I have two offers for a Visiting Assistant Professor position. Can I negotiate for a higher salary for a VAP position?


You can certainly try to politely negotiate salary, but I wouldn't count on getting much if anything at all.

At my institution, my experience has been that the administration simply won't negotiate on salary. For a VAP, the department is simply looking for someone who can handle teaching load for a year or two. There are typically many qualified applicants with enough teaching experience, and because the position is temporary there just isn't any point in paying more than necessary.

  • Although if you do a bang-up job a raise is not out of the question... – Dave Kanter May 8 '15 at 21:25
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    @Dave Kaye: for VAPs in math, some schools have a policy to have no raise at all for the term of the contract, and some have a policy to have a fixed raise each year for satisfactory service. I have seen institutions with both. It depends on the type of position. But for "teaching" VAPs that are essentially full-time adjunct positions, raises are probably unlikely during the contract term, even for excellent work. After all, from the school's viewpoint the VAP is likely to leave in a year or two, and the VAP is probably easily replaceable. – Oswald Veblen Dec 6 '15 at 14:02
  • @OswaldVeblen not saying you're wrong but I am saying I got one. ;-) – Dave Kanter Dec 7 '15 at 18:22
  • No doubt there must be some schools that give raises to term faculty - as I wrote, some even mandate a particular raise. But it is helpful for people applying for VAPs to know that there are many schools where a raise is indeed out of the question, because the salary is completely fixed. @Dave Kaye – Oswald Veblen Dec 7 '15 at 18:25
  • @OswaldVeblen I'm at all sure why it's any more "helpful" to say that it is than that it isn't, but ok. Also not sure what "many schools" means but it strikes me as a vague and unqualified assertion, and one could just as easily say that at "many schools" it is. What can I say, I like to build people up. It's obviously a character flaw. – Dave Kanter Dec 7 '15 at 18:42

Brian is right that you're unlikely to make much headway. I think maybe he isn't recognizing the variety of positions that go under VAP (some of whom have serious research expectations), but still, I expect they will have relatively set salaries; it could a lot of work and bureaucracy for the chair to request the change even if s/he wants to. It's often a bit easier for chairs to sneak other things into offers. You might be more likely to be successful if you asked for, say, 1k in research funds rather than salary, since often those funds are more flexible.


Ben has precisely shown the issue, funds for these positions are difficult to change. If you politely query research or accommodation funds however you may find they are able to allocate from the department budget or various grants as well as pre-purchase items such as laptops (within reason).


It may depend, to some extent, on how much the university wants you, and on how much flexibility they have. If the school doesn't often hire visiting professors, there is more chance they will treat your hire like any other hire (although not tenure track) with some room for negotiation. If they hire numerous VAPs each year, they are more likely to think of it as a more routine kind of hiring with fixed parameters.

Here is a personal anecdote. I had a one year VAP at one point. That year, I also had the option of remaining at my PhD school as an instructor, which would have been less ideal but which would have certainly been cheaper. I managed to convince/negotiate with the other school to raise the salary slightly to compensate (not more than a couple thousand, plus some moving expenses). But, I believe they really wanted me to come.

One thing to keep in mind is the BATNA on both sides. For example, do you have alternate positions available? Does the school likely have equally qualified candidates to choose from if you don't accept the offer? There was a news story last year about a tenure-track job offer that was derailed by negotiations that the university thought were too aggressive, so it may help to inquire informally about how much flexibility there is on the salary.


To add to the other answers, if this position is covered by a union contract, that contract will specify if the salary is negotiable. Typically these contracts discourage individual salary negotiation. Often the contract is available from the institution or union website.

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