So You Want Tenure? Factors Affecting Tenure Decisions in Political Science Departments

Bryan W. Marshalla1 and John M. Rothgeb Jr.a2

a1 Miami University

a2 Miami University


This article investigates the variables that affect the award of tenure in political science departments in the United States. We examined two dependent variables: (1) whether a department has denied tenure in the past five years, and (2) whether a positive departmental tenure recommendation has been reversed by higher college or university authorities during the same period of time. Five clusters of independent variables were evaluated: (1) college/university and departmental characteristics, (2) the procedures employed to evaluate tenure cases, (3) the instruments used to assess teaching, (4) service expectations, and (5) research and publication standards. We found that the most important factors affecting departmental decisions to deny tenure were whether teaching and substantive publications were treated as equally valuable qualifications, the number of articles a candidate published, and the candidate's level of commitment to advising. Interestingly, reversal decisions by higher authorities were not strongly affected by any of the variables in the analysis.

Bryan W. Marshall is an associate professor of political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He has authored several articles and two books on American politics. His areas of specialization include Congress, congressional-executive relations, separation of powers, and quantitative methods. Dr. Marshall recently served as APSA's Steiger Congressional Fellow (2008–09), working for the House Majority Whip, the Honorable Jim Clyburn. He can be reached at

John M. Rothgeb, Jr. is a professor of political science and distinguished scholar of the graduate school at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of numerous books and articles regarding international politics and foreign policy and about the discipline of political science. He can be reached at