Can I teach college online part-time? Do I qualify?

NYC Gap App ChallengeMany teachers and other professionals are looking for ways to make extra money, or perhaps spend part of their time mentoring and teaching upcoming professionals. Did you know there are over 14 million online college courses being taught in any one year? An estimated 28% of college students take an online course at any one time. Meanwhile, “Only 29.1% of academic leaders report that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education.” So where are those instructors coming from?

You may have often thought about whether or not you’re qualified to teach at the college or university level online as an adjunct, or part-time contractor. If you have any college degree, the answer is most likely, YES.

Do Advanced Degrees and Certificates Help?

  • A Ph.D. is more valued than an M.A.
  • However, not all degree programs want Ph.D.’s.
  • You can teach online without a graduate degree.
  • Take multiple online courses for experience as an online learner.
  • A Certification in Online Teaching goes a long way to convince an employer you’re prepared to teach online.

Advanced Degrees

A lot of people ask, “Do I need to have a Ph.D. to teach at the college level?” No, you don’t. Most accredited college and university programs typically prefer applicants with doctorates to teach at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. A doctoral degree is more valued than a Master’s degree, but not all degree programs necessarily want Ph.D.’s, and that’s particularly true in many practitioner-based programs. Some programs purposely seek out expert practitioners, people currently working in the field, not professors, not researchers, not Ph.D.’s, but people who have hands-on experience in whatever content area that they’re teaching.  So, you’ll want to understand the type of faculty the program you’re interested in is hiring.

What level of college can you teach? Typically, when looking at higher education teaching jobs:

  • You have Bachelor’s degree> teach undergraduate only
  • You have Master’s degree> teach undergraduate and some introductory Master’s level courses
  • You have Doctorate> teach all levels

Online Courses & Workshops

Even if you don’t have degrees or certificates related to educational technology or online teaching, you can take online courses or workshops and note those in your resume.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are one way to get exposure to online courses, but be aware they are only one very limited type of online teaching, and probably not representative of the type of online teaching that you will be hired to do.  It is essential to experience online learning as a student before you attempt to teach online.  You can also register in inexpensive online courses at Udemy or Udacity, for example.

Online Teaching Certificates

A certificate in online teaching shows you’ve completed several courses of in-depth study at the graduate level. Certificates aren’t required to teach college online (although some states have started to add required endorsements at the K-12 level).  

However, imagine that you’re a chair of a university program and you need to hire someone to teach online for you as an adjunct, part-time or full-time. Let’s say it’s a History department, and I’m the department chair who has two resumes in front of me. One resume belongs to a candidate who has a Master’s degree in history and some teaching experience, and the second resume is a person who has a degree in history, teaching experience, and they have a certificate in online teaching. Automatically, as an employer, I’m going to lean towards that person who has a certificate in online teaching. It’s a quick indicator to me that the person has more in-depth study in online teaching, and some level of confidence that they have multiple experiences in learning as an online student, designing online instruction, and leading and facilitating students online. Some recognized programs for certification include:

Online Teaching Graduate Degree Programs

If you are considering specializing in online education full-time, you may want to consider completing a  Master’s Degree in Online Learning or Educational Technology.  A Master’s degree can typically be completed in two years.  Some recognized programs include:

Want to learn more?

book cover

This blog is first in a five part series to help you get focused on finding a job teaching college part-time online.

If you’re looking for additional tips with finding and landing online teaching jobs, get a free digital copy of my book, Find Online Teaching Jobs Now! College Edition, through April 24th, 2017 at Amazon!


3 thoughts on “Can I teach college online part-time? Do I qualify?

  1. zeitz April 22, 2017 / 4:29 PM

    Great posting but you forgot our 2-year online Instructional Technology Masters Degree at the University of Northern Iowa. Our students learn about online teaching through our course “Developing and Directing Online Learning” as well as through the experience of a well-directed program.

    • lisadawley April 22, 2017 / 5:31 PM

      Thanks for the reminder, Leigh! I’ll update the blog 🙂

      • zeitz April 23, 2017 / 9:38 AM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s