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Being a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow

Although we hope that every graduating student is immediately employed in a high quality position, the job market is not always accommodating.

The postdoctoral teaching fellow (PDTF) appointment was created in the College of the Liberal Arts in response to the academic job market conditions that emerged following the 2008 financial crisis in the United States. The intention of the PDTF appointment is to allow recent Ph.D.s to build their record of scholarship so that they can compete effectively for high caliber academic positions. Importantly, the PDTF appointment is designed as a full-time position, in order to provide the corresponding benefits of full-time employment at Penn State. The teaching load for the PDTF, however, is not full-time (i.e., at least three courses per semester); it is a reduced teaching load (i.e., 2 courses per semester) because the appointment presumes that the fellow is devoting time to the research activities that will promote success on the academic job market.

The PDTF program is designed to provide one year of support following completion of the Ph.D. for those graduates whose record of accomplishment shows potential for future success in the academy. A second year may be granted, contingent on satisfactory research progress and active efforts toward securing a strong academic position.

How do I become a fellow?

During the annual evaluation in March, students anticipating graduation during the summer should discuss the PDTF appointment with their advisor. The advisor should include the student’s interest in the position, its relevance for the student’s career, and the anticipated date of graduation to the Graduate Officer in the student’s annual review.  Appointments are made by the Head, who consults with the Graduate Officer.

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Is there an alternative form of employment in CAS after graduation if I am not interested in becoming a PDTF?

Of course, you may apply for full-time lecturer positions that may emerge in our Department for next year. Please note, however, that we often have many applicants for only a few full-time positions.

For more information about the PDTF appointment, contact Dr. Rachel Smith.

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Who do I contact for more information about the PDTF appointment?

The Associate Head, Dr. Rachel Smith, directs the PDTF program.

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Who are the current PDTFs for 2017-2018?

David Brinker
Lauren Camacci
Jeremy Cox
Jessica Kurr
Robert Richards
Amber Worthington

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