I got a tenure-track academic offer in the US.

However, I recently found out that in the US there is this concept of spousal hire, that I can use. I saw several questions related to this but no one is addressing what it is and how it is appropriate to negotiate a spousal hire. The spouse would work in a non-academic job.

Based on the current covid situation and economic crisis, are universities in need of people from the IT management and programming sector? How does a non-academic hire and a non-academic job in the IT field at a university in the US look like in the Tier 2 group?

  • I dont know but I do know is at my university there is basically a guarantee that if they hire one professor they will also hire their spouse as a professor(assuming they have a PhD). I have seen multiple people get hired who probably wouldn't make it on their own but get carried by their spouse into a job. So it depends on how good you are. Mar 20, 2021 at 6:34
  • @FourierFlux thanks, but is it appropriate to ask, knowing the situation?
    – looktook
    Mar 20, 2021 at 7:56
  • Before you sign a contract you can ask for anything you need.
    – user135405
    Mar 20, 2021 at 8:19
  • 2
    @FourierFlux A guarantee? No way. Maybe if it is made a condition for acceptance of an offer beforehand.
    – user151413
    Mar 20, 2021 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


When is it appropriate to ask? In negotiation, you can ask for anything that's legal at any time. Spousal hires are, as far as I know, always legal in the US. In some countries it is not legal, oddly.

It used to be that an accomplished academic could demand a spousal hire as a condition of employment. Don't try that now. US universities laid of 650,000 people this year. Most universities don't have the ability to meet any demands at all. Under current conditions, your negotiation leverage is extremely limited, so I suggest you ask for something you are more likely to get, like a small pay increase.

Do universities need IT managers? They probably do. Many universities will pay their managers less than the private sector, resulting in a shortage of managers. Since, as an IT manager, your spouse can work remotely, it might be smarter to look for work outside the university.

  • But spouse needs a visa to come to US also, that is an issue. What is the average of non-academic staff at unies in the US? IT part
    – looktook
    Mar 20, 2021 at 7:59
  • 4
    @looktook: I doubt that such a comparison of two sheer numbers is meaningful. For instance: The phrase "in comparison with the EU" seems pointless. Are you an assistant professor in, say, the Netherlands or in Slovenia? In Portugal or in Finland? Have you compared the wages based on purchasing power parity or based on the currency exchange rate? Is the price level where your prospective employer is located higher or lower than in US average? How high are taxes and social security contributions in your current country and in your prospective state of living in the US? Mar 20, 2021 at 11:26
  • 5
    [continued] How precisely is your current gross wage defined, and how are gross wages computed in the online data base linked by Anonymous Physicist? Without information on all these questions, it's probably impossible to judge whether 60k dollars for a specific position is "really good" compared to any other specific salary somewhere else in the world. Mar 20, 2021 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Libor I think it is unambiguous in my answer that I recommend negotiating. But negotiate with the knowledge that there are other qualified candidates. Mar 20, 2021 at 20:45
  • 5
    @AnonymousPhysicist What should be odd about not allowing spousal hires? It is just a different perspective: Saying that professor positions must be publicly advertised and filled in a competitive way doesn't strike me as odd as all. Certainly not more odd than giving someone a professorship just because he has a PhD and a wife the university really wants to hire.
    – user151413
    Mar 20, 2021 at 21:17

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