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Probationary Period Extensions for Tenure-Track Faculty

This page lists general and COVID-19 questions, answers and examples focused on probationary period extensions (more colloquially known as "stop the tenure clock" extensions) for tenure-track faculty.

More information and FAQs

Probationary Period Extensions – General information 

Probationary Period Extensions - under COVID-19

Probationary Period Extensions – General information 

What is a probationary period?

The probationary period refers to the period of time at the end of which a tenure-track faculty member is put up for tenure. A tenure-track assistant professor must be reviewed no later than the sixth year of the probationary period and individuals appointed to the associate professor or professor ranks without tenure must be reviewed no later than the third year of their probationary period. 

For example: A tenure-track assistant professor (with no probationary period extensions) who started in rank at UT Austin at the start of the 2015-16 academic year (AY2015-16) would be reviewed no later than AY2020-21.


What counts as a probationary year?

One year of probationary service is accrued by at least two long sessions (fall and spring semesters) of full-time academic service during an academic year. An academic year is defined as starting September 1st and ending on August 31st of the following calendar year (e.g., 9/1/20 to 8/31/21).  When a faculty member works a partial year (e.g. a faculty member begins their appointment in January) or is on a leave of absence (e.g. leave without pay) for any part of the year, that time does not count as a year of probationary service.

For example: A tenure-track assistant professor might start in rank at UT Austin in January, (spring semester), 2020. Their first full probationary year of service would then start in fall, 2020 and that full year would be AY2020-21.


What is a probationary period extension?

In a layperson’s terms, a probationary period extension is a tenure clock extension. A year during which an extension is applied does not count toward the maximum number of years allowed for the probationary period. As noted above, a tenure-track assistant professor must be reviewed no later than the sixth year of the probationary period.  And individuals appointed to the associate professor or professor ranks without tenure must be reviewed no later than the third year of the probationary period.

For example: A tenure-track assistant professor starting at UT Austin in fall, 2015 and who receives one probationary period extension, must be reviewed no later than during the 2021-22 academic year. Without the probationary period extension, this tenure-track faculty member would have to be reviewed for tenure no later than the 2020-21 academic year.


Who is eligible to receive a probationary period extension?

The probationary period extension is only relevant to untenured tenure-track faculty. It is not relevant to faculty who are not on the tenure track nor to those who are tenured.


I am a faculty member in the Dell Medical School.  Do probationary period extensions apply to me?​

Yes, but with one important consideration.  Tenure-track faculty in the Dell Medical School are reviewed no later than their 7th year of probationary service regardless of whether they are tenure-track assistant or tenure-track associate professor.


Which personal circumstances make me eligible to receive a probationary period extension?

As detailed in the HOP 2-2020: “Personal circumstances that may justify the extension include, but are not restricted to: disability or illness of the faculty member; status of the faculty member as the principal caregiver of a preschool child; or, status of the faculty member as a principal caregiver of a disabled, elderly, or ill member of the family of the faculty member”.


How do I apply for a probationary period extension?

As detailed in HOP 2-2020, requests for a probationary period extension must be submitted to the department chair (or dean in non-departmentalized colleges/schools). “It is the responsibility of the faculty member to provide appropriate documentation to adequately demonstrate why the request should be granted. The documentation should include substantiation of why the circumstance placed an unreasonable burden upon the ability of the faculty member to meet progress expectations.”


What is the deadline for applying for a probationary period extension?

The probationary period extension request must be made no later than the end of the spring semester (i.e. by May 31st) before the faculty member's mandatory tenure review year. 

For example: If the 2020-21 academic year is the tenure-track faculty member’s final year of their probationary period during which they must be reviewed for tenure, then the faculty member must submit a request for the probationary period extension by May 31st, 2020.


When will I hear the decision about whether I will receive a probationary period extension?

The decision of the Executive Vice President and Provost will be made within five working days of their receipt of the request and all appropriate documentation unless exceptional circumstances mandate additional time for consideration.


How is an extension to a probationary period interpreted?

Tenure candidates whose probationary period has been extended under HOP 2-2020 or due to leave without pay in accordance with university family and medical leave policies shall be evaluated as if the work were done in the normal period of service (e.g., six years for tenure-track assistant; three years for other tenure-track ranks).


If I receive a probationary period extension but then decide that I do not need it after all, can I rescind it?

Yes, you can rescind (cancel) a probationary period extension if rescinded using the appropriate process including meeting the relevant deadline.


How and by when do I rescind a probationary period extension?

A request to rescind an approved probationary period extension must be submitted in writing to the department chair (or dean in non-departmentalized College/School) no later than February 1st of the calendar year associated with the candidate’s intended fall promotion review. 

For example: If a tenure-track assistant professor who joined UT-Austin faculty in that rank in fall, 2015 received one probationary period extension, then they would be up for review at the latest in fall, 2021. If the faculty member instead chooses to rescind the extension in order to be reviewed in fall 2020, the request to rescind must be received not later than February 1st, 2020 before the promotion review academic year 2020-21.


Is there a limit on the number of probationary period extensions a tenure-track faculty member is allowed?

Under normal circumstances, yes, there is a maximum of two probationary period extensions allowed for certain personal circumstances (as described in the policy) before tenure review. However, an extension to the probationary period that is needed due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on scholarly and creative productivity may be requested and approved outside of the maximum allowed for certain personal circumstances.


With whom should I discuss a possible probationary period extension?

Please discuss any questions you might have about a possible probationary period extension with your department chair or dean. And feel free to reach out to the Academic Personnel Services team in the Provost’s office with any questions. 


Probationary Period Extensions - under COVID-19 

As a tenure-track faculty member, can I request a probationary period extension due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on my scholarly and creative productivity?

Yes, the provost’s office will approve requests for a probationary extension due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on scholarly and creativity productivity for any tenure-track faculty member. Note that the request must be formally submitted and follow the relevant deadlines and procedures.


How do I apply for a probationary period extension for COVID-19-related reasons?

As detailed in HOP 2-2020, requests for a probationary period extension must be submitted to the department chair (or dean in non-departmentalized colleges/schools). “It is the responsibility of the faculty member to provide appropriate documentation to adequately demonstrate why the request should be granted. The documentation should include substantiation of why the circumstance placed an unreasonable burden upon the ability of the faculty member to meet progress expectations.”


Who is eligible for a probationary period extension due to the negative impact of COVID-19?

Tenure-track faculty who began employment at UT Austin on or before March 13th, 2020 are eligible to apply for a COVID-19-related probationary period extension. 


What is the deadline for applying for a probationary period extension associated with COVID-19?

The request must be made no later than the end of the spring semester (i.e. May 31st) before the faculty member's required tenure review year. 

For example: If the 2020-21 academic year is the tenure-track faculty member’s final year of their probationary period during which they must be reviewed for tenure, then the faculty member must submit a request for the probationary period extension by May 31st, 2020.


If I am currently up for tenure review this coming 2020-21 academic year (AY2020-21), am I eligible to apply for a COVID-19-related probationary period extension?

Yes


I am a tenure-track faculty member and I already have two probationary period extensions due to personal circumstances. I understand that there is a maximum of two probationary period extensions allowed before tenure review. Can I receive an additional probationary period extension in light of the negative impact of COVID-19 on my scholarly and creative productivity?

Yes. A COVID-19 probationary period extension is not counted in the maximum of two extensions due to personal circumstances that are allowed under HOP 2-2020.


After receiving a probationary period extension as a result of COVID-19’s negative impact on my scholarly and creative productivity, am I still eligible to receive up to two additional extensions for personal circumstances before tenure review?

Yes. A COVID-19 probationary period extension is not counted in the maximum of two due to personal circumstances that are allowed under HOP 2-2020