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Tenure Track Requirements in US History Departments?

I'm interested in getting my graduate degrees from universities in the UK, but would ultimately like to return to the U.S. and teach in American Universities. Can I be hired as a tenure track professor if my PhD is not from the U.S. or does that automatically disqualify me from that track?
Are there other caveats like this in terms of getting tenure that I should be aware of when considering when to get my graduate degree(s)?

#tenuretrack #graduate-school #history

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Nicole’s Answer

You should definitely consider the issue of specialization and think about your ideal work environment. Do you want to reach an R-1 facility? Liberal arts? Public university?

Honestly the market in the US is extremely glutted and most of us are looking for opportunities in alt-ac, like consulting jobs, government jobs, and non-profit sectors.

US PhDs give you teaching experience and the ability to hone skills in multiple fields. Does the UK course offer the same opportunity? Do you anticipate being able to publish within the timeframe? Here we usually have taught our own course, designed our own syllabi, and published at least one article and multiple book reviews before graduating.

I would just weigh the pros/cons of both systems before deciding. Tenure track jobs are incredibly rare, so read up on the Chronicle of Higher Ed and other websites so you can analyze the data for yourself. Make sure if you're going to take a chance at the US market that you're highly competitive alongside US PhD recipients.

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Nathaniel’s Answer

There's no technical reason I'm aware of that a UK doctorate should make it more difficult let alone impossible to find a tenure track appointment in the US in the same or a related field. A US PhD in anthropology led me to a UK appointment in public health. The only complication I found was a matter of citizenship, but if you will be returning to your country of citizenship, you shouldn't face even that annoyance. By the bye, at least when I was last employed in Britain in 2011, graduating from a British university allowed one to work in the UK for a number of years--I don't remember the exact term--without UK citizenship, in the event you have the chance to do some post-doctoral tempering there.

Seeking US employment with a British doctorate might create problems in a social ways, however.
1) Make yourself aware of the US reputation of whatever British university you are thinking to attend. The 'prestige' of the school where you do your doctorate will count, at least in opening doors.
2) Consider the intellectual cast of the British school you want to attend and the US schools you might later want to work at. Hiring institutions will want you to bring something different, to fill some niche not filled by current faculty, but they usually won't want it to be 'too' different from the existing tenor.
3) Make sure that your British doctoral supervisor is well connected in the US. Getting a leg up in the academic trade is less a matter of what you know or even who you know, but of who your mentor knows.
4) Make sure you really understand the entrance requirements for British PhD programs. In the States, at least in my day, one typically completed a masters degree in the course of a doctoral program (which your department might make terminal if they didn't think you were well enough qualified to continue on). It was in the course of that master's work that one developed a doctoral level research hypothesis and defined the literature relevant to investigating it. When I worked in Britain 30 years later, one was expected to have a developed research hypothesis and some actual or, at least, likely sources of financial support to be admitted to the PhD in the first place.
5) Be very clear about where and why you are applying to a particular British doctoral program. The UK clearly intends that promoting British degrees to overseas students be a money-making proposition. Be sure you get good value for your money, even if the money comes from a third party funder.

Ask these questions of as many professors and students as you can access.

Thanks so much, this is a very helpful answer! Emily C.

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Patricia’s Answer

Hi Emily,

Thanks for the question! Nicole and Nathaniel provided great advice! I'm not in the teaching profession - I work at Fannie Mae as a project manager.

All the best with your graduate studies and future employment!

Please be safe and stay well!


Hi Patricia, thank you for taking the time to respond! However, please remember to only post answers where you have experience and/or knowledge. Gurpreet Lally