Going Alt-Ac

A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers

January 2020
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    15th January 2020
  • ISBN 9781620368312
  • Language English
  • Pages 264 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images 11 illus
January 2020
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    13th January 2020
  • ISBN 9781620368305
  • Language English
  • Pages 264 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images 11 illus
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January 2020
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    13th January 2020
  • ISBN 9781620368329
  • Language English
  • Pages 264 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images 11 illus

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January 2020
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    13th January 2020
  • ISBN 9781620368336
  • Language English
  • Pages 264 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images 11 illus

A growing number of people completing or holding graduate degrees now seek non-faculty positions—also called alternative academic, or “alt-ac” positions—at different stages in their careers. While an increasing number of people with doctoral degrees are hunting for a diminishing pool of tenure-track faculty jobs, most degree-granting institutions do not adequately prepare their graduate students to enter the new reality of the alt-ac job market. Yet the administrative ranks in higher education institutions are growing, as colleges and universities are creating a diverse range of positions that support teaching and learning efforts.

Focusing on the range of potential alternative career choices, this highly practical book offers tools and prompts for readers who are:

  • Considering whether to choose an alt-ac career path

  • Seeking specific alt-ac positions

  • Advising graduate students or mentoring recent professional graduates

  • Encountering alt-ac career challenges

The authors offer case stories—their own and those of colleagues across North America in alt-ac roles—with concrete examples designed to help readers pursue, obtain, and excel in a wide variety of alt-ac positions. The book can equally be used as a resource for graduate courses on professional development and job-market preparation.

"The authors have produced a book that anyone contemplating, or negotiating, a non-traditional academic career will want to read. Not only read, but workshop and teach and book-club and share. I think that we will keep Going-Alt Ac on our desks, as both a reference guide and a reminder that we are part of something bigger."

Joshua Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives - Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning

"Practical and stamped by hard-won experience, Going Alt-Ac is an excellent guide to this emerging career path."

Bryan Alexander, Senior Scholar - Georgetown University

"If you're doing or have a doctorate and want to be meaningfully employed in or around higher education, you must read this book--and do what it says. I was impressed with the depth of knowledge and wide-ranging, thoughtful advice presented, which is useful for both career explorers and seasoned professionals. This book provides smart strategies to move your career forward in just the right way for you."

Jennifer Polk, Cofounder - Beyond the Professoriate

"This book provides clear and articulate strategies toward attaining a fulfilling, non-traditional academic career. It's the book I'll recommend to every single one of my grad students and colleagues, and the one I wish I had read 30 years ago."

Alec Couros, Professor of Education - University of Regina

"As a seasoned alt-ac professional, I'll be sharing this book with the young professionals who seek me out, wondering how they can also jump the tenure track and carve out a nontraditional and rewarding career path."

Patricia Payette, Executive Director - Quality Enhancement Plan; and Senior Associate Director, Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Louisville

“Linder, Kelly and Tobin fill an important gap by providing a route map, rationale, and insightful, practical guidance for those of us who seek alternative and untapped career opportunities in higher education. Imagine a book that is like a seasoned mentor, ready with sage advice. This is that book.”

Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Co-PI, Undergraduate Education STEM Initiative - Association of American Universities (AAU), and Senior Fellow & Founding Director, Center for Teaching & Faculty Development, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Going Alt-Ac is the perfect blend of counseling, coaching, and career planning—all things needed to conduct a thorough exploration of the professional possibilities available to those considering or pursuing an advanced degree. Anyone pursuing a doctoral degree should invest some time in applying its strategies.”

Veronica Diaz, PhD, Director, Professional Learning - EDUCAUSE

Forward—Joshua Kim

Part One: An Introduction to Going Alt-Ac
1) Why Go Alt-Ac?
2) Who Considers Alt-Ac Careers?

Part Two: Exploring Alt-Ac Careers
3) Do You Want to Work in Higher Ed?
4) Alt-Ac Opportunities Outside Academia
5) Being Aware of Emotions When Making Career Decisions
6) Mapping an Alt-Ac Career Trajectory
7) Learning More About Alt-Ac Fields

Part Three: Getting Started in Alt-Ac
8) Preparing for an Alt-Ac Career While Still in Grad School
9) Getting Your Partner or Family on Board With the Decision to go Alt-Ac
10) Communicating About Alt-Ac Careers With Graduate Advisors
11) Job Hunting
12) Preparing Alt-Ac Job Materials
13) Interviewing

Part Four: Addressing Common Alt-Ac Challenges
14) Addressing the Two-Body Problem
15) Finding a Niche and an Appropriate Audience
16) Communicating How Disciplinary Knowledge and Skills Support Work in Specific Alt-Ac Roles
17) Making Good Use of a Dissertation After Graduation
18) Establishing Credibility When Getting Started
19) Having Effective Conversations

Part Five: Growing in the Alt-Ac Space
20) Doing Consulting Work
21) Working Up Internally or Moving Up by Moving On
22) Writing and Publishing
23) Joining and Participating in Professional Organizations

Part Six: Building Your Alt-Ac Presence
24) Getting Experience
25) Building a Portfolio Over Time and With Intentionality
26) Finding a Sponsor or Mentoring Group to Help
27) Creating and Growing a Personal Brand

Part Seven: The Alt-Ac Career Life Cycle
28) From Alt-Ac to Faculty Roles
29) From Faculty to Alt-Ac Roles
30) Part-Time Alt-Ac Roles
31) Be an Alt-Ac Mentor

About the Authors

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly teaches online courses as a Lecturer in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University, where he has also served as Online Teaching and Learning Manager. He works with colleges and universities as a consultant to address distance education, educational technology, and organizational challenges.

Kathryn E. Linder

Dr. Katie Linder is currently the executive director for program development at Kansas State University Global Campus. Previously, she directed the award-winning Ecampus Research Unit at Oregon State University. Katie is also a Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation. 

Katie is an avid writer and researcher with a passion for process and peeking behind the scenes at what it takes to be a successful academic. For the past several years, her work has focused on blended course design best practices, institutional supports for accessible online learning, and research literacy for scholarship of teaching and learning practitioners and distance education stakeholders. She speaks on topics related to writing and publication; creativity and productivity; self-promotion and personal branding; and teaching and learning with technology.

Her latest works include Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus, 2020; co-authored with Kevin Kelly and Tom Tobin), Managing Your Professional Identity Online: A Guide for Faculty, Staff, and Administrators (Stylus, 2018), High-Impact Practices in Online Education (Stylus, 2018), and The Business of Innovating Online (Stylus, 2019). She is also the author of The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide (Stylus, 2016). 

Katie earned her BA in English Literature from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, and her MA and PhD in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The Ohio State University.

Visit her personal website at:


Thomas J. Tobin

Thomas J. Tobin is the Program Area Director for Distance Teaching & Learning on the Learning Design, Development, & Innovation (LDDI) team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in technology-enhanced education, especially copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and accessibility/universal design for learning. 

His web site is

Higher Education
Faculty Development
General Interest
Job Search/Staff Recruitment & Retention
Professional Development