Tips on Applying to Tenure Track Positions in Religious Studies, Part I: Important Resources

We’re expanding the Tips on Applying series to move beyond applying to graduate programs in religious studies. The next series of posts will focus on applying to tenure track positions in religious studies (or related) departments. To start I’d like to point out some useful resources:

1) The Academic Job Search Handbook by Julia Miller Vick. From the back cover: “The book begins with an overview of the hiring process and a timetable for applying for academic positions. It then gives detailed information on application materials, interviewing, negotiating job offers, and starting the new job. Guidance throughout is aimed at all candidates, with frequent reference to the specifics of job searches in scientific and technical fields as well as those in the humanities and social sciences. Advice on seeking postdoctoral opportunities is also included.

Perhaps the most significant contribution is the inclusion of sample vitas. The Academic Job Search Handbook describes the organization and content of the vita and includes samples from a variety of fields. In addition to CVs and research statements, new in this edition are a sample interview itinerary, a teaching portfolio, and a sample offer letter. The job search correspondence section has also been updated, and there is current information on Internet search methods and useful websites.”

The Handbook is particularly helpful in getting a general sense of the application process. It does, however, contain limited examples of candidates applying to positions in religious studies (or related)  departments.

2) The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle originated as a bi-monthly periodical dedicated to issues in higher education. Since going online the Chronicle publishes content more often, including advertisements for tenure track, non-tenure track, and administrative positions (see their  job center). The postings, truth be told, are kind of hit or miss for religious studies.

Perhaps even more important is the discussion forum, which includes several areas for examining the job application process. As of today there are over 18,000 discussions started on the topic  (for a recent discussion about applying to BYU as a non-member see this). Some of the best threads on the job application process can be found here.

As with any discussion forum, not all advice is equal. You’ll find a wide variety of views on almost every topic, but also a strong majority opinion on most topics.

3) American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature job postings. Only recently have both job listings become freely accessible. These are probably the most important sources for job listings.

4) Humanities Net job listings. The H-Net database will give you access to job postings in a variety of other departments in the humanities.

5) The Academic Job Wiki. Job candidates will want to bookmark this site. Fellow candidates on the job market visit the Wiki and update it as they receive information about a particular job. Updates tend to occur when first round and final round interviews have been scheduled, as well as when an offer has been made. Since rejection letters aren’t usually sent out until an offer has been made and accepted, the Wiki is a good place to find out ahead of time if you’re still in the running for a particular job.

2 Replies to “Tips on Applying to Tenure Track Positions in Religious Studies, Part I: Important Resources”

  1. Excellent list of resources, especially the CHE forums. They’ve proven to be immensely useful for all kinds of information, not just for the job application process. A couple of the regulars are in religious studies, so there are experienced people there who can give candid and informed responses to questions about the field.

    Some people hate the job wikis, but I think it’s a big step forward compared to the pre-wiki days when you didn’t know if you were getting an interview until the day before the big conference, or ever. Obsessive types might want to stay away, though.

    What about Interfolio ( It might not be used in religious studies, but it has no serious competition when it comes to managing recommendation letters. It was a huge help when I was applying to jobs from outside the U.S., because I could upload all my materials and have them sent domestically, rather than paying for and depending on transatlantic airmail.

  2. I’ll second the recommendation for Interfolio. For those who don’t know, Interfolio is a service that sends out things such as letters of recommendation whenever and wherever you want. All your letter writers have to do is to send in one letter and then you can determine where and when it gets sent. This is particularly helpful if one of your letter writers is chronically late or if you’re applying to 20+ positions. You can also have your letter writers submit variations of a letter (say one that focuses on teaching, or one crafted for post-doctoral positions) and choose which one you want sent.

    The main downside of Interfolio is that you do lose a bit of personalization in your letters of recommendation (your letters will be addressed to Whom It May Concern rather than to a specific individual); but in fields such as religious studies where there are often over a hundred applicants for one job, search committees will understand that letter writers cannot always customize every letter (those on a search committee are, after all, letter writers themselves for their students).

    The best advice I’ve heard on this front is to choose perhaps your top 5 jobs, and have your letter writers write customized letters for those jobs. Then use Interfolio for the rest.

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