3.1 Search, Appointment, and Promotion Process for Faculty

This policy was last updated January 5, 2024. See the update history page for more information.

The following sections outline the Institute's procedures for appointment, promotion, and tenure for faculty members (other than faculty in the Athletics Department), including the various roles of the candidate's department, the School or College, and the Academic Council. The aim of the procedures detailed in these sections is to ensure that candidates for appointment, promotion, and tenure receive a thorough and fair review of their qualifications and accomplishments.

Departments may undertake faculty searches after approval of their search plan by the Dean of their respective Schools or of the College. For good cause, and with the permission of the Provost, the School or College Dean may waive the affirmative action serious search requirement. Departments must also originate recommendations for reappointment and promotion of faculty already holding appointments.

Appointments to the Faculty are made without prejudice with respect to child-rearing responsibilities and other conditions that may require reasonable accommodations under applicable law. (See Section 7.5 Leaves of Absence and Faculty Teaching Relief and Section 9.9 Access and Accommodations for Employees and Students with Disabilities.) All appointments to the Faculty are subject to the affirmative action serious search procedures as outlined in Section 7.1.2.

A professorial appointment normally obligates a faculty member to render full-time service to the Institute. (See Section 4.3 Full-Time Service.) In those special instances where full-time service is not appropriate or feasible, an appointment may be made with a specified part-time obligation. In the rare cases where joint appointments by MIT and another institution are made, the individual's responsibilities to each institution will be well defined by formal agreement. The specific obligation of the individual faculty member is inherent in the terms of the appointment, and any change thereto must be approved through the academic appointment process.

Promotion to the successive professorial ranks involves an increasing measure of participation and review by the appropriate School or the College, acting through its council (or the Personnel Committee in Sloan) or by such other means as it may choose, and monitoring by the Provost and the Academic Appointments Subgroup of the Academic Council. Consideration is given to internal and external assessments of the candidate's research ability and professional promise, and to review and evaluation of teaching performance, mentoring, advising, and Institute service.

Assistant professors receive reappointment reviews one year before the end of their first appointment. Each department shall establish a process for such a review to determine if the faculty member is making satisfactory progress in developing their research and teaching, and whether the progress is sufficient to hold promise for further progress toward tenure. When progress is determined to be sufficient, the department recommends reappointment to the Dean. Otherwise, the department may choose not to reappoint the candidate, and employment ends with the current appointment, subject to agreement by the Dean.

Promotions to associate professor are reviewed also by the Academic Council, which is advisory to the President, who makes the final decision. Promotion to tenure, however, reflects achievement of first-rank status. See Section 3.2 Tenure Process for more information on tenure.

Assistant and associate professors without tenure may be appointed for a term of not more than five years. They may receive a series of appointments, each of a definite term, that, when taken together, are no more than the eight years that normally constitute the pre-tenure period plus any tenure clock extensions. Tenure track faculty may be reappointed to a current rank or promoted to a higher rank. If neither of these actions occur, their Institute appointment terminates at the end of the current appointment.

The review of an assistant professor in connection with the expiration of the faculty member's second appointment considers whether promotion to the rank of associate professor without tenure is merited. This review should occur when the department concludes that a significant basis for promotion exists, but not later than one year prior to the faculty member's mandatory tenure date.

When a department, School, or College review reaches a conclusion that the candidate has not earned reappointment or promotion, including promotion to tenure, the department head shall inform the Dean and discuss the decision with the candidate. The Provost may review the dossiers of such candidates, and the candidate may appeal the decision made at the department or School or College level through normal Institute procedures. Notice of non-reappointment to assistant and associate professors who have been at the Institute for two or more years must be given in writing by the department head at least 12 months before the expiration of the faculty member’s current appointment. The written notice should refer the candidate to Section 3.3 of Policies and Procedures, which describes the right to request a review of a promotion or tenure decision.

Termination for cause may be made at any time.

Each appointment or reappointment to the Faculty should be based on the reasonable belief that the appointee is an outstanding candidate among their peers and that each such action advances the Institute's educational mission. It is essential that each promotion to a higher rank be based on an appraisal of the individual's qualifications that is sufficiently broad and objective to ensure the preservation of those standards of professional and academic attainment by which the rank is characterized both within MIT and at other institutions of the first quality.

The Schools, College, and departments have considerable latitude in developing policies and procedures complementary to the ones outlined in this section, as long as they are consistent in spirit with overall policies related to faculty appointment, promotion, and tenure detailed in this section. Policies and procedures developed by the Schools, College, and departments should be distributed to all faculty in the respective units and kept on file in the Provost's Office.

Procedures for appointment and promotion to the faculty ranks within the Athletics Department differ somewhat from those described here. The Director of Athletics should be consulted for details. No current appointments or promotions within the Athletics Department include tenure.