A major topic of discussion in my Mass Communication Teaching is the faculty job market. Doctoral students have asked about the possibility of post-doctoral programs as a job option. I’ve asked doctoral student Kelly Flowers to share some research she has done on post-doc positions.
by Kelly Flowers
Ph.D. student, University of Florida
In an ideal world, once doctoral students obtain their degrees, they would be hired into faculty positions. But since the economic recession began in 2008, finding a faculty position has become more difficult for newly graduated Ph.D.s. And even when there are faculty jobs, the positions aren’t always the combination of teaching and research that some Ph.D.s are looking for.
One option for them would be to find a post-doc position.
According to the National Postdoctoral Association, “A postdoctoral scholar (“postdoc”) is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.”
Post-doc programs used to be almost exclusively for those in the hard sciences, but now a wider range of academic areas are offering post-doc programs.
Yu-Hau Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Telecommunication at the University of Florida, completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oklahoma prior to starting his faculty position at UF. In his post-doc position, Lee was a part of a team operating under a $10.5 million grant to study Advanced Intelligence interactive games used in education and training.
Lee explained that he wanted to pursue a career that combined both teaching and research. But when he graduated with his Ph.D., the job market had several teaching opportunities but none for that included teaching and research, so Lee starting investigating other options. He found a post-doc opportunity online, through the Chronicle of Higher Education.
He recommended that if a doctoral student or recent Ph.D. is interested in a post-doc fellowship to talk to his or her mentor or committee members for insight and assistance. Communication post-docs used to be rare but such positions have increased in popularity, with a communication post-doc position lasting lasts one to two years.
One downside to these fellowships is that it delays your tenure track because a post-doc is not a tenure-earning position. A second downside is that a post-doc earn a salary that typically is less than a faculty position.
According to Lee, the pros of earning a post-doc outweigh the cons.
Having completed a post-doc, you are more prepared to join a faculty due to your increased experience and mentorship in your area of research, teaching or administration. You become much more competitive for a faculty position than when you finished your Ph.D.
For more information on post-doctorate fellowships follow these links:
Kelly Flowers is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.