How to Get Tenure


The specific steps to achieving tenure depend entirely upon your institution, your department and the development of your career when you begin at a new school. You can follow some general guidelines, however, to make sure that you are doing everything you can to achieve what is, admittedly, a daunting task.

Things You'll Need

  • Dedication
  • Time-management skills
  • Political savvy
  • Endurance
  • Ability to live without sleep
  • Know the tenure requirements before taking a job. Be sure the department makes all aspects of the tenure process clear to you. You should know the timeline, the publication expectations, the service expectations and the teaching expectations.

  • Create your own timeline to achieve each part of the tenure process. Make a research/writing/publication submission schedule and stick to it no matter what, as most institutions see this as the most important aspect of tenure review. Also try to spread your service work intelligently so that you do not find yourself with too many committees and too many courses at the same time, for example. Even many teaching-oriented institutions are increasingly weighting publication higher than teaching.

  • Choose your committees wisely. Most junior faculty are given the most time-consuming jobs, but, with a little preparation, you may be able to choose the best of the worst.

  • Be a political animal. Do not make enemies. Before you make tenure, everyone should be your friend, regardless of how you really feel about their teaching methods, research ideas or publication history. People want colleagues, not conflict. Also, choose your close friends wisely, especially among senior faculty who can often give you invaluable advice about how to deal with other difficulty faculty members.

  • Show up to every department function. Too often, junior faculty try to dodge lectures or seminars, seeing them as optional (and as an opportunity to get more work done). But being seen as someone willing and eager to become part of the social and intellectual community is vital to getting people on your side come tenure review time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in touch with your graduate school advisers. They have been through this process and can offer invaluable advice.

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