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About Small Liberal Arts Colleges (SLACs)

Have you considered an academic career at a small liberal arts college (SLAC)? Here's an overview of some of the distinctive features of these institutions.

How do I know if SLACs are the right fit for me?

  • Teaching and research both interest you
  • You enjoy mentoring and working one-on-one with students
  • Working and living in a smaller, close-knit community appeals to you

Some general characteristics of SLACs

  • Four-year institutions, mostly private
  • Majority of students are “traditional” full-time degree-seeking undergraduates, ages 18-24
  • Lower student-faculty ratios (between 9:1 and 16:1)
  • Enrollment numbers at Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) institutions range from 800 to 3,000 students
  • Tenure-eligible positions emphasize successful teaching, research and publications, and service (weight given to each will depend on the department and institution)
  • Course load for full-time faculty varies, depending on whether emphasis is placed on the research and teaching requirements (2-2 or 3-2), or if the institution is more focused on teaching (4-4)
  • Faculty tend to publish at a slightly slower pace of productivity than at R1 institutions
  • While R1 faculty typically focus more on producing research, SLAC faculty focus more on producing strong researchers, writers, and critical thinkers

Faculty at SLACs say they enjoy…

  • Opportunities to develop and teach new course content
  • Mentoring and engaging with students in small group settings and one-on-one
  • Teaching collaboratively and across disciplines
  • More flexible schedules and leave policies compared to many research universities
  • Having a strong sense of stewardship and influence on the institution through faculty self-governance
  • Supportive environments in which they are encouraged to develop pedagogical skills

Additional links

The ConsiderCareer website is supported by the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program for a Diverse Professoriate.