Difference Between Assistant Professor and Associate Professor

Assistant Professor vs Associate Professor

Teaching is a noble profession they say and gets the kind of respect that few others can match. Those who take it up as a profession know how hard it is to climb the ladders finally to get the title of a full professor, which is the highest academic rank a teacher at the college level can hope to achieve. The two intermediate levels are that of assistant professor and associate professor that are very confusing, at least for the one who is an aspiring teacher. This article attempts to highlight the difference between assistant and associate professor and what it takes to move from one rank to another.

Assistant Professor

Though the title looks like a predecessor of a professor, it is only a misnomer and the rank of assistant professor is an entry level position to which teachers are appointed at college or university level. In most cases, this is a position filled by people who have completed their doctoral thesis and earned their doctoral degree to be called PhD. It is possible that some colleges may hire people with master’s level degree to the post of assistant professor. If the title tells that the person is an assistant to someone, forget it. An assistant professor is not an assistant to a full professor; rather he is a professor standing at the lowest rung of a promotional ladder that goes up to full professor, which is the highest rank or title a teacher at the college level can hope to achieve.

Assistant professor mostly does not have tenure and has to work in this position for 5-7 years during which he either earns a promotion with tenure or is given an year to get tenure. Otherwise, the college or the university fires the teacher at this very level, and there is no further advancement.

Associate Professor

Associate professor is a rank that is a rung above assistant professor. Sometimes, an assistant professor is granted promotion to the rank of an associate professor as recognition of his services as a teacher after 3-4 years in a college. This may or may not be with tenure. On the other hand, it is common to see an assistant professor automatically become an associate professor as and when he gets tenure at the college where he is teaching for the last 3-4 years.

Assistant Professor vs Associate Professor

• Assistant professor is the entry level position as an academic while the next level as an academic is that of an associate professor

• Assistant professor does not have tenure while the rank of associate professor has tenure

• Tenure and promotion are two separate events in some colleges. However, if an assistant professor does not get tenure within 6 years, he is given an additional year for this after which he is usually fired by the college or university