Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching, Research, and the Job Search

Each year, we ask our workshop participants to identify their top questions about a career in academia, specifically in the areas of teaching, research, and the job search process. Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions with links to web pages with the answers.

Jump down to questions about research or the job search process.


How can I engage students, especially non-majors, in learning geoscience?

How do I teach large classes?

How do I design a course from scratch?

How do I design and/or teach courses outside my area of expertise?

How do I prepare lectures and how much time should be spent on this?

What are effective methods for assessing student learning?

How do I incorporate research into teaching?

How do I teach students who have weak math skills?


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How do I come up with new research project ideas?

How many research projects / grants / publications are enough?

What should I expect in terms of start-up money?

Where and when do I begin looking for research funds?

How do I set up/start a lab from scratch?

How do I increase my writing/publishing efficiency?

How do I balance time between teaching, research, service/outreach, and a personal life?

Job Search Process

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Where and when do I start looking for a job?

How do I know whether academia is right for me?

If I don't fit the job description exactly, should I still apply?

How can I make my application stand out?

What should I expect during the interview?

How do I know which institution will be a good fit for me?

What should I expect for salary, start up, and benefits, and how do I negotiate?

How does one deal with dual career issues and the two-body situation?