How to Become an Online College Professor

How To Become an Online College ProfessorDoes the thought of teaching diverse students from all over the U.S. and even the world appeal to you? Can you picture yourself leading discussions, grading papers and critiquing essays – all from the comfort of your home computer? If so, a career as an online professor may be perfect for you.

The number of students enrolled in higher education online courses has experienced double digit growth every year since 2006, according to This increase drives the need for more online professors, either working as adjunct professors through a traditional college or university, or those working for dedicated online universities.

Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Because online learning is so flexible, you may be able to work another full or part-time job while teaching during off hours. You can live where you choose, and fit teaching around family responsibilities. Your workplace is flexible too – anywhere with an internet connection.

As an online professor, you’ll build online communities through group discussions, message boards and chat rooms. You’ll use contentment management software such as Blackboard and Angel to distribute materials and receive completed assignments.

Becoming an Online Professor

The requirements for teaching online are similar to those for traditional college professors. You’ll need a B.A. degree in your chosen field. Most university adjunct and online college positions require a M.A. degree, or may accept related job experience.

Some universities require work experience in your field or one that’s closely related, and you’ll need a Ph.D. to teach at the master’s level.

To succeed, you’ll need to be comfortable working in a virtual classroom – that is, one without face to face student interaction. You’ll deliver lectures in a group chat rather than a lecture hall. Your “office hours,” working one-on-one with students via emails and individual chats, will be weeknights and weekends when online students study.

Steps to Get Started

Get your degrees. You can search for schools by location and major at BigFuture, sponsored by the College Board. But now is the perfect time to explore online universities. Not only is online learning flexible and cost effective, but you‘ll be sharing the same experience as your future students. Begin your search for online colleges by filling out our sign-up form (link).

Check out costs and investigate financing options. The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website has financial aid information. Explore all possibilities, including contacting schools directly for work programs and scholarships. Try not to overburden yourself with student debt.

Once degrees are completed, prepare your resume. Highlight online communications projects and teamwork, teaching experiences, student mentoring and tutoring.

Research online professor positions. Study websites of online universities and those colleges that offer online courses. Check out the college Human Resources website for adjunct professor opportunities. Search online college job boards.

Reach out to local universities. Email the department head in your field to introduce yourself and ask for any job availability, as many adjunct positions are not posted. It’s a good way to begin building peer relationships.

Network with students, professors, peers, friends and family. Network, network, network … it’s key to getting the word out that you’re looking for an online professorship, and ask everyone to watch for openings.

Review offerings at local colleges. You may have an idea for an online course that isn’t offered, and can suggest and develop the course materials.

Go the extra mile. Publish an article in your field and write a blog. Join academic online communities.

The flexibility of online learning appeals to professors as well as students. As an online professor, you’ll step into a global environment and make a lasting positive impact on students near and far.

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