A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank.[1] In many English-speaking nations, such as the United Kingdom, professor is reserved only for senior academics holding a departmental chair (especially head of the department) at a university, or an awarded chair specifically bestowed recognizing an individual at a university. In the United States and Canada the title of professor is granted to larger groups of senior teachers in two- and four-year colleges and universities.

In countries on the European mainland, such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, usage of professor as a legal title is limited much the same way as in most Commonwealth countries, that is, it is reserved for someone who holds a chair. But in the United States, while "Professor" as a proper noun (with a capital "P") generally implies a title, the common noun "professor" in the US describes anyone with a permanent position at the college (i.e. university) level, regardless of rank; also, as a prenominal title of address, it can be capitalized without implying the title rank.

In Portugal, France, Romania and Latin America (Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking), the term professor (profesor / professor / professeur / profesor) is used for anyone teaching at a school, institute, technical school, vocational school, college, or university, regardless of the level of the subject matter taught or the level or ages of students. This includes instructors at the grade/elementary school, middle school, and high school levels. However, when the professor teaches at a university, they are specifically called a "university professor"; if holding a chair, then catedrático is used in Spanish. It is common to call university professors just "profesor" (Spanish) or "professor" (Portuguese).

In Spain, the term professor (Basque, Galician and Spanish: (m) profesor, (f) profesora; Aranese and Catalan: (m) professor, (f) professora) is used for higher-level teachers at the secondary education level (high school, lyceum, institute, etc.) and above (i.e. institute, technical school, vocational school, college, or university). Instructors at the primary or elementary school level are called teachers (Aranese: (m) mèstre, (f) mèstra; Basque: (m) maisu, (f) maistra; Catalan and Galician: (m) mestre, (f) mestra; Spanish: (m) maestro, (f) maestra). When the professor teaches at a university, they are specifically called a "university professor"; if holding a chair, then chair (Aranese: catedratic; Basque: katedraduna; Catalan: catedràtic; Galician and Spanish: catedrático) is used. In Spain, it is not common to call university professors just "professor".

In Poland, the term profesor means professor extraordinarius and professor ordinarius at colleges and universities, and anyone who teaches at a (Polish) high school (grades 10-12).

Beyond holding the proper academic title, universities in many countries also append famous artists, athletes and foreign dignitaries with the title honorary professor, even if these persons don't have the academic qualifications typically necessary for professorship. However, such "professors" usually do not undertake academic work for the granting institution.



Professors are qualified experts who generally perform the following:

Online courses are often taught by adjunct instructors, with advanced degrees. Adjunct instructors are often not involved in program design, accreditation reports, or many of the other duties that fall within the purview of tenured, or more senior faculty members. Tenured professors also offer courses online.

Other roles of professorial tasks depend on the institution, its legacy, protocols, place (country), and time. For example, professors at research-oriented universities in the U.S., Canada and, generally, at European universities, are promoted primarily on the basis of research achievements and external fund-raising success.


A tenured professor earns a lifetime appointment until retirement, except for dismissal with "due cause." A common justification for existence of such an unusually privileged position is the principle of academic freedom, which holds that it is beneficial for state, society and academy in the long run if scholars are free to examine, hold, and advance controversial views without fear of dismissal from their jobs.

Some argue that modern tenure systems actually diminish academic freedom, forcing those seeking tenured positions to profess conformance to the same views (political and academic) as those awarding a tenured professorship. According to physicist Lee Smolin, " is practically career suicide for a young theoretical physicist not to join the field [of string theory]."[2] This may be even more so now that many universities require several years in non-tenure track positions (e.g. Visiting Assistant Professorships or Post-Doctoral Fellowships) before beginning the 5-6 year process preceding tenure.

Another argument against tenure is professors underperforming in research or teaching cannot be terminated, so typical performance-oriented management techniques from the business world such as reviews, audits, and incentive-based salaries are the only tools available, as the threat of firing does not exist without due cause.[3] Nevertheless, many tenured faculty members are expected to and most do obtain research funding.

In some countries academic institutions do not award tenure.[citation needed]. In others, whether tenured positions are available varies from faculty to faculty or from institution to institution.

Canada and the United States

The term "professors" in the United States refers to a group of educators at the college and university level; in Canada, where a major distinction is made between college- and university-level education, the term is generally restricted to universities. In the United States and Canada, while "Professor" as a proper noun (with a capital "P") generally implies a position title, the common noun "professor" appropriately describes anyone teaching at the college level, regardless of rank; also, as a prenominal title of address, it can be capitalized without implying the title rank.

Tenured and tenure-track positions

These full-time faculty members engage in both undergraduate and graduate teaching, mentoring, research, and service. Only faculty in these positions are eligible for tenure.

  • Assistant professor: An introductory level professor. A position generally taken after receiving PhD and/or completing a post-doctoral fellowship. After 4–8 years, assistant professors will be either tenured or dismissed from the university.
  • Associate professor: A mid-level, usually tenured, professor.
  • Professor (sometimes referred to as "full professor"): a senior, tenured professor.
  • Distinguished professor / endowed chair (e.g., "the Brian S. Smith Professor of Physics"): An honorary position in which a full professor's salary is increased by being tied to an endowment derived from the university, private individuals, firms, or foundations.

Educators who hold a formal title of "Professor" (referred to as tenured/tenure-track faculty) typically begin their careers as assistant professors, with subsequent promotions to the ranks of associate professor and finally professor. The titles are historical traditions; for example, it is not implied that an assistant professor "assists" more senior faculty. There is usually a strict timeline for application for promotion from assistant to associate professor, most often 5 or 6 years following the initial appointment. Applicants are evaluated based on their contributions to research, teaching, and administration. The relative weighting of these contributions differ by institution, with PhD-granting universities usually placing more emphasis on research and liberal arts colleges placing more emphasis on teaching. The decision to grant tenure and promotion from assistant to associate professor usually requires numerous levels of approval, with a common sequence being: 1) external reviewers—several nationally or internationally prominent academics in the candidate's field will be asked to review the candidate's application for promotion and submit a confidential report; 2) based on this report and evidence of the candidate's accomplishments in his or her curriculum vitae, a committee of members from the candidate's department will make a recommendation for tenure/promotion or denial of such; 3) the department will vote; 4) the department decision is communicated to a university panel of individuals from outside of the department who evaluate the application and decide whether they agree or disagree with the departmental recommendation; 5) the dean; 6) the board of governors/president or other upper level governing body.

A decision to reject a candidate for tenure normally requires that the individual leave the institution within a year. Otherwise, tenure is granted along with promotion from assistant to associate professor. Although tenure and promotion are usually separate decisions, they are often highly correlated such that a decision to grant a promotion coincides with a decision in favor of tenure, and vice versa. Promotion to associate professor usually results in an increased administrative load and membership on committees that are restricted to tenured faculty.

Some people remain at the level of associate professor throughout their careers. However, most will apply for the final promotion to full professor; the timeline for making this application is more flexible than that for assistant to associate positions and the associate professor does not normally lose his/her job if the application is rejected. As with promotion from assistant to associate professor, promotion from associate to full professor involves review at multiple levels, similar to the earlier tenure/promotion review. This includes external reviews, decisions by the department, recommendations by members of other departments, and high-ranking university officials. Usually, this final promotion requires that the individual has maintained an active research program, and excellent teaching, in addition to taking a leadership role in important departmental and extra-departmental administrative tasks. Full professor is the highest rank that a professor can achieve (other than in a named position) and is seldom achieved before a person reaches their mid-40s. The rank of full professor carries additional administrative responsibilities associated with membership on committees that are restricted to full professors.

Non-tenure-track positions

Individuals in these positions typically (though not always) focus on teaching undergraduate courses, do not engage in research (except in the case of "Research Professors"), may or may not have administrative or service roles, and sometimes are eligible for job security that is less strong than tenure. They may still use the prenominal title "Professor" and be described by the common-noun "professor," whether or not the position title contains the term. Likewise, the term "instructor" is very generic and can be applied to any teacher, or it can be a specific title (tenure or tenure-track) depending upon how an institution chooses to use the term.

  • Teaching Assistant (TA), Teaching Fellow (TF), or Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): Positions typically held by graduate students. TAs play a supportive role involving grading, review sessions, and labs. Teaching fellows (and at some universities, TAs or GSIs) teach entire courses.
  • Adjunct Instructor / Adjunct Professor / Adjunct Lecturer: Part-time, non-salaried, non-tenure track faculty members who are paid for each class they teach. This position tends to involve professionals employed elsewhere full-time, and does not always require a completed PhD.
  • Lecturer: A full-time or part-time position at a university that does not involve tenure or formal research obligations (although sometimes they choose to perform research), but can often involve administrative service roles. This position does not necessarily require a doctoral degree and usually involves a focus on undergraduate and/or introductory courses. In some colleges the term Senior Lecturer is awarded to highly qualified or accomplished Lecturers. A convention some schools have begun to use is the title "Teaching Professor," with or without ranks, to clarify that these are in fact true faculty members who simply do not have research obligations.
  • Collegiate Professor (with ranks): A recent title with many different names dependent upon rank, these instructors hold the same rank as their tenure-track counterparts; however, they are not tenured. Like Lecturers they can be full or part time, and their main purpose is to teach and conduct service to the college rather than conducting research or publishing. They often have a practical emphasis and go by such terminology as Clinical Professors, Studio Professors (in architecture and design) or Industry Professors (in fields such as engineering and technology).[4] A similar recent title that has come into use is "Professor of Practice."
  • Visiting Professor (with ranks): (a) A temporary assistant/associate/full professor position (see above), e.g. to cover the teaching load of a faculty member on sabbatical. (b) A professor on leave who is invited to serve as a member of the faculty of another college or university for a limited period of time, often an academic year.
  • Research Professor: A position that usually carries only research duties with no obligation for teaching. Research professors usually have no salary commitment from their institution and must secure their salary from external funding sources such as grants and contracts. (These are often known as "soft money" positions.) Although Research Professor positions usually are not eligible to be awarded tenure, their ranks parallel those of tenure-track positions (like Clinical Professors); i.e., Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor, and (full) Research Professor.

Retired faculty

Retired faculty may retain formal or informal links with their university, such as library privileges or office space. At some institutions faculty who have retired after achieving the rank of professor are given the title "professor emeritus" (male) or "professor emerita" (female).

The United Kingdom, Ireland and other English speaking countries

In the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and most Commonwealth countries (but not Canada), traditionally, a professor held either an established chair or a personal chair. An established chair is established by the university to meet their needs for academic leadership and standing in a particular area or discipline and the post is filled from a shortlist of applicants; only a suitably qualified person will be appointed. A personal chair is awarded specifically to an individual in recognition of their high levels of achievements and standing in their particular area or discipline. In most universities, professorships are reserved for only the most senior academic staff, and other academics are generally known as 'lecturers', 'senior lecturers' and 'readers' (in some Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the title 'Associate Professor' can be used instead of 'Reader'[5]). In some countries, senior lecturers are generally paid the same as readers, but the latter is awarded primarily for research excellence, and traditionally carries higher prestige. A few UK universities have recently begun using the Australian terminology, with both "Senior Lecturers" and "Readers" now being called "Associate Professors." Traditionally, Heads of Departments and other senior academic leadership roles within a university were undertaken by professors.[6]

During the 1990s, however, the University of Oxford introduced Titles of Distinction, enabling their holders to be termed professors or readers while holding academic posts at the level of lecturer. The University of Exeter and University of Warwick have adopted the antipodean style of 'associate professor' in lieu of 'reader'. The varied practices these changes have brought about has meant that academic ranks in the United Kingdom are no longer quite as consistent as they once were. The same trend to move towards the North American system is observed also in the former British colony of Hong Kong. Academic ranks there are now becoming more consistent again, with The University of Hong Kong, the oldest university in the territory, having switched to the North American system.

In general, the title of 'Professor' is reserved in correspondence to full professors only; lecturers and readers are properly addressed by their academic qualification (Dr for a PhD, DPhil etc. and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms otherwise). In Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, associate professors are by courtesy addressed as "Professor." In official functions however, Associate Professors are addressed as Dr or Associate Professors and not Professors. As in the USA, the title of 'professor emeritus' may be awarded to a retired or former professor, who may well retain formal or informal links with the institution where the chair was formerly held.

Named professorships

Many professorships are named in honour of a distinguished person or after the person who endowed the chair. Some chairs have a long history and considerable prestige attached, such as the Gresham Professorships, which date back to the 16th Century, Regius Professorships or the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

Professors of music – music teachers

Somewhat confusingly, instructors at many music conservatoires in the UK are known as professors; for example, 'professor of violin'. This designation is quite different from the standard British use of the term, and has more in common with the American usage, where the term is applied to any instructor at a college or university.

In The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, the term 'professor' is properly and in formal situations given to singing and instrumental tutors in the music colleges / conservatories of music, usually the older and more august ones: The Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Royal Irish Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire The expression has nearly become obsolete for singing and instrumental tuition in the universities however, save for one or two.The same convention applies throughout Europe in the National Colleges of Music.[citation needed]

Professors of fencing – fencing coaches

The British Academy of Fencing has a 5-level series of qualifications in each of the three weapons, with the highest being Diploma Level. Those qualifying at this level in one or two weapons may use the title Maître d’Escrime (master of fencing). Those qualifying at Diploma Level in all three weapons become ‘Masters’ of the Academy and may use the title Professor.[7]

Brazil and Portugal

In Portuguese, professor means both "professor" and "teacher." When necessary, the distinction is generally made by referring to a teacher as professor, where more specific positions can be stated, viz professor de escola (school teacher), professor de cursinho (prep course teacher) etc.; and to a professor as professor universitário (university professor).

Main positions

  • Professor Catedrático (Portugal) / Professor Titular (Brazil): Full Professor. It is the highest faculty position.
  • Professor Associado (Portugal and Brazil): Associate professor. In Portugal, this position is open by public competition among Assistant Professors and people with PhD for at least 5 years. In Brazil, it refers to a faculty member who has completed a Habilitation thesis and public examination.
  • Professor Adjunto (Portugal and Brazil): This tenured position is an intermediate position between associate and assistant professor, requiring a PhD.
  • Professor Auxiliar (Portugal and Brazil): Professor requiring only a Masters in the beginning of his/her career. In Portugal it requires s PHD or a JD, after a five year contract, may become a Professor Associado or dismiss the university.
  • Professor Substituto: It is a replacement teacher with a short term contract for replacement of Professors on maternity leaves, sabbatical years or other temporary situations.
  • Professor Visitante: The same as Visiting Professor. Usually condusts researches as an obligation from its contract and so needs a PhD.

See more on: Academic rank#Brazil, Academic rank#Portugal

Czech Republic and Slovakia

The title of professor is a pedagogical-academic title (pedagogicko-akademický titul) awarded to university teachers holding a Ph.D. degree or equivalent who excel in a specific field of science and have special merits in both research and university teaching. Excellent scientists who do not teach at a university (but work in a research institution, for example) do not receive the title of Professor. The title of professor is indicated in abbreviation in front of a holder's name, e.g. prof. Jan Švejnar or prof. MUDr. Josef Koutecký, DrSc.

The title of professor is awarded to a particular person on the basis of the recommendation by a university, in particular, by its Scientific Committee (vědecká rada), which is accredited to do so by the Accreditation Commission (akreditační komise) of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy). The recommended nominee is promoted to professorship by the president of the Czech Republic through the Minister of Education (art. 76 of Higher Education Act, act No. 110/1998 Col.). The system of awarding of the title of professor means that the title is not bound to a position at a university, e.g. a director of a department, and vice versa – one is not required to be a professor to hold a high-ranking position at a university. A university must have a certain number of professors and docents among its staff to receive accreditation for its study programs, but these need not necessarily be heads of departments or university faculties.

According to the Higher Education Act, No. 110/1998 Col. the nominee’s qualifications are assessed by at least five professors, specialists in the field or a field similar to the field in which the nominee is to be pronounced a professor. At least three of these professors must be from universities other than the nominee's one. An important precondition set by the law is that the nominee must already have the title of Docent. (The procedure of qualification, habilitační process, leading to the awarding of the title of docent is similar to the one leading to professorship. Docents are pronounced by the head of the university, rektor, accredited to pronounce docents in a particular field.)

The ranking system of teachers at Czech universities:

  • Asistent is usually a doctoral student or a graduate of a PhD. study program.
  • Odborný asistent is usually a graduate of a PhD. study program with some teaching and/or research experience.
  • Docent has finished a PhD. program and has been awarded the title of docent after their work and contribution to science or scholarship had been scrutinised by an assembly of five professors and docents.
  • Profesor has been pronounced a professor after being pronounced a docent.

Other professors

In the past, there were two titles of professor recognised in Czechoslovakia (predecessor state of today's Czech rep. and Slovak rep.):

  1. University Professor (universitní profesor)
  2. Secondary School Professor (středoškolský profesor)

Awarding of both of these titles was regulated by law before the World War II. The title středoškolský profesor ceased to exist after the war. However, there is a type of secondary school (gymnázium) where the students still address to their teachers as professors (profesoři) out of tradition.


In Denmark the word professor is only used for full professors. An associate professor is in Danish called a lektor and an assistant professor is called an adjunkt. Before promotion to full professorship, one can get a time limited (usually 5 years) post as an MSO (professor med særlige opgave) or "professor with special responsibilities." This position gives time to gather enough publication record, as well as for the school to raise funds for the permanent professorship. An additional step between lektor and full professor is docent. A docent has the same work as a professor but they do not actively take part in senior administrative duties, such as heading a department.


Public universities have five ranks for faculty members: معيد (Mu`īd ; equivalent to teaching assistant), مدرس مساعد (Mudarris musā`id; equivalent to senior teaching assistant), مدرس(Mudarris; equivalent to assistant professor), أستاذ مساعد('Ustāḏ musā`id; equivalent to associate professor), and أستاذ('Ustāḏ; equivalent to professor)

Teaching assistant: Academic departments hire teaching assistants by either directly hiring the top ranking students of the most recent graduates, or publishing advertisements. Once hired, a teaching assistant must obtain a master’s degree within five years of commencing employment. Otherwise, s/he must either leave the university, or be transferred to any administrative department that s/he is qualified for. Teaching assistants duties include preparing and delivering tutorial and lab sessions, preparing assignments and term projects requirements, preparing and conducting laboratory examinations, and tutorial quizzes, and co-supervising graduation projects.

Senior teaching assistant: After a teaching assistant obtains a master's degree, s/he is promoted to a senior teaching assistant. Usually, the duties do not change, but the salary increases slightly. To keep her/his post, a senior teaching assistant must obtain a doctoral degree within five years. Otherwise, s/he must either leave the university, or be transferred to any administrative department that s/he is qualified for.

Assistant professor: Once a senior teaching assistant obtains a doctorate, s/he is hired as an assistant professor, and receives tenureship. Assistant professors duties include delivering lectures, supervising graduation projects, master's theses, and doctoral dissertations.

Associate professor: After at least five years, an assistant professor can apply for a promotion to the rank of associate professor. The decision is based on the scholarly contributions of the applicant, in terms of publications and theses and dissertations supervised.

Professor: After at least five years, an associate professor can apply for a promotion to the rank of a professor. The decision is based on the scholarly contributions of the applicant, in terms of publications and theses and dissertations supervised.

Academic duties of associate professors and professors are nearly the same as assistant professors. However, only associate professors and professors can assume senior administrative posts like a department chair, a college vice dean, and a college dean.


Finland's system is similar to the traditional German system in that there is a limited number of chairs for professors (professori), who head research groups and take part in administration in addition to lecturing. The rank of apulaisprofessori ("assistant professor") is no longer in use. Fulfillment of a professor's post often requires that the previous professor has retired. Qualifications for a professor are a doctor's degree and an extensive independent publication record; the degree of lisensiaatti (Licentiate) does not qualify. (For example, in medicine, the common degree equivalent to a medical doctor is a lisensiaatti degree: additional research and study is required for the degree called lääketieteen tohtori, "Doctor of Medicine.")

The professor-level position of dosentti is similar in required qualifications, but has fewer or no administrative responsibilities and may be combined with work at a company or another university. Junior educators are not called professori, but by other terms such as assistentti (Assistant), lehtori (Lecturer), opettava tutkija (Teaching Researcher), or yliopisto-opettaja (literally "University Teacher"). The same applies to researchers (tutkija, etc.).


After the doctorate granted by a university, and most frequently several years of non-tenure postdoctoral positions, scholars who wish to enter academia may apply for a position of maître de conférences (MCF, "master of lectures"). To get this position they must first be approved by the National Council of Universities, made up of elected and appointed MCFs and professors. Then, the recruitment procedure is performed in each individual university mostly by a selection committees composed of other MCFs and professors (half from the university where the position is open, half from other universities), rather than by administrators.

The salary scale is national and invariable from one university to another. However, a recent reform allows salary modulation in the universities but at the moment this possibility has not widely been applied.

After some years in the position, MCFs may take an "habilitation" to direct officially PhD theses before applying for a position of professeur des universités ("university professor") in their home university or in other institutions. Their suitability for such a position will be judged by the National Council of Universities (restricted to full professors). The each individual application is examined by a selection committee (composed exclusively of full professors) mostly on their published original research as well on teaching and administrative duties.

In the past, this required a higher doctorate [a "State Doctorate"]. In some disciplines such as Law, Management ["Gestion"] and Economics, candidates take the agrégation competitive examination; only the higher-ranked are nominated.

Both MCFs and professors are civil servants; however they follow a special statute guaranteeing academic freedom. As an exception to civil service rules, these positions are open regardless of citizenship. There also exist equivalent ranks as state employees (non civil service) for professors coming from industry. These ranks are maître de conférences associé et professeur des universités associé (PAST), depending on the professor's experience.

Teaching staff in higher education establishments outside the university system, such as the École polytechnique, may follow different denominations and statutes. In some establishments, such as the EHESS, professeurs des universités, are called directeurs d'étude (Research advisors).

In recent years, an increasing proportion of maîtres de conférences have been replaced in some universities by teachers who are not paid to do research (and therefore teach longer hours).

Germany, Poland, and some other central European countries

In the 20th century after the doctorate, German scholars who wish to go into academia usually work toward a Habilitation by writing a second thesis, known as the Habilitationsschrift. This is often accomplished while employed as a Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter or Wissenschaftlicher Assistent ("scientific assistant", C1) or a non-tenured position as Akademischer Rat ("assistant professor/lecturer", both 3+3 years teaching and research positions). Once they pass their Habilitation, they are called Privatdozent and are eligible for a call to a chair.

Since 2002 a lot of ways may lead to full professorship. One can reach professorship at a university by habilitation, junior professorship or equivalent performance. This is in engineering often performed by expert knowledge in the industry and in natural science often by the number and quality of publications. In addition to the traditional universities there are also Fachhochschulen (FH) as institutions of higher education and research, mostly referred to as "University of Applied Sciences (UAS)" Since a new salary scheme has been introduced in 2005, there are both W2 and W3 professors for the Fachhochschulen as there are for the old universities. Hence, the formal differences have been completely eliminated. In general a professor at an applied university has not gone through the process of habilitation or junior professorship. He applies for the position after his doctorate and at least three years achieving expert knowledge in the industry. Usually a professor at an applied universities is more focused on teaching while a professor at a traditional university is more focused on research.

Note that in Germany, there has always been a debate about whether Professor is a title that remains one's own for life once conferred (similar to the doctorate), or whether it is linked to a function (or even the designation of a function) and ceases to belong to the holder once she or he quits or retires (except in the usual case of becoming Professor emeritus). The latter view has won the day—although in many German Länder ("states"), there is a minimum requirement of five years of service before "Professor" may be used as a title—and is by now both the law and majority opinion.

Similar or identical systems as in Germany (where a Habilitation is required) are in place, e.g., in Austria, the German-speaking part of Switzerland (however in Switzerland the term is used as a more general honorary title in the Universities of Applied Sciences, the Fachhochschulen), as well as in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

In Poland professor is also the academic title.

Main positions

  • Professor (Prof.): Since about 2002 the standard title for full professors at traditional universities and applied universities in Germany.
  • Professor ordinarius (ordentlicher Professor, o. Prof., Univ. Prof.): professor with chair, representing the area in question. In Germany, it's common to call these positions in colloquial use "C4" or "C3" professorships, due to the name of respective entry in the official salary table for Beamte (civil servant). (Following recent reforms of the salary system at universities, you might now find the denomination "W3 or W2 professor."). Today in most German federal states this title obsolete for restaffing. Since 2002 the differences between variable professorships has been eliminated. All full professors at universities and applied universities are call "professor". In some federal state like Baden-Württemberg it is still possible for professor at a university to make application for the title "Univ. Prof." under special conditions.[8]
  • Professor extraordinarius (außerordentlicher Professor', ao. Prof., außerplanmäßiger Professor, apl. Prof.): professor without chair, often in a side-area, or being subordinated to a professor with chair. Often, successful but junior researchers will first get a position as ao. Prof. and then later try to find an employment as o. Prof. at another university.
  • Professor emeritus (Prof. em.): just like in North America (see above); used both for the ordinarius and for the extraordinarius, although strictly speaking only the former is entitled to be addressed in this way. Although retired and being paid a pension instead of a salary, they may still teach and take exams and often still have an office.
  • Junior-Professor (Jun.-Prof.): an institution started in 2002 in Germany, this is a 6-year time-limited professorship for promising young scholars without Habilitation. It is supposed to rejuvenate the professorship through fast-track for the best, who eventually are supposed to become professor ordinarius. This institution has been introduced as a replacement for the Habilitation, which is now considered more an obstacle than quality control by many. Being new, the concept is intensely debated due to a lack of experience with this new approach. The main criticism is that Juniorprofessors are expected to apply for professorships at other universities during the latter part of the six year period, as their universities are not supposed to offer tenure themselves (unlike in the tenure track schemes used, e.g., in the USA).

Recent studies have found that both the interest in applying for 'junior professorships' and the willingness of academic institutions to create these positions has declined since they were first made possible. For references (all in German) and more see (the German page 'Juniorprofessur)

Other positions

  • Honorarprofessor (Hon.-Prof.): equivalent to the Dutch Extraordinary Professor, non-salaried. An honorary title (not related to any sort of honorarium!) conferred upon the person by a university for particular merits, often earned outside university or through long-term commitments (e.g., continued teaching) at the institution that confers the title.
  • außerplanmäßiger Professor (apl. Prof. or Prof.): either a tenured university lecturer or a former Privatdozent to whom the title is given if she or he has done excellent research before and after the Habilitation but has not attained a regular chair. The word außerplanmäßig (extraordinay or supernumerary) literally means "outside of the plan" and denotes that he is not paid as a professor but only as a researcher. Nonetheless as a member of the faculty he or she is obligated to lecture and conduct examinations and often supervises doctoral theses. This position is common in particular in medicine but also in social and cultural disciplines.
  • Privatdozent (PD): extraordinary member of a faculty who has passed the Habilitation (state doctorate, as to say the second dissertation); this title may also awarded to a former Juniorprofessor and is comparable to the English-American associate professor. He or she is obligated to lecture and conduct examinations (often without pay) and is entitled to supervise doctoral theses.
  • Lehrbeauftragter a paid part-time (for example 2 hrs per week in a semester) teaching position for scientists in general with non university position who often holds a PhD; Lehrbeauftragter is sometimes comparable with an adjunct professor or an associate professor.
  • Vertretungsprofessor: is a professor who "substitutes" a vacant chair for a limited amount of time, mostly 1 or 2 semesters. Very often academics with a "Habilitation" who use this job as a changeover position before getting this particular job in a tenured way or before getting a tenured professorship at another institution.

Other professors

Some other uses of the title professor:

  • Professor as an honorary title: In some countries using the German-style academic system (e.g. Austria, Finland, Sweden), Professor is also an honorific title that can be bestowed upon an artist, scholar, etc., by the President or by the government, completely independent of any actual academic post or assignment.
  • Gymnasialprofessor (High School Professor): Senior teachers at certain senior high schools in some German states and in Austria were also designated Professor in the late 19th and early 20th century. In Austria, tenured high school teachers are still called Professor. However, it is unclear whether Austrian high school teachers starting their career today will have equally easy access to tenure when they become older.


The Hungarian higher education system distinguishes two types of institutions of higher education: egyetem (university) and főiskola (college). Therefore, the requirements and also the salaries for professorships differ. The official minimum requirements of appointment are regulated according to the CXXXIX. act of 2005 (higher education act). The regulations of certain universities, however, may require more than the minimum.

Hierarchy of university professorships (top to bottom):

  1. Egyetemi tanár, or professzor (university full professor): being nominated to the title of university professor requires PhD degree (or CSc) and habilitation (Dr. habil.). If a candidate fulfills these requirements, the rector (and the senate) of the university starts the process of nomination by sending the proposal to the President of Hungary via the Minister in charge of (higher) education. University professors are appointed by the President of Hungary and their appointment can only be withdrawn by the President. Attaining a professorship at a university requires such appointment beforehand. University professors may retire later than other professors: they are allowed to work until the age of 70 (as opposed to the usual age of 65).
  2. Egyetemi docens (associate professor): requires doctoral degree (PhD or CSc) and a minimum of 5 years spent in higher education. The appointment and the process remains within the university, associate professors are appointed by the rector of the university or the dean of the faculty. Some universities (e.g. ELTE) may require additional degrees (habilitation) to accept a nominee as an associate professor.
  3. Egyetemi adjunktus (assistant professor): Appointment does not require degree formally (only a master's degree or equivalent), however, usually an associate professor holds a doctoral degree, or is a long-time faculty member with a dr. univ. degree (which is not an official scientific degree). It is formally required that the potential applicant participate in a doctoral program and be in the degree candidate phase (i.e. all exams are passed, only the dissertation, language and publication requirements remain).
  4. Egyetemi tanársegéd (junior assistant professor): Appointment does not require doctoral degree (only a master's degree or equivalent), however, participating in a doctoral program (and usually finishing 2-4 semesters) is a requirement.

Hierarchy of college professorships (top to bottom):

  1. Főiskolai tanár (college professor): Requires doctoral degree (PhD or CSc). The process of nomination is the same as that of the university professor except that college professors are appointed by the Prime Minister of Hungary. Their appointment can also be withdrawn only by the Prime Minister.
  2. Főiskolai docens (college assoc. prof.): Doctoral degree (PhD or CSc) is required.
  3. Főiskolai adjunktus (college assist. prof.): Requirements are the same as that of their university counterparts.
  4. Főiskolai tanársegéd (coll. jun. assist. prof.): Requirements are the same as that of their university counterparts.

The title professor emeritus/emerita is awarded to those appointed university professors, who reached the age of retirement but are prominent scholars of their fields or have done much in favor of the university, faculty or department. Awarding such titles is at the universities' discretion.

Universities and colleges may also award honorary professorships with less strict requirements. These honorary titles are distinguished from their ordinary counterparts by placing címzetes (honorary) before the appropriate title.


In Icelandic universities, especially The University of Iceland, prófessor is the most senior ranking teaching position. Below prófessor is dósent, then lektor. This three step hierarchy is akin to the US-scale, of full-, associate- and assistant-professors. Until early 1990s no upward mobility was available in the Icelandic system. Most university teachers were hired as "prófessor." A "dósent" or a "lektor" wishing to ascend to a higher rank had to apply for a new position when it became available. Currently (since 1990s) much more university teachers are hired as junior rank "lektor" and are promoted to "dósent" and "prófessor" if their work proves worthy of it.


The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc) follow the U.S. style three-tiered academic system, with a slightly stricter requirement for entry level positions compared to the U.S. An Asst. Professor's position requires a Ph.D and at least three years of postdoctoral experience, applicants with less experience are appointed to a "contract" position, which is similar to a "non tenure-track" position in U.S universities. Early reviews for promotion to Associate Professorship can be conducted in the fourth year of employment, although, it is becoming more common for promotion and tenure to be awarded in the sixth year of employment. The review requires a certain number of journal and conference publications, recommendations from reviewers in India and abroad, and a exemplary record of teaching and service. The IISc, the highest ranked science and technology institute in India, has a promotion and tenure system, almost identical to that of the United States. The institute also has a well known bias towards recruiting U.S Ph.Ds (typically with IIT undergraduate degrees), compared to Ph.Ds from India. Promotion to the position of (full) Professor, also requires an extensive review with many people remaining at the level of Associate Professor throughout their careers.

Other Universities: There are two routes to enter academia, one through direct selection by a university or college (government or private), and the second through competitive selection by a centralised commission. The commission's selection is based on scores for MA/MSc, National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by University Grants Commission (India) and the Public Service Ccommission interviews.

There are three faculty ranks "Assistant Professor", "Associate Professor" and "Professor." The earlier designations of lecturer (equivalent to junior assistant professor), senior lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor) and reader (equivalent to associate professor) have been abolished from 2009. From 2009, AICTE norms have abolished the posts of “lecturer” and “senior lecturer” in technical courses, leaving only “assistant professor”, “associate professor” and “professor” posts.

At present a post-graduate can teach as assistant professor, but tenured positions are available only if s/he has cleared the eligibility test (NET)[9]. To get a promotion to associate professor at least 3 publications (in a reputed journal) are required for a post graduate or at least one publication for a doctorate holder. But doctorate is mandatory for direct recruitment to associate professor. Only doctorate holders can become professors. Those with post-graduate degrees with other eligibility criteria (viz. NET/SET/Ph.D.etc.) are allowed to teach in undergraduate colleges, post-graduate or university level.


Holders of master's degrees can be (in ascending order):

  • Assistant Lecturer
  • Lecturer
  • Assistant professor (أستاذ مساعد)

Note: A master's degree holder cannot promote to professor.

Holders of PhD degrees can be (in ascending order):

  • Lecturer
  • Assistant professor (أستاذ مساعد)
  • Professor (أستاذ )

Note: Holders of PhD degrees are automatically promoted to Lecturer if they were assistant lecturers before they received their PhD.


The ranking system combines the American system and the German one. There are four faculty ranks rather than three: lecturer (martsé), senior lecturer (martsé bakhír), associate professor (profésor khavér), and full professor (profésor min ha-minyán). Traditionally, lecturer is equivalent to the American assistant professor rank, and senior lecturer to associate professor ranks; passage from lecturer to senior lecturer rank usually entails tenure, but not always. The two higher ranks had German rather than American equivalents: professor khavér was comparable to professor extraordinarius, while professor min ha-minyan was the equivalent, and Hebrew translation of, professor ordinarius. Tenure (not guaranteed) is granted after 4–7 years (depending on institution and academic achievements). Hence a professor khavér is in fact comparable to the American full professor; many academics never become a "professor min ha-minyan." The academic programs of the university are controlled by a Senate, of which every full professor is a member, as well as representatives of other ranks. Israeli universities do not, as a rule, grant tenure to new hires, regardless of previous position, rank, or eminence. A candidate is considered for tenure together with promotion to the next highest rank, or after a year for initial appointments made at the rank of full professor.


The ranking system in Dutch universities is as follows:

  • Lecturer (universitair docent, abbreviated UD)
  • Senior Lecturer (universitair hoofddocent, or UHD)
  • Professor (hoogleraar, carrying the title prof.).

A professor should have substantial research achievements and international reputation, and is typically the head of a department or of a "chair-group" within a department. Most academic staff will have both research and teaching duties.

Although the ranks are often translated as if they were aligned with the American system (i.e. assistant, associate, and full professor), this not as clear-cut. Compared to the Northern American tenure track system, the promotion system to go from one rank to the other is in its infancy. Traditionally a lecturer could only become senior lecturer or professor by applying for such a position if there was a vacancy. In Dutch universities, permanent positions must be offered upon the third extension of fixed-term position to avoid permatemps.

Dutch universities can also appoint Special Professors on a part-time basis. This allows the University to bring in specialized expertise that otherwise would not be available. Special professors usually have their main employment somewhere else, often in industry or at a research institute or University elsewhere (although special professorships can also be used to give a sitting UHD a toga and thus the jus promovendi under which Professors can supervise candidates for a doctorate). Such a professor has all the privileges of a full professor ((gewoon) hoogleraar), may give lectures on special topics, or can supervise graduate students who may do their research at the place of the professor's main employment. Due to this system, many university research groups will have several professors. The special professor (bijzonder hoogleraar) does not get paid by the university, but receives a salary from an external organization, such as a company, an organization or a fund. The former title buitengewoon hoogleraar for a part-time professor is no longer used (since the 1986 reforms); all the then holders of such positions became part-time full professors.

Also 1986 the holders of Lector positions (equivalent to Readers in the United Kingdom) were transformed into full Professors, but at a lower salary scale than the existing professors; the Lector position was abolished at Dutch universities. The present salary scales refer to Professor 1 or Professor 2 (the former is the higher in standing).

When a full professor retires at 65 (pension age in the Netherlands), the professor becomes emeritus professor. This allows the retired professor to keep the title professor for life. An emeritus professor is allowed to supervise doctorate theses until five years after retirement.

Some Dutch universities have also instituted University Professorships, which sometimes carry special rights, e.g. the absence of any obligation to teach undergraduate students.


In Norway the word professor is only used for full professors at universities or scientific institutions at a similar level. The position below professor is called førsteamanuensis ("first amanuensis"), which translates to English as Associate Professor, and requires a doctoral degree, or similar competence. The position of Docent, applied to people of the same competence as a Professor who did not hold a Professoral chair, was abolished in 1985, when all Docents received the title of Professor.

Historically, Professors were appointed for life by the King upon the advice of the Cabinet. Due to the increasing number of appointments, this changed in 1989 when it became the responsibility of the individual institution to formally appoint professors.

All people who are appointed as Professors must have their competence evaluated by a scientific, independent committee, and given Professorial competence.

Appointments usually are for life, although time-limited appointments are possible (especially if the position is externally funded). Professors who only work part-time, typically 20 %, and who usually have a different main job (for instance as a Consultant at a university hospital), are called Professor II, meaning this is a secondary job, but they need to have the same competence as other Professors and are styled as simply Professor.


In Russia the university academic career to the rank of Professor usually starts right after graduation. A graduate student can be recruited as an Assistant (teacher) without having any formal academic degree. The only requirement is to graduate as a Master of Science or as a Specialist (a specific Russian form of graduation after 5 years of study). Usually, (but not obligatory) the newly recruited Assistant goes through his PhD course, combining it with teaching undergraduate students (usually Assistants have a right to give lectures and examine students in small special courses, or, they assist a professor, who is reading a general course. In that case they teach students at laboratory works, test their knowledge, etc.). After 3 or 4 years of PhD course an Assistant defends a dissertation. The preparation for the "defense" includes writing thesis (approximately 150-200 pages), which presents the results of his/her own research work, done under a supervision of a professor. Several papers on the topic should be also published in first-class Russian scientific journals. Finally, to be able to defend the thesis one should pass 3 exams: in his field of science, in foreign language and in history and philosophy of science. The defense itself is an official procedure and includes presenting the thesis to the Dissertation Council – several professors, including at least an appointed reviewer, two official opponents and the supervisor, who helped the Assistant in conducting his/her research. After the presentation the professors vote, and decide whether to recommend/not to recommend the dissertant to the rank of Candidate of Science. The right for final decision belongs to the VAK (governmental commission, granting official academic ranks), but it usually follows the recommendation of the Dissertation Council. In rare cases the dissertant can be called to go through the defense in VAK. At last a person is granted with a title "Candidate of Science" (Russian = кандидат наук), which cannot be dismissed.

As soon as the Assistant gets the title he/she usually goes to the post of Senior assistant, which does not differ very much. But if the Assistant had already written as many as 10 scientific papers and developed some educational materials he/she can get the rank of Docent. A Docent has a right to give lectures in some general courses and to examine students alone. Most academic careers finish at this stage. To go further one should write the second thesis, something very close to Habilitation in Germany. The second thesis is a very big research work, which often takes more than 10 years to be completed. The thesis is not limited in volume, but typically is around 300 pages, though some thesis which exceed 1000 pages. It generally requires fundamental research or a new research direction in a particular field. It can be a summary of the candidate's previous research, but should be of significant scientific, cultural, or social value. Another requirement is to have a large number of publications and a monograph. In some cases a monograph can work as a thesis if not too narrow in research.

The procedure of "defense" is similar, and at the end VAK grants one the title of Doctor of Science (Russian = доктор наук). The title gives a person the right to supervise PhD students, and to apply for the rank of Professor. The rank of Professor also requires a number of papers, books and educational works. The number of graduate students, and, if there are such, PhD students who passed through the defense successfully is also taken into account, but usually by the time a person gets the Doctor of Science title, he/she has accomplished a lot. The rank of Professor is exceedingly rarely achieved at the age of less than 40. This rank gives one the right to hold a faculty chair position, to be an examiner, to take part in the university's council, etc. However, in Russia, holders of the Doctor of Science degree who work at research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and are not involved in teaching students (lecturing) but mainly in scientific or technological research, may also apply for a "Professor in a specialty" academic degree. Thus, there are two kinds of 'Professor' titles. First, there is "Professor by a Chair" (Russian = профессор по кафедре); e.g., "Professor by the Chair of Microbiology", if the scientist has some required minimum of teaching hours per semester at this Chair at a university or a higher institute, plus scientific publications and published educational papers, and has been nomineed by this Chair for the Professor title to VAK. Second, there is "Professor in a specialty" (Russian = профессор по специальности); e.g., "Professor in physical chemistry" (the list of specialties is the same as for dissertations). In this case, a person who has been holding a DSc degree for minimum 1 year (and has been working on a position of Head of Laboratory or Leading Scientist for minimum 1 year) does not need to have lecturing experience and published educational papers but should have a minimum of 5 PhD students who, under his/her supervision, have successfully defended their Cand. Sci. dissertations, in which this specialty either was the main or, in part of them, constituted a substantial part of their research work in a closely related field. Besides that, the applicant should have a good record of scientific publications and other academic achievements. The Learned Council of the Institute where the applicant for such a Professor title works, upon his/her primary application to this Council, votes and decides whether to recommend or not to recommend to apply on behalf of the applicant to VAK. If approved by the Learned Council, the application is submitted to VAK which, usually within a few months, decides whether to approve or not to approve the title "Professor" in the specialty.


University career usually begins with an “assistant” academic position. “Assistant” assists to the professor or lecturer, helps in performing exercises or, sometimes, also gives lectures, under the supervision of the professor. “Assistant”, however, is not permitted to hold a chair, or to examine students alone. The level of the “assistant” does not require Ph.D. but “Magister” or, in recent times, just “Master” grade.

The next level is reserved for Ph.D. holders only (except in the arts: visual, performing arts, music, film etc.) where “Magisterium” is the highest degree). It is called “docent” (in Latin “instructor”, “lecturer”, “teacher”) and is approximately equivalent to the Assistant Professor level in the English-speaking areas. Unlike “assistant”, “docent” is permitted to give lectures independently, to be examiner, supervisor of paper works and theses, and to even hold a chair in a certain subject. It can also happen that more persons are employed within one chair (e.g. nuclear physics): a full-professor, “docent” and “assistant” for instance. In that case, the full-professor is normally a chair-holder, while “docent” and “assistant” are chair-related. If this is the case, “docent” usually has some kind of dependence upon the professor, but still possesses much independence, unlike the “assistant”.

After four or five years or more (exceptions are rare), and a significant scientific record, “docent” can be elected to become “vanredni profesor” ("irregular professor"), which is approximately equivalent to the Associate Professor position, or re-elected for the same (docent) position. The rank of the “vanredni profesor” is normally the minimal requirement for the highest Faculty and University positions, such as Dean of the Faculty, member of the University Senate or Rector. In the process of electing an associate professor, just those members of the Department, Faculty or University, who hold associated- or full- professorship are able to vote.

After four or five years and significant score of publications, “vanredni profesor” can be re-elected for the same position, or elected into the next and the highest University and scientific title of “redovni profesor” ("regular professor") – the (Full) Professor. “Redovni profesori”, the full-professors, are excluded from further electing processes, that take place for all other University teaching positions, normally after four or five years.

The title of “Emeritus” Professor should usually be granted to small number of professors who had extraordinarily academic and scientific score, as well as to all former Rectors.

Spain, university level

Selection procedures

In the past twenty-five years, Spain has gone through three university reforms: 1983 (Ley de Reforma Universitaria, LRU), 2001 (Ley Orgánica de Universidades, LOU) and 2007 (a mere reform of the LOU with several specific modifications of the 2001 Act). We can name them LRU 1983, LOU 2001 and LOU 2007.

The actual categories of tenured and untenured positions, and the basic department and university organization, were established by LRU 1983, and only specific details have been reformed by LOU 2001 and LOU 2007. The most important reform these later acts introduced is the way candidates to a position are selected. According to LRU 1983, a committee of five members had to evaluate the curricula of the candidates. A new committee was constituted for each new position, operating in the same university offering that position. These committees had two members appointed by the department (including the Secretary of the Committee), and three members who were draw-selected (from any university, but belonging to the same "knowledge area"). With this system, the department only had to "persuade" one of the three "external" members of the committee into giving the position to their "insider" (the applicant from their own department).

The LOU 2001 and LOU 2007 acts have granted even more freedom to universities when choosing applicants for a position. Each university now freely establishes the rules for the creation of an internal committee that assigns available positions. It would seem that "insiders" are now even more advantaged. This is not the case, however, as the last two reforms also have introduced an external "quality control" process. To better understand these reforms, it is worth examining the situation both before and after 2007.

Before 2007

The situation before 2007 was this: LOU 2001 had established a procedure, based on competition at national level, to became a civil servant. This procedure, and the license a candidate obtained, was called "habilitación", and it included curricula evaluation and personal examination. The external committee was formed by seven draw-selected members (belonging to the same "knowledge area" and fulfilling requisites related to research curricula), who could assign a fixed and pre-determined number of "habilitaciones" (but not positions). An applicant to a particular position in any university had to be "habilitado" (licensed) by this National Committee in order to apply. Non civil servants had a slightly different "quality control" process. A specific institution, called ANECA (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad), examined the applicants' curricula and issued them an "acreditación" (similar to the "habilitación", but for non civil servant positions).

Since 2007

Today, following the LOU 2007 reform, the whole process has been simplified, and both civil and non civil servants only need to pass a faster and simpler "acreditación" process (the "habilitación" is gone). The curricula are now examined by an "external" committee, and there is no personal exam. This "outside of university" quality control process has remarkably increased the level of applicants to tenured positions (civil or non-civil servants) since 2001.

To sum it up, although in the past people could become catedrático or professor titular with a random curriculum, since local support was the most important requirement for a candidate, independently of his/her research or teaching quality (LRU 1983), the certification system introduced by the LOU 2001 act (habilitación), which requires the candidate to pass a competitive exam at a national level for each category before applying for a position, has increased the standards of Spanish university professors to those of most countries. With LOU 2007, the "habilitación" has become "acreditación", and the committee will only evaluate the applicants' curricula, without making them go through a personal exam.

Before the LOU 2001 reform, tenure implied becoming a civil servant (funcionario). A civil servant, as in other European countries, cannot lose his job even in the case of remarkably bad performance. This had caused the level of many universities in Spain to drop. The LOU 2001 included two other tenured positions, not of civil servant type: Profesor Colaborador (this category disappeared in 2007, but new positions could be created in exceptional situations until 2013[10]), and Profesor Contratado Doctor (equivalent to a reader in the UK). Non-tenured positions include: Profesor Asociado (a part-time instructor who keeps a parallel job, for example in the industry, in a hospital or teaching in a school), Ayudante (a doctoral student working as teaching assistant, with limited and supervised teaching capacity), and Profesor Ayudante Doctor (a promotion from the latter, after completing the doctoral dissertation).


Under present legislation (LOU 2007), only the following positions are available:

Tenured positions
  • Catedrático de Universidad: professor with chair, tenured, full time, civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación catedrático de universidad" required, only a Catedrático can be President of the University (Rector), European Union citizenship is required.
  • Profesor Titular de Universidad: professor without chair, tenured, full time, civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación profesor titular de universidad" required, European Union citizenship is required.
  • Profesor Contratado Doctor: tenured, full time, not a civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación profesor contratado doctor" required.
Non-tenure positions
  • Profesor Ayudante Doctor: non tenured, full time, not a civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación profesor ayudante doctor" required, only for a limited period of time.
  • Ayudante: non tenured, full time, not a civil servant, no Ph. D required, only for a limited period of time.
Other positions
  • Profesor Asociado: depending on each case, can be a tenured position or not, part time, not a civil servant, no Ph. D required.
  • Profesor Visitante: non tenured, not a civil servant, no Ph. D required, only for a limited period of time (visiting professor).
  • Profesor Emérito: non tenured, not a civil servant, only for a limited period of time, works under the specific rules established by the employing university.

Currently, a professor can be in one of the abolished categories (Profesor Titular de Escuela Universitaria, Profesor Colaborador), but no new position in these categories can be created.

Of these six categories of tenured positions, four imply becoming a civil servant (funcionario):

  • Catedrático de Universidad (usually the head of department, but not necessarily),
  • Profesor Titular de Universidad (professor),
  • Catedrático de Escuela Universitaria (fully equivalent in rank and salary to Profesor Titular de Universidad; this category has been abolished by LOU 2007), and
  • Profesor Titular de Escuela Universitaria (this category has been abolished by LOU 2007). This last category was intended for instructors at technical schools and colleges without a PhD (the instructors currently in this category will be able to keep their job until retiring, but no new positions will be created).

The Catedrático de Escuela Universitaria and the Profesor Titular de Universidad categories have been merged by the LOU 2007 reform. The two de Escuela Universitaria categories are intended mainly for teachers of three-year degrees (e.g. technical engineering, nursing, teaching in primary schools), while the two de Universidad categories include professors of any undergraduate or graduate degree.


The retiring age for university professors in Spain is 65, just like all other workers. However, a university professor can work until he or she is 70, if he so wishes. Even then, they can apply for a Professor Emérito position. It is a non-tenured position and it has a limited duration (4 additional years). Also, there are specific rules established by each university.

Foreign qualifications in Spain

Spain places following requirements for recognition of non-European qualifications:

  • People with a degree from a foreign school or university (even if they are Spanish citizens) must apply to the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science for a conversion into its equivalent to any of the current Spanish degrees. First, one's Bachelor's or Master's degree must be converted; after that, it is possible to apply for the conversion of the PhD degree. This procedure can take sometimes more than three years, and can fail if the courses taken by the applicant in his lower degree are too different from those required for the closest Spanish degree. For European citizens, there is a somewhat faster procedure called recognition (which can also fail) but it is only suitable for positions that do not require a curriculum evaluation by ANECA (i.e., only the rank of Professor Ayudante).
  • People with a Bachelor's degree who have completed a PhD immediately afterwards (that is, skipping a two year Master's) have found it impossible to convert their degree, since the duration of their Bachelor's was three years, while the Spanish Bachelor's degree holders cannot go directly for a PhD, being as it is necessary to hold a licenciatura, which would be the roughly equivalent to a Master's Degree. Although Spanish university students must study the three years that would grant the Bachelor's degree in any other country, they will very rarely be awarded a Bachelor's degree (diplomado) and will have to study until finishing the full Master's Degree, which lasts from four to six years (four years for some degrees, including Law, Economics and Physics; six years for others, like Architecture, Engineering and Medicine).
  • In addition, a Ph. D course (curso de doctorado, a compulsory course, similar to a MPhil, that students must undertake to be able to defend their dissertation) in Spain lasts 1–2 years, but it usually takes two or more additional years to successfully complete and defend one's dissertation. Being a tough process as it is, statistics show that only about 5% of master's degree holders go for a PhD, and, all in all, only 10% of them accomplish it successfully, with the vast majority dropping it while in the PhD course (similar to the All But Dissertation phenomenon in English-speaking countries). These statistics are considerably higher for people studying technical or scientific subjects such as engineering, physics, medicine, etc., and the main reason of this is that getting a PhD in these cases only takes about three years, with a course structure very similar to those of the English-speaking world; in other areas, such as law, history, or economics, PhD rarely are awarded before six years of research, and in these cases dissertations tend to be considerably lengthier than those in the English-speaking world.
  • Furthermore, to become a professor of civil servant type, the applicant must be a European citizen, or be married to a European citizen. As a last consideration, besides a good knowledge of the Spanish language, in regions such as Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, the Basque Country and Galicia, a knowledge of the official regional language (e.g. Basque, Catalan, Galician) may be required. This is a constraint to mobility for university professors in Spain, together with low salaries (see below).

Sri Lanka

The appointment of professors follows the British system and is governed by the University Grants Commission regulations. A points-based system considers contributions to the research field, national development and institutional development. Several types of professorships exist:

  • Professor Emeritus (on retirement at the age of 65)
  • Senior Professor
  • Professor
  • Associate Professor

Professor positions are clearly separated from other junior faculty positions such as, in seniority order: Senior Lecturer (Grade I) (usually PhD and 6+ years service) Senior Lecturer (Grade II) (usually a PhD and 2+ years service) Lecturer (usually with PhD) Lecturer (Probationary) Assistant Lecturer


See also Academic rank in Sweden. The academic terminology for titles and positions at universities in Sweden includes the following:

  • Adjunkt – A teaching position, often part-time, that requires at least a bachelors degree but does not require a PhD; similar to the Adjunct instructor in the USA
  • Doktor – An academic title that entails a research education, typically involving publication of scientific articles and successful defense of a doctoral thesis; equivalent of a PhD
  • Forskarassistent – A research position that requires a PhD, and is typically undertaken following a PhD in order to qualify as a Docent; similar to Assistant Professor in the USA
  • Lektor – A teaching position that requires a PhD; broadly similar Lecturer in the USA
  • Docent – An academic qualification that requires a PhD, and typically entails documented scientific independence via additional publications beyond those required for a PhD, teaching experience, and training in teaching and scientific mentorship. The title of Docent is typically a formal requirement for being a main supervisor for PhD students, and for serving as a member of an examination committee for evaluation of a doctoral thesis. It's broadly equivalent to the title Associate Professor in the USA. In UK Senior Lecturer, Reader, First Lecturer and Associate Professor are equivalent to Docent.
  • Professor – Requires a PhD degree, a strong publication record, proven teaching skills, and supervision as main supervisor of PhD students who have obtained PhDs. It's similar to a tenured, senior, full professor in the USA.

Historical Islamic usage

In Muslim civilisation, the Chair was designated by the Caliph himself. Mostly through recommendation, the Caliph made appointments to a professorial chair (Kursi in Arabic) in a jami’ (university or congregational madrasah). Such was the case of Ibn 'Aqil (died 1119 CE) who was appointed to a well-known chair in Jami' al-Mansur (Baghdad), becoming the main teacher of the madrasah. In other cases, a scholar could be appointed to two chairs at the same time, holding a chair in one jami’ and simultaneously holding another in another jami’ or in one of the exclusive institutions.[11]

This is the case of particularly distinguished and popular scholars. For example a certain Ibn al-Banna' (d. 1079) had a chair in Jami' al-Mansur (Baghdad), located in the centre of the riwaq (nave of the mosque), while simultaneously holding another in Jami' al-Qasr (also Baghdad), around the maqsura (a separate room inside the mosque). Some chairs were also known by the discipline they represented; as, for instance, the chair or study-circle of the traditionalists (halqat ahl al-hadith), and that of the grammarians (halqat al-nahwiyin). Others were known by the name of the family whose members occupied it in succession; as, for instance, the chair of the Barmakids (halqat al-Barâmika). Sometimes institutions were specialised in particular study and therefore received a corresponding chair, e.g. the Nizamiya did not have a chair of Islamic theology, but only a chair of Islamic law.[12]

As to tenure of the chair, once a professor was appointed by the Caliph to a chair in one of the main madrasahs (Jamii), he ordinarily held it for the remainder of his lifetime. Cases of lengthy tenure are often reported by biographers, for example Abu 'All al-Kattani (d. 1061), who was in his eighties when he died, had occupied his chair for 50 years. According to George Makdisi and Hugh Goddard, "the fact that we still talk of professors holding the 'Chair' of their subject" is based on the "traditional Islamic pattern of teaching where the professor sits on a chair and the students sit around him", and the term 'academic circles' derives from the way Islamic students "sat in a circle around their professor."[13] The term 'professor' itself is believed a translation of the Arabic term mufti, which meant "professor of legal opinions."[14]

Salary of professors

In interest of an expert's report from 2005 of the “Deutscher Hochschulverband DHV”, a lobby of the German professors, the salary of professors in the United States, Germany and Switzerland is as follows:

  • The annual salary of a German professor is €46,680 in group "W2" (mid-level) and €56,683 in group "W3" (the highest level), without performance-related bonuses. The anticipated average earnings with performance-related bonuses for a German professor is €71,500.
  • The anticipated average earnings of a professor working in Switzerland vary for example between 158,953 CHF (€102,729) to 232,073 CHF (€149,985) at the University of Zurich and 187,937 CHF (€121,461) to 247,280 CHF (€159,774) at the ETH Zurich; the regulations are different depending on the Cantons of Switzerland.
  • The salaries of Professors in Spain vary widely, depending on the region (universities depend on the regional government, except the UNED, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) and different bonifications. These salary complements include "trienios" (depending on seniority, one for each three years), "quinquenios" (depending on the accomplishment of teaching criteria defined by the university, one for each five years of seniority) and "sexenios" (depending on the accomplishment of research criteria defined by the national government, one for each six years of seniority). These bonifications are quite small. However, the total number of "sexenios" is a requisite for being a member of different committees. The importance of these "sexenios" as a prestige factor in the university was increased by the LOU 2001. Some indicative numbers can be interesting, in spite of the variance in the data. We report net monthly payments (after taxes and social security fees), without bonifications: Ayudante, 1,200 euros; Ayudante Doctor, 1,400; Contratado Doctor; 1,800; Professor Titular, 2,000 euros; Catedrático, 2,400 euros. There are a total of 14 payments per year, including 2 extra payments in July and December (but for less than a normal monthly payment). These salaries are comparatively low, even for the Public Administration, and far from the usual market salaries for similarly qualified professionals. Considering the cost of a rented flat in Madrid (50 square meters costs 700-900 euros per month), the incredible increase in the cost of housing during the past decade combined with frozen salaries has impoverished university professors in Spain in real terms.
  • Professors in teacher education sometimes earn less than they would if they were still elementary classroom teachers. In one case study report, it was shown that a beginning full-time tenure-track assistant professor in elementary teacher education at California State University, Northridge was hired in 2002 at a salary of $53,000., which was $15,738. less than she would have earned in her previous position as a 9-month public school kindergarten teacher, ($68,738). See Gordon, L. M. (2004, January 6). From kindergarten teacher to college professor: A comparison chart of salaries, work load, and professional preparation requirements. Published proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on Education. ISSN# 1541-5880.
  • In 2007 the Dutch social fund for the academic sector SoFoKleS commissioned a comparative study of the wage structure of academic professions in the Netherlands in relation to that of other countries. Among the countries reviewed are the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. To improve comparability adjustments have been made to correct for purchasing power and taxes. Because of differences between institutions in the US and UK these countries have two listings of which one denotes the salary in top-tier institutions (based on the Shanghai-ranking).The table below shows the final reference wages expressed in net amounts of Dutch Euros (i.e. converted into Dutch purchasing power).[15]
Country Assistant professor Associate professor Full professor
Netherlands € 30,609 € 37,991 € 46,180
Germany € 24,492 € 30,383 € 34,657
Belgium € 29,244 € 33,778 € 38,509
Switzerland € 60,158 € 69,118 € 78,068
Sweden € 22,257 € 26,666 € 31,639
UK € 37,424 € 46,261 € 60,314
UK – top universities € 42,245 € 47,495 € 82,464
France € 23,546 € 29,316 € 37,118
United States € 38,948 € 44,932 € 60,801
United States – top universities € 49,300 € 57,142 € 87,702
Other countries (gross salaries, unknown sources)
Australia € 65,113 € 75,813 € 95,173
Colombia € 16,700 € 21,500 € 28,700
Serbia € 8400 € 10100 € 15000
Brazil (federal university rates) € 26,200 € 39,516 € 58,941
Egypt (2010, including bonus) € 5,400 – € 6,600 € 7,200 – € 8,400 € 9,600 – € 10,800
Iran (2010, monthly, non-medical universities, varies by seniority) € 1,100–1,400 € 1,800–2,000 € 2,500–3,000
Sri Lanka (2011, monthly) € 305 € 520 € 650

Professors in fiction

As portrayed in fiction, in accordance with a stereotype, professors are often depicted as being shy and absent-minded. Obvious examples include the 1961 movie The Absent-Minded Professor, or Professor Calculus who featured in the Tintin stories. Professors have also been portrayed as being misguided, such as Professor Metz, who helped the villain Blofeld in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever; or simply evil, like Professor Moriarty, who is the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes. Animated series Futurama has a typical absent-minded but genius Professor Hubert Farnsworth. (See also mad scientist.) Vladimir Nabokov, author and professor of English at Cornell, frequently used professors as the protagonists in his novels. Professor Henry Higgins is also a main character in My Fair Lady. In the popular Harry Potter series, a few students are the most important characters, but all their teachers are known as professors, who play many important parts. In the board game Cluedo, Professor Plum has been depicted as absent minded. In the movie, see Clue (film), Professor Plum was a psychologist, who had an affair with one of his patients. He was played by Christopher Lloyd.

An example of a fictional professor not depicted as shy or absent-minded is Indiana Jones, a professor as well as an archeologist-adventurer. The character generally referred to simply as the Professor on the television series, Gilligan's Island, is depicted as a sensible advisor, a clever inventor, and a helpful friend to his fellow castaways. Professor Layton (character) from Professor Layton-series is a video game character who loves solving puzzles and drinking tea. He has been in many adventures such as Professor Layton and the Curious Village.

John Houseman's portrayal of law school professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr., in The Paper Chase (1973) remains the epitome of the strict, authoritarian professor who demands perfection from students.

Mysterious, older men with magical powers (and unclear academic standing) are sometimes given the title of "Professor" in literature and theater. Notable examples include Professor Marvel in The Wizard of Oz[16] and Professor Drosselmeyer (as he is sometimes known) from the ballet The Nutcracker. Also, the magician played by Christian Bale in the film, The Prestige,[17] adopts 'The Professor' as his stage name. A variation of this type of non-academic professor is the "crackpot inventor," as portrayed by Professor Potts in the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other professors of this type are the thoughtful and kind Professor Digory Kirke of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.

The title has been used by comedians, such as "Professor" Irwin Corey and Soupy Sales in his role as "The Big Professor." In the past, pianists in saloons and other rough environments have been called "professor."[18] The puppeteer of a Punch and Judy show is also traditionally known as a "professor."

Professors play a significant role in every Pokémon video game. The most famous is Professor Oak, who was the first introduced. The professors in the series are notable for being esteemed researchers of Pokémon, as well as experts. Most importantly, these professors give the player their first Pokémon, from a choice of three.

See also


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  2. ^ The Trouble with Physics, Lee Smolin
  3. ^ "State-Level Post-Tenure Review Policies". Retrieved 2009-08-09. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Illinois Institute of Technology Faculty Handbook". Illinois Institute of Technology. Retrieved 12/18/10. 
  5. ^ "5.41.4 Use of the Title Associate Professor – Handbook of University Policies and Procedures at The University of Queensland". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ BAF Coaching Awards
  8. ^ vgl. Zweites Gesetz zur Änderung hochschulrechtlicher Vorschriften von Baden-Württemberg vom 1. Januar 2005, Artikel 17, § 15
  9. ^
  10. ^ "REAL DECRETO 989/2008, de 13 de junio, por el que se regula la contratación excepcional de profesores colaboradores". Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE). Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Nakosteen M.: History of Islamic origins of Western Education A.D 800-1350; University of Colorado Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1964
  12. ^ Al-hassani, Woodcock and Saoud: 1001 Inventions, Muslim Heritage in Our World; FSTC publication, 2007, 2nd Edition, pp.56-57
  13. ^ Goddard, Hugh (2000). A History of Christian-Muslim Relations. Edinburgh University Press. p. 100. ISBN 074861009X. OCLC 237514956. 
  14. ^ Makdisi, George (April–June 1989). "Scholasticism and Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West". Journal of the American Oriental Society 109 (2): 175–182 [175–77]. doi:10.2307/604423. JSTOR 604423. 
  15. ^ "SEO Economic Research. (29 May 2007). International wage differences in academic occupations". Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Monday, Aug. 30, 1937 (1937-08-30). "Music: Machines & Musicians". TIME.,9171,930955,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Professor(in) — Professor(in) …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • Professor — Sm std. (16. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. professor öffentlicher Lehrer , zu l. profitērī laut und öffentlich erklären , zu l. fatērī bekennen, gestehen, an den Tag legen , zu l. fārī sprechen, kundtun und l. prō . In der Antike Titel der… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • professor — [prō fes′ər, prəfes′ər] n. [ME professoure < L, teacher < professus: see PROFESS] 1. a person who professes something; esp., one who openly declares his sentiments, religious beliefs, etc. 2. a) a college or university teacher of the… …   English World dictionary

  • professor — |ô| s. m. 1. Aquele que ensina uma arte, uma atividade, uma ciência, uma língua, etc. 2. Pessoa que ensina em escola, universidade ou noutro estabelecimento de ensino. = DOCENTE 3. Executante de uma orquestra de primeira ordem. 4. Aquele que… …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Professor — Pro*fess or, n. [L., a teacher, a public teacher: cf. F. professeur. See {Profess}.] 1. One who professed, or makes open declaration of, his sentiments or opinions; especially, one who makes a public avowal of his belief in the Scriptures and his …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • professor — (n.) late 14c., one who teaches a branch of knowledge, from L. professor person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank, agent noun from profitieri lay claim to, declare openly (see PROFESS (Cf. profess)). As …   Etymology dictionary

  • Professor — Professor: Das seit dem 16. Jh. bezeugte Fremdwort ist akademischer Titel, insbesondere für Hochschullehrer, aber auch gelegentlich für bedeutende Forscher und Künstler, deren Leistung vom Staat u. a. auf diese Weise geehrt wird. Es ist aus lat.… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Professor — (lat.), 1) Lehrer der Grammatik u. Rhetorik in Rom u. den Municipien: 2) auf Universitäten zu Vorlesungen angestellter Lehrer; diejenigen, welche die für die einzelnen Lehrgegenstände gestifteten Lehrstellen u. akademische Würden bekleiden, z.B.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Professor — (lat.), bei den alten Römern der Kaiserzeit öffentlich vortragender Lehrer, besonders der Grammatik und Rhetorik; seit Aufkommen der Universitäten soviel wie Doktor, erst etwa seit 1600 amtlicher Titel der öffentlichen Lehrer an Universitäten, im …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Proféssor — (lat.), die vom Staat angestellten Lehrer an Universitäten, eingeteilt in ord. P. (Professōres ordinarĭi), die ein mit bestimmten Rechten (Rektorwahl etc.) ausgestattetes Kollegium bilden, und außerord. P. (Professores extraordinarii), welche… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Professor — Professor, lat., bei den Alten öffentlicher Lehrer der Grammatik u. Rhetorik; gegenwärtig Titel höherer Lehrer …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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