Difference Between Full Professor and Associate Professor

You among many others have been wondering about what could be the difference between full professor and associate professor in the university environment. You have heard your friends sharing talks about being an associate professor on scholarship abroad, you have heard an older person identifying as an associate professor in a university.

Well, here in this explanation is the confident analysis of the few things that distinguish a full-fledged professor from an associate scholar. There are very good reasons why digging into issues like this become very necessary. One, it helps you understand the different cadres and ranks involved in the academic setting or ladder. Two, it helps you clarify your purpose and then clears the air for your career and the duration attached to going full-bloom.

The ranks on the ladder of academic professional career are outlined below:

  • Distinguished (or similar) Professor
  • Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Assistant Professor
  • Lecturer, Instructor, Teaching Professor
  • Clinical Professor, Professor of Practice
  • Research Associate, Research Professor
  • Adjunct Professor, Adjunct Instructor, Adjunct Lecturer
  • Visiting Professorships and Professor-in-Residence
  • Research Associate (general)
  • Research Scientist (natural or social sciences)
  • Research Engineer (engineering)
  • Research Scholar (humanities)
  • Research Technician (general)
  • Research Assistant (general)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow / Research Associate (general)

Distinguishing Features Between Full and Associate Professors

In the university context, here is the noble difference between full professor and associate professor which you may have been told to also be a professor at least in his or her right.

Basically what bridges the full professor and the associate professor is the depth of research which both have carried out in the long run. It is this that no matter what determines the promotion that shall follow the existing rank of an associate professor to be adorned with the academic wings of a university full professor.

  • Associate Professor

An associate professor is a mid-level professor who has been granted tenure. To earn that promotion, an assistant professor must go through a rigorous process:

  1. Submission of a tenure dossier, including materials such as a CV, publication bibliography, and teaching record, along with a list of awards and grants, as well as service elements, such as student counseling and membership on committees
  2. Review by a committee of tenured faculty, which evaluates both the dossier and letters about the candidate from prominent scholars
  3. Tenure recommendation from the committee
  4. Approval by senior administration such as the dean of faculty and provost
  • Full Professor

After five to seven years, an associate professor can apply for promotion to full professor, or simply, professor. The review process is similar to tenure review, but the reviewers are other full professors. Reviewers look not only at the candidate’s achievements in teaching, research, and service, but also their impact and reputation in the overall field beyond their own institution.

Read Also: Biography of the Highest Paid Professor at Harvard

Professor is the highest rank on a tenure track. Professors often chair departments. They’re also more likely to teach graduate classes, supervise graduate students, and make presentations at national and international conferences. Some professors gain additional prestige and higher salaries through specialized appointments. They may be named a distinguished professor or appointed to an endowed chair named after a prominent donor or scholar.

Other Differences are:

  • Research

Associate professors help raise funding for research that they conduct in collaboration with full professors.

Full Professors publish research and are listed as lead authors. They’re likely to publish books and articles, and present research at national and international meetings.

  • Freedom

Associate professors have less flexibility in setting their schedules, such as when to teach classes, and less choice in selecting research topics.

Full Professors have more control over their schedules, what courses to teach, and what research to conduct. A professor also has greater job security and freedom to work and speak on controversial subjects.

  • Salary

Full Professors with doctoral degrees earned an average of $159,919 a year. At private universities, they averaged even more: $202,199.

Associate professors with doctorates averaged $104,482 overall and $122,556 at private schools.

  • Teaching

Associate professors create lesson plans and syllabi for existing classes. They teach advanced as well as introductory classes, with classes comprised of undergraduates and/or graduate students.

Full Professors can suggest new classes and changes in curricula. They teach mostly graduate classes, and they supervise graduate students working on theses or dissertations.

  • Service

Associate professors develop administrative skills by serving as committee members and advising students. They may help review tenure applications from assistant professors.

Full Professors often chair both committees and departments at a university, and they may also chair committees for professional associations. They’re involved in personnel decisions, such as hiring new faculty, granting tenure, and promoting associate professors to professors.

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