that people will be generalists.

Good luck!


The current answer is very focused on the specific OP, but I want to write a more general answer. I am a professor at a small liberal arts college (SLAC) that hired a tenure track applied mathematician last year. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Advertising a position costs money. The longer the ad stays up, the more it costs. We advertised in math jobs, but perhaps only started to show the job a month before we started accepting applications.
  • I think we also advertised in SIAM. Honestly, I was less involved with the applied math search than with the stats search, where we advertised at the Joint Stats Meeting.
  • We also sent out emails to our professional contacts so that they could pass along the job ad to anyone who might be interested.
  • Some other SLACs advertised in other places, e.g., the Chronicle of Higher Education. We felt what we did was enough.

For the job candidate this means you should check mathjobs frequently; at least once per week. You can filter mathjobs by the postdate, and only check jobs posted since you last checked. When you first search, you can filter mathjobs by job type, to focus only on tenure track jobs. You can also filter based on location. I am unaware of any way to filter to only see liberal arts jobs, but it's honestly not that much work to read the name of every university hiring (there are often only around 300 for tenure track jobs) and click the ones you think might be SLACs. You can tell quickly from the job ad if it's a SLAC, because the job ad will probably say "liberal arts" or "excellence in undergraduate teaching", etc. It's good to get into the habit of recognizing liberal arts colleges, if you plan to work at one. I'm sorry I don't know a way to limit the search.

Do not assume that a job ad that says "mathematics" excludes "applied mathematics." Generally speaking, it's harder to hire an applied mathematician at a SLAC than a pure mathematician. In most searches, if we get an application from a strong applied mathematician (meaning: we think they'll be an excellent teacher, able to teach and develop applied math courses, will have sufficient research to get tenure, and might be able to include undergrads in some aspect of their research) then we take it seriously. Sometimes, the search will be limited to a certain area (like: topology) but this is rare. Most SLAC searches are open to a mathematician in any research area and applied mathematicians have a leg up because so many undergraduates want to take courses in applied math, but pure mathematicians are not sure we can properly develop and teach such courses. One last point I want to respond do:

How do I find applied math tenure track positions at four-year / liberal arts colleges with little to no focus on research?

I guess the answer hinges on what you mean by "little." At most good SLACs they will want multiple publications before tenure. At the place I did my undergraduate, teaching and research were weighted equally, and the teaching load was 2-2. At my university, teaching is more but it's probably more like a 60-40 split; the teaching load is 2-3. At my university, to pass your third year review, you should publish a paper from your thesis (or postdoc) and work out something else and get it submitted, within the first two years. To pass tenure you should have at least 4 publications in good journals. Some professors have many more than that. One upside, for an applied mathematician, is that it is quite possible that the norms in your area will be to publish more papers than a pure mathematician, in which case this number might be easier for you than, say, a logician. But, if you want a lower load, then you need to look at lower ranked SLACs, where the teaching load will be 3-3 and you can probably get tenure based on 2 good publications (or 3 to be safe). If you want even less of a research focus than that, you can find colleges with a 4-4 teaching load where 1 publication (namely: your PhD thesis) suffices. But tenure is only useful if the university stays in business, so I'd be leery of places with a small endowment, where they accept 90% or more of applicants. Places like that can sometimes fail, or shrink (and therefore lay-off faculty), or change focus and lay off entire departments (including tenured faculty), etc. It's wiser to plan to maintain enough of a research program that you can land on your feet if things go sideways.

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