Tenure – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Businessfabb

What is tenure? In business, tenure refers to the number of years that an employee has been with a company. It is also used to describe how long an executive or manager has been in their position. Tenure is often used as a metric to assess job satisfaction and stability. The word “tenure” can also be used in other contexts, such as academia. In this case, it typically refers to the number of years that a professor has been teaching at a university. It is also used as a measure of their experience and expertise.

What is tenure?

Tenure is the right of a person to keep their job or position for a set period of time, especially when this is granted after completing a probationary period. It can also refer to the length of time that someone has been in a particular role or profession. In academia, tenure is usually granted to professors after a period of around six years, during which they must undergo regular reviews. This system is designed to protect academic freedom and allow scholars to pursue controversial research without fear of losing their jobs.

The different types of tenure

There are four different types of tenure: tenure-track, non-tenure-track, visiting, and adjunct.

Tenure-track is the most common type of tenure. This is when a professor is hired with the intention of eventually awarding them tenure. The process for earning tenure can vary from school to school, but typically includes publishing research in academic journals, teaching classes, and completing administrative duties.

Non-tenure-track appointments are increasingly common and typically last for a set period of time (often 1-5 years). These positions may or may not lead to a tenure-track position.

Visiting professorships are usually temporary positions that are filled by professors who already have tenure at another institution. These positions may last for a semester or an academic year.

Adjunct professorships are the most common type of non-tenure-track appointment. Adjuncts are typically part-time faculty members who are paid per course they teach. They often hold other jobs in addition to teaching and do not have the same job security or benefits as tenure-track faculty members.

The pros and cons of tenure

When it comes to tenure, there are pros and cons that must be considered. On the one hand, tenure can provide job security and stability for professors. On the other hand, tenure can also lead to complacency and a lack of motivation to continue producing high-quality work.

Tenure is basically a form of job security for professors. Once a professor has been granted tenure, they can not be fired from their position unless they commit some sort of serious misconduct. This can provide peace of mind and stability for professors, especially those who may be working at less prestigious institutions where job turnover is higher.

However, tenure can also lead to complacency among professors. Because they no longer have to worry about losing their jobs, some professors may become lax in their work habits and stop producing high-quality research and teaching. Additionally, because tenure is typically granted after several years of service, it can create an age gap between tenured and untenured faculty members, which can further contribute to a feeling of stagnation among tenured faculty.

How to get tenure

In order to be awarded tenure at a college or university, one generally must have completed several years of teaching or research at that institution. The specifics vary by country and type of institution, but the general idea is that the individual has shown themselves to be a valuable member of the community who is likely to continue to produce quality work in the future. The process of being evaluated for tenure can be long and detailed, involving reviews by one’s peers, students, and superiors. Ultimately, it is up to the decision-makers at the institution to decide whether or not an individual will be granted tenure.

Alternatives to tenure

There are several alternatives to tenure for instructors at colleges and universities. These include:

1. Fixed-term contracts: These contracts are typically for a set period of time, such as one or two years. At the end of the contract, the instructor may be renewed for another term, or their position may be terminated.

2. Visiting positions: Visiting positions are typically held by scholars who are not seeking tenure. They may be at the college or university for a set period of time, or they may hold the position on a yearly basis.

3. Adjunct positions: Adjunct faculty members typically teach one or two courses per semester and do not have the same level of teaching responsibilities as tenure-track faculty members.

4. Clinical positions: Clinical faculty members typically teach in hospitals or other medical settings, rather than in academic institutions.

5. Postdoctoral fellowships: After completing their doctoral degree, scholars may take up a postdoctoral fellowship at an institution where they can conduct research and gain additional experience before applying for tenure-track jobs.


Tenure is a system that offers protection to academics and other professionals from dismissal due to their political or religious views. It is an important part of academic freedom, and allows researchers and teachers to pursue controversial topics without fear of losing their jobs. Tenure is not without its critics, who argue that it can lead to stagnation and complacency, but overall it is considered an important safeguard for academic freedom.

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