What Is Alt-Ac?
A Note on Terms—This collection of Spectra features primarily uses the term “Alt-Ac” when referring to non-teaching and research careers for Ph.D.s, either on campus or beyond the academy. NCA recognizes that some readers may find this term to be problematic because “alternative” may be read as “less than” a “traditional” tenure-track position. Yet, these careers may be the first choice for many getting their Ph.D.s today or in the future. In the spirit of broadening the conversation about both terms and careers, we invite readers to consider not only what these careers offer Ph.D.s, but how the Communication discipline might talk about them. Communication scholars and practitioners might use the term “career diversity” to describe careers outside of the academy or within university administration, as some other scholarly societies do. Alternatively, other disciplines refer to “broadening” career options for Ph.D.s. Karen Kelsky, author of The Professor is In, suggests that “RealAc” may be the most appropriate term to describe “non-academic” jobs, because careers outside of the academy are becoming the norm in many disciplines. Regardless of the term used, we hope that this collection of Spectra begins a vital conversation about the societal contributions that Ph.D.s can make in a variety of settings. 

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Spectra, NCA's online magazine, features articles on topics that are relevant to Communication scholars, teachers, and practitioners. Spectra is one means through which NCA works toward accomplishing its mission of advancing Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry.

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