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I think you should say "I am religious [Catholic?] and would find it rewarding to work in a College that supports my [Catholic?] values".
I am not religious, but I was long listed for a few jobs at Catholic schools. I assume it was because I have a well rounded background in the history of philosophy, something that still figures in the Catholic vision of higher ed. Inevitably, during the APA interviews they would ask questions about Catholic philosophers. You are expected to know about Aquinas, for example, or modern Catholics, like Maritain. I was even well versed enough to know who I was supposed to know. But those questions inevitably reveal who is and who is not on board with the religious mission. Ironically, I am deeply committed to helping college students in the development of their self and self-understanding, the sort of things religious schools like. But I am not and cannot fake being religious. If you are religious, just say so in applications to religious schools.


If I may add, I imagine the degree of religiosity varies across universities. The Catholic University of America, for example, will have a different standard than Georgetown. But does anybody have any insight as to where other programs, like Gonzaga or Rice, fit on the spectrum?


Schools that really expect you to share a set of religious values put that in the ad. They do it because they do not want to waste their time looking at people who would, in end be a bad fit, or would prefer to be somewhere else. With that said, Catholic Colleges do hire non-Catholics.


So I'm the one who asked the original question. Anyway, I'm a Presbyterian rather than a Catholic, but I'd assume that most Catholic schools would rather have a Presbyterian, or a Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, or the like than a raging atheist or a member of some of the more anti-intellectual Protestant denominations. What's your advice then just say "as a Presbyterian here's how I see myself relating to the mission of X"?


If you are applying to Catholic schools I would be inclined to just say you are a Christian rather than get into your denomination. Clearly, you can infer that there will be substantial overlap with the School's values. They do not want to hire someone who will subvert Catholic values. Remember, the vast majority of undergraduates at some Catholic schools are Catholic. They choose to attend a Catholic school for a reason.


What about non-raging atheists? How do they rank? Because I imagine most atheists are of the non-raging variety.


I do not understand your question. The point I am trying to make is that the types of institutions that advertise that they are looking for someone who will promote such and such values [specify some church], are serious about it. My experience has been exclusively with Catholic schools. There are easy ways to determine fit. I would not write letters of application for jobs professing to be an atheist.
I am an atheist, not a strident one, but a firm one. Still, on paper I must look okay to such schools (or I did in the not so far past). Do not count on a job from such a school.



I think you might be right, but I'd really like to hear someone from a religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, chime in. I'm not quite disagreeing with you, but I'm not quite convinced either. I know that for Protestants denominational differences often do mean quite a lot. The differences between individual denominations might not be that significant anymore, but there are huge theological, political, and philosophical differences between "mainline" Protestants and fundamentalists and evangelicals. So what do people think? Worth being specific about denominations or not? Beyond everything else it just seems that specificity is a good thing. I imagine lots of people try to BS this and more specificity might assuage the worry that one is being fed a line of bull.


Hi, Religion?

I was referring to anon's comment in which he mentioned raging atheists as being less desirable hires as Catholic schools. The context suggested that raging atheists were the standard atheists, which I took exception to.


I'm still hoping that someone from a religious school might chime in, but I did dig this up from inside higher ed. Seems like useful advice.


Maybe denominational affiliation isn't a bad idea if Mock is right? Or at least sometimes it might be? And, unsurprisingly, it seems there are more than a few of those jobs that a non-believer simply isn't going to get.

And grad, c'mon stop trying to pick a fight.

Anon Faculty

I'm a faculty member at a Catholic university. My impressions are as follows:

1) If you are a committed member of the same denomination as the school, say that in your cover letter. There may be additional funds at the school to hire in the denomination---funds set aside for hiring related to the mission. You won't be considered for those opportunities if they do not know.

2) If you are another kind of Christian group other than the particular denomination, you can mention this in the context of answering questions about how you'd fit with the mission. It probably won't make a big difference.

3) If you are not a committed member of the denomination, don't try to fake it. One, they'll probably be able to tell if you come through campus. And two, your soul is still worth something---even in this horrendous market.

4) Don't presuppose anything about what a department at a religious institution is looking for. Our faculties are very diverse, include many atheists, and even committed members of the particular denomination have a wide range of views about how to live out their faith.


To the reader who asked about Gonzaga and Rice: I don't know about Gonzaga, but Rice is not a religious institution and never was; it was founded as an explicitly secular private institution. This is exactly the sort of basic background knowledge that is easy to obtain by a quick search online or view of the university's webpage, and thus, that a successful applicant should know.

Helen De Cruz

A cautionary note from Europe: as someone who has worked in two European religious institutions (one Catholic, one Reformed), the religious mission of European institutions is a lot less pronounced than what I infer the US market to be. In some cases, most of the philosophers who work in the department that is hiring are atheists, and sometimes being member of the denomination of the school, or even being religious, can work against you (e.g., people in the search committee may ask whether hiring someone who is religious would be a good thing for their department). So, the label can be deceptive.

My advice for European schools with a religious name would be, just don't mention your religious beliefs, but do mention how you see yourself fit in the broader mission of the university. For instance, if it's a Catholic school, mention how you support things Catholic institutions tend to support, such as seeing the students' development as broader than just intellect, but also emphasizing good ethical behavior and responsibility, intellectual diversity combined with personal integrity, etc. The advantage of this is that also an atheist could subscribe to these values.


Here is a recent advertisement for a job at a Catholic university in the USA. Note that it is for a position in philosophy of science. But, if you read a bit you will see that the candidate is expected to direct dissertations on the "Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy of nature." Now clearly this type of requirement is designed to single out Catholics (to their advantage). Such a topic has no place in mainstream philosophy of science. Look at the leading (and not leading) journals in philosophy of science for a single article on this in the last 15 years. This is the subtle way that such schools work in hiring their own.

"The School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America invites applications for a tenure-track position in the philosophy of science at the rank of assistant professor, to begin in August 2016.

We seek candidates who understand, are enthusiastic about, and will make a significant contribution to the mission of the University, which reads as follows:

“As the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, founded and sponsored by the bishops of the country with the approval of the Holy See, The Catholic University of America is committed to being a comprehensive Catholic and American institution of higher learning, faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed on by the Church. Dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason, The Catholic University of America seeks to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church, the nation and the world.”

Candidates able to direct dissertations in Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy of nature are strongly preferred. Duties include teaching 5 courses per year (3-2 per semester), undergraduate and graduate, active research, dissertation and thesis supervision, and usual committee work. Candidates should expect to have the Ph.D. in hand at the time of appointment, and be competent in all appropriate ancient and modern languages."

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