I've heard some conflicting reports on this, but in general, how many graduate credit hours are required to teach in a department or secure a professorship in it?

I'm an interdisciplinary PhD student with a heavy focus on computer science, but I will have close to thirty credit hours in social sciences when I'm done and I'd like to know if it is worth getting the count up a bit.

  • In the US, some institutions and statewide university systems do have rules that require instructors to have taken a certain number of graduate credit hours of coursework in the subject that they will be teaching. However, these rules aren't standardized across institutions, and the answer will depend on local circumstances. I've voted to close the question because the answer will be so specific. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 15:07
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    Ultimately, the answer is zero: U.S. universities hire foreigners with foreign degrees. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


In the US there isn't a standard requirement.

If you have a PhD, you could potentially become a professor. If you have a master's, you could potentially be an adjunct or instructor.

Although, I have seen smaller schools and community colleges advertising a requirement of X graduate credits to be an adjunct, where X is rather small (e.g., 6 classes).

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    For community colleges, I think it varies from state to state. In California, the requirements are spelled out in excruciating detail in the ed code, and it doesn't have anything to do with credit hours. For academic (as opposed to vocational) subjects, you just need a degree from a certain list.
    – user1482
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 15:08

In the South, you need generally need 18, hours per SACS. I would imagine other accreditation agencies have similar guidelines or standards, but I'm not familiar with them and you would need to research them, and there are always exceptions or edge cases, but those aren't going to apply in most hiring situations.

But if your PhD is somewhere near half/half between two fields I doubt you'd have any problem teaching in either half anywhere. One of my favorite professors was a triple hire, and had no trouble teaching in any of her three fields, even at the graduate level. I'm going to doubt seriously she had 30+ hours in each, though.

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