This position is at an undergrad university (tenure track). Can I backout after accepting the offer for a research-based university (graduate R2 university)?

What are the consequences of backing out a tenure track position? Are there also any well-known legal repercussions of backing out of a tenure-track offer?

  • 1
    I think this is impossible for us to answer in its current form. Maybe: "Are there any well-known legal repercussions of backing out of a tenure-track offer?" and add US to the tags if the job's in the US.
    – user137975
    Feb 17, 2023 at 0:14
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    What does the contract you signed say? Where are you in the world? Generally this site isn't a good place for legal advice, if you need legal advice contact a lawyer in your local area.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 17, 2023 at 0:14
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    The answer is in labor.mo.gov/dls/general/termination-final-wages Feb 17, 2023 at 2:52
  • Most likely, your accepted offer was not legally binding. The real job contract is only signed after you receive a letter signed by chancellor or provost. Feb 17, 2023 at 4:00
  • For tenure-track positions, there may well be no contract at any point, until you actually get tenure. It surprises people in other parts of the world to learn that employment in the US is often "at will": the employer can terminate, or the employee can resign, at any time for any reason with no notice. Feb 17, 2023 at 5:42

1 Answer 1


That depends on local law, probably civil/contract law. If you have a contract (or the legal equivalent of one) then you can be at risk.

However, few institutions would prefer to hold you to a contract you don't want to perform as it would likely be sub-optimal for everyone involved. There might (potentially) be costs with breaking it. Consult a lawyer for legal advice.

But you can also start a conversation with the institution explaining that you have a more appropriate offer that you'd like to accept.

Legal advice has to come from a lawyer, of course.

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