I am early to mid-career academic in the field of business. Leaving a tenure-track job, I am currently considering two different offers with very different pros and cons. While I do not consider this next job to be my forever place and do wish to settle down in a balanced tenured role in the future, I'm having trouble deciding between the two:

  1. Tenure-track position in a teaching University:
  • Offered at the associate level
  • Very small town, small University
  • 3/3 teaching load
  • Relatively good benefits/support but not a huge amount of research support provided
  1. Non-tenure track teaching position in R1:
  • Very reputable, large University
  • Offered a teaching assistant professor
  • 4/4 teaching load
  • Relatively good benefits/support (for a teaching role)
  • Bigger town

Of course, the "tenure-track" position feels very attractive, but working at the R1 school will also help with building good relationships and networks for research in the future. I understand that it will depend on my needs and preferences, and any advice or opinions would be appreciated thank you!

  • 2
    A 4/4 teaching load seems... a lot, to also be trying to build relations and network? Apr 4, 2023 at 11:16
  • Without stating what your goals are there is absolutely nothing we can say. You've already stated the differences between your two options. What matters is how they relate to what you want to achieve. Apr 4, 2023 at 16:22
  • @prets true, but i was considering within the department, since other faculty will be more research active than those in the teaching uni Apr 5, 2023 at 5:49

2 Answers 2


I do not consider this next job to be my forever place

In my observation -- albeit in mathematics, rather than business -- neither job is likely to be a good stepping stone towards a more research-oriented tenure-track job. People can and do move, but unless your record is exceptional this would require a lot of luck.

If you take either job, I would do so on the basis that it might be your forever place after all: evaluate the position on its own terms, rather than what it might do for your long-term ambitions.

Alternatively, you say you are in a tenure-track job now. I don't know your personal situation, but if neither of these jobs offers is a good match for your eventual goals, you might consider staying if possible.

Good luck.

  • 6
    I think this is a very important answer. In general, taking a teaching centric position with the hopes of somehow spinning it into a research career goes wrong at least as often as it works.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 4, 2023 at 12:36
  • Thank you for the comment. My current role is supposed to be a balanced research role, but i am teaching 9 courses per year at minimum... so either options are in fact better than my current situation in terms of teaching load :S Apr 5, 2023 at 5:53

This is a tough one because I don't know about the specifics of your situation. I would lean towards the tenure-track offer at the smaller school. Although I don't abide by the famous quote, "Better be first at a small Iberian village than second in Rome", I think there is some wisdom to it. At the small school, you'll have a bigger role, with students at your disposal who might not be graduate students but will nevertheless need undergraduate thesis projects and some of them might even be interested in research. With the tenure track position, you will be respected and you'll have a say in the inner workings of your department and school.

This is not to say that you'll not be respected at the big school, but remember that they are hiring you to teach. Teaching at a big school might mean teaching demanding students and large classes so you might not have as much time to work on your research as you might expect. Plus, I'm not sure that you can readily get involved in some research group or whether you'll be welcome to do so. At the small school, you can build the career you like, apply for research grants, develop classes, etc. And if you do manage to build a research group you'll be seen as a superstar because this is not expected of you. I think this might even increase your chances of applying and getting tenured at bigger schools after a few years at the small school.

  • 2
    Thank you, i understand your points and they do make complete sense. While creating a research group will require big funding, i guess i will need to start there if i wish to go for the smaller school Apr 5, 2023 at 5:59

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