PhD in English lit and state certification; what are my prospects?



Anyone have some advice on how to find a university job in Taiwan? I just finished a PhD in English literature and I have some experience in postsecondary teaching in Hong Kong. I’d be satisfied to teach literature or something in the ESL direction (or some combination of both).

I’m from the US and a native speaker. I don’t have any academic contacts in Taiwan to speak of.

Is there a particular website (or forum) where academic jobs are usually posted? I’ve looked around and I can’t find a more efficient method than looking on the websites of each individual university.

I’m also thinking about ditching academic and transitioning into teaching in a school. I like teaching but a life devoted to research is not for me. Wondering if my PhD would give me a leg up in an international school or something. I also have state certification in English grades 5-12.

I’d be grateful for anyone who can offer some advice or insight!


Hey. You should be set if you have a PhD. I teach at a well known and well regarded university and only have a Master’s and TESOL cert. With a PhD, you should be as golden as you can get here.
Universities generally don’t advertise in job forums. Best way to get a job is to check out the Uni web-sites (that’s how I got mine), social network with some Uni teachers so they might recommend you if there’s an opening, or simply visit the Unis and ask the English department in person (this last approach might seem desperate, but it did work for a friend of mine). Good luck, but I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble. The only possible downer I can think of is June is pretty late in the hiring season for the fall semester, so you better act fast.


Your prospects?


I’m not in the teaching field, but I had a good friend get a PhD at Columbia and came back to Taiwan to teach and eventually head the English department at the Taipei American School. Easy to say that she was very very well off and enjoyed her job.

Sorry I can’t help too much with pointing you in the right direction, but I just wanted to let you know what kind of job a PhD can get you in Taiwan.


@ranlee, that sounds like she hit the jackpot.

From my experience in Hong Kong, it’s not clear that having a PhD helps that much. It’s more likely that the admins think I’m overqualified and assume that I’ll be a snob who doesn’t know how to deal with kids, which is probably true of a lot people with my background.

And the teaching certification is legit, but it’s one of those state certs where you just take some tests and fill out the form and that’s it; you don’t actually need any experience or training.

So I’m feeling both overqualified and under qualified. Wondering if anyone has had experience like this or knows how to frame it so as to increase my chances in Taiwan.


That’s very helpful. Thanks!

When’s the hiring season? Spring? Over here in Hong Kong it’s usually March and April.

I’m ok to wait until next semester or next year; setting up in Taiwan is a long-term goal of mine and I’m not in a hurry.

In your experience, would it be helpful to get a TESOL cert or would that be over kill? Anything else I could do between now and next hiring season to position myself for this gig?

And if you don’t mind, could you share your experience getting hired at and working at your university? Do you like it?

Thanks again


Some of the term university contracts are being signed in a few weeks. Undoubtedly some teachers won’t. I would say it is a good time to be watching all of the job forums.


I just recently nabbed a university position. The deadline for applications was in January for a September start, so most places I would assume start looking a good 6 months before the actual start date to get the right candidates. Once you can get your foot in the door somewhere, it should be easy for you to land a position. If you can browse through uni sites in Chinese, you will have the best chance. I got lucky that I found a position online. If you want to get ahead in the game, start making contacts now. Even if they aren’t hiring, you will be in the back of their mind for next season.


The hiring season is usually spring, yes. Like from February to May. It varies from Uni to Uni. I’m sure many are still hiring, but like I said act fast. Each day that passes could also be an application deadline that passed.

Regarding the TESOL cert, mine is from South Korea (I used to teach there). I don’t think my Uni even looked at it, and I didn’t bother getting it notarized/authenticated (like I had to do with my Master’s). I’d say it’s nice to have, and definitely valuable if you lack a Master’s or PhD. But with a PhD it’d probably just be the cherry on top.

I like my Uni. I got it because my wife is awesome and saw an ad on their website. I had two interviews, one with a department head, one with the entire hiring committee, and I had to do a demo lesson. The salary is not great (about 60,000 NTD a month), but I only have to teach 14 hours a week, there’s no desk warming, the students are (mostly) mature and easy to get along with, I make my own curriculum, I get the summer months (and one month in winter) off, and let’s be honest it’s better for the ole CV to say you worked at a university than a cram school. Be warned, there is a lot more prep required for a Uni job. But it feels rewarding crafting your own curriculum and classes. It’s not perfect, and there’s some administrative headaches occasionally. And like I said the pay kinda sucks. But, I definitely wouldn’t quit it. I feel lucky to have a Uni job here as they’re in quite high demand.


Dear Drew,

You mention that you teach here in Taiwan. Do you know what Universities offer English PhD programs in the Taipei area? Are there any you would suggest?



I don’t live in Taipei, so I can’t really help. I’m sure a little research on Google will point you in the right direction though. Or you can just type “phd Taipei” into the search here and see what turns up.