Context: I am a PhD student in mathematics currently applying for tenure-track positions at small colleges throughout the US.

In general, most openings I've seen are asking for what they've termed a "Teaching Statement," while the remainder ask for a "Teaching Philosophy." Is there a difference between these two documents? If so, what is it?

I've posed this question to a wide variety of people (colleagues, panels, etc.), and they can't seem to arrive at a consensus. Some say that there is no difference whatsoever, whereas others say that a statement is supposed to be much more concrete and give more specifics than a philosophy.

I realize that this question was already addressed in some of the answers to this question, but I'd like to hear a little bit more detail, if possible.

3 Answers 3


One of the confusing aspects of the various fields of academics is that within one field there can be many terms that essentially mean the same thing. People may try to state that there is a difference but normally the differences are so minor that it is essentially hair-splitting.

The difference between a "teaching philosophy" and "teaching statement" is basically the second word used in both terms. If there is more difference then this it is so nuanced that the average person would fail to notice.


There are two ways to describe your attitude to the teaching: to tell what you think should be right and why (a very dangerous thing for a recent postdoc to do on a job market, by the way) and just to list your formal experience and methods to deal with common classroom problems (how to motivate the students, what amount of workload to put on them, etc.). In normal world the first would be called "teaching philosophy", and the second "teaching statement", but in reality administrators just use whatever word sounds nicer to them. So, do not pay any attention whatsoever to the wording, but rather think if you have a friend out there who could tell you what exactly is expected (a small liberal art college would have a very different way to evaluate your teaching statement/philosophy than a big research university and there are plenty of "shades of gray" in between).


They both are definitely different.

Teaching Statement consists of:

  1. Statement of Teaching Interests. (Don't reproduce your CV)

    1.1 Some history of your teaching

    1.2 Institutions taught in, along with Courses

    1.3 What do you love teaching? etc., etc.

  2. Statement of Teaching Philosophy. (Don't reproduce your CV)

    1.1 What do you think should be outcomes of your teaching?

    1.2 What teaching methodology do you use? Pedagogy, means "leading children" or Andragogy means "leader of adult men". etc.

    1.2 What technologies - OHP, Slides projector, Computer hardware and software; Conventional Blackboards, white boards or An interactive whiteboard (IWB) or Smart board? etc., etc.

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