Tenure Track

The tenure track system offers a clearly defined career path for talented researchers. A researcher appointed to a tenure track position has the opportunity to advance systematically through the tenure track career levels towards permanent professorship, provided that the performance criteria are met.

General principles

  • The recruitment to tenure track positions is always based on open, international competition.
  • Excellent scientific quality is required when fulfilling the positions. Assessment is based on Academy of Finland’s scoring system, and a minimum score 5 out of 6 (excellent) is required for scientific activity and overall rating.
  • External evaluations are used for verifying the candidates’ world-class competence.  External evaluators are high-level international researchers and at least 3 evaluators are selected for each tenure recruitment.
  • Based on the experience and qualifications of the person, the appointment is made to Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor position. Especially merited professors can be granted the position of Distinguished Professor.
  • The appointed person can advance through the tenure track career levels based on regular tenure evaluations. These evaluations are performed by three external evaluators in a similar way as when recruiting. 

Tenure track levels

Assistant Professor

The position of an Assistant Professor is intended for a person who has recently finished their doctorate and is moving towards a professional researcher career. Doctors, who have received their doctoral degree a maximum of ten years ago, may be appointed to the position of  an Assistant Professor.

The position of an Assistant Professor requires an applicable doctoral degree, the ability to work independently and the teaching skills required in the position.

  • Fixed-term contract of 3-5 years
  • A maximum of 2 terms
  • Promotion to Associate Professor after successful tenure evaluation

Associate Professor

The person selected to the position of an Associate Professor is required to have an applicable doctoral degree as well as evidence of scientific research work and the teaching skills required in the position.

The position requires the ability to lead a research group and acquire supplementary research funding. In the selection process, scientific work abroad and proof of international cooperation are emphasized.

  • Fixed-term contract of 5 years
  • A maximum of 2 terms or a permanent position
  • Promotion to Professor after successful tenure evaluation


The person selected to a position of a Professor is required to have a doctoral degree, high-quality scientific  qualifications, experience of leading scientific research, ability to provide high-quality teaching based on research and supervise thesis work as well as evidence of international cooperation in the research field they represent. In addition to this, the position of a Professor requires skills to act as an academic leader.

  • Associate Professors are promoted to full Professors after successful tenure evaluation.
  • Professors may also be directly appointed for a tenured position
  • The position of a Distinguished Professor is for exceptionally merited professors who exceed the criteria for Professor

Evaluation criteria

The following merits are evaluated on each tenure track level:

  • scientific activities in the academic or industrial context and their reflection in the publication record, scientific presentations and other recognitions, e.g. awards and patents;
  • teaching activities and their evaluation (teaching portfolio; including student’s evaluation);
  • supervision of diploma and doctoral students;
  • acquisition of competitive research funds;
  • international scientific activities and contacts;
  • services for the academic community; and
  • academic and societal relevance and potential of activities

Each of the above merits are rated on a scale from 1 to 6. A rating of 5-6 is required from the candidates in the category 'scientific activities' and as the overall rating, in order to be recruited.

(6) Outstanding: Demonstrates exceptional novelty and innovation. Potential to substantially advance science at global level.
(5) Excellent: Extremely good in international comparison – no significant elements to be improved.
(4) Very good: In general sound, but contains a few elements that could be improved.
(3) Good: In general sound, but contains important elements that should be improved.
(2) Fair: Contains flaws. In need of substantial modification or improvement.
(1) Poor: Severe flaws that are intrinsic to the position.

You can find more details about the evaluation procedure in the evaluator's instructions

Tenure track procedure

When filling a tenure position, a recruitment committee is appointed by the Dean or the tenure programme’s steering group.

The recruitment committee will select appropriate external experts (at least 3 experts) who will perform the candidate evaluations. Based on the merits provided by the candidates in their applications the recruitment committee will preselect and short-list the top candidates (recommendation is 4 candidates), whose applications are sent for evaluations. Interviews can be performed both before and after the external evaluations.

Based on the top candidates’ merits, evaluation statements, interviews, and potential teaching demonstrations, the recruitment committee will make a proposal for selection to the Dean. The Dean will present the proposal to the University’s tenure council (i.e. research council or a separate council appointed by it). The duty of the tenure council is to ensure that the evaluation process has been of high standard and the appointed persons meet the tenure track requirements.

If the applicants do not meet the requirements, the recruitment will not be completed, the next tenure term will not be granted, or the person’s position will not be made permanent.

Advancement on the tenure track

The preparation for advancing a tenure track researcher to the next career level is initiated by the unit director 18 months before the tenure term ends. The researcher will leave an application and a CV to the recruitment committee. The recruitment committee will acquire at least three statements from external experts in a similar way as when recruiting for a tenure position. If the tenure evaluations are successful (min. level 5 – excellent is achieved) the recruitment committee will then present the appointment proposal to the Dean, and the Dean makes a proposal to the University’s tenure council/research council.


Last updated: 2.7.2020