Associate professor

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Associate professor (frequently capitalized as Associate Professor) is an academic title with two principal meanings.

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

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. 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.

In the Commonwealth system, the title associate professor is traditionally used in place of reader in certain countries. 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. 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. Traditionally British universities have used the title reader, while associate professor in place of reader is traditionally used in Australia and New Zealand,[1] South Africa, India, Malaysia, and Ireland within an otherwise British system of ranks. More recently, some universities in Commonwealth countries have adopted the North American system of ranks.



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.

North American system Commonwealth system
(Full) Professor
(upper half, including
Distinguished Professor or equivalent)
(the full Professor title is held by roughly half
as many academics in Commonwealth universities
as compared to U.S. universities)
(Full) Professor
(lower half)
Reader or Principal Lecturer (mainly UK) or Associate Professor
(mainly Australia, NZ, South Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Ireland)
Associate professor
(typically the first permanent position)
Senior Lecturer
Assistant professor
(commonly the entry-level position)
(typically the first permanent position)
N/A Associate lecturer
(commonly the entry-level position)

Adoption of American titles by Commonwealth universitiesEdit

Increasingly, some universities in Commonwealth countries have adopted the American hierarchy of titles.

The University of Western Australia, for example, adopted the American system in 2009 but moved back to the traditional Australian system in 2015.[2] Those who until 2009 held the title lecturer received the new title assistant professor, previous senior lecturers received the new title associate professor, previous associate professors under the old system received the new title professor, and previous professors under the old system received the new title Winthrop professor.[3] Under this methodology the titles correspond in the following way:

The Australian System (before 2009 and after 2015) The American System (between 2009 and 2015)
Professor A higher/named professorship (e.g. "Winthrop Professor")
Reader or Associate Professor Professor
Senior Lecturer Associate Professor
Lecturer Assistant Professor


  1. ^ "Australia, Academic Career Structure". Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Academic titles at UWA". University News. University of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 25 September 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Schedule A: Salaries and Casual Rates". Academic Staff Agreement 2010. University of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.