Professor is a word in many countries that refers to a senior academic office and might be a head of a department, alternative it may be a personal chair after attaining certain academic qualification.

Professors are experts that are qualified and might be involved in doing the following:

  • Conducting seminars and lectures in the fields of specialization.
  • Performing advanced researches in their fields of specialization.
  • Providing consultation services to institutions and governments.
  • Training graduates students.

The balance of professorial tasks above depends on place (country), time and institution.

The main categories of professors are:

  • Assistant professor
  • Associate professor
  • Full professor

Other categories of professors include professor emeritus, visiting professor, distinguished professor, collegiate professor, adjunct professor, named chair, research professor, professor by courtesy, honorary professor, and international professor.

Assistant professor is an entry level position where by one needs a Ph.D. or other doctorate such as a master’s degree may be enough, this occurs mostly in fields or colleges in which terminal master’s degree are the terminal degrees. Assistant professors positions are not granted immediately after attaining the PhDs but after some time as postdoctoral fellows.

Associate professor is the middle level position that is generally awarded after a significant publication record, like that of a book, book contract or second book but all these requirements vary considerably between departments and institutions. After attaining tenure, one is the promoted to the level of associate professor.  The position may be granted to a non tenured person as a tenure track so that on will later qualify to the position of associate

Full professor is a senior position and is always a tenured position. However, this may not be the case in a for-profit private institution. Lack of a compulsory retirement age contributes to graying of this occupation. The median age of most of America’s full professors is about the age of 55years currently.

Professors Emeriti refer to full professors who have retired in good standing. This also refers to professors who have retired but continue to teach.

Distinguished Professor, are also called research, teaching or university professor and these terms are used in only one institution to the tenured faculty.

Visiting professor refers to a distinguished scholar or professor who is teaching another institution for some limited time.

Collegiate professor is a full time professor whose major function is to teach, but may also serve on the academic committees.

Adjunct professor is a person who doesn’t have a lasting position at the academic institution and he may be teaching a special course while working else where. They add resources to the faculty.

Named chair is a full professor awarded a specific or endowed a chair that is sponsored by a firm, fund, person, etc. they are not a career rank but a position rank.

Professor by courtesy is a professor who is originally and primarily associated with only one academic department, but has formally become associated with a second program, department, within the university or institute and has assumed duties of a professor’s duty in the second department too.

Research Professor: a professor who focuses specifically on research

Assistant or associate are teaching professors who are very rare and mainly focuses on supervising and teaching assistants. Honorary professor is a position granted to those that have contributed to the community or school by either donation of academic development or furtherance of research. International Professor refers to professors who are teaching simultaneously on two countries or continents over a period of time. The term professor differs depending on the place, institution and time.