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I would like to know how willing would staff in CS department of reputed universities would be to hire doctorates from relevant non-CS departments, for example, say, management science or operations research students. I see a dilemma for the recruiters here: research-wise the new member may be probably better-equipped to span a newer vista of problems that are currently not tackled in the department, but academically, the faculty may not be trained to teach usual CS courses at undergrad level.

A few specific cases, in either case you can assume the applicant is interested in CS research, but does not have publications in top CS journals:

  1. The applicant is a CS-graduate and a PhD in MS but has no CS teaching experience.

  2. The applicant is NOT a CS-graduate but a PhD in MS who has worked on CS-related problems for his doctorate. Will he be excused for not teaching undergrad? Or will he have the liberty to formulate interdisciplinary courses himself and teach them?

  • Interest in CS research? Yes, surely! Suppose the guy is an engineering grad who gets his doctorate in MS/OR, and after Phd, wants to get back to his 'roots', so to say :D The problem is the guy may not have prior teaching experience in CS, which is why the question. – Bravo Mar 14 '12 at 9:21
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    That's why I think it's important to specify it in the question :) (otherwise, you might just get a list of "it depends"). If the guy has for instance a MSc in CS, then I personally wouldn't worry about his ability to teach at undergraduate level, so the question might boil down to the need of the university in terms of graduate teaching, but I'm not the best to answer, I'm just trying to clarify the context :) – user102 Mar 14 '12 at 9:26
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At least three faculty in my department (including our current head) have PhDs in electrical engineering, at least one has a PhD in mathematics, and at least one has a PhD in operations research. If a faculty candidate is actively publishing good research in computer science conferences and journals, which department gave them their PhD really doesn't matter. (And if they're not actively publishing good research in computer science conferences and journals computer science research, they won't get hired, period.)

Most junior faculty candidates don't have significant teaching experience anyway, so that aspect really doesn't matter much either. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to find courses for new faculty with non-standard backgrounds to teach, but if they're really doing CS research, something always fits.

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  • Thanks JeffE. Just a clarification: if they work on CS problems and have got published in Operations Research journals when they apply, won't they be hired? – Bravo Mar 14 '12 at 15:31
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    Sorry, I should be clearer. If their work has impact on the computer science research community, it doesn't matter where any particular paper is published. On the other hand, if they the only publish in OR journals, that might be a problem, because most CS folks don't read those, so their work won't have any impact on the CS landscape. On the gripping hand, if the work looks interesting enough that it'll likely have impact once the applicant starts publishing in CS venues (which they will be strongly encouraged to do if we hire them), then maybe publishing only in OR venues is okay. – JeffE Mar 14 '12 at 21:44
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Within research universities, departments are generally interested in hiring faculty who will improve the department's research standing, both within the university and within their research field. The people who are most eligible in this regard typically have extensive research publications in a given field, and will have a clear path down which they plan on doing research for the next 5+ years. If you wish to compete with these indidivuals, you'll have to provide a good argument to the university as to how you will be able to advance their standing through your research. Depending on your experience and publication history, this may not be hard to do, but you'll still need to put forth the argument.

From my experience, within teaching universities, they want people who can (1) teach, and (2) teach the subject at hand, in that order. If you're a great teacher but aren't that knowledgeable about some particular CS subject - but have a broad CS knowledge base in other regards, and are willing to learn - then you're a great candidate. That's my experience, at least.

Finally, it's worth asking why you want to join a CS department without the relevant CS experience. You can always join another department and simply get listed as faculty in a different department; again, from my experience, this happens quite often.

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