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Altac (Alternative Academic) Careers: What is Altac?

Resources about Alternative Academic (Altac or Alt-ac) Careers and Resources for Developing Altac Careers

About Altac: Alternative Academic Careers

Altac (or Alt-ac) is a term coined in 2010, according to an Inside Higher Ed article, referring to two post-PhD career tracks, most often the first:

  • positions inside academia other than traditional tenure track faculty positions; may include teaching or research, adjunct or fixed term faculty appointments, or primarily administrative positions
  • research or administrative positions in the public or private sectors outside academia.

How to use this guide:

  • Altac In the News (2nd tab above): provides links to books, articles and web sites that focus on the politics or philosophy of altac.
  • Resources that focus on developing an altac career or finding altac positions are on the General, HSS, or STEM Resources pages.

Read on about Altac

  • 'We are Ph.D.'s who were either locked out, or opted out, of a faculty career but still wanted to work in academe.'  Read more...

(Donna M. Bickford and Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2013)


  • 'Both of us do research, participate in scholarly groups, and present or publish our work. And both of us find our research to be relevant to our administrative jobs.'  Read more...

(Donna M. Bickford and Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2010)


  • ‘The colloquial term “altac” refers to the growing group of Ph.D.-prepared scholars who work in non-faculty professional positions in higher education, not always in their primary fields of study.’  Read more...

(Courtney Mitchell, UNC University Gazette, 2013)

About this LibGuide

Created 4/2015 by Robert Manzo (User Services Intern, HSL) and Barbara Rochen Renner, PhD (Allied Health Liaison, HSL) to support the information needs of the UNC-CH Altac Project and PhD students in all schools at UNC.

Online Altac Communities

PhDs At Work

  • 'Learn from peers who have successfully transitioned from academia to industry, gain expert insight on how to manage your career, and join us for an event to connect with new colleagues.'

Versatile PhD

  • 'Versatile PhD is the oldest, largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhDs in humanities, social science and STEM.'
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