Master's Degrees Need Not Apply

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by Kelly O’Connor-Salomon
As I continue my search for work, I get lots of e-mails from various job websites. Some of the leads they send me are right in line with my skills, others are not. I’m not sure about the one I got suggesting I go work at Hooters. Anyway, when I see ones looking for online English instructors, I usually click through. I have been teaching online for about ten years now, so I’ve got the experience. However, more and more, the posts specifically ask for a PhD, which I do not have.
This development says a lot about the state of the current job market for academics. Adjunct teaching used to be the domain of the MA degree. We couldn’t get full-time work at most schools, but there were lots of part-time opportunities. If these online schools can insist on having a PhD, then there must be a lot of them out there looking for work. In my experience, online adjunct pay is worse that teaching in a classroom. I wonder how long it will be before the schools I currently teach for change their policies to require the PhD for adjuncts as well. Will my experience and history with them count at that point? I wonder.
Of course, the easy solution, some would say, is for me to get the degree I lack, and I would love to. I have longed for a PhD since I finished my MA degrees–I have two. But life kind of got in the way, and, at the moment, I cannot justify more student loan debt–a lot more–to get it.
It would be interesting to see if these schools get applicants; I have to imagine they do. And if those applicants are PhDs without a full-time position or ones looking to supplement their salaries, which tend to be not that great, especially in the Humanities. I imagine they are filling their positions, since I don’t see the jobs re-posted accepting MA degrees.
In the meantime, I will hope that the couple of schools I currently teach at will continue to have me.

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