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Policy on Extending the Probationary Period for Tenure-Track Faculty

This policy was developed by the administration following discussion with the Deans' Council, the Organization of Women Faculty and the General Faculty Council.


Independent of a faculty member's taking a leave of absence, Northwestern will permit faculty members to request extensions of their probationary period in cases where circumstances have arisen to interfere substantially with the research and/or other projects the faculty member intends to submit as part of his or her tenure review. Such circumstances may include parental responsibilities relating to the birth, adoption, or rearing of a child; personal or family emergencies, for example, chronic illness of the faculty member or a member of her/his immediate family; or problems beyond the faculty member's control relating to his/her research or scholarly activities. Extensions of the probationary period for childbirth and/or adoption and/or childrearing are limited to a total of two years, regardless of the number of children. While the decision on each request will depend on the specific circumstances and are subject to the two-year limitation stated above, requests to stop the tenure clock for a one-year period for circumstances relating to the birth or adoption of a child are automatically approved; requests related to childrearing will generally receive favorable consideration. All such requests for an extension of the probationary period must be made by the faculty member in writing and should be submitted prior to the beginning of the tenure review.


All such requests for an extension of the probationary period must be made by the faculty member in writing and must be submitted prior to the beginning of the final year of the probationary appointment. The request must state clearly the circumstances in the faculty member's situation that might justify an extended probationary period. The letter must also state explicitly that the faculty member making the request understands that he or she will not enjoy an entitlement or stronger claim to tenure by virtue of continued membership on the faculty beyond the customary period. The request is to be forwarded (in most cases via the department chair) to the school dean. If the school dean supports the request, the request, along with the dean's formal endorsement, is then sent to the Provost for further review. If the school dean does not support the request, the faculty member will be notified and will be free to seek further review of the request by the Provost. In all cases, a decision to extend the probationary period will be made by the Provost. The faculty member will receive written notification when the request is approved.


Requests to extend the probationary period will be granted if they are deemed to be in the interest of the University and if they are judged to be both fair to the faculty member making the request and the University and consistent with personnel practices generally applicable to other candidates for tenure in the University.

Responsible Office: Office of the Provost

Who Needs to Know This Policy: All Northwestern faculty members

Contacts: If you have any questions on this Policy, contact  

Dated: May, 2013