February 17, 2020

Difference between titles: Professor, Doctor, and Faculty

With titles like associate professor, assistant professor, and adjunct professor floating around, it can be hard to differentiate between them.

In college, there are typically two ways that people refer to their teachers: “professor” and “doctor.”

As most people know, anyone who holds the title of “doctor” has achieved a Ph.D. in a certain field of study, but it can be interchangeable with professor. Of course, out of respect, some professors wish to be called doctor if they have achieved a doctorate degree.

“Most faculty are fine with you referring to them as professor,” Keirsten Moore, associate provost said, “and that’s probably the most general of the two ways to address faculty members.”

Not all faculty members have a Ph.D., but according to Moore, at the very least, they all hold master’s degrees.

“Our faculty are all prepared at the master-level. So all faculty have master degrees,” Moore said. “There are very few exceptions to teach a bachelor class without a master’s degree.”

This is Keirsten Moore, associate provost. Photo courtesy of Keirsten Moore.

The titles of “professor” and “doctor” are both associated with the academic credentials of the individual. In addition to those two, there is something called “faculty rank.”

Faculty rank is comprised of three general titles that include assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor. These job titles are determined by tenure and an evaluation process.

Tenure is a process where faculty have to demonstrate that they have excellent skills in three key areas. Staff that are on a tenure track have to be evaluated annually.

“We evaluate staff in their teaching, scholarship, and service,” Moore said.

In this scenario, scholarship is representative of research publication and presentation record. Service encapsulates what committees and student organizations a professor is involved with.

After six years, a faculty member may be able to achieve tenure based on their progress in those three areas.

“Tenure then becomes a commitment on behalf of the institution to retain that person’s employment as long as they’re meeting the requirements of their position,” Moore said.

As stated before, faculty rank goes from assistant, associate, and then to full professor.

An assistant professor is usually someone who is new to the university and does not have tenure. If an assistant professor gets promoted then they move up to associate professor.

“Typically, that promotion comes with tenure,” Moore said.

After that, the highest faculty rank is full professor, which is a post-tenure promotion that involves an evaluation process.

Those are the tenure faculty ranks, but there’s also something called “untenured term-faculty.” These positions are not eligible to pursue tenure, and are usually appointed to teach only one year.

“There’s no assumption that those appointments will be renewed, although they may be,” Moore said. “You might have people who are doctors in those positions, or they might be people with master’s degrees,” Moore said. “Those are typically called ‘instructor’ title positions.”

Besides instructor, another title in this category is “adjunct” professor, who teach on a part-time basis.

“Someone who teaches one or two classes would be referred to as adjunct faculty,” Moore said. “Those are the people that we hire because we have additional demand in a particular area, or because they have a particular expertise that we want to add.”

Since the university is private, Moore could not provided the salary information on the various positions, but she did confirm that an employee’s pay can increase as they progress toward tenure.

“Typically there are opportunities for pay increases when people are promoted,” Moore said.

  • Robert Cumberlander is a staff reporter for The Chimes and a sophomore at Capital University, majoring in Film and Media Production with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

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