Faculty Job Offer Negotiation

Hooray! You have an offer. Now what?

Scope of negotiations

Things you can (potentially) negotiate:

  • Salary
  • Startup (the money they give you to start your group)
  • Teaching release
  • Lab/office space
  • Partner accommodations
  • Moving expenses

Depending on the type of institution the importance and possibility of negotiating different things will vary.

Salary negotiations

We recommend taking a “data driven” approach to salary negotiation. Start by looking up the current state of salaries for your position at that institution and their peer institutions. You can find this information for faculty positions in a number of databases:

If the initial offered salary is lower than one or more of the numbers you’re finding you can ask for a higher salary in the context of that data.

This approach is more comfortable for many folks (you’re not being greedy or full of yourself, just asking to be paid appropriately for the position). It can also be more convincing to an institution because: 1) it’s hard to argue with internal salary discrepancies; 2) colleges/universities tend to be quite competitive with their peers; and 3) it can give the person you are negotiating with (often a department head) something to take to their boss (typically a dean) to ask them to provide more money for the position. It also has the potential to help reduce bias.

Partner negotiations

This varies greatly institution to institution, and your strategy will depend on your priorities.

Some general thoughts:

  • Common approaches to dual career accommodation include
    • A second tenure-track (or tenured if you’re senior) faculty position
    • A second faculty position that is short-term or soft-money and not tenure-track
    • A non-faculty job
    • Support/prioritize partners in hiring for jobs at the institution (while still requiring them to apply and be accepted)
  • Start by figuring out what your ideal outcome is and what you’d be willing to settle for
    • Institutions should try to provide permanent solutions when hiring, but many will not
    • As a result one common strategy is for the second person to take a temporary/suboptimal job for both partners to stay on the job market. A competing offer (or sometimes just an interview) can then be used to leverage an more permanent solution from either your current institution or the one making you an offer.
  • Search for institution policies for dual career accommodation and if you can’t find them ask to see the policy if it exists
    • The person you are directly negotiating with will not necessarily know about these policies, so it’s worth doing research and asking around.
    • Look for dual-career couples at the institution to talk to and the culture and policies around these topics

Strategies for engaging with institutions

  • Presenting options for multiple acceptable solutions that reflect trade offs can may be more likely to elicit problem-solving than specifying a single required outcome.
  • Get the perspective of folks with experience with peer institutions to gauge what you can reasonably expect. For example, very small SLACs may be less flexible and more compressed in their timelines, smaller state research universities may have smaller startup packages, etc. Talking to someone with experience at the type of institution your negotiating with can help you make realistic asks that are more likely to be provided.
  • Getting an inside perspective can be really helpful during negotiation, so if you met someone during your interview who offered to talk more or who you think might be open to it we recommend reaching out. The institutions may not want you to talk to faculty other than the person you are negotiating with. This helps the institution by limiting your access to information. We recommend reaching out anyway.
  • Get as much of what you negotiate in writing as possible. Ideally this is in your offer letter (the closest thing you’ll get to a contract), but the institution may not be willing to do this. If try to get it in an email and then save that email (you’ll almost certainly need it later).
  • Negotiating over email is also useful for clarity, but sometimes the person negotiating will prefer to call you. This can be either to discuss inside information they don’t feel comfortable putting in an email (generally useful) because they think you’ll be more likely to agree to things over the phone (generally bad for you). Use your judgement, but often it is useful to follow-up phone calls with an email summarizing the call and confirming that everyone is on the same page about what was said and agreed on.

Other things to pay attention to

  • What is the teaching load and division of effort (what % teaching/research/service? What counts as service? How many course credit hours)?
  • Ask for a teaching release in your first year. Depending on the institution type that could mean zero teaching or a reduced teaching load. This is pretty standard and necessary to give you the time to develop new classes.
  • What space (lab space, office space) will you be provided. Are there funds for needed renovations/repairs? Do those costs come from your startup package or from a separate source.
  • What is the process for evaluating/retaining faculty?
  • Is the institution financially stable: look up their financials and enrollment?
  • What is the relationship between the institution and the state it is located in?
  • How happy do the faculty seem? Do they reach out to you after your interview?


You have unlocked another level of navigating science! Enjoy the confetti and sense of invincibility.