I will start soon an Assistant professor position in USA in Engineering. During the first 2 years the summer is paid. From the third I hope to get funded with grants. Is it badly seen if I spend the summer to work at distance in my home country?

EDIT: I will have 2 PhD students in the start-up, mine will be a computing lab so 99% percent of things and supervising can be done remotely.

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    Will you be running a lab and supervising graduate students? Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 21:59
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    Are you in lab-based field where you would normally be expected to setup a lab (and be training graduate students) over the summer? Or, perhaps a more theoretically oriented field where you could work on your own? Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 23:02
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    You will probably get the best answer by consulting with someone in your future department.
    – Bitwise
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 5:17
  • You should read the university's policy on outside employment. However, you should also consider local culture. Naturally your university would prefer that you do things which benefit them. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


A lot of this will depend on your department's culture regarding 9-month appointments. There are at least two different aspects of this I can think of:

  • How are 9-month appointments actually viewed? In some places I've been, 9-month positions, especially if the pay is spread over 12 months, are functionally just "75% Hard Money" positions, and there's a pretty clear expectation that you're working in the summer, etc. rather than "an unfunded summer is a summer off". If the summer ends up having a lot of committee meetings, etc. that could be a problem.
  • How are long absences viewed? There are some departments, especially those with lots of field work, being gone all summer would be quite typical. There are others where it would be extremely conspicuous, and probably be the source of some concerns about collegiality come evaluation time.

It is not unusual for faculty to spend several weeks or even months elsewhere during the summer. Here in the U.S.A, I know several professors from Europe who travel to their home countries to meet with collaborators back home. So long as you are genuinely working, this should be fine. How you choose to spend your research time is generally at your own discretion, so an arrangement like the one you propose should not be a problem.

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