When do Colleges and Universities Hire Faculty?

Christopher Davis
7 min readAug 11, 2022
Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash


Classes at my university started yesterday for the Fall. One of my teams manages the course schedule, and one of the things we hate to hear is when a program does not have faculty available to teach. For the many people looking to teach in higher ed, this problem might come as a surprise. How can anyone not have enough faculty to teach?

The problem is two-fold. First, the programs do not want to over hire faculty. When they do, they have people who are not teaching or at least not teaching as much as the faculty would like. While in one semester student demand might be high for a specific course, in future semesters it might not be so high. As a result, we take a gamble on how many faculty we need. Second, the process for hiring new faculty takes time.

When I was first hiring faculty in the late 1990s, there were times I would hire someone the week before classes started. This was never desirable. The preferred process is to hire someone in a thoughtful interview process and then provide training before exposing students to new faculty. Those processes take time, and not all candidates will make it to the end. That complicates the process of getting faculty into the classroom.

While I don’t hire faculty anymore, one of the misunderstandings I witnessed when I did was that people would apply for faculty positions based on when they had decided they wanted to teach without realizing that there is a natural cadence to when colleges and universities hire faculty. This is true for both full-time and part-time positions, and I am going to focus on the part-time faculty hiring process.

Understanding when schools hire is important to understand why your job search might not be producing the results that you hope for. In the olden days, most faculty were hired in the winter and spring to start positions in the fall. The growth in online learning and shift to hiring adjuncts has changed this classical hiring pattern. While many positions still follow this traditional calendar, other patterns have emerged.

The Academic Calendar

Schools that follow traditional semester calendars only have three class starts a year, including summer. That means that they only hire and…

Christopher Davis

#HigherEd revolutionary with over twenty years experience in higher ed teaching and administration. Opinions and positions are my own.