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How to Get a Job Teaching Online College Courses as an Adjunct Professor

Updated on May 30, 2017
Looking for Online Adjunct Job
Looking for Online Adjunct Job | Source

Get a Job Teaching Online

Learning how to get a job teaching online college courses as an adjunct faculty member and professor just got a little easier because you clicked on this page. What many people do not realize is that most all colleges and universities offer some type of online course today and are actively looking for applications from qualified people to teach these classes. But getting one of those jobs is easier said than done because online teaching jobs are highly coveted.

After doing intensive research and speaking with people in the field of online teaching and university faculty recruitment, Mister Hollywood is going to give you all the information you ever needed to get hired teaching online. We will walk through everything from qualifications to teach online to your CV to finding out where the jobs are and how to apply. We will also take at information on what kind of money you can make and what you should expect as an online college professor.

I encourage you to bookmark this page as you will likely return many times.

Online Teaching Requirements
Online Teaching Requirements | Source

Online Faculty Teaching: Education

Getting a job teaching online has a number of qualifying requirements. First, you need to have an advanced degree. Other websites and sources of information may tell you that you can get hired with a master’s degree but here is the truth – most schools want you to have a terminal degree. I am not trying to discourage you because it is possible to get hired with a master’s. I am simply saying that it is going to be harder when you are competing against others with doctorates. Not too many years ago, it used to be fairly easy to get hired with a master’s.

Things have changed a lot in recent years because the accrediting bodies have started to closely watch schools that offer online courses, particularly student recruitment as well and online faculty staffing. But this article is not about those issues – it is about helping you land a job teaching online. If you want to try to get an online teaching position with a master’s degree, keep reading what appears here and follow the steps. OK, back to that term – terminal degree.

Terminal Degree for Online Teaching
Terminal Degree for Online Teaching | Source

Terminal Degree

You may be wondering, what exactly is a terminal a credential that is usually a credential that is the highest awarded degree in a given field of study. Here we are talking in almost all cases a doctorate. Terminal degrees can range from a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) to Doctor of Education (ED) to professional degrees, like a Doctor of Ministry (DMin).

In very special situations, a highly qualified person with a master’s Degree can get hired teaching online classes but you really need to be super special in order to get past the electronic gatekeepers (we will talk about this more later). You can also get hired with a master’s Degree if your particular degree type is considered terminal in your field. An example might be a Master’s of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS).


Regional Accreditors

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northcentral Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Accreditation Association
  • Southwestern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Colleges and Schools

Accreditation of Doctorate

If you want to teach online courses at a regionally accredited school, your doctorate pretty much needs to be accredited from one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the department of education. There may be exceptions to this but by and large, schools hiring online adjunct faculty insist that the doctorate be regionally accredited.

To check if the school you earned your doctorate is regionally accredited, simply go to your school’s website and check to see who accredits them. I have put up a chart to the right of this text that lists the accreditors.

If you hold a doctorate from an International school, the hiring institution will likely want to know who accredited that degree and ask for documentation.

If you hold a doctorate from a school that is nationally accredited, like through the Distance Education and Training Counsel (DETC), you are likely only going to get hired through another DETC school. Again, there are always exceptions but what you are hearing here are the basics.

18 Content Hours for Online Teaching
18 Content Hours for Online Teaching | Source

You Need 18 Content Hours

You are going to need 18 graduate/doctoral level hours in your specialization on order to be considered to teach an online course. Let me give you a concrete example.

Let’s say you have a Doctorate in Education (ED) with a specialization in early childhood education. You are likely eligible to teach a bunch of education related courses in an education degree program, ranging from the psychology of learning to childhood development classes.

FYI: That same ED with a specialization in early childhood education is likely not going to get hired to teach a “Training IT Professionals” course in a computer sciences program. Hope this is making sense.

The Numbers Have to Add Up to 18
The Numbers Have to Add Up to 18 | Source

More on those 18 Hours

Final example … let’s say you hold a doctorate in management (a DM or PhD) with 18 hours in business management. Now let’s say you see a job with a university hiring for someone to teach Business Marketing and requires you have a doctorate. Are you eligible? Probably not. Why? Simply because don’t have 18 hours of marketing at the graduate/doctoral level. Again, there are always exceptions and so you are getting the basics here as a starting point. An exception to this might be someone who has a master’s of business administration (MBA) with 18 hours in marketing as part of the graduate degree transcript. Now with a doctorate in management, the person will likely be deemed qualified to teach marketing courses. You will need real world experience too but we will get to that later on.

Teaching Experience
Teaching Experience | Source
Other Teaching Experiences
Other Teaching Experiences | Source

Teaching Experience

Typically, most school’s like to see applicants that have some type of teaching experience, preferably at the college level. The key word here is preferable. If you have teaching experience – great! You can list this on your CV. We will talk more about the CV in a bit.

No Teaching Experience?

If you do not have teaching experience, the game is not over. There are things you can do to highlight teaching experiences you have had that perhaps you never even thought of before. Think I am kidding?

Have you ever offered training to people – ever? Have you ever led a workshop, contributed to a training program or helped design some type of training? If so, then you have teaching experience. That may sound crazy but it is true. The key here is to brainstorm and get creative. I encourage you to get out a pen and paper and start to write down any training programs you have ever been involved with during your career. I think you will find that once you start to write all of these experiences down, you will begin to run out of paper. The trainings that you have been involved with will become very important when it is time to create your CV, so keep that list close!

Job Experience to Teach Online
Job Experience to Teach Online | Source

Job Experience to Teach Online

The other thing that colleges looking to hire online adjuncts for teaching positions want to see is real world, practical experience. Here I am talking about making sure that in addition to your education and teaching experience, you also highlight your hands on experience in a given subject area.

For example, if you are applying to be an online adjunct faculty member at a school looking for health science instructors, you need to demonstrate on your CV your experiences.

Too many people list the degree information and the teaching experience and forget to add the part where they actually did the work involved with that subject. So if you are a nurse and want to teaching nursing courses or health care courses, make sure you highlight your experience in your CV!

Online Course Learning Management Systems
Online Course Learning Management Systems | Source

Learning Management System Experience

Most of the school’s hiring for online adjuncts will put you through their own training program. Currently, colleges offering online teaching jobs will use what is commonly referred to as a Learning Management System (LMS). If you are hired, they are going to require that you successfully pass their training program. The most popular LMS platforms include Blackboard, E-College, Sakai, Angel and Moodle – and there are others not mentioned here.

What is important for you to highlight in our computer experience is exposure to any of these programs, particularly if you are someone who has used any of these LMS platforms as a student. Sure, you should list all of your experience with MS Office, computer graphics programs and so forth but if you have any experience with a LMS program, make sure it appears in your CV as well as the cover letter (more on these topics later).

Computer Based Training

If you have never used a LMS program then highlight any experiences you may have with Computer Based Training (CBT). Heck, make sure you include CBT if you do have LMS experience as well! Finally, regardless of rather or not you have LMS or CBT experience, make sure in your cover letter you mention your willingness to learn.

Next Steps
Next Steps | Source

Next Steps

  1. Order a copy of ALL of your college transcripts. You can request an unofficial electronic copy for the purposes of pre-qualifying yourself for different job openings.
  2. Start putting together a CV. Not a resume but a CV (See next paragraph)
  3. Begin the process of creating a cover letter that can be customized for rapid use.
CV for Online Teaching
CV for Online Teaching | Source

A Curriculum Vita

I am recommending you create a curriculum vita (CV) for the purposes of getting an online teaching job for two reasons. The primary reason is that very likely, the first person who is going to see your CV isn’t going to be a person at all! Instead, your CV will likely pass through a computer screening program (aka an electronic gatekeeper) that is going to look for keywords that closely match what the school is looking for when hiring an online adjunct.

Remember, online teaching jobs are highly coveted and colleges receive hundreds of resumes a month for just a few openings. To optimize your chances of getting past the computer gatekeeper, you are going to want to use as many keywords as possible and that is just not going to happen in a 1 page resume.

The second reason is fairly straight forward - you are applying to an institution of higher learning. Unlike other job areas where resumes are the norm, in Higher Ed, CVs are expected. You are going to want to highlight all of your experiences related to academia, teaching, practical experience and so forth in your CV so that you can get that job as an online adjunct faculty member. Make sure those keywords appear, like teaching, facilitation and learning.

Important Tip on Your CVs

It can take a lot of time creating your CV so DO NOT rush this step. Once you file an electronic application at a given college or university to teach online, you are formally in their system. If you try to reapply again with an updated CV at that same school within 6 months of your initial application, you can screw yourself out of a potential job.

Many of the computer gate keeping programs will blacklist your name and literally stop you from applying to that school – in some cases forever. And so my tip here is to not rush this step. I encourage you to order the book I have listed in this area for writing your CVs and I will recommend one more on cover letters later on. It is well worth the investment. I encourage you to not go the cheap route and grab some example off the Internet. Chances are your search for CVs with be overwhelming and worse, you will pick something that really is not going to help you get you that job.

Cover Letters for Online Teaching

Every application you send should include a cover letter, period. I say this for two reasons:

  1. It just makes you look way more professional and not like some crazy applicant that is just “robo-applying” to any online teaching job that is available. Trust me folks, it is a real turn off when school’s see this.
  2. You will be able to put in more keywords to get through the electronic gatekeeper

For this particular part of your application package, I am going to encourage you to purchase Knock Em Dead Cover Letters listed in this module. Folks, this book offers dozens of concrete examples with templates that you can use for your online adjunct teaching campaign. Again, you can go the cheap route and grab something off the Internet that might do the trick or you can create something that you spend time on that will be much more productive over the long term.

The Electronic Gatekeeper

Earlier, I mentioned the electronic gatekeeper and how important it is to get past these when you start making application to teach online at different schools. And so here I will say that you need to keep the gatekeeper in mind when you build your CV and cover letter. If you create your documents correctly, your credentials will successfully pass through the human resources software and your name will be highly “stack ranked” in the school’s computer system.

The higher your name is stacked, the more likely the HR professional or Program Manager of the given school will be forwarded your information by the gatekeeping system. And so your goal is two-fold; 1. Get passed the gatekeeper and 2. Get your credentials passed on to a human being. Again, use keywords to get past the gatekeepers like …teaching!

Start Applying!

Now that you have completed all of the previous steps and are armed with your transcripts, a quality cover letter and CV, you are ready to start applying for jobs!

I highly recommend the websites listed in the links listed to the right as good starting points. Remember that once you put in an application at a given school, you will likely be locked into their system so choose what documents you upload or send carefully. Do not start pushing out applications to online schools or colleges hiring online adjuncts until you have your cover letter and CV absolutely perfect and the way you want it.

When to Apply for Online Teaching Job
When to Apply for Online Teaching Job | Source

When to Apply

You can apply anytime for an online teaching job however as schools are always recruiting. There are however several times a year when colleges go into “high” recruitment mode – springtime and autumn.

School’s like to recruit people six months or more before scheduled classes begin, which gives the college an opportunity to place new hires in training and then assign them to a mentor for teaching courses online for the first time.

Online Faculty Paycheck
Online Faculty Paycheck | Source


If you are hired, you can expect compensation for teaching online to run the gambit and so there is no hard and fast rule. The amount an online adjunct is paid in large part depends on the school, the course, number of students, the length of the course and if the class is an undergraduate, master’s or doctoral level course. And so the pay can range anywhere between $800.00 at the low end to as much as $5,000.00. It really just depends. The university that is recruiting for online adjunct positions will usually inform prospective job applicants of this information.

Online Adjunct Phone Interview
Online Adjunct Phone Interview | Source

When a School Contacts You to Teach Online

If you are contacted by a school to teach online and they want to set up an interview, it will usually be over the phone or perhaps via Skype. Whichever is the case, make sure you schedule that interview as soon as possible. This means if you are going on vacation – do the interview over your cell phone. Getting called for an interview means they are interested in exploring next possible steps with you. There are likely a number of candidates who are also being contacted to teach online at that college or university. If you wait too long to schedule the interview, you may lose your opportunity to get hired by that school.

Also, make sure you have your CV handy during the time of the phone interview. If all goes well, you will be scheduled for the next LMS training course for online adjunct faculty candidates. This means you are almost hired. Obviously you need to pass the training, any potential background checks and/or other requirements the school may have. But your goal is to GET THAT INTERVIEW!

Online Teaching Poll

What interests you most about teaching online?

See results

Online Teaching Jobs Summary

Teaching online can be a rewarding job and add thousands of dollars to your monthly income. Some online faculty earned as much as 100,000 a year and more teaching courses online.

I hope you come back here and share your experiences after trying these steps and let folks know if you landed that job. Good luck!

© 2013 John Hollywood


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    • Bancarjailani profile image

      Bancar Jailani 

      2 years ago from indonesia


      is very useful information

    • profile image

      MJ Haider 

      5 years ago

      Teaching jobs are always a better one when it comes to academic jobs. I am also posting such good jobs at my blog and like this I have posted many vacancies right now.

    • misterhollywood profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hollywood 

      5 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      Thanks, Jonny! I will be visiting your hubs shortly!

    • profile image


      5 years ago


      sorry if I sound ignorant, but had to look up the meaning of "adjunct."

      "...a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part." Not having been to University, but nevertheless not unintelligent, I thought immediately of Conjunct... as in conjunctivitis! Could one suffer from "adjunctivitis?"

      Anyway, I have only just come across your profile, and admire you for your energy, zeal and commitment. It will take me time to get through some of your hubs, but it looks like they will all be very interesting and well written.

      Wishing you well.

    • misterhollywood profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hollywood 

      6 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      Thanks - I am glad that you liked and found useful!

    • bestonlineschools profile image

      Best Online Schools 

      6 years ago from UK

      Great work Misterhollywood as one of my friends have just finished asking me similar question regarding online teaching jobs.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed this artcile a dream is to teach online courses asap..

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes I agree with a lot of what is said here. I have a Master's degree and about 13 years ago I started teaching online and it was easy to get in and the work kept coming and coming. Been a little slower these past few years , and because of many reasons but if you have a Master's with teaching experience you can still get it, just as quickly as that new Phd.

      I have taught over these 13 years at more than 20 colleges and universities, normally 8-10 at a time, and have made 100-200k a year. So getting a real job as a full-time Instructor has not been an option, can't afford it.

      Things may be slow right now but as new Instructors start teaching online and can't hack the work it will open up again.


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