Associate professor

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Associate professor
Occupation type
Activity sectors
CompetenciesAcademic knowledge, teaching
Education required
Typically a doctoral degree and additional academic qualifications
Fields of
Related jobs

Associate professor is an academic title with two principal meanings: in the North American system and that of the Commonwealth system.


In the North American system, used in the United States and many other countries, it is a position between assistant professor and a full professorship.[1][2][3] In this system, an associate professorship is typically the first promotion obtained after gaining a faculty position, and in the United States it is usually connected to tenure.[4]

In the Commonwealth system (Canada included), the title associate professor is traditionally used in place of reader in certain countries.[5][6] Like the reader title it ranks above senior lecturer – which corresponds to associate professor in the North American system – and is broadly equivalent to a North American full professor, as the full professor title is held by far fewer people in the Commonwealth system.[7] In this system, an associate professorship is typically the second or third promotion obtained after gaining an academic position, and someone promoted to associate professor has usually been a permanent employee already in their two previous ranks as lecturer and senior lecturer.[8] Traditionally, British universities have used the title reader, while associate professor in place of reader is traditionally used in Australia and New Zealand,[9] South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Ireland within an otherwise British system of ranks. More recently, the university of Cambridge has adopted the North American system of ranks.[7]


The table presents a broad overview of the traditional main systems, but there are universities which use a combination of those systems or other titles. Some universities in Commonwealth countries have also entirely adopted the North American system in place of the Commonwealth system.[6][10][11]

North American system Commonwealth system
Chair professor
(upper half, including
distinguished professor or equivalent)
(Full) Professor
(lower half)
Reader (or principal lecturer)
(mainly UK, most of the Commonwealth),
or associate professor
(traditionally in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Southeast Asia)
Associate professor
(typically the first permanent position)
Senior lecturer
Assistant professor
(commonly the entry-level position)
(typically the first permanent position)
Instructor Associate lecturer
(commonly the entry-level position)


  1. ^ associate professor,
  2. ^ associate professor,
  3. ^ associate professor,
  4. ^ What's The Difference Between an Associate Professor vs. Professor?, Bradley University
  5. ^ Reader,
  6. ^ a b UK Academic Job Titles Explained,
  7. ^ a b Changes to academic titles in 2021/2022 - implementation, Human Resources, Cambridge University
  8. ^ Academic staff Role Profiles, University of Bristol
  9. ^ "Australia, Academic Career Structure". Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  10. ^ The Same but Different: US vs UK Higher Education, The Duck of Minerva
  11. ^ Academia as Identity – a UK/US Comparison,