Our books

Become a Fan

« Query about relocation expenses | Main | Seeking a UK PhD from a distance? »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Just to clarify, the place where I got prior service credit would not evaluate what you were entitled to until you started the job. So there was NO possibility of getting it in writing before you took the job. You submitted an application when you accepted the job, asking for 0 to 3 years prior service credit.

Marcus Arvan

Tenured: yeah sorry, I should have been clearer and said, “Get it in writing if at all possible. Otherwise, you don’t know what you will get.”

Douglas W. Portmore

It is possible but it all depends on the institution and what you negotiate. There are really three issues. First, will your prior publications (the one's that you had prior to coming to your current institution) count towards tenure and promotion? Second, will you have to wait six years before coming up for tenure and promotion? Third, will you be required to come up early for tenure and promotion? In my own case, I came to ASU having spent two years as a VAP and then five years as a tenure-track assistant professor. All my previous publications counted towards tenure and promotion, but, of course, they wanted me to demonstrate that I could continue to publish at a good rate at ASU. I wasn't given any "prior credit" but I was told that I could come up early if I wanted to. So I went up after three years. The good thing was that I didn't need to go up early. So if I had had a rough start, I could have waited to go up in my sixth year. But everything went smoothly, so I went up in my third year. The two complete years was enough to demonstrate that I could continue to produce at my new institution.


Interestingly, as Douglas notes, many of the moving parts can come apart. Though I was tenured (or its equivalence) after 3 years, and I was promoted to Associated Professor after 3 years, I was still not eligible for a sabbatical until after 6 years of service. There was no changing that. And sabbatical is the thing that made the real difference in my career. Given my teaching load, a sabbatical is the only time I could work on a book manuscript.

Marcus Arvan

Tenured: same here. I’m only coming up for my first sabbatical opportunity a couple of years from now, as my six year sabbatical clock only began when I started my TT job.


have a wonderful sabbatical. They are real career changers. They give you a chance to take stock of where you have been and to explore new directions in your research. You can also complete sustained projects, like book manuscripts. Live it up! Both times I returned from a sabbatical I was reinvigorated, and was able to bring much more into the classroom.

tenured but shy

One aspect of this: if you have work forthcoming at the time you get your new job, you may be able to get your new affiliation on the publication--and this is likely what matters to your new institution, much more than whether you were in fact affiliated with them when you did the work. At any rate, if you're in such a position, look into it.


I had one year as a VAP prior to taking my TT job, so part of the offer I received is that I can decide to go up a year early, if I choose. Like Doug Portmore, though, I don't have to go up early, which is nice. Another colleague of mine came from a TT job, so he received a certain amount of credit (I think 2 years of credit for the 3 or 4 years he'd been at his previous job), so he will be expected to go up early. In both our cases, there is a specific research output expected, but also a continued record of research production at this university; though my colleague has already met the quota (and his prior articles will be counted), he will have to continue to publish at the same rate to receive tenure.

Tenured SLAC Professor & Chair

Another thing to consider if you can bring years in, is how review happens.

At my institution, one can bring up to 3 years in and the conditions around this are specified by the union in our contract - i.e. you can know ahead of time what you have the potential to bring in.

However, we also have annual reviews and reappointments until tenure. This is where it gets odd. If one were to bring in 3 years, does this mean that we evaluate them as if they are a fourth year professor in their first yearly reappointment? This, is very unclear and results in a wildly different experience for different people depending on their Dean and Chair.

So consider this difficulty as well in the event you decide to bring in years.


Related question. Suppose I am given an offer which is ostensibly for an Assistant Professor position. But my CV is clearly sufficient to get tenure at the school; ie stronger than those of the currently tenured faculty? Is it possible to negotiate it into a tenured offer? If not, what is possible?

Marcus Arvan

On the Market: I am 99% sure the answer is no, and think it would be a terrible mistake to even bring it up. It runs a serious risk of making you look naive and entitled. In fact, worst case scenario, I think this is the kind of request that could even get an offer withdrawn.

Tenure is a *very* involved process. It takes many months. You have to upload everything you have ever done, ranging from publications to syllabi to lectures, and so on. Then those materials have to be carefully evaluated, voted on, and passed by a department committee, college committee, Dean, and Provost—all sequentially based on recommendations at each step. I cannot fathom a circumstance where all of those people being willing to go through that process for an untenured job-candidate. Not even Einstein was handed out tenure as a job-candidate, even after revolutionizing physics!

Of course, if you already have tenure, then maybe it’s a possibility—but I take it this is not your case. Furthermore, if you already have tenure, then chances are you will be applying for tenured positions elsewhere, so asking for tenure is irrelevant. Finally, I have heard that if you apply to tenure-track Assistant Professor positions from a tenured position—for instance, to live in a better location—then you still nearly always have to lose rank and tenure and go up for tenure all over again once hired.

As this thread indicates, people at hiring institutions don’t want to know whether you did tenure-quality work before coming to their school. They want to know whether you can actually do tenure-worthy work once on the job at their school, given all of the responsibilities you will have there (which can often involve unique challenges you will have never experienced before getting a tenure track job).

Long story short: if you applied for a tenure-track job, then that’s what you applied for—a job without tenure but the opportunity to come up for it. I understand this may be frustrating, especially if you think you have a better CV than the people hiring you. But I can tell you this: this is a *very* common thing nowadays. Given how competitive the market is, lots of candidates have excellent files—sometimes better than tenured people. That’s still not going to get you tenure right out of the gate, and I think even raising the possibility could seriously offend people.


My (limited) experience with R1 schools is that it is definitely possible to negotiate for tenure with a job offer (but, you should keep in mind that even in cases where it happens, it stretches out the waiting/negotiation period for months or even a year).


I agree with Marcus that, (A) this would never happen, and (B) It is hard to think of a more socially unacceptable thing to ask for.

As Marcus said it is very common that new hires have "better" CVs than already tenured people. The market has gotten more competitive, and people publish more because they have to. Older philosophers might not have published as much, but they didn't try to either. It was a different game not very long ago.

I don't agree with Marcus that most schools only care about what you do after you get hired. My R1, and I think most R1s, will count prior publications toward tenure. But even so you don't get tenure immediately, because you have to show you still got it. You need to show that you can keep producing at a respectable rate. So prior publications are really most helpful for early tenure. Early tenure at research schools is somewhat common. R1's might allow you to go up to tenure whenever you want, as long as it is by year 6. I do know two incrediably exceptional cases of people getting tenure after *1*, yes, *1* year as an assistant professor. But these people were not only rock stars, they were rock stars with connections.


Just as a data point I can think of two people I know who moved jobs the year they were up for tenure, the jobs they were offered were advertised as assistant professorships, and neither of them had received tenure at their home institution yet when they negotiated for tenure at the new institution. Hence my comment. (I know both these people well enough to know that these details are accurate--there are plenty of other cases where I have no idea what the order of things that happened was, etc.)

I don't think it's a bad thing to ask for in specific situations, but my guess is that it's a thing where you need to use informal channels to feel out how it is going to be taken if you ask for it.

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous: Thanks for chiming in.

Your last comment (giving some context to your first) reminded me of an exception I have heard of before—namely, going on the market the very year one is going up for tenure. I have indeed heard of people negotiating tenure elsewhere in these cases. But notice that in these cases it makes sense for the hiring institution: they are faced with hiring someone who (let’s assume) is coming up for tenure and almost certainly going to get it. That’s a bargaining advantage for the candidate.

This, I take it (or at least I inferred), isn’t the kind of situation that ‘On the Market’ is in. From the sound of their original comment (though I suppose it is possible that I inferred too much), they currently aren’t in a tenure track job at all. It’s this situation—where one is trying to get a tenure track job—where I think it is like 99% likely it’s a bad (indeed terrible) idea to raise at any point, either before or during negotiations.

The only other exception I could think of is when one has TT offers from other places and one can afford to throw out the “I’ll come to your school if you can offer tenure” as a “give me tenure or I walk” negotiating tactic.


Yes if you are about to get tenure at your own place...that is the only situation in which you might negotiate a tenured position for an assistant professor advertisement. I think this would have to be a special circumstance, as there is a reason advertisements are for assistant and not associate professors, but it could happen.


I agree with Marcus that given the climate if anything the opposite (going backwards) is at least as common. At my R2 we have had a number of candidates apply for Asst prof that already had tenure and knew they would have to start over - fast tracked in this case, but at least 3 years to show that they can publish at our institution. Cost of living has traditionally been very low here, especially given the size of the city and the proximity to larger cities, so I think this is a major motivation for the move.

We have had instances of people being fast tracked here, but its normally the case that they were either 1) already tenured or 2) already in a tenure track position.


Confirming what others said above: I applied for assistant jobs the year I went up for tenure (last year), and am starting as an associate professor this fall. A few things to note, though: 1) I didn't negotiate for this - during the search, the chair volunteered the information that if they made me the offer, it would be at associate level, given my career stage, and 2) the university still wanted me to go through the tenure process there (I basically sent out the same tenure packet, obviously updated, and they got a new round of letters). So even if your CV is good enough *and* they approved you coming in as associate, it likely wouldn't be a matter of just negotiation - I would think it would be weird to give tenure to someone who had *never* been evaluated by peers in the profession in the way that tenure involves.

Going Up Tenure Year

Question re: going up in your tenure year. I am going to be doing that -- is there something particular that you put into your cover letters? I am on track to get tenure here and my letter writers from here will mention that ... should I also mention it?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Writing Service