1. About
  2. Features
  3. Explore

I have couple of offers for a visiting assistant professor (VAP) and for post-doc positions. I'm debating which to choose. I'm finalizing my PhD now at a top 50 R1 school in engineering. The VAP positions are at top 20 private liberal arts colleges. The two post-docs positions are one at my current university and another one at a top 30 R1 university. To be honest, I started applying for tenure track (TT) positions two months ago in February (I know it was already late! But I had some serious change of plans). I'm debating whether to go for a VAP or post-doc (at my school, since my research area is very new) position. I feel that I will get a better chance of getting some interviews during the next cycle of applying to TT positions (when I start applying in Aug/Sep.).

Here are few facts that might be useful;

  1. My goal is to go for a TT position (R1 university).
  2. Publication record is high (about 3 times higher than the average number of publications for a fresh PhD graduate in my field)
  3. My current advisor is famous (he started my research area), basically I feel that my recommendation letters are good!
  4. I'm not worried about salary/benefits (since both positions are not TT)
  5. Received multiple awards/fellowships during my PhD
  6. Proposal/Grant funding writing abilities - average (not very experienced)
  7. I have heard from multiple people that getting a VAP for 1-2 years might look bad/questionable on a CV on the contrary to having a post-doc.

Any help/comments/experiences/suggestions shared will be much appreciated.

1 Answer 1

If your goal is to get a TT job at an R1 university, you would be a lunatic to choose a job with 3-3 teaching load with no research support over one that is research focused. I'm extremely confused about why you're even asking this question.

EDIT: To specifically address "if getting a VAP job for a year would enhance my resume (to be able to compete for a TT position) over having a post-doc," the answer from everything I know is a resounding "no." It will just look like you couldn't get a decent postdoc. Maybe teaching 1 or 2 classes if you can arrange it with one of the postdocs would be a net positive, but the VAP job you're describing would be a disaster for your research, and that's what gets you the sort of job you say you want. Maybe you're extremely productive and in a very in demand field, but if your research is good enough that you can take a year off (effectively) and still get a TT job at an R1 university, then you can potentially get an even better job (or be in a better negotiating position, or be in a better position to get tenure) if you keep your research up for another year. Certainly very few people are so productive that they can afford to take such a huge risk.