Frequently-Asked Questions

These are some of the questions we’ve heard from faculty candidates. We have posted them with the expectation that they will also be useful to others. Feel free to send additional questions to

Will you consider candidates who do not have a Ph.D.?
Yes. The College allows us to hire faculty candidates who are ABD, with plans to complete a Ph.D. soon after their start at Grinnell College. In the past, the new hire has started as an Instructor, with automatic promotion to Assistant Professor upon completion of a Ph.D. The exact details are up to the Dean’s office and will be spelled out in your contract.
Will you consider candidates who do not have a CS degree?
Yes! We think broadly about the discipline of computing. In addition to CS, our faculty hold doctoral degrees in mathematics and education. Past faculty have had degrees in philosophy and evolutionary biology. It is important that candidates be sufficiently knowledgeable about the discipline to teach a variety of courses in our curriculum, and have a scholarly agenda related to CS.
What courses will the new hire teach?
Grinnell’s normal teaching load is five courses over two semesters. Given our long history as a smaller department, several regular faculty have taught many courses in the curriculum. We will do our best to allow new faculty to teach the courses in our curriculum they feel best-suited to teach. We are a collegial department and try to work out schedules that balance interests and workload each year. For the several courses in which multiple sections are offered, we can often pair new faculty with an experienced faculty member teaching another section of that course.

For our current search, we hope to hire someone who can teach systems (CSC 211, CSC 213) or software design (CSC 324) courses. We also expect all regular faculty to teach a variety of courses, including courses in the introductory sequence.

How many students are there in CS courses?
We cap our introductory courses at 24, our mid-level courses at 24, and our upper-level courses at 20. Current demand means that most courses enroll to capacity. We currently graduate about 60 CS majors each year.
Are teaching assistants available?
Most of our courses have what we call “class mentors” who serve many of the same roles as teaching assistants. That is, they support other students in class periods during lab sessions (every class day in some classes) and run weekly review sessions. Graders are also available for most courses if faculty want them.
What are Grinnell College students like?
By and large, we find Grinnell students a joy to teach. Most of them are taking classes because they want to learn, not because they have to or because they need to check off a box in order to graduate. Almost all of them have multiple interests. We see CS majors doing improv comedy, playing in ensembles and bands, competing on the athletic fields, and more.
Where do Grinnell College students come from?
Grinnell draws students from all over the US, with students from every state. Grinnell also has a large international student population; 18% of current students are international students, and come from more than 60 different countries.
Is there financial support for faculty scholarship?
All faculty members receive an annual budget of $3,000 to cover attendance at a professional meeting, books, hourly research assistants, or other items related to faculty development. Stipends for summer research students are covered out of a separate budget, as are supplies for those students and a stipend for supervising those students. The College has been able to fund up to four summer research students for every faculty member who supervises summer research, as well as a stipend for the faculty member. There are other sources of funding available through competitive grants within the college, or by request (e.g. additional funds for international travel).
Can faculty take leaves to work on research?
Yes! Pre-tenure faculty are eligible for a one-semester research leave with full pay in their fourth year. Tenured faculty are eligible for a full-year sabbatical at full pay after promotion to Associate Professor, and every seventh year after that. More frequently one-semester leaves are also possible.
Is there interdisciplinary work at Grinnell that could involve computer science?
Yes! Faculty in many disciplines use computing as part of their work. Some likely collaborations would like be with our biology faculty who are interested in bioinformatics, our computational chemists, English faculty working in the digital humanities, faculty working on the cross-disciplinary data science program, and some of our arts faculty. But others are certainly possible. In the end, it depends on two faculty finding common interests.
What do Grinnell students do after graduation?
Our computer science majors generally go on to do the typical variety of things that CS majors do. Some end up at well-known companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook). Some end up at startups. A few go on to graduate school immediately after college. Some end up in the financial industry. Some head off to volunteer opportunities (e.g., Teach for America or Lutheran Volunteer Corps.). Over the longer term, some bring their general thinking skills to other areas. We count physicians, professional comedians, fundraisers, helicopter pilots, and Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes among our CS alumni.
What is it like living in Grinnell, Iowa?
Grinnell is a small town, with about 8500 residents (plus about 1600 Grinnell College students). Grinnell is an affordable place to live, with several parks, good housing stock, and a pleasant downtown all near the College. Many faculty live within walking distance of the College. Some faculty choose to live in Iowa City or Des Moines, each of which is about an hour away. Our schools are good, and the community provides a lot of interesting extracurricular activities. Several faculty in the department all note that we find this a great place to raise our children.

The Grinnell Office of Communications and the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement put together this series of videos to help visitors understand what it’s like living and working in Grinnell.

What does the department do to support diversity in CS?
We consider diversifying the discipline one of our core missions. We support diversity in a variety of ways, including teaching methodologies shown to be more welcoming to those underrepresented in computing, a mentoring program for new students in the discipline, institutional support for student travel to Tapia and Hopper, and more. Two of the faculty have leadership positions in Tapia 2021. We include diversity training for our peer educators. And we participate in broader institutional diversity initiatives.