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How to choose your ‘type’ of University.

Knowing your preferred teaching/research balance and the classification of University you are interested in, can make your search for a faculty position easier.



An important question for you to answer is “what type of University do you want to work at?” There are several variables that go into answering this question, with the most important being “do you prefer to do research, teach, or both?”

At an R1, if you are in a tenure-track position, your job will hinge on your research funding and paper production.

The University you work at will have expectations of each faculty member regarding how much research they produce and the amount of teaching they do. Some Universities will have few research expectations for you, but will have expect a large amount of teaching. Some will require little teaching, but will require a lot of research and research funding development. Some Universities will be right in the middle – requiring both teaching and research.


When you make the teaching/research balance determination, it becomes relatively easy to pick the Universities you want to apply to based on a classification system called the “Carnegie Classification”. In short, this is a categorization system that has been around for many years that classifies higher education institutes on their teaching/research balance.


The Universities where research is the primary objective are called “R” institutes. These R-institutes are focused on research and all have doctoral programs. Within the R-institutes, there is a further ranking system, ranging from R3 Universities having the least amount of research, to the R1 Universities that do the most of research (and have the most amount of funding). At an R1, if you are in a tenure-track position, your job will hinge on your research funding and paper production. As you move down the R-scale, less research/funding is required with a proportional increase in teaching.


Below the R-institutes, there are six other classifications, ranging from Masters institutions (or M-institutes) to Tribal Colleges. Like in the R-institutes, there are numerical classifications within each of these classifications indicating the emphasis on teaching. For example, working in an M1-institute means that there are both masters and doctoral programs, but research is not the primary focus.


The classification of a University is easily found online; once you have determined what research/teaching balance you want in a position, you can easily match your ambition to the classification of University and use that as a guide when searching for positions.


For a more in-depth discussion of University classifications and how they can help you in finding a job, go to chapter 2 of Finding the Best Faculty Job for You!

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