I will be starting as an Assistant Professor this fall (in the US). My official start date is one week before the start of classes. This means I will need to develop the course during the summer, before I have officially started my position. I asked the department if there was compensation for class prep, and they said there was not because it is included in my job requirements.

Q: Is this the standard for new professors in the US?

I think it's a little odd, as I'm currently working a full-time job and developing a course on top of that will take substantial effort. If I were being paid for class prep, I could leave my current position earlier. I'm not suggesting that I should be paid for subsequent course preps, but I have never been asked to put so much effort into a job before officially starting the position.

I don't hold it against the department-- I don't think they have anything to do with this decision. I would just like to know if this is typical or not.

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    Are you being asked to develop a new course, or teach one? – Azor Ahai -him- Mar 3 '20 at 0:46
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    So for the first year, you get paid, but for each subsequent year, you have to pay back that same amount. – Strawberry Mar 3 '20 at 10:03
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    Are you really being asked to develop a brand new module in a week, having never taught before? At my uni that would have needed a process of quality assurance and approval and this wouldn't have been possible. – George Savva Mar 3 '20 at 13:13
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    I don't get paid for course prep. Luckily my department chair understands that means I prefer to teach courses I've taught before. – Kathy Mar 3 '20 at 14:42

It's also my understanding that your situation is standard.

Basically, you're expected to know how to teach that class already. Any prep you do before hand amounts to you getting ready to do the job they hired you for, which a normal private sector company doesn't pay you for either.

But really, the explanation doesn't matter so much as the fact that this is widely accepted as normal.

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    Your first sentence needs work. Paying is standard or not paying is standard? Also the last: "this" is widely accepted. It is a bit ambiguous. – Buffy Mar 2 '20 at 21:49
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    I have to strongly contend the "which a normal private sector company doesn't pay you for either". In the private sector it's absolutely normal that the first weeks or even months on the job are getting you ready for whatever you need to do. My very first job ever would always start with giving each new employee 3 books on a specific technology they used and telling the employee "let us know when you're done". Even more importantly in the private sector in a lot of countries you have to pay someone for work (as this isn't overtime or freelancing), so minimum wage rules would apply. (cont.) – David Mulder Mar 3 '20 at 10:02
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    Obviously it does have to do with what the job requirements (not job description) asked for, what prior experiences you have, and how the candidate presented themselves. Assuming the candidate presented themselves truthfully then any work they need to do for their employer is paid for by the employer. No gray area. – David Mulder Mar 3 '20 at 10:07
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    @DavidMulder: he is hired to give a course on a topic they already know (if my understanding is correct). Not to learn anything specific to the job. If someone hired to code in Go would happen to never have seen Go code that would be very bad. If someone hired because he has experience in coding, not specifically with Go would be hired to code in Go, then yes - they would need time to learn. – WoJ Mar 3 '20 at 13:11
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    But the time needed to prepare a course is not about learning the material, it's about preparing the course. I don't see how that's similar. – JiK Mar 3 '20 at 13:45

Aside from the practical issue of it being the universal (US, at least) standard to not pay new professors extra for prep time, it’s also logical not to treat this as a “new professor” issue, for the simple reason that the same issue also affects “old” professors. You will be asked many times over your career to teach classes you haven’t taught before. The fact that you’ll need to work a bit harder to prepare materials when that happens is factored into the job expectations, and the compensation for the work is factored into the normal pay structure. Thus, your idea of a special payment for new professors doesn’t make logical sense.

And speaking of things that are factored in, the assumption that you are a person who actually enjoys (or at least takes it in stride) having to delve into a new subject and prepare materials for a new class is factored into the department’s decision when hiring a new faculty member...

Congrats on the job, and good luck with the class! One week sounds like plenty of time to get ready for the first lecture. I’m sure you’ll do fine.

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    "One week sounds like plenty of time to get ready for the first lecture." One week does not sound like anywhere near enough time to come up with a plan on the content of thirteen weeks of lectures and tutorials, assessments and their criteria sheets, and then get the department to approve all of the above. – nick012000 Mar 3 '20 at 6:04
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    @nick012000 well, it all depends I suppose. At my department I don’t need to get anything approved by anyone, and I don’t write all the assessments or lecture material in advance of the semester starting, so one full week of work would be plenty. YMMV. And if one week were not enough, OP would indeed have to work on the course before the official start date of the job, but that doesn’t change the validity of the rest of what I wrote. – Dan Romik Mar 3 '20 at 6:09
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    @nick012000 yeah, I guess you could say they are okay with it, to use somewhat imprecise language (although there is a small amount of pressure to conform to a reasonable grade distribution, to address your “A” versus “B” issue). And moreover I think this attitude is very common for US college-level mathematics instruction. Different instructors can be teaching the same course using different textbooks or generally different approaches, so coordinating doesn’t always make sense. – Dan Romik Mar 3 '20 at 6:19
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    @nick012000 "one week sounds like plenty of time to get ready for the first lecture" so why did you change it to one week to prep for 13 weeks? – Solar Mike Mar 3 '20 at 9:30
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    @nick012000 Why on earth would you spent class time going over fire evacuation plans? – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 3 '20 at 18:14

Payment for something like this is sometimes done; if you negotiate for it when accepting your position. From what I have seen in the US, it is somewhat common to be offered summer support (in terms of salary) without having any teaching responsibilities for some of the months leading up to your first semester, and/or to have a reduced teaching load during your first semesters to account for this. But this is something you need to ask for before you sign your contract.

Once you have agreed to take the position, there is 1. little motivation for the university to offer this to you, and 2. (probably more importantly) much less possibility of there actually being some money available to the college/department to be used for this purpose.

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    I think this is a misleading answer. Summer support, while indeed common, is never framed as payment for “course prep” as far as I know, so it’s not “payment for something like this”, and doesn’t fit what OP is asking about. Similarly for the mention of teaching reductions. – Dan Romik Mar 3 '20 at 7:46
  • I agree with the answer, I was paid a bit to prepare material - first time in post so no material to fall back on... So they made an exception ie being nice... But it all depends on the department and the budget... – Solar Mike Mar 3 '20 at 9:29
  • @DanRomik I don't think they typically frame what that summer support is supposed to be at all. But it seems mainly designed for the faculty to do what the OP is asking: leave their previous job, relocate, get settled in, and be in a good position to begin the first semester. – Morgan Rodgers Mar 5 '20 at 17:20

I doubt you could expect to be paid for anything prior to formally starting your position and there might be rules that forbid it, especially in, say, a State University in the US.

But, if I were the department chair, and I was very happy to have "caught" you as a new professor, I'd try to find some pot of money to give you a few silver pieces to make you happy as a clam as your first experience. I might fail at that, but I'd try.

I hope, at least, that they are working to make your entrance a happy and easy one otherwise. But all funds expended need to be accounted for and if you aren't actually on the payroll it is a hard game.

Some faculty get an initial grant of funds to get things going - mostly research -, but none of that happens until you are on board.

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