Questions to Ask when Negotiating an Academic Contract

Contract Details

  • Am I bound to an eight or twelve months contract? 
  • Will I be required to work summers? Will it be an option? 
  • When will I be expected to be at school and hold office hours? 
  • What is the university's advancement policy? Is there tenure? 
  • What is the publishing requirement? 
  • Are software or other creative products considered in fulfilling it? 
  • What are the retirement options/packages or tax shelters? 
  • What is included in the family benefits package?

Academic Funds 

  • Is there money to hire teaching assistants? 
  • Is it in-house funding? 
  • Is there university funding available for research? 
  • What sort of travel budget is available annually?


  • How many classes are considered a full teaching load? 
  • How many students are normally in the classes I will be teaching? 
  • How soon will I be granted graduate teaching status? 
  • How much control over content will I have in the course I teach? 
  • How about sections? How much autonomy will I have? 
  • Is there support for course development?

Personal Productivity 

  • Who has ownership over what I develop, e.g., textbooks, videos, programs? 
  • How many consulting days will I receive per month? 
  • How are consulting fees handled? Grant money? 
  • How is over-load handled (money from outside sources going to the university and being distributed)?

Work Environment 

  • What office space is available for me? 
  • How are parking, Xeroxing, printing, secretarial, long distance calls handled? 
  • What sort of computers, technology, tech support, software, upgrades, Web space, and input on equipment selection will I have?