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I was once (sort of) able to negotiate down my teaching. Instead of 3/3 (the original load), I was able to get it to 2/3 (or possibly 2/2 down the road), BUT only because I was to have approximately the same number of total students. So, instead of teaching two sections of intro at two different times, I could have one big section of intro.

Some caveats:

(1) I didn't end up taking this job - so don't know for sure that it would've worked out.
(2) I had another offer with a 2/2 teaching load, - that's why I was in a position to bargain (and I ended up taking the regular 2/2 offer)
(3) A reduced teaching load is only slightly better if your total grading is the same. Of course, you might think the real time savings is in not having an extra prep. This is something to keep in mind with any teaching load you're offered - are there any prep redundancies, or not?

Good luck!

placement person

You typically can't do this except over the short term (it's really unusual and I've never heard of anyone except Chris above doing it and I've been doing placement for a long time at a place that places into a lot of teaching institutions). But sometimes teaching loads can be deceptive or there are things you can do to consistently diminish yours. For example, if you do like service, there may be ways to take on long-term service or administrative roles that reduce your teaching load--I have a friend who technically has a 3/3 load but typically teaches a 2/1 due to administering a program plus having pre-tenure course releases. Another person I know teaches two copies of the same course online each semester, and uses pre-recorded videos, so has reduced her teaching load by quite a bit (and then hires graders to help grade). So... you might still want to apply, just because you don't always know what the job is actually going to look like and whether there is room for this sort of thing. I wouldn't necessarily apply to a 4/4 at an impoverished SLAC if I were in this situation, but a more stable/larger/slightly better funded institution, e.g. a non-flagship state school with a 3/3 load, might turn out to be different than what you thought it would be.


You can sometimes get a reduced load for the first few years. But, as Marcus said, the kinds of places with loads like that really mean it when they say the load is 4/4 or 5/5.

Two things you should consider are (1) the number of preps and (2) the number of students you'll have. The more sections you teach of the same class, the less work it is; e.g. of you're teaching four in a semester but two of those are repeat sections, then it's a lot more like teaching 2 than 4, grading aside (and you can work to reduce that). And if you teach the same three or four sections over and over each year, then that balances out as well, since pretty soon you won't have to prep at all any more. Similarly, teaching a class of five or ten is different from a class of forty, even if it's a distinct prep, because of how much less grading you do (and if it's an upper-level course, how much better the work is).

East Coaster

I suspect that something like this is virtually impossible. But... it might be worth investigating which campuses allow for regular/frequent course buyouts. If you have grant money coming in, or can figure that out, then some places might be amenable to regular reductions that way. I know of some faculty (outside of philosophy) where I am who do this, whereas I know of no one who negotiated a long-term course reduction as part of the initial hire.


I once negotiated a 3-4 down to a 3-3, but *only for the first year*. It wasn't a permanent thing.

One thing to keep in mind: sometimes places with 3-3 or 4-4 teaching loads have ways of applying for competitive course releases either through the department, college, or university. That's something to ask about during the whole interview process.


I'm TT at an institution where the standard teaching load is 4/4. I negotiated a 3/3 for the first three years of my contract. My chair casually mentioned to me in my first year that someone in admin contacted him to express frustration about my reduced load. I share this to say: at a teaching-focused institution, I would not anticipate success in negotiating a long-term reduction.


I should add - I didn't bring up the idea of bargaining down the teaching load - like others, I didn't even think this was a possibility.

I was negotiating directly with a Dean at a small private school, and once he found out about the details of my other offer (which had a lower teaching load), he made this counter offer to try to entice me to take his.

But yeah, I think this is pretty unusual.


I agree with others that it seems very unlikely that you'd get a reduced load indefinitely. One further thing to think about is that it might create uncomfortableness in the department if you did get a reduced load in perpetuity. If all of your colleagues are teaching a 4/4 and you are teaching a 3/3 (without the reduction being for some sort of service, winning a grant, etc.), I could see that leading to guilt on your side and resentment from some colleagues.


Pretty easy answer, I think: No.

It especially looks bad to your colleagues working on the regular load, as they are sitting there wondering why you'd be trying to make an exception for yourself.

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