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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Frequently Asked Questions

Show or Hide answer What does “tenure-track” mean?

“Tenure-track” includes the prospect of a permanent position (tenure) after having successfully proven oneself in a fixed-term position. 

The tenure-track professorship is a model borrowed from the U.S. higher education system. It establishes a procedure whereby the appointment to a professorship is initially for a definite period of time which turns into a lifelong professorship following a successful tenure review.

At Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin junior professorships are filled for six years and fixed-term W2-professorships for five years, both endowed with “real” tenure-track. Tenure-track professors thus already have from day one the binding prospect of transitioning to permanent professorship following a successful evaluation. The salary level of the follow-up position is already fixed by the time of job posting. The transition to a permanent professorship depends solely on passing the tenure evaluation of the achievements that were agreed upon when the holder was appointed.

Show or Hide answer Whom is the tenure-track professorship for?

The tenure-track professorship targets excellent researchers, particularly in early career stages. Transitions from other career paths to a professorship are possible.

Show or Hide answer What are the eligibility requirements?

In accordance with §100, §102a, and §102c of the Berlin Higher Education Act (Berliner Hochschulgesetz), in addition to the general public sector employment law requirements, the candidate must have a university degree, teaching ability, and an aptitude for academic work, usually demonstrated by an outstanding doctorate.

With respect to junior professorships, as a rule, no more than six years should elapse between the final doctoral examination and the application.

Applicants for a tenure-track professorship shall have switched to a different university once they have obtained their doctorate, or must have been employed in the academic field for at least two years outside the HU Berlin.

Show or Hide answer How does the tenure-track phase work for junior professors?

In line with §102b of the Berlin Higher Education Act, junior professors with tenure-track are initially appointed as temporary officials for a period of three years. With the approval of the junior professor, the civil service contract is then extended in the third year for a further three years, if they have proven themselves in their office.

The evaluation is based on the successful completion of the probationary period, which is carried out in accordance with the Guidelines (Rules of Procedure) for the Interim Assessment of Junior Professorships. If the outcome is negative, the civil service contract can be extended for a transitional period of up to one year, with the consent of the evaluated candidate. No further interim evaluation is carried out within the tenure-track procedure. However, the commission that assesses the completion of the probationary period can forward the results of the interim evaluation along with the relevant documents to the mentor for further consultation.

The tenure-track phase concludes with the tenure evaluation. The procedure is initiated no later than 15 months before the end of the second service period. If successful, the candidate transitions to a lifelong professorship, either on a W2 or W3 salary band.

Show or Hide answer How does the tenure-track phase work for W2-professors?

Fixed-term W2-professorships with tenure-track approval are filled for five years. There is no interim evaluation. The procedure of the tenure evaluation is initiated at least 15 months before the termination of the temporary employment. If successful, the candidate transitions to a lifelong professorship, either on a W2 or W3 salary band.

Show or Hide answer Where can I find the job announcements?

You can find current announcements for tenure-track professorships at the HU Berlin at: https://www.personalabteilung.hu-berlin.de/stellenausschreibungen

Show or Hide answer What documents are needed in order to apply, and to whom do I direct my application?

Applications for tenure-track professorships should be addressed to the respective dean of the faculty, quoting the number of the vacancy notice. The contact details and required documents (generally curriculum vitae, certificates, list of publications, as well as, where applicable, an exposé for professorship and a teaching concept) are detailed in the respective job announcement.

Show or Hide answer What tasks will I need to perform?

The appointee concludes an agreement with the University on appointment with tenure track. The agreement lists the concrete assignments and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled within the fixed-term tenure-track phase. These are based on the framework of achievements for tenure evaluation. On the basis of the evaluation, the appointment commission in turn selects the professorship-specific criteria in the course of the appointment procedure and further specifies them. If the criteria laid down and the other preconditions for employment that were fixed on appointment with tenure track have been met, the professor transitions to a permanent professorship.

Show or Hide answer What is the tenure evaluation?

The evaluation procedure at the HU Berlin regulates the process that determines whether the tenure-track professor has been completed the probationary phase successfully and can transition to a lifelong professor. The evaluation is carried out by means of clear and transparent eligibility requirements.

Show or Hide answer What criteria are used to carry out the tenure evaluation?

The examination is conducted on the basis of a self-evaluation report of the candidates, three to five external reviews, and teaching assessments by the students. The assessment is made on the basis of the assignments and the performance indicators that were set and agreed upon at the time of the appointment. In order to pass, candidates are required to show excellence in the research category. The assignments in the teaching category must be fully complied with. The tenure commission may consider outstanding achievements in the research and teaching categories as the determining criteria in their decision. Other assignments and responsibilities need to be fulfilled in the categories of involvement in the academic self-administration, promotion of junior researchers, and acquisition of competence in personnel management.

Show or Hide answer Does the tenure evaluation take parental and caregiver leave into account?

Yes, the personal circumstances of the tenure-track professors (maternity leave, parental leave, care periods for children and obligations towards dependents in need of care) are taken into due consideration.

Show or Hide answer How does the tenure evaluation work?
  1. Initiation: The tenure evaluation procedure is initiated at the request of the candidate at the latest 15 months before the termination of the fixed-term contractual relationship.
  2. Tenure commission: The faculty board appoints a tenure commission. One half is composed of professors from the respective faculty, the other from another faculty, plus at least one external member. The tenure commission examines whether the agreed assignments and related responsibilities have been met in all five categories. To this end, the tenure commission seeks expert opinions from three outstanding internationally acclaimed professors. Provided if necessary, given the focus of the professorship, these professors must in addition be external and from a different country.
  3. The tenure commission discusses with the candidate the progress made within the scope of the tenure professorship and the assignments that were fulfilled. It then draws up a written report, which either recommends a transition to the envisaged lifelong professorship or the termination of the tenure procedure.
  4. Resolution: On the basis of the tenure commission’s written report, the faculty board passes a resolution on appointing the candidate to a professorship with a lifelong civil service contract or with a permanent contract respectively.
  5. Opinion of the tenure board: Immediately upon the faculty board’s resolution, the tenure board receives the documents of the appointment procedure. It examines the plausibility of the resolution and checks whether the evaluation was carried out exclusively on the basis of the agreed achievements. The tenure board submits a written recommendation for the implementation of the resolution. On the basis of this recommendation, the president may return the procedure to the faculty for a renewed consultation and resolution.
  6. Decision: In the case of a positive decision, the procedure for the lifelong appointment is initiated.
Show or Hide answer What if the result of the tenure evaluation is negative?

Should a candidate within the scope of the tenure evaluation not fulfil the assignments and responsibilities agreed upon at appointment, the contractual relationship ends. The evaluated candidate can apply for the contract to be extended for up to one year (phasing-out period).

Show or Hide answer Can the tenure evaluation be repeated?

No, a repetition of the tenure evaluation is not possible.

Show or Hide answer Can the tenure evaluation be brought forward in time?

The tenure-track professorship phase should be exhausted to its full extent. The tenure evaluation can nevertheless be initiated at an earlier stage if so desired (e.g. transition to a position at another university). Junior professors must have already successfully completed their probationary period.