What fraction of new assistant professors end up receiving tenure at the institution that they started at? This of course varies by field and rank, so please include the area and range of ranks you are thinking of when you answer. (i.e. "Computer Science, top 25 but not top 10", etc.)

It seems hard to find hard statistics on this question. When you get official statistics for how many people come up for tenure and are denied, you get an overly rosy picture, because people who are not going to get tenure often leave before they come up for it.

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    Your approach will give an overly negative picture, since anyone who leaves their first job will be counted as not receiving tenure. – StrongBad Jul 17 '12 at 15:06
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    This is exactly my criticism of the Science paper cited in @eykanal's answer; it doesn't distinguish between people who got tenure elsewhere and people who didn't get tenure anywhere. – JeffE Jul 17 '12 at 17:27
  • Related (or duplicate?): academia.stackexchange.com/questions/568/… – Bravo Jul 17 '12 at 17:31
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    Corollary: most statistical analyses of academic life are done by people who should know better and don't (see NRC rankings) – Suresh Jul 17 '12 at 20:15
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    @m0untain: I know plenty of awesome researchers who never got tenure, and plenty of idiots who have tenure in highly reputed universities. – Stefano Borini Jul 24 '12 at 12:07

This question was the topic of a recent article in Science. Briefly, around 50% of tenure-track faculty will actually remain to become a full professor. This varies with gender, discipline, and year (e.g., its harder to obtain tenure now than it was 20 years ago). I strongly recommend reading this Ars Technica article, which explores the aforementioned Science paper in depth.

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    Which basically means that, considering the risk vs. monetary benefit ratio, academia is a complete loser. – Stefano Borini Jul 24 '12 at 12:05
  • It depends... if you get a PhD in Physics and get hired as an analyst at an investment bank for a starting salary of over a million dollars plus bonuses, then even those you "lost" in academia, you're doing quite well for yourself. – RoboKaren Aug 30 '17 at 8:27
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    @RoboKaren Those numbers are completely absurd. Even high quality people with years of experience rarely get a salary in that range. Alexey Poyarkov had +10 years of experience, math olympiad gold and management experience - he makes $750.000. A top physics PhD would make around a third of that, and very rarely in an investment bank. news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/284413/… – Forgottenscience Sep 25 '17 at 11:38
  • I think the 50% number is misleading without context (and context is omitted in this answer). The median time to departure was 10.9 years which means that many of those 50% people stayed for a long time (and probably got tenure) before leaving. 64% were promoted to associate at the same institution, which implies tenure, but doesn't include people who were offered and took tenure somewhere else. – 6005 Jun 7 at 19:24

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