AskDefine | Define professor

Dictionary Definition

professor n : someone who is a member of the faculty at a college or university [syn: prof]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Anglo-Norman proffessur, from professor ‘declarer, person who claims knowledge’, from the past participle stem of profiteri ‘profess’.


  • /pɹəˈfɛsə/


  1. A teacher or faculty member at a college or university.
  2. A higher ranking for a teacher or faculty member at a college or university. Abbreviated Prof.
  3. In the context of "US|slang": A pianist in a saloon, brothel, etc.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 415:
      You could hear [...] pianos under the hands of whorehouse professors sounding like they came with keys between the keys.



a person who professes or teaches





professor (feminine: professora)

Extensive Definition

The meaning of the word professor (Latin: professor, person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank) varies. In some English-speaking countries, it refers to a senior academic who holds a departmental chair, especially as head of the department, or a personal chair awarded specifically to that individual. For example, in the United Kingdom and Australia it is a legal title conferred by a university denoting the highest academic rank, whereas in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, individuals often use the term professor as a polite form of address for any lecturer, or researcher employed by a college or university, regardless of rank. In some countries, e.g. Austria, France, Romania, Serbia, Poland and Italy, the term is an honorific applied also to secondary level teachers.
Professors are qualified experts, of the various levels described above, who may do the following:
The balance of these five classic fields of professorial tasks depends heavily on the institution, place (country), and time. For example, professors at highly research-oriented universities in the U.S., and as a general rule in European universities, are promoted primarily on the basis of their research achievements as well as their success in raising money from sources outside the university.


A tenured professor has a lifetime appointment until retirement, except for dismissal with "due cause". The reason for the existence of such a privileged position is the principle of academic freedom, which holds that it is beneficial for state, society and academe in the long run if learned persons are free to examine, hold, and advance controversial views without fear of losing their jobs. Tenure allows professors to engage in current political or other controversies. Critics assert that it also means that lazy or unpleasant professors cannot be forced to improve, and have suggested including management techniques from the business world such as performance review, audits, and performance-based salaries. The argument has also been made that tenure actually diminishes academic freedom, as it forces all those seeking tenured positions to profess to the same views (political and academic) as those deciding who is awarded a tenured position. For example, according to Lee Smolin, " is practically career suicide for a young theoretical physicist not to join the field [of string theory]."
In some countries tenureship it is a practice that is not exercised by any institutions; largely, whether tenured positions are available varies from faculty to faculty and from institution to institution.

United States

The term "professors" in the United States refers to a group of educators at the college and university level. In colloquial language, usage of the term may refer to any educator at the post-secondary level, yet a considerable percentage of post-secondary educators do not hold the formal title of "professor," but are instead lecturers, instructors, and teaching assistants.
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. College and university teachers that hold the rank of lecturer or instructor are not tenured/tenure-track faculty, typically focus on teaching undergraduate courses, and are generally not involved in research; neither are they typically involved in department and university decision-making. Professors may also hold special titles, such as professor emeritus, given to those who continue to teach after retirement, or distinguished professor, given commonly to the top 1% of faculty members. Some faculty may additionally hold an endowed chair in which position is funded by a private firm or foundation.
Professors typically focus their efforts on research and teaching, with the balance of time spent between the tasks depending strongly on the type of institution. (For example, a doctoral-level university will almost exclusively demand research productivity--published articles and books--from its professors, while liberal arts colleges evaluate their faculty based on teaching ability and evaluations.)

Most other English-speaking countries

See Lecturer and academic rank for an explanation of these titles
In the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, and most Commonwealth countries (but not Canada), a professor traditionally held either a departmental chair (generally as the head of the department or of a sub-department) or a personal chair (a professorship awarded specifically to that individual). This usage is equivalent to more senior Professorship in North America, such as named or Distinguished Professorships. 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 countries Senior Lecturers are generally paid the same as Readers, but the latter is awarded primarily for research excellence, and traditionally carries higher prestige.
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 has adopted the Antipodean style of "Associate Professor" in lieu of Reader. The varied practices these changes have brought about has meant that the previous consistency of academic rank in the United Kingdom is threatened.
In some countries 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 Ph.D., D.Phil. etc. and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms otherwise). In Australia, Associate Professors are often (though formally erroneously) addressed as Professor.


Public universities have five ranks for faculty members: moeed (معيد, strict transliteration Mu`īd; equivalent to teaching assistant), modares mosaed (مدرس مساعد, strict transliteration Mudarris musā`id; equivalent to senior teaching assistant), modares (مدرس, strict transliteration Mudarris; equivalent to assistant professor), ostaz mosaed (أستاذ مساعد, strict transliteration Ustāḏ musā`id; equivalent to associate professor), and ostaz (أستاذ, strict transliteration 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 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 doctorate 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 theses, and doctorate 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.


There are two routes to enter academia. One through direct selection by a university or college, and the second through competitive selection by a centralised commission.The commission's selection is based on scores for MA/MSc, national exams and the commission's interviews.
The ranking system is a hybrid of the American and British systems. In some places there are five faculty ranks while at others there are three. Entry level positions are known as lecturers (or sometimes assistant professors). The positions of Reader is similar to associate professor and the highest is Professor.


After the doctorate granted by a university, scholars who wish to enter academia may apply for a position of maître de conférences ("master of lectures"). To get this position they must first be approved by the National University Council, made up of elected and appointed professors, and then be chosen by the scientific committee of the University, made up of elected professors. Thus recruitment is mostly made by other professors, rather than by administrators.
The salary scale is national and does not vary from one university to another.
After some years in this position, they may take an "habilitation" to direct theses before applying for a position of professeur des universités ("university professor"). Their suitability for such a position will be judged mostly on their published original research.
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 maître de conférences 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, 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 by teachers who are not paid to do research (and therefore teach longer hours).


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 of a 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.


After the doctorate, German scholars who wish to go into academic work usually work toward a Habilitation by writing a second thesis, known as the Habilitationsschrift. This is often accomplished while employed as a or ("scientific assistant", C1) or a non-tenured position as Akademischer Rat ("academic councilor", 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. Alternatively they may be hired to fill a "Junior-Professorship."
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 former 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 without the respective job - and is by now both the law and majority opinion.
When appropriate, the joint title Professor Doktor (Prof. Dr.), has also been heard in the German system. This reflects the fact that most academics who have reached this stage will indeed have written both a doctoral thesis and a habilitation (i.e. a second academic work beyond the doctorate).
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, as well as in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Main positions

  • Professor ordinarius (ordentlicher Professor, o. Prof.): professor with chair, representing the area in question. In Germany, it's common to call these positions in colloquial use "C4" 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 professor".)
  • Professor extraordinarius (außerordentlicher Professor, ao. 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. Colloquially called a "C3 professor" in Germany (or in the new scheme: "W2").
  • Professor: In addition to old universities Germany also has Fachhochschulen (FH) as institutions of higher learning, mostly referred to as "universities of applied science". 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 last formal difference has been eliminated. A professor at an FH does not have to have gone through the process of habilitation or junior professorship but can rather apply for the position only after his doctorate and at least three years in industry. He is not able to confer doctorates.
  • Professor emeritus: 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.
  • Juniorprofessor: 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 (Ehrenprofessor, Professor honoris causa): equivalent to the North American adjunct professor, non-salaried.
  • außerplanmäßiger Professor (apl. Prof.): either a tenured university lecturer or Privatdozent to whom the title is given if she or he has not attained a regular professorship after a while, or likewise an adjunct professor. The word außerplanmäßig (meaning "outside of the plan (of positions and salaries)") denotes that he is not paid as a professor but only as a researcher.
  • 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 holds a PhD, Lehrbeauftragter is maybe comparable with a junior adjunct professor.
  • Substitute Professor: is a professor who "substitutes" a vacant chair for a limited amount of time (in German: "Vertretungsprofessor"), 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.
  • Music teachers: In the United States, the title of professor has sometimes been used for music teachers, especially in small towns. This use is now considered nearly obsolete and humorous. (Copperud, 306). However in Great Britain and 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, Trinity College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatory, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music. The expression has nearly become obsolete for singing and instrumental tuition in the universities however, save for one or two.


The ranking system in Dutch universities is virtually aligned with the American system. A junior faculty starts as Lecturer ( universitair docent, abbreviated UD) which is equivalent to Assistant Professor. Within a few years and subject to satisfactory performance, one is often promoted to Senior Lecturer (universitair hoofddocent, or UHD) which is equivalent to Associate Professor. Finally, following substantial research achievements and international reputation, one may be promoted to the highest rank of Full Professor (hoogleraar), just like in the American system. Most scientific staff will have both research and teaching duties.
While the ranking system is similar, the concept of tenure is very different. In Dutch universities, permanent positions must be offered upon the third extension of fixed-term position.
Dutch universities can also appoint Extraordinary Professors on a part-time basis. This allows the University to bring in specialized expertise that otherwise would not be available. An extraordinary professor usually has his main employment somewhere else, often in industry or at a research institute or University elsewhere. Such a buitengewoon hoogleraar 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 his main employment. Due to this system, many university research groups will have several professors.
Some Dutch universities have also instated institute professorship, sometimes with special rights such as no obligation to teach undergraduate students.


The ranking system combines the American system and the German one. There are four faculty ranks rather than three: lecturer (martze), senior lecturer (martze bakhir), associate professor (profesor khaver), and full professor (profesor min ha-minyan). Lecturer is roughly equivalent to the American assistant professor rank, and senior lecturer to associate professor ranks. The two higher ranks have German rather than American equivalents: profesor chaver is comparable to professor extraordinarius, while profesor min ha-minyan is the equivalent, and Hebrew translation of, professor ordinarius. The academic programs of the university are controlled by a Senate, of which every full professor is a member. 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.


Background information
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 introduced by these later acts has affected the way in which 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). As a consequence, good applicants were often discarded in favor of mediocre "insiders", and shameless nepotism was common for 20 years.
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. 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). 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 profesor 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 has disappeared in 2007), and Profesor Contratado Doctor (equivalent to Profesor Titular de Universidad). 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), Profesor Ayudante (a doctoral student working as teaching assistant), 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: tenured, full time, civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación" required, only a Catedrático can be President of the University (Rector), European Union citizenship is required.
  • Profesor Titular de Universidad: tenured, full time, civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación" required, European Union citizenship is required.
  • Profesor Contratado Doctor: tenured, full time, not a civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación" required.
  • Profesor Asociado: can be a tenured position, part time, not a civil servant, no Ph. D required.
Non-tenure positions:
  • Profesor Ayudante Doctor: non tenured, full time, not a civil servant, Ph. D required, "acreditación" required, only for a limited period of time.
  • Profesor Ayudante: non tenured, full time, not a civil servant, no Ph. D required, only for a limited period of time.
Other positions:
  • 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 is 70, if he so wishes. Even then, he, or she, can apply for a Profesor Emérito position. It is a non-tenured position and it has a limited duration (4 additional years). Also, there are specific rules established by the university.
Spain is not an easy country to work in for people with a foreign academic qualification. 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 Profesor 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 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 in Spain lasts 2 years, but it usually takes two or more additional years to successfully complete and discuss one's dissertation. 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 local language may be required. This is one of the most serious constraints to mobility for university professors in Spain, together with low salaries (see below).


In Portuguese, professor means both professor and teacher.

Main positions

  • Professor Catedrático: now in disuse, refers to a professor who holds a chair.
  • Professor Titular: the highest current position in most Brazilian universities, corresponding to a full professor.
  • Professor Associado: associate professor. In São Paulo, a faculty member who has completed a "livre docência", which requires a Habilitation thesis and public examination.
  • Professor Adjunto: intermediate position between associate and assistant professor requiring a doctoral degree. This position exists only in the federal public universities; in the São Paulo state universities, the closest equivalent rank is now referred to as Professor Doutor.
  • Professor Assistente: an assistant professor, usually holding a master's degree only.
  • Auxiliar de Ensino: a teaching asssistant who has a bachelor's degree only; referred to as Professor Auxiliar in the federal universities.
  • Professor Substituto: the same as an adjunct professor in the US system, i.e. someone who does not have a permanent position at the academic institution.
  • Professor Visitante: the same as visiting professor.

Salary of professors (Europe)

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 surcharges. The anticipated average earnings with performance-related surcharges for a German professor is €71,500.
  • The anticipated average earnings of a Swiss professor 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 accomplisment of teaching criteria defined by the university, one for each five years of seniority) and "sexenios" (depending on the accomplisment 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; Profesor Titular, 2,000 euros; Catedrático, 2,400 euros. There are a total of 14 payments per year, with 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. Even more, those salaries are ridiculously low compared with the cost of housing in Spain, which seriously limits the movility of university profesors (in Madrid, a rented flat of 50 square meters costs 700-900 euros per month). The incredible increase in the cost of housing during the past decade, with frozen salaries, have impoverished university professors in Spain in real terms.
  • 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).
  • Note that these countries provide different social benefits, social security, child care, etc, to their citizens making these numbers very hard to compare.

Professors in fiction

As portrayed in fiction, in accordance with a stereotype, professors are often depicted as being shy and absent-minded. An obvious example is the 1961 movie The Absent-Minded Professor. 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 the Professor Moriarty, who fought 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 Higgins is also a main character in My Fair Lady. In the popular Harry Potter series, a few school students are the most important characters, but their professors 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.
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 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 adopts 'The Professor' as his stage name. Other professors of this type are the infamous Professor Digory Kirke of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and his relative the less-known Professor Pevensie (father of the Pevensie children).
In the British sitcom Time Gentlemen Please, there is a learned character who people refer to as the 'Prof' being short for professor.
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.",9171,930955,00.html Hans Asperger called the children he studied "Little Professors."


professor in Aymara: Yatichiri
professor in Azerbaijani: Professor
professor in Bosnian: Profesor
professor in Bulgarian: Професор
professor in Catalan: Professor
professor in Czech: Profesor
professor in Danish: Professor
professor in German: Professur
professor in Estonian: Professor
professor in Spanish: Profesor
professor in Esperanto: Profesoro
professor in French: Professeur
professor in Korean: 교수
professor in Hindi: प्रोफ़ेसर
professor in Croatian: Profesor
professor in Indonesian: Profesor
professor in Icelandic: Prófessor
professor in Italian: Professore
professor in Hebrew: פרופסור
professor in Lithuanian: Profesorius
professor in Dutch: Professor
professor in Japanese: 教授
professor in Norwegian: Professor
professor in Norwegian Nynorsk: Professor
professor in Polish: Profesor
professor in Portuguese: Professor
professor in Russian: Профессор
professor in Simple English: Professor
professor in Slovenian: Profesor
professor in Serbian: Професор
professor in Serbo-Croatian: Profesor
professor in Finnish: Professori
professor in Swedish: Professor
professor in Thai: ศาสตราจารย์
professor in Vietnamese: Giáo sư
professor in Turkish: Profesör
professor in Ukrainian: Професор
professor in Yiddish: פראפעסאר
professor in Chinese: 教授
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