Apply Only to Programs that Have This Many Full-Time Faculty

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

Let's say you are interested in getting a bachelor's degree in anthropology. You do a quick web search on one of the schools you are interested in and see that anthropology is on their list of bachelor's degree offerings. Is this school worth applying to?

Maybe not. It's vital that you determine how many full-time faculty members actually teach in their anthropology program. The reason for this is simple. If this school only has two full-time faculty members in anthropology, you are going to be spending quite a bit of time with only two people if you enroll there. Sure the program may tell you they have an extensive list of part-time faculty, and these adjuncts may even be great teachers. The reality is, however, most part-time faculty only teach classes. They typically do not provide career advising or engage in mentoring (Government Accountability Report, 2017).

Going to a school with only a couple full-time faculty members teaching in your program of study means you will be limiting your opportunities for learning. You will be narrowing the amount of career advice you can receive. And you will be reducing the social capital you can leverage with potential graduate schools and future employers. (As a scary side note, I once reviewed a campus where a major program had only one full-time faculty member. As you can imagine, it was not a quality program.)

While specialized accreditation programs often provide guidelines for how many full-time "participating" faculty members their specific programs should have, there is no agreed upon rule, across the board, for how many full-time faculty members is the proper amount.

I recommend this handy approach when determining if a program has enough full-time faculty. Hold your hand out in front of you and make a fist. Now point your thumb upward. In order for you to give a program a "thumbs up" it needs to have at least the same number of full-time faculty members as the fingers supporting your thumb--Four.


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