An English professor teaches courses, writes and publishes academic papers, and advises educational policies at a university or college. He or she might work full or part time, leading undergraduate or graduate courses in a number of different subjects related to English and writing. Many professors also act as advisers to students who are planning a career in English, education, or journalism. An individual must complete extensive educational requirements, produce worthwhile papers, and gain experience in the academic field to become a tenured English professor.
The majority of an English professor's job entails organizing course curricula, teaching classes, grading papers, and meeting with students. Professors arrange course material according to university standards and requirements, though they are often allotted considerable freedom in the type and manner they present information. English professors might specialize in teaching a very specific subject or lecture on a number of topics, such as composition, creative writing, literature appreciation, poetry, or English as a second language. They usually make themselves available during office hours to speak with students who are having difficulties or those who need academic guidance.
Many modern universities and colleges give students the option of taking courses online, which significantly changes an English professor's approach to teaching. Professors who teach online courses must be very familiar with computer applications, email, and the Internet in order to meet the needs of their students. They may be required to facilitate online discussions, upload documents and tests, and provide feedback to students through email communication rather than in person.
Besides teaching courses, English professors are usually expected to regularly write and publish academic papers as well as participate in school committees. Professors help to evaluate the successes and failures of English programs and university policies, and suggest steps that can be taken to improve them. Many experienced English professors assume further administrative duties, such as representing an entire English department.
A PhD is usually required to become an English professor. An individual is required to complete up to six years of post-baccalaureate coursework and compose a lengthy dissertation to earn his or her degree. Most prospective English professors work as teaching assistants while completing their graduate programs in order to gain essential, firsthand teaching experience and improve their credentials. They usually begin their careers under the title of instructor, and work at a university for up to seven years in an effort to gain tenure, a condition that allows a professor to teach, write papers, and conduct research without fear of being terminated unless there is just cause.