For instance, one of my professors went to Princeton (for his undergrad math degree) for free, because his parents are tenured faculty at Princeton. Is such a benefit available to tenured faculty at most U.S. universities? This is assuming that a tenured professor's children are qualified to be admitted to the school.

Besides having academic freedom, what are some other, lesser-known, considerable perks of being in academia as a tenured professor as opposed to being tenure track?

(Main motivation for the question is to follow up on a previous question in which the OP asked about the stresses of academic life, specifically, in mathematics research.)

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    @user58865: In my experience, the only benefit that's exclusive to tenured faculty is tenure itself (and some more money). Other benefits (tuition waivers for children, faculty parking lot, medical insurance, retirement plan, etc) are nearly always available to all faculty regardless of tenure status, and often to administrative staff employees as well. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:04
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    Possible duplicate of What is the real benefit of tenured positions for universities? Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 4:25
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    @NateEldredge what about corner offices, no classes on fridays, and a vote on future tenure cases?
    – StrongBad
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:23
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    Job security of course. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:13
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    @StrongBad: There are lots of benefits related to seniority but not directly tied to tenure. Voting on tenure cases is a good point, but not universal: at my institution, pre-tenure faculty have the right to vote on tenure cases (though they usually don't exercise it). Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:31

5 Answers 5


Universities offer all sort of "benefits" to its employees. Some of these "benefits" do not have a monetary value (e.g., flexible work schedule). The benefits available to faculty are often different from the cleaning staff. Further there are differences in benefits between tenured/tenure track and adjunct faculty. I can only think of three benefits, that have a monetary value, for which there are differences between tenure track and tenured faculty

Sabbatical: Some universities do not permit pretenure sabbaticals. It is often hard to differentiate if sabbatical eligibility is tied to tenure or time in service. Brown University provides different sabbatical benefits pre and post tenure.

Housing Assistance: Some universities provide housing assistance (discounted homes, mortgage assistance, loans, etc). Portions of the housing assistance program at Columbia requires tenure.

Parking: Some universities provide parking passes. Carroll College provides reserved spaces for tenured faculty while other faculty and staff simply get a parking pass.

In terms of perks that do not have a monetary value, this varies widely by department. Tenured faculty often get to be chair of the department (which may or may not be a perk). Departments may also give tenured faculty priority in terms of teaching schedule, departmental and university service requirements, office space, and lab space. The sabbatical system, internal funding, and administrative support may be skewed in their favor also.

  • Thanks so much @StrongBad for pointing out the typical differences in benefits between tenured faculty and everyone else at a university - I've changed my accepted answer to yours, because of this.
    – user58865
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:20
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    Yes, I agree this is clearly the most responsive answer to the question.
    – mweiss
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:23
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    Regarding sabbaticals, a counterpoint: some universities offer a special form of sabbatical for pre-tenure faculty on the tenure track (at my university it is called "Junior Faculty Leave") which is more attractive than usual sabbatical in certain ways.
    – Tom Church
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 1:20

While some universities offer tuition waivers, that is not universal, even in the United States -- and where it is available, it is usually a perk offered to all full time staff and faculty, not just tenured faculty.

For example, I have been employed at three public, research-intensive universities in Michigan:

  • At Oakland University, children of all full-time staff or faculty get full tuition if they are admitted to, and enrolled full-time in, any degree-granting program.
  • At Michigan State University, children of all full-time staff or faculty get a 50% tuition courtesy if they are admitted to, and enrolled full-time, a first undergraduate program. (In other words they cannot use this to get a discount on a second Bachelors degree or a graduate degree.)
  • At the University of Michigan, there is no tuition benefit at all.

Other perks that full-time staff and instructional faculty may get (depending on the university and department) include a computer, office space, retirement (often including a 2-to-1 match in a tax-deferred 403(b) retirement fund up to some maximum), and a generous health care package. But again, these same perks are (often) not restricted to tenured faculty.

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    Do you mean that office space is considered a perk? Are there universities that do not give offices to their faculties? Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 4:10
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    @MassimoOrtolano I think this discussion mainly shows that it's not easy to decide what is a "perk" and what is just an expected benefit of the job. For instance, I would not consider academic freedom a "perk" per se either. It's part of the job, and I would not consider a position without academic freedom a professorship in the usual sense.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:28
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    @MassimoOrtolano At many universities there are certainly adjunct faculty who do not have offices, so in that sense one of the perks of being a full-time regular faculty member (as opposed to an adjunct) is that one has an office.
    – mweiss
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:32
  • @mweiss I have never heard of adjunct not having office space. They might not have their own personal office but they will definitely have a space for office hours with a desk, or they might have a space but never use it. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:51

My father is a retired college professor, and these were some of his "perks."

1) Tuition reimbursement for all his children, up to that of the university[s own fees. In the case of the Princeton professor, that meant his children's tuition at Princeton was paid for.

2) Chances of earning additional money, under the auspices of the University, for government or other consulting projects.

3) A very generous retirement package, similar to that of the military or government employees. The "salaries" aren't so great, but the retirement benefits are.

Note that this refers to what has been in the past,for people who are now closer to retirement than to receiving tenure, and may or may not be true going forward. But the question was cast as 'up to now."

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    None of these are unique to tenured faculty, or even faculty in general.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:11
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    Retirement plans today may be quite different from a few years ago. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 2:32
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    In case a reader was going to take this as prospective job advice, then it should be put in context that the retirement package of current-about-to-retire faculty may not be available at present or in the future. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 4:44
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    To further clarify: At my institution, there are faculty who received tenure in the last few years who definitely do not have defined-benefit retirement plans. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 4:52
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    @Daniel R.Collins: Added a new last paragraph as a qualfier.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 9:16

At the community college where I teach, there are two huge benefits of being tenured (or tenure-track) which other answers have not touched on:

  1. You get representation by a labor union that effectively advocates for you on issues of pay and working conditions.

  2. You get effective representation in the faculty senate, which has a lot of influence over academic and professional matters.

(This is very different from the situation experienced by adjunct faculty. Part-timers have a different union, which is basically powerless, and although they have representation on the faculty senate, they have very little influence there.)

A great number of other benefits flow from these. Here are a couple of random examples.

My school claims in its catalog that it is a smoke-free campus, but in fact when they wrote up the rules, they decided that it wasn't practical to make that policy apply to union members. I have a tenured colleague who has a nicotine addiction, and for harm reduction she gets her nicotine fix by vaping in her office. For comparison, I had a nicotine-addicted student last year who couldn't make it through a three-hour physics lab without a fix. He had to leave lab and walk off campus to get his nicotine, because the campus police would hassle him if he vaped outside.

A decade ago, I was attacked by a student who threw me over a bench and into some bushes and threatened to kill me. An inaccurate version of the story got written up in the police report, apparently making me look bad. Once I realized that I might be in trouble, maybe even in danger of getting fired, I asked to see the police report so that I could understand what they thought I had done, but my management supervisor said that I couldn't see it because that would violate the student's privacy. I got nowhere on this until I got the union involved, after which the whole problem evaporated.

  • The question is specifically asking about benefits specific to tenured positions. In other words what benefits do you get from going from TT to tenured.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 18:12

As others have noted, not all universities give their faculty tuition waivers for their kids (not at mine, for example), and parking is not always free (not at mine, for example, and football season ticket holders usurp my contract space on "football Saturdays"), and the office space is not necessarily climate-controlled (I once had a thermostat in my office, which, it turned out, controlled all the offices on my side of the hallway... but they took it away. Now the temperature and ventilation is pretty random.), and so on.

Nevertheless, apart from thinking about these myriad petty annoyances, I almost entirely determine what it is that I think about on a day-to-day basis. Having weaned myself from external grant money, etc., I am not obliged to please federal agencies, either! That was what I hoped for, and on good days that is what I appreciate. :)


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