Tenure & Promotion

Tenure & Promotion Criteria 2017 (Current)

Article 28 of the Collective Agreement between the Simon Fraser University Faculty Association and Simon Fraser University specifies university-wide criteria for promotion and tenure of Research Faculty, in the areas of teaching effectiveness, scholarly activities, and contributions to the university and society.  Article 35 specifies university-wide criteria for promotion of Teaching Faculty.  In the following, the minimal expectations for Tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor, and for promotion to the ranks of Professor, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and University Lecturer are specified for the Department of Biological Sciences.


Teaching in our Department includes both undergraduate and graduate training. Success as an undergraduate teacher is paramount to our profession. The candidate must demonstrate teaching effectiveness in a breadth of courses including large enrolment service courses and (for Research Faculty) smaller, specialized courses in their discipline. Evidence for teaching competence and effectiveness includes student comments from the official student evaluations, course content, method of course delivery, evaluation methods, and grading practices. Other teaching contributions that supplement formal teaching include participation in course development and curriculum revisions. Research Faculty must also demonstrate success in graduate training.

For tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, it is normally expected that the candidate has graduated at least one M.Sc. or Ph.D. student (as sole Senior Supervisor), and served as Senior Supervisor (sole or co-supervised) for at least one additional graduate student or post-doctoral fellow.

For promotion to Professor the candidate must demonstrate continued success in graduate training, with an on-going, effective and productive graduate program, which should include both M.Sc. and Ph.D. students. In addition, continuing service as co-supervisor or committee member of other graduate students, and research supervision of senior undergraduate students is expected for all Research Faculty.

For promotion to Lecturer, there must be demonstrated ability as an effective university teacher.  For promotion to Senior Lecturer, there must be demonstration of superior ability as a university teacher as well as examples of educational leadership, involvement  in curriculum development, use of innovative pedagogy, or participation in other teaching and learning initiatives.  For promotion to University Lecturer, there must be demonstration of outstanding ability as a university teacher, including innovation that results in a positive impact on student learning.  There should also be demonstrated educational leadership, or significant contributions to curriculum development, or contributions to other teaching initiatives.  These accomplishments must be supported by letters from internal or external referees.


The University expects a proven record of scholarly achievement, and continued growth as an established scholar. For the Department of Biological Sciences, this means that Research Faculty must have established and maintained a continuing, independent research program of high quality at SFU. For tenure and promotion to Associate Professor we expect that the candidate has obtained, as principal investigator, continued external funding for several years from provincial or national granting agencies. Additional support through contracts or joint grants is encouraged. The total funding level must be appropriate for the sub-discipline
At the time of tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, the candidate will have published significant results from work s/he has initiated at SFU, in refereed journals appropriate for the sub-discipline. For the assessment of the quality of the research publications, the opinions of the external referees are of special importance. The number of publications is important, but secondary to their quality and total impact, and to the applicant's contribution to the research publications.

For promotion to Full Professor the total overall career contributions of the faculty member in the area of research shall be taken into consideration, and the candidate shall have evidence of having excelled in research. Appointment or promotion to this rank requires evidence of national or international reputation in their area of expertise, supported by letters from external referees of high academic stature. The candidate must have maintained a strong, continuing research program of high quality at SFU, with appropriate funding and an appropriate publication record.


Active, collegial participation in academic self-administration is an essential contribution of any faculty member. While junior faculty members need to focus first on establishing their research and teaching programs, we expect gradually increasing service contributions prior to promotion. Minimally, candidates for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor should have served for two years on standing committees, and contributed to other service demands such as ad-hoc or search committees. We expect gradually increasing service contributions prior to promotion to Professor. Candidates for promotion to Professor should have a continued record of effective service to the Department and University, and have served on various committees, including in leading roles (e.g. Chairing committees). In addition, there should be evidence of service to the broader academic community, and engaging with the public about science is encouraged.

Currently, the University does not expect service contributions for promotion from Laboratory Instructor to Lecturer.  Once at the rank of Lecturer, gradually increasing service contributions are expected.  For promotion to Senior Lecturer, a minimum of 2 years of service on Departmental Standing Committees, and contribution to other aspects of service such as outreach initiatives or search committees, is expected. For promotion to University Lecturer, continued participation in service to the Department, University, broader community, and the discipline is expected.


Expectations of relative contributions to research, teaching, and service can vary among faculty due to formal arrangements (e.g., research chairs or awards, or major administrative duties). In cases with such formal arrangements, faculty who contribute relatively less to one or two of the three areas are expected to contribute relatively more to the other area or areas. Such situations should be discussed in the tenure and/or promotion application materials submitted by the candidate.