I really like the institution where I'm working on my PhD, and I enjoy the city that I live in. I have shown that I am a strong research, and I am really starting to make a name for myself. I was wondering if people ever really get recruited for a tenure position at the institution where the received their PhD. (I don't go to one of the top 5 universities where they kind of have no choice but to recruit from within.)

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    It's unusual, but definitely happens. What you say in your parentheses is a bit misguided though, if I read it correctly. It's certainly not common to be hired to tenure track at the top 5 university you got your Ph.D. from. When that happens, it's a big 'wow.' – gnometorule Mar 1 '16 at 3:07
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    Top 5 universities don't particularly recruit from within, as far as I know, though they certainly do recruit heavily from each other. – Nate Eldredge Mar 1 '16 at 3:14
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    You've never heard of the concept of intellectual incest? – Paul Mar 1 '16 at 4:42
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    Which country are you from? This is very nation-dependent: in some places there are regulations against internal hiring, while some have culture and practice discouraging (or sometimes encouraging) this practice. – Federico Poloni Mar 1 '16 at 7:30
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    Although your current environment feels safe, stable and comfortable, consider that obtaining your PhD is one of life's natural opportunities to expand your horizon. You're still young, so right now you're probably a lot more able to cope with big changes than you will be later in life. You've successfully completed this chapter of your life, where you start the next chapter is up to you. – Cronax Mar 1 '16 at 10:32

Yes, but it is rare, for most schools.

It is usually frowned upon, however, the top schools have to hire from somewhere so it is common for them to at least swap graduates. My anecdotal evidence is that low ranked universities also tend to hire a higher proportion of their own students.

A notable exception is MIT, where 39% of the CS professors received their PhD degrees from there.

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Table is from http://jeffhuang.com/computer_science_professors.html

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    +1 for the data. But I wouldn't use the word "rare" to describe those percentages. – David Ketcheson Mar 1 '16 at 9:43
  • It'd be interesting to know also, the percentage of self-hires not against total hires, but against hires within this group of 10. Quite aside from MIT, from this data it could well be that from the majority of these institutions, "being hired to X from X" is more common than "being hired to X from Y" for most values of Y != X. Self-hires might be less rare than you'd expect from random mixing, suggesting that frowning upon it isn't overcoming other factors (such as the questioner's preference for the city they're in) that tend to make it happen. – Steve Jessop Mar 1 '16 at 11:08
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    (Also Jeff Huang mentions this data answers the question asked, "tenure position at the institution where they received their PhD", but not the question "tenure position at the institution where they received their PhD without going to another institution in between PhD and tenure" which is perhaps most relevant to the questioner right now :-) – Steve Jessop Mar 1 '16 at 11:12
  • It's hard to know too if this is a bias either way - perhaps people are less inclined to want to stay at their PhD university. Or perhaps more want to, but can't, so we see those percentages. Or perhaps this is different in fields like computer science where there is more demand for professors - would departments with a considerably more competitive job market also show the same percentages? This data is interesting, but I would be careful generalizing this tiny sample and drawing any significant conclusions from it. – enderland Mar 1 '16 at 13:39
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    @gnometorule Yes, it includes them as working at MIT. The data just includes their current job position and where they got their PhD, ignoring any jobs in between. – Austin Henley Mar 1 '16 at 16:26

Attitudes towards a department hiring their own PhD students as tenured academics varies quite a bit across institutions and departments (from my observations as an Australian academic). For many it is discouraged, for others it is sometimes an advantage, and for others, it just takes an extended postdoc typically somewhere else in order to be competitive for a position.

There are a few general principles that are operating:

  • Departments often want to see that you have your own independent program of research which is often more evident once you've made it on your own. In particular, departments often want to see that you are able to work independently of your supervisor.
  • There is often a desire to lead to a proliferation of ideas which is more likely to occur if people leave their PhD institution.

On the flipside, some departments value hiring their own PhD students.

  • They know your skills and temperament and if they see a lot of potential you can be an attractive candidate.
  • Their PhD students may also get experience with teaching that means that they understand the culture of the university.

One scenario that I've seen occur a few times is an academic getting a PhD from an institution, then spending a few years doing a Post Doc or lecturing position elsewhere before returning to the original institution to take a continuing position. This often satisfies many of the requirements of showing that you are an independent researcher.

Another scenario is working at the same university but in a different department. This is often applicable if your research is in anyway cross-disciplinary.

Also, my casual impression is that high ranking universities are somewhat less likely to hire their own PhDs for continuing academic appointments straight out of their PhD.

If you're interested in getting a continuing academic appointment at your PhD university, you should gather some more specific information. Look at where current academics in the department did their PhDs. If there are such academics see whether they left and came back or went straight through. If you can, try to find out about the politics of such appointments and whether they were purely on merit or whether they were supported by existing staff keen to build up an area. Talk to your PhD supervisor. Even better, if you're able to, talk to the head of department or someone else who is likely to be involved in hiring decisions.

Finally, academic appointments are very competitive and the frequency with which jobs come up at your level in your area and at a given institution may be low. For this reason alone, it pays to consider other universities. Even if you want to get a position at your own institution and your institution doesn't have a bias against hiring their own, you still need to be better than all the other applicants which include a much larger pool.

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I was hired on a one year teaching/research contract at my institution even before my PhD corrections were ratified.

I ended up leaving halfway through (though saw out the rest of my teaching duties) for a 2.5 year research contract in a research centre I had my eye on the past year.

So it's definitely possible, but as to whether it'll be a tenure position, depends on your university. I'll put it this way, at my university, we had a tenured position come up in my department with a few very strong internal candidates who had PhDs from that university, and I mean very strong (big grants, books, tons of publications) apply. They didn't even get interviews.

Someone from overseas was hired, and I think at my old university in particular there is a want for 'international' talent.

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