There is a phenomenon in my country. I am not judging whether it is correct or not because of my ignorance on it. My honest opinion, as per my current knowledge, is that the phenomenon is bad as whole.

The phenomenon is as follows:

A student completes either doctorate or post graduation at university or any academic institute named N. She gets appointment as assistant professor in the same institute N whenever vacancies are present. Although the percentage of such people vaires, the percentage is significant. It may be above 50% in most of the cases. It is not just happening in normal institutes but also in premier institutes.

I am providing two examples just for reference: Anna University, IIT Kharagpur.

The medium of instruction in most of the institutes is English only. This question is not about discussing advantages or disadvantages or judging this phenomenon.

The question is only about the existence of laws or rules prohibiting the happening of this phenomenon in US. Is there any such rule?

If not exists country wide, then are there any universities with existence of such rule?

I am not asking about permanent prohibition, but at least with some restriction to avoid that phenomenon.

  • 5
    Does this answer your question? Do universities prefer not to hire their own PhD graduates in faculty positions?
    – GoodDeeds
    Sep 4, 2021 at 13:49
  • @GoodDeeds This question is about US only.
    – hanugm
    Sep 4, 2021 at 13:50
  • 6
    Some countries allow it. Some countries, such as Germany, strongly disincentivize (but not strictly forbid) it. I think in the US, this is not explicitly banned, but they prefer to get faculty from elsewhere (which makes sense, as it reduces "inbreeding"). Sep 4, 2021 at 14:10
  • 3
    Very institution dependent. As one example, MIT seems to have many of their own. Others not so much.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 4, 2021 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


There is certainly no such general rule in the US. However, many (not all) universities would prefer not to hire their own graduates immediately, but are probably happy to bring them back after they have established themselves elsewhere, perhaps with a post-doc or a faculty position elsewhere.

There are complementary reasons for it. The most fundamental one is that many faculty feel that a student has learned about as much as can be learned already working with the faculty of the home institution and that it will do them good, professionally, to be exposed to the ideas of others at a different institution.

The lesser reason is that by spreading out their doctoral graduates they are also spreading out their own ideas. Another way to put it is that a new institution will benefit from the ideas that their recent graduates might bring to it.

These combine into a situation where a department is more likely to bring in people with new ideas, a definite plus.

The combination of these tends to make the world of scholarship more interconnected with more collaboration possibilities. This is, perhaps, less important in the internet age, but it was pretty strong previously. And those interconnections can be vital in driving knowledge (research, scholarship,...) forward.

I'll also note that most faculty hiring at research universities in US requires a broad search; at least national. It can be very difficult to pre-select a candidate and then write a description of a job that will only really apply to that one person. I know of one case where this was attempted and the description provided was very detailed and exact. After it was broadcast, at least three other candidates appeared who met the criteria at least as well as the one originally desired.

  • Also for the benefit of the university, hiring outside the university prevents academic or intellectual inbreeding. When I was considering graduate programs, a professor suggested this.
    – nickalh
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:40

Usually US universities have anti-discriminatory laws regarding hiring of candidates, which would forbid them from not hiring their own PhD students as tenure track or tenured faculties. Whether the practice is widespread probably depends on the University.

I know of examples where PhD students were later hired as an Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) in US universities. However, in my (limited) experience, such phenomenon is quite rare.

  • 5
    Not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the US only forbids discrimination on certain grounds (that is, regarding protected groups). Graduates of a particular university are not a protected group (you'd probably have a good case if it were a ban against, say, HBCU, but that's not the same as this situation). I think it would be perfectly legal to have "breadth of experiences" as a hiring qualification that counts negatively towards graduates of the same institution.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 4, 2021 at 17:10
  • The typical anti-discrimination laws cover such things as age, sex, race, national origin, and such. It doesn't forbid all preferences. But, generally, the preferences need some logical basis or they might be questioned, even if not legally. A preference for people over 6 feet tall would be looked askance at, even if not strictly illegal. I doubt that having an inter-faculty basketball team would be enough of a "valid" reason. A preference for rated chess players might be more logical - even if weird.
    – Buffy
    Sep 4, 2021 at 18:28
  • @BryanKrause: You are probably right. However, I feel that no University would likely risk a lawsuit by declaring that they won't hire their own PhD students. I could be very wrong though. Sep 4, 2021 at 21:33

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