Promotion & Tenure: A Guide for Faculty
The promotion and tenure review process occurs on an annual cycle, with awards of promotion and tenure taking effect on September 1 of the year following application. Faculty are evaluated for promotion or tenure based on the criteria established by their career track. Our information guide is updated regularly and intended to provide transparency and assist faculty members in planning for and successfully achieving promotion and/or tenure.
We also host an annual program to explain the promotion and tenure process and share the slides from the most recent session online. The program last occurred on June 1, 2020. The next program will occur in spring 2021.
- Faculty Promotion and Tenure Program (PowerPoint) (from June 2020)
Promotion & Tenure Workflow
Contact Your Department Chair or Division Chief
Contact your department chair or division chief to discuss your candidacy and learn about your department's internal process for evaluating and nominating candidates. Most departments have departmental committees that review applications and make recommendations to the chair and therefore may start their review processes well before the department chair's nomination of a candidate is due to the Faculty Affairs Office.
Prepare Your Packet
All promotion and tenure candidates prepare a packet that is reviewed by the department chair’s office, the Feinberg dean's office and the Northwestern provost's office. The packet requirements vary by rank and career track, and your completed application should be submitted to your division chief or department chair's office according to departmental deadlines. Contact your department's administrative leadership to learn of the deadline, and visit our Prepare Your Packet page for additional guidance.
Review by Your Department
Your packet will be reviewed within your department, which may include review by division chiefs, departmental committees and the department chair. Your chair will prepare a nomination letter and add any supplementary documentation necessary to complete your application, which will then be sent to the Faculty Affairs Office.
For promotions effective Sept. 1, 2021, the deadlines for Department Chairs to submit nominations are:
- Sept. 11, 2020 for promotions to the levels of Associate Professor and Professor as well as the award of tenure
- Nov. 6, 2020 for promotions to the level of Assistant Professor
Review by Dean’s Office
Dependent upon your rank and tenure status, your application may be reviewed by an ad hoc committee, the Appointment, Promotions and Tenure Committee and the dean.
Review and Decision by Northwestern University Provost
The recommendations of the department and school are forwarded to the provost, who reviews and makes the final decision on promotion or tenure. Candidates are typically notified of the provost's decision by July 1. Approved promotion or tenure takes effect on Sept. 1.
Appointments, Promotion and Tenure Committee
The Appointments, Promotion and Tenure Committee is composed of 18 professors representing basic science and clinical departments. Committee members are appointed by the vice dean for Academic Affairs with the agreement of the appointee's department chair for a five-year term of service. The committee evaluates and recommends approval or disapproval of all department applications for initial appointments and promotion/tenure at the rank of associate professor and professor. View the committee roster.
How to Appeal a Decision
Medical school promotion and tenure decisions will be made equitably and in compliance with the policies and procedures of Northwestern University.
Faculty members will be notified in writing of decisions on reappointment, promotion or tenure by the dean. If the decision is negative, the faculty member may request reasons for the decision. Upon request by the candidate, the dean or the provost will supply written reasons for the non-renewal of appointment or denial of promotion or tenure. Procedures and criteria for appeals of negative promotion and/or tenure decisions can be found in the Northwestern University Faculty Handbook.
Two university faculty committees consider matters concerning reappointment, promotion and tenure and disciplinary proceedings initiated by the administration. Appeals from faculty members relating to reappointment, promotion and tenure are considered by the University Faculty Reappointment, Promotion, Tenure and Dismissal Appeal Panel. This panel also deals with charges against faculty members initiated by the administration that may lead to the imposition of a major sanction such as suspension or dismissal. Such charges are referred first to the Faculty Committee on Cause. This committee also deals with appeals from faculty members in cases where the administration has imposed a minor sanction such as a reprimand. The Committee on Cause is selected annually by the Faculty Senate and consists of seven faculty members. No faculty member may serve on the Committee on Cause during the same year(s) he or she is a member of the panel. Conditions and procedures pertaining to faculty appeals and disciplinary actions can be found in the Northwestern University Faculty Handbook.