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non elite SLAC

1. Non elite SLAC

2. My estimate: teaching (50%), service (25%), research (25%).

3. Standard research requirements in my department are two peer-reviewed articles. A really good one--Mind, Nous, etc.--will probably get you tenure, and a book alone might (if it's a top 15 press). Teaching requirements seem to be somewhere between competent and good. If your classes carry and there are few complaints, I think you're good. Service is less clear. I think if you clear the research and teaching bars, then perfunctory committee work seems sufficient.


Speaking about my college in the USA
it is a state college, with mostly undergrads
2. and 3.
a. teaching matters most - I have seen people lose tenure because they cannot teach. Evidence of poor teaching would include terrible tales from your classroom reaching the administration; or being caught being unprofessional with students
b. some research - two or three articles would do the trick - in journals that are above the bottom rung
c. some share of the department service, which can be heavy; and a little bit of service in the larger campus community

very anonymous person

I'm at a Leiter-ranked (but not top) R1. Research swamps everything--teaching and service only play a role in borderline cases, or maybe if they are really egregiously bad. (So I'd say: in most cases, research is about 97% of what matters. That being said, obviously teaching and service are ways of making yourself seem indispensable to your colleagues, which might indirectly influence their take on your case.)

There is no tenure standard written down anywhere. The tenure standard that has been verbally committed to me is either at least 12 papers (the substantial majority of which must be in top 20-ish, peer-reviewed journals), or at least 9 papers and a book.


1. I work at an R2 state university in the US. My department offers only undergraduate majors and minors in philosophy. We have no graduate program.

2. The stated standard does not clearly state how teaching, research, and service are weighted. The general attitude is that "meeting expectations" is required in all three areas equally, which would imply that there is nothing that "matters most". Rather, all three matter equally.

3. The tenure guidelines for research are clear, and quite easy: we are minimally required to publish three peer-reviewed essays during our period of employment at the university prior to tenure. We do not rank journals. Essays can be co-authored. They can even be placed in out-of-discipline journals.

The guidelines for teaching and service are less clear. Our teaching load is 3/3. We are expected to teach an average of 90 students per semester. We expect that peer reviews of teaching and student evaluations are generally positive. For service, we expect all faculty to serve on departmental committees and help to recruit new majors. Some types of service will contribute to "exceeding expectations" (things like organizing conferences, giving public lectures on campus, serving on university-wide committees, or frequently serving as a journal referee).


I wish I knew what the standards were. but I got it anyway, so I think they were pretty low. :)

(Canada, dept with small PhD program).

Phil Teacher

1. California community college
2. 95% Teaching, 5% service (in the sense you can be denied if you don't do the little that's required).
3. The requirements are crystal clear and articulated in the contract and followed precisely. Any mistakes or hiccups can only work in favor of the faculty.


Non-elite R1 and we are expected to contribute 50% teaching, 30% research, and 20% service. standards at this point in time seem to be an average of 2 peer-reviewed publications per year, with slightly average teaching evaluation scores (3 or higher out of 5). I'm pretty sure there's this unspoken rule that you're compared to everyone else in your department when it comes to expectations like the number of publications or teaching scores. That's really the only way they can justify saying no without backlash. In my opinion.


I am kind of surprised by the 2 articles a year for the R1 schools. My PhD is from what I will just say a "mid-ranked" Leiter program. Speaking generally, it is a very, very, good university, although probably not considered elite. I guess that would depend who you ask. The tenure standards there (these are all things I have heard on good authority, from more than one person) are at least 1 article a year. This isn't "official" but everyone understands it as the norm. However, in addition to the 6 articles, it is important to have very good letters form outside persons who support your work. The letters are taken more seriously than journal venue, and 6 articles certainly doesn't guarantee tenure, but it can also be plenty if you have good letters.

At my current lower-ranked R1, research is by far the most important factor. There is no set number but we were recommended to have at least 1 a year. The articles must be in "very well respected" venues. So it is vague. Brining a reputation to the university is an unstated, but seemingly important, factor. For instance, do you have other scholars testifying that you are a prominent figure in your area? Teaching must be decent. And you must do some service but not really much. Perhaps unlike some R1s, out of the norm excellence in teaching or service might allow someone to get tenure who would have fallen short on research alone. Again, basically everything written is vague, but this is the impression I get. Likewise, public engagement is valued very highly, and an otherwise weak research profile with a lot of public engagement might squeak by with tenure.


I'm at a R2 institution, and my official time division is supposed to be 40-40-20 (research-teaching-service). Unofficially, I understand that being denied tenure only happens on the basis of insufficient research, though in spite of that, I do think teaching is taken quite seriously and this was certainly discussed in the pre-tenure reviews of colleagues I've seen so far. I think the expectation is that you take teaching seriously and show commitment to getting better, but you are not expected to be fantastic out of the gate. Service was also discussed at pre-tenure reviews, but “willingness to serve” is plenty at that stage.

In terms of research itself, 5 articles or a book is sufficient in terms of quality, along with other regular research activity (e.g., conferences and the like). The standards make clear that though that is sufficient in terms of quantity, that is not a guarantee, so quantity will not be sufficient if the quality is deemed insufficient (though what it means for quality to be insufficient isn't spelled out, and in pre-tenure reviews of other colleagues, research discussion seemed to focus on quantity, though some attention was paid to venues for subfield). Conventional wisdom here is to exceed that, which works out to slightly more than 1 article per year since we go up at the beginning of the 6th year.

There is no specific mention of the role of external reviews and reputation in the field, but external reviews are required, and yearly reviews mention ways in which I demonstrate I am becoming a “name” in my field, suggesting that that matters even though it is not officially included in our tenure standards.


I’m hoping someone from a super-elite weighs in if only for shock and awe. I was talking with some folks recently at two different but similarly US News Mega I’m So Proud My Kid Goes Here Prep School Really Paid Off type places and both were told the standard is to be ‘the best in their field’. What the heck!? No wonder almost no one gets tenured at these places and has to treat their time there like a prestigious, long term post doc.


The two articles in top-20ish journals surprised me a little. But more importantly, it depressed me. What vision of good philosophy is that? For elite places, I like the letter-based format better: do good work, in whatever form that takes, and let your letter writers speak to its quality. Granted, it's hard to codify that to protect TT faculty, but 1) it's hard to codify tenure standards well anyhow and 2) I'm not sure there's as much of a need to codify them at the elite level since tenure denials at Harvard, etc. always land on their feet.


1. Religious non-elite (and tiny) SLAC

2. Teaching + service 100%; research pretty much 0%.

3. The faculty handbook here explicitly states that a faculty member (in any area, not just philosophy, from what I understand) cannot be awarded tenure purely on the basis of publications, and cannot be denied tenure just for not having publications.

Teaching and service matter a lot here. I teach 4-5 classes a semester, am expected to have a lot of office hours, I’m in charge of multiple extra-curricular groups and clubs, and was assigned to a service committee like the day I started work here. They take student evals and faculty peer evals seriously, and we regularly have workshops focused on developing new ideas for teaching.

If I wrote a book or published in a top-ranked journal or whatever, they might throw me a party. But I wouldn’t be any closer to getting tenure.


This is a great thread--very informative. thanks all for contributing.

The comment from thoughts ("for elite places, I like the letter-based format better...") makes me curious about a related set of questions. Specifically, what's the *process* for tenure? I assumed letters were required for everyone, and that they were an additional requirement on top of the baseline criteria. But maybe not?

Likewise, what are the key decision points for tenure? Is it departmental? Divisional? College? University?

For me (R1 state university), the criteria are: candidate must have a "'national reputation' and publish excellent work in high-quality, peer-reviewed venues appropriate to their discipline and subject." That means something like 1-2 peer reviewed publications per year, several of which must be in so-called "A" journals, some of which can be in "B" journals. A couple may be invited. A book counts as 4-5 articles. Decision is based on research, teaching, and service. Candidate must be excellent in 2 of the 3, and 1 of those 2 must be research. In practice, if you're well above the mark in research you'll be fine as long as teaching and service are not negligent.

The process is: department (all tenured members) looks at dossier and decides whether to try to advance the case. Based on that decision, it solicits letters. Department assigns tenured members to write up short memos on research, teaching, and service (independent of the letters). Those memos and the letters are reviewed by the executive committee (all tenured members) and they vote to recommend or not. That recommendation and dossier advances to a university-level committee that considers and votes.

Whether the department vote or the university-level committee vote is the big hurdle depends on the unit. Some departments reject a fair number of candidates, so their closest calls never get to that committee. Other departments are not as large or as strong and may advance cases that are close calls for fear of losing the line. So the university level committee can be hurdle (though the vast majority of cases--all but a few a year--are approved).

That university-level vote is the last real hurdle. Decisions still must be approved at the top, but that is pro-forma (i.e., it's the condition of performance).

Marcus Arvan

Philosadjacent: the next post in this series will be on the tenure process, asking readers to share what the process is like at their university. So stay tuned! In the meantime, I’ll just not that outside letters are *not* expected at my university—though a tenure candidate is free to include them if they wish. I personally favor this immensely, for reasons I will explain in the upcoming post. Anyway, stay tuned!


Ah, right, should've figured you'd have these well-categorized. Hope the above doesn't derail--feel free to delete the above (or just the process part) and paste into the later post.


1. Mid-sized liberal arts university

2. Teaching (45-65%), research (15-40%), service (15-40%). If a person is particularly great in one or more areas, they may be able to get tenure with a less impressive file in other areas. For example if the candidate is a great teacher, they may be able to get tenure with a less impressive publication record. Or if their research is stellar they may get tenure with a less than exemplary teaching record. Etc.

3. All three are judged according to a wide variety of desiderata in the faculty handbook. To the best of my knowledge tenure denial is rare, resulting either from plainly inadequate research productivity (few or no publications) or average to below average teaching. Generally speaking a sufficient research output for tenure is vague but “you have to publish fairly consistently” is probably the best way to put it. If you only have a couple of publications you’re probably a borderline case. If you have more than that, you’re fine, and a book with a legitimate press probably guarantees tenure if you’re a halfway decent teacher. Venue (journal or press rank) don’t matter as far as I can tell. A tenure committee with love you publishing in good places, but I’ve never heard of someone being denied tenure because they didn’t publish in good enough places (the sole exception probably being publishing in vanity or predatory journals/presses). People at my institution care a great deal about teaching and service. You really need to innovate or otherwise plainly be a very good teacher, and it would be unheard of for someone to go up for tenure without significant service to the department, college, and university as a whole. People at my university do all kinds of serious service, such as traveling with students for study abroad courses, running institutes of various sorts, and working as administrators (heading the honors college, teaching center, etc.) on top of their full-time faculty job.

Peter Furlong

1. Mostly two-year (community college), although we don't call ourselves that in our name since we started offering a few four-year degrees.

2. Teaching and service. Research is not frowned upon, but my research output (articles, one monograph, editing a collected volume) likely won't affect my fate (I am up for tenure this semester).

3. My institution is very big on making an effort to improve. We have a very involved tenure-track process, which involves lots of seminars on pedagogy and some lengthy work on the scholarship of teaching and learning. In particular, we must submit a 200-300 page analysis of our teaching and an “action research project” discussing some pedagogical experiments we have run in our courses.

anon elite SLAC

1. Elite SLAC
2. Teaching = Research > Service. No official numbers but probably 40/40/20.
3. As a SLAC faculty governance is taken seriously and you're expected to do your part. Junior fac are still protected from the most onerous committees. You're not going to get tenure if you're not a good teacher. You're expected to have around 1 paper published in a good venue a year. A safe bet is at least 4 peer-reviewed papers in top journals plus some invited contributions or other non-peer-reviewed pieces. Outside letters also should speak to your contribution to the field.


TT at a large, private R2 with a philosophy PhD (but I am housed in the Honors College not the philosophy department).

Tenure requirements are 6-10 articles and book chapters or a book and a few articles and chapters. Co-authored pieces count but be careful about both number and who the co-author is, pedagogical articles can count, and venue matters but no specifics were given about which venues.

Our tenure document is somewhat vague but goes into more detail about things like co-authorship, scholarship of teaching and learning, and the venue. Because its interdisciplinary, the tenure document referred to the candidate's home discipline department document.

There is some vague expectation that I meet the philosophy department tenure guidelines, which are very similar except there is a list of about 30 tippy-top (mostly analytic and history of philosophy) journals that automatically count, as well as Oxford, Cambridge, or "comparable University Presses." If a candidate published in a venue not listed, they could either lobby the department to get it included (doesn't happen very often but we did get a few added last year) or justify the value of the pub in the tenure letter.

Research is basically all that matters along with acceptable teaching and collegiality. Service and teaching OSTENSIBLY matter and are discussed in the document, but it was made very clear early on that those things are not NEARLY as important as publishing, which is probably about 90-95% of your case...


I'm TT at an elite R1. My impression is that the decision is almost entirely about research, though I do think notably bad teaching or service could probably sink a borderline case.

They won't quantify what it takes for research to be good enough; it needs to be judged good enough by the university committee, in light of the whole file. Being supported by your department is necessary but not at all sufficient for promotion. A lot of weight is placed on the external letters, of which there have to be a bunch (10-12, something like that). The language in the requests the university sends to potential letter writers is pretty terrifying--stuff asking whether you're one of the leaders of your field, as somebody imagined upthread--but it's also hard to know how literally it's taken either by the letter writers themselves or the university committee.

Fwiw, I have been told that in the humanities they don't really pay attention to citation metrics.

On the whole, there's a lot of uncertainty. Since I'm anonymous I can say without bragging that, given my file, I'd have basically no worries about tenure if I were almost anywhere else. But here, while my department has been encouraging, I can't help but be pretty anxious about it.


AnonTT interesting. I wonder if there is a trend of higher ranked R1s carrying more about letters/reputation than about any official quantity or quality metric, while lower ranked R1s are more likely to care about quantity and quality. It wouldn't surprise me. I kind of get the sense at the elite places that (at least) some faculty have at attitude of, "Only those in our tippy-top, extremely selective social circle are really qualified to judge excellent philosophy. So really things like publication record are not a direct measure of quality, since there is such a decent chance persons outside of the elite circle play a role in those sorts of accomplishments." I think this is why recommendation letters ar taken extremely seriously at elite places, and less and less seriously the less elite the institution. I also think it is why so many people publicly defend the practice of reviewing papers even when the author is known to the reviewer. There is a lot of talk about how the reviewer "must" know the author, in order to get a qualified reviewer. Such a claim is only plausible if "qualified" is defined extremely selectively.

A different note:

I would love to hear how common it is for persons to get denied tenure at their institution. My experience on hiring committees has been that candidates are shockingly qualified, and it is pretty common to hire a candidate that has a better record (not only in research, but in things like service to the community, innovative teaching, etc) than most of the full professors on the faculty. Given this, is maybe tenure denial getting less common? Or are we just raising the bar for tenure?

I do worry about the rat race stuff. I hate the pressure to produce work solely for the sake of producing work. But I fear we are going to go further an further in that direction before we reach a breaking point or the system somehow otherwise collapses or revolutionizes.

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