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SLAC Associate

I can't speak about the ability to negotiate elsewhere, but I know that the administration at my SLAC doesn't leave lots of wiggle room for deans/chairs to negotiate offers. It's not quite take-it-or-leave-it, but it's close. Some of that may be due to external forces, though (lower enrollments and donor support for the last couple years).

One thing I will say is that it's worth being creative in your negotiating, and the more you can pitch your request as being linked to better performance, the better. In my own case, I was a visiting prof converted to a tenure-track line; I negotiated a Spring semester start date for that conversion, on the grounds that then I could be fully involved in faculty meetings and committee work.

In effect, it was an additional 8 months of TT-level salary, plus I then got a 3% cost of living bump at the time that would otherwise have been my first paycheck. So I basically got 3% more than their initial offer without explicitly asking for that.

Recent TT

I have recently been hired as a TT at a Canadian research university (similar to R2). From my perspective, the Twitter feed is very good advice. I got two contradicting pieces of advise from very experienced philosophers. One was on the line of the Twitter thread, the other was much more defensive, similar to Marcus' opinion. I went for a middle way and got more salary than offered (10%) and research funds (30%). The dean was pretty clear about what can be negotiated and how much room there is. After this very positive experience, I thought I could have tried the more aggressive approach that adviser 1 recommended. I do not have the impression that this is something you have to discuss with the department beforehand (who actually knows the starting salary of the last hire? who has negotiated with this dean?), although I did. I asked the chair, but got only very general advise (basically that I can negotiate). I did research on the average salary etc. at the respective university. And a critical P.S. about the gender stereotypes: The more aggressive approach was recommended by a women philosopher and the more cautious approach by a man philosopher. I believe we should stop thinking that the gender pay gap arises because women do not ask...

just being real

"3/Overall, don't frame your ask as "I need/deserve more" but more like "there are just a few things I need to do THE BEST JOB I CAN FOR YOU.""

This seems obviously wrong. Negotiating is entirely about leverage, not "doing favors" or wishy-washy feelings. To be clear, don't frame it as what you "deserve". That's also obviously silly. No one cares. Frame as it what you *need*: for example, if taking the job offer only makes financial sense if they can do X, Y, and Z, then tell them that. If they can't do X, Y, and Z, the you walk away (and don't care if they rescind) because, well, as you said... it doesn't make financial sense for you to take it anyway. Do you have other offers that are better? Are there costs to taking this job (e.g., a spouse leaving their job) which outweigh what you're currently being offered? Are there some other such considerations which shape the financial situation for you? If not, you have no leverage, and aren't really in a position to negotiate anyway (unless you feel like being a dick and bluffing).

If you're desperate to take the job "for the love of philosophy", or because you have no other options, then you aren't in a position to negotiate and trying to frame the negotiation in terms of "a few things I need to do THE BEST JOB I CAN FOR YOU" is silly. I doubt any deans or presidents will be swayed by that. I know if I got an email to that effect I would laugh.

I should mention I've successfully negotiated all sorts of things in my life: salary, rent, car prices, etc, to huge effects (e.g., netting myself 20%-30% value). But I always do it when I have real alternatives which give me leverage, and don't even bother otherwise.

Marcus Arvan

just being real: What you say may be right about philosophy. I don't know. I'd be curious to see whether there are differences here between R1's, R2's, SLACs, etc.

What I do know is that your points are *not* right for other academic fields. In my spouse's field, the negotiating tactics you think are obviously wrong and silly are pretty standard and actually work. In other fields (i.e. the sciences), two things are the case: (A) colleges have a lot more money to throw around, and (B) researchers *need* money, travel funds, and course releases to have any shot of getting tenure. This is because in the sciences, researchers need to pay for things (participants, hardware, research assistants, etc.) in order to publish effectively to progress toward tenure. Hiring departments and colleges (deans, provosts) want their new hires to get tenure--so actually, telling them "I need X, Y, and Z to do the best job I can for you" can be very effective in these cases. In fact, it is pretty standard for candidates in other fields to respond to offers with spreadsheets detailing what money they could use for what. And, when colleges have a lot of money to throw around (which can be the case outside of the humanities), believe it or not sometimes this is all a candidate needs to do to get a lot more than their original offer.

Obviously, most of this doesn't apply to philosophy. But I do think it is important to clear these things up, if only so that we can all have a better idea of how the world actually works (including how different things are in different areas of academia).

Recent TT

@just being real: I did not have an alternative and was desperate for a TT job in philosophy. It was nevertheless expected that I negotiate the offer. I would have made a fool out of myself in the eyes of the dean and future colleagues, if I did not try.

@Marcus: There are a lot of things we cannot ask for in philosophy. And it might be less likely that you get what you want in philosophy. But you nevertheless negotiate with the administration of your school, not with other philosophers (only if the dean is a philosopher). And yes, the conditions in our field is not the same as in STEM fields. But university do not consist only of STEM fields. Philosophy is often part of a school of humanities, and maybe not the weakest field in the humanities. If you thus negotiate with the dean of humanities, it might not be the case that being a philosopher is the weakest position. Philosophy might attract a lot of students or might be successful in receiving grants compared with other humanities. I do not see the prima facie case for assuming oneself in the weakest position possible.

Marcus Arvan

Recent TT: I think all of this is good to know! But, just to clarify, I didn't mean to suggest one should assume oneself to be in the weakest position possible. My only real suggestion in the OP was for candidates to try to *find out* what one can negotiate for at a particular institution before they try (since different institutions can differ so much)! Do you think this is bad advice? My own experience is that department chairs and faculty more generally can have a fairly good idea about what can be negotiated, and so asking them can be a good idea.

Recent TT

@Marcus: Sorry for misunderstanding you. My rejoinder was more directed to what you answered to @just being real and how you framed your initial post (but I maybe misunderstood the tendency). I believe this is very good advice. I would only add: sometimes you can only find out what is possible in the negotiations themselves. Hence, you should start them with reasonable requests. It it is indeed very important to know with what kind of institution you negotiate to formulate reasonable requests.

Marcus Arvan

Recent TT: cool, and no worries! I agree with you: in some cases the only real way to find out is through the negotiation itself. I just think that in some cases (R1's, elite SLACs, R2's?) there's not much risk in "asking for too much"--whereas in other cases (small, teaching-oriented SLACs) there is at least some potential for the kind of disaster referenced in the thread (an offer being rescinded).


It's crucial to tailor one's negotiating approach to the institution. Do your homework.
FWIW, I successfully negotiated a several % increase in salary for a TT job in a regional (4/4 load) state school- without another offer in hand. Perhaps I was lucky to have a receptive dean, but I think a few things helped. I made it clear I was enthusiastic about the job and that I understood the budgetary constraints they were operating with and in that context broached the possibility of some negotiating the salary, since it was basically the same as the VAP I was leaving and frankly I needed more money to support my family. (Don't ask for course releases off the bat at a heavily teaching-focused school; it shows you don't understand the institutional culture.) The dean said yes, send a counter-offer, so I made a reasonable counter and that was accepted. (I got good advice from my diss advisor before I made the offer.) Without another offer, I knew I could not play hardball, so I phrased things pretty cautiously and emphasized my enthusiasm for the job.

just being real

I'm not sure that Marcus or Recent TT are really disagreeing with me. Well, perhaps Recent TT is. The sorts of things Marcus lists, w.r.t. STEM fields, sound like needs to me, albeit needs of a sort I didn't list in my initial examples. My point was that negotiating requires real, material leverage of a sort which has impact on both you and the other party. The stuff Marcus lists in STEM certainly fits that bill.

I still don't really get the sentiment that you "negotiate no matter what". I also don't think not doing so makes you look like a *fool*. That's too strong.

If you're offered X and just happen to think X+n is more attractive (which I suppose it always is, for positive n), and ask for it without articulating real substantive reasons why you need the +n, I guess that's fine, but I somehow doubt it will work. If you have no real leverage or other substantive reasons and make some up (read: lie) to ask for X+n, well, that just makes you a person of bad moral character.


Number 8 strikes me as very wrong, and possibly harmful. There is a big bump from assistant to associate at my public R1, and there are bumps along the way for assistants. If you come in way above what other assistants are making, it would be a problem within the department. Moreover, if you are basing it on your research on associate professor salary, and come in asking to make what people who have been around for 10+ years are making, that looks bad.

By all means negotiate, but be realistic and don't assume that a department which is very enthusiastic about you as a colleague will be enthusiastic about your claim that you should make way more than other assistant professors and as much as associates.

Also, it's just empirically wrong. Our chair is NOT in the position to offer "almost as much as an associate."

Marcus Arvan

Philosadjacent writes: "There is a big bump from assistant to associate at my public R1, and there are bumps along the way for assistants. If you come in way above what other assistants are making, it would be a problem within the department...Also, it's just empirically wrong. Our chair is NOT in the position to offer "almost as much as an associate"."

Maybe this is true in your department, and at your university. But it's not true at others. I know for a fact much of it is not true at mine, and know multiple cases first-hand where new Assistant Profs were able to negotiate salaries close to tenured Associate Profs in their department.

In public universities, negotiating for near-Associate-level salaries *could* create problems--if, for example, other people find out your salary and jealous of it. However, (1) I know people at R1s who negotiated high salaries like these and it didn't create problems, and (2) at some universities (particularly private ones), salaries are only known to the employee and upper administrators (i.e. deans and provosts). So, in cases like (2), the kind of problems Philosadjacent imagines don't materialize (though in this case one negotiates with administrators rather than chairs). In this case, no one knows what other people in their department are making--so, if you have the ability to negotiate for that much (viz. a competing offer), there's no reason at all why a candidate shouldn't try.

More generally, I don't think anyone is under a moral obligation to accept a sub-optimal salary simply because other people did so in the past. Times change, living costs can skyrocket in just a few years (as they have in my area), and so on. A person should negotiate for the best they can get, whatever that is (provided, of course, they don't overplay their hand and get the offer rescinded). It may suck for tenured faculty to know that new Assistants may make nearly as much as them (something I also know from first-hand experience)--but this unfairness is a matter of academic employment markets. If anyone is to blame (and responsible for it), it's universities, not new job-candidates simply looking to get the best deal they can.

Recent TT

The discussion so far focused on the material aspect of an academic job. I would like to know what colleagues think about other things that can (or can't) be negotiated at various institutions. Here is one example: A lot of people get a tenure-track position after a considerable time as postdoc/adjunct. Hence, some prospective hires might have leverage when it comes to their tenure requirements. Some universities might grant you time on your tenure clock and accept what you have published so far. I know of such cases. This is also something you might want to ask for. Again, it is hard to know this beforehand because tenure standards/procedures vary so much.


I think the most important thing is getting a sense for the institution and what is acceptable. It just varies a ton by institution, even with the "R1" and "Teaching school" domains.

I was able to negotiate zero percent salary raise and I had another TT job. I was also their first choice. But because of some bureaucratic reasons, I was told I they just couldn't raise the salary anymore. I was pretty surprised, given what others told me and that I only asked for a 3% increase at a research school. But this is how things go. However, my starting salary was just a tiny bit bellow the salary of other associates. I negotiated a 200% increase in moving money and a decent reduction in teaching load. So be creative, polite, and not greedy. I think phrasing things in terms of what can help you do the job better makes a lot of sense. Maybe not "the best possible job." What does that mean, anyway? But the point is something like, "It would be helpful to give me this, as I could do my job better in such and such a way...."

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