Classification of Ranks and Titles (2023)

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  • Classification of Ranks and Titles (1)

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Faculty appointments are classified into ranks and groups by title. These classifications have significance in regard to benefits and rights that may or may not pertain to each category or classification. The granting of Tenure, discussed in “Tenure and Promotion on the Charles River Campus”, is a separate guarantee that is not implied by any of the titles discussed in this section. The original letter of appointment and each subsequent salary notification or reappointment letter shall indicate clearly the title, nature, duration, Tenure status, and salary of the appointment. Each School or College should have clear statements of the expectations for faculty of each rank and type of title.

Unless otherwise stated, the titles and associated criteria described below apply to the faculty of both the Charles River and Medical Campuses. All persons receiving faculty appointments should have engaged in significant scholarly work or have notable professional expertise and achievement. The standard academic ranks are Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. The standard professorial titles (and where appropriate Instructor) are significantly altered by the addition of modifiers such as Emeritus, University, Clinical, Research, Adjunct, or Visiting. The standard lecturer ranks are Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Master Lecturer.

Appointments with the standard professorial titles of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor may be Non-Tenure-Track, Tenure-Track, or Tenured. All other faculty appointments are by definition Non-Tenure-Track and without tenure.

A distinction is also made between full-time and part-time appointments. Full-time appointees are expected to give full-time service and allegiance to the University. No right of Tenure accrues to any person holding a part-time position regardless of title, rank, or cumulative length of service. The duties of and terms and conditions for part-time faculty shall be articulated in each letter of appointment.

A. Description of Standard Academic Ranks

The basic qualifications and standards established to identify the degree and types of achievement expected in each rank vary among the University’s Schools and Colleges, and the various programs within them. The general descriptions are as follows:

Instructor: At the Charles River Campus, an Instructor normally holds a minimum of a Master’s degree or equivalent, has completed most or all of the requirements for the doctorate or equivalent, and is expected to demonstrate effectiveness primarily as a teacher. At the Medical Campus, Instructor is the entry level rank for those who have recently completed their post doctoral training, residency or fellowship training. This rank is appropriate for new faculty, generally with M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent degrees, who have the potential for academic advancement. Medical Campus individuals at the instructor level may be in positions of advanced training prior to leaving the institution or being promoted to the assistant professor rank.

All full-time Instructors are entitled under the by-laws of the University to attend and participate in the faculty meetings of their respective School or College. If authorized by the School or College faculty, they may have the right to vote.

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Assistant Professor: Generally, an assistant professor has been awarded a doctoral or professional degree or equivalent, exhibits commitment to teaching and scholarly or professional work of high caliber, and participates in University affairs at least at the department level

Associate Professor: Generally, an associate professor meets the requirements for appointment as an assistant professor, enjoys a national reputation as a scholar or professional, shows a high degree of teaching proficiency and commitment, and demonstrates public, professional, or University service beyond the department

Professor: Generally, a professor meets the requirements for appointment as an associate professor, and, in addition, has a distinguished record of accomplishment that leads to an international or, as appropriate, national reputation in his or her field.

B. Definition of Prefixes and Suffixes that Modify Standard Academic Titles

The standard professorial titles above and the title Instructor may be significantly modified by the use of prefixes, as follows:

The title University Professor is given to distinguished and exceptional individuals who are internationally recognized experts in their field, have demonstrated excellence in more than one academic specialty, who are qualified to lecture and/or conduct research in a particular subject, and who are appointed specifically to teach in the University Professors Program.

The prefix Clinical identifies appointments that primarily provide practical instruction and application of practical knowledge. On the Medical Campus, the title describes faculty whose primary activity is limited to clinical or public health practice and associated teaching. The duties, terms of appointment, and salaries (if any) of such persons are specified in the letter of appointment. In general, the applicable rank and any subsequent promotions should be determined by the relevant academic achievements, professional accomplishments, and demonstrated effectiveness of the appointee. A variety of titles are used to designate such positions including:

  • Clinical Instructor
  • Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Clinical Associate Professor
  • Clinical Professor

Associate Professors of the Practice and Professors of the Practice are officers of instruction who are or have been distinguished practitioners in their respective professions and whose primary responsibilities lie in teaching, mentoring, and service to the University.*

The “of the practice” suffix applies to a distinguished practitioner who through teaching shares his or her knowledge and experience in the profession. The prefix “Clinical” is used for certain faculty engaged in clinical settings with students. The teaching, supervising, and mentoring provided by clinical faculty is directly related to the practicum of the students’ programs.


The prefix Research identifies faculty appointments that are offered to scientists and scholars who fulfill the research qualifications of the standard professorial or Instructor ranks and who work for the University on research supported by external grants and contracts. The principal criteria for these titles are scholarly productivity and recognition of original work. Several titles are used to designate such positions:

  • Research Instructor
  • Research Assistant Professor
  • Research Associate Professor
  • Research Professor

Research faculty are eligible to give seminars and teach occasional courses. Teaching is at the discretion of the department. These titles may be used for appointments of one year or longer. Research appointments are for the stated term of the appointment with no guarantee or expectation of renewal. The timetables for notice of non-reappointment set forth in the section, “Appointment and Reappointment of Faculty on the Charles River Campus” and “Appointment and Continuance of Appointments for Full-Time Faculty on the Medical Campus” are not applicable.

The prefix Adjunct identifies a scholar whose primary place of employment is not Boston University or whose primary employment within the University is not in a faculty capacity. An Adjunct Professor is an expert in a special field appointed to give instruction on a part-time or discontinuous basis. These part-time appointments may be in the ranks of:

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor
  • Adjunct Associate Professor
  • Adjunct Professor

Duties usually include the teaching and advising of students but do not include service on departmental committees.

At the Medical Campus, standard professorial titles are given to faculty members teaching at Boston University affiliated hospitals. Adjunct appointments are appropriate if faculty have primary appointments at another university.

The prefix Adjunct Clinical is used for appointments of persons employed in a clinical setting where students receive clinical instruction. These appointments are usually without salary. The criteria for adjunct clinical faculty are the same as for regular faculty appointments of comparable rank.

  • Adjunct Clinical Instructor
  • Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor
  • Adjunct Clinical Professor

The prefix Visiting identifies a faculty member who normally teaches at another institution or possesses other professorial qualifications and is appointed to give instruction for a stated term, ordinarily of one year or less on a full or part-time basis. The titles used to indicate such an instructional appointment are:

  • Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Visiting Associate Professor
  • Visiting Professor

The prefix Visiting Research indicates that the purpose of the appointment is to facilitate collaboration with one or more members of the faculty on a specific research or scholarly project, for a stated period. The titles used are:

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  • Visiting Research Assistant Professor
  • Visiting Research Associate Professor
  • Visiting Research Professor

The qualifications of teaching and scholarship for Visiting and Visiting Research faculty are the same as expected for professorial appointments of comparable rank in the University. Persons receiving such appointments are expected to comply with all University policies pertaining to full-time positions unless otherwise clearly indicated in the letter of appointment.

Emeritus: The Emeritus designation is intended to recognize professors for lifetime contributions to the university, to their field, or to both, upon their retirement. “Emeritus” status is available to tenured and non-tenure track professorial faculty, including those who hold titles modified by “Clinical,” “Research” and “of the Practice.” Please see “Emeritus Status” in the Faculty Retirement section for more detail.

Affiliated/Secondary Appointment: An Affiliated or Secondary title is given to full-time faculty as a means of formalizing an association with a department other than that of the primary appointment. The affiliation must be recommended by the department and dean following the procedure specified by the School or College, as approved by the Provost. Termination of the primary appointment shall automatically terminate the affiliated/secondary appointment. Voting rights are outlined in the terms of the appointment.

C. Definition of Standard Lecturer Ranks

Lecturer: A Lecturer is a faculty member appointed primarily to provide instruction for a stated term of full-time or part-time service, as specified in the appointment letter. The basic qualifications and standards expected of the lecturer vary among the University’s Schools and Colleges but the title reflects strong teaching ability and a relevant basis of scholarly work or professional expertise and achievement.

Senior Lecturer or Master Lecturer: Generally, a Senior Lecturer or Master Lecturer meets the requirements for appointment as a Lecturer, and has demonstrated excellence in teaching for at least five or ten years, respectively.

Adopted April 18, 2007, by the University Council.

Last revised on March 23, 2021, by theUniversity Council.

*Creation of the modified faculty title “of the Practice” approved by the University Council, April 8, 2009.

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What is the highest academic title? ›

Professor. A professor is the highest academic title held at a college, university, or postsecondary institution. Professors are accomplished and recognized academics — and usually considered experts in their areas of interest.

What is the highest professor rank? ›

In the United States there are three ranks of professor: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Full Professor.

What are the researcher ranks? ›

There are three categories of research ranks: associate research scientist, research scientist, and senior research scientist.

What are the 4 types of degrees? ›

There are generally four categories of college degrees: associate degree, bachelor's degree, graduate degree, and doctorate or professional degree.

Is there a title higher than PhD? ›

The Doctor of Divinity (DDiv) and the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) are considered by Oxford to outrank all other degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The DDiv is usually awarded for academic accomplishments beyond the PhD level.

What is the highest class rank? ›

Class rank is a ranking of all the students in a high school class from highest to lowest GPA, with the student with the highest GPA being ranked No. 1.

Is A professor higher than a Doctor? ›

It is widely accepted that the academic title of Professor is higher than a Doctor, given that the job title of professor is the highest academic position possible at a university. Remember that the Doctor title here refers specially to a PhD (or equivalent doctoral degree) holder and not a medical doctor.

What do class ranks mean? ›

Class ranking is a mathematical summary of a student's academic record compared to those of other students in the class. It usually considers both the degree of difficulty of the courses a student is taking (AP, honors, college-preparatory, or regular courses) and the grade the student earns.

Can you be a professor without a PhD? ›

Professors generally need a doctorate for entry-level positions. Most professors dedicate a decade to their postsecondary education before teaching their first class.

Is Dean higher than professor? ›

Higher education

Such a dean is usually a tenured professor from one of the departments but gives up most teaching and research activities upon assuming the deanship. Other senior administrative positions in higher education may also carry the title of dean (or a lesser title such as associate dean or assistant dean).

What title is higher than professor? ›

Commonwealth systemUnited States system
Professor (chair)Professor, distinguished professor, chaired professor, or equivalent
Reader, Principal Lecturer, Associate ProfessorProfessor
Senior lecturerAssociate professor
LecturerAssistant professor
2 more rows

What are the 10 examples of research title? ›

Research Topics:
  • Infectious disease. 29 articles | 1,643,000 views. ...
  • Nutritional immunology. 29 articles | 768,000 views. ...
  • Music therapy. 44 articles | 268,000 views. ...
  • Political misinformation. 11 articles | 219,000 views. ...
  • Plant science. 15 articles | 198,000 views. ...
  • Sustainable agriculture. ...
  • Mental health. ...
  • Aging brains.
Jan 17, 2022

What are the levels of a scientist? ›

There are four levels within the classification: Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Principal Research Scientist, and Senior Principal Research Scientist.

What are job titles in research? ›

Expand Research Titles and Staffing section. Research Scientist. Research Assistant. Postdoctoral Research Associate. Research Associate.

What is a 8 year degree called? ›

A doctorate degree typically takes anywhere from four to six years to complete. On average, a Ph. D. is earned within eight years. The length of time it takes to earn your doctorate is based on numerous factors.

What is the highest degree in order? ›

College Degrees in Order: Levels of Education
  • Associate Degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree.
  • Master's Degree.
  • Doctoral Degree.

What are the 5 levels of education? ›

Early childhood education is followed by primary school (called elementary school in the United States), middle school, secondary school (called high school in the United States), and then postsecondary (tertiary) education.

Why are doctors called doctors without a PhD? ›

The word doctor is derived from the Latin verb “docere,” meaning to teach, or a scholar. Only by special arrangement do any of the preceding professionals teach. Only university professors with a doctoral degree normally teach at a university.

What is the highest doctorate? ›

A doctoral degree (PhD) is the highest degree you can earn in a particular field, but obtaining it isn't easy. On average, doctoral candidates dedicate seven to ten years of their life earning a doctorate after completing undergraduate work. However, the earning potential varies greatly depending on the discipline.

What is the highest Doctor degree? ›

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) is the highest degree for physicians and surgeons.

What are the top 5 graduates called? ›

For instance, summa cum laude students may have to be in the top 5 percent, magna cum laude students may be in the top 10 percent, and cum laude students will fall in the top 25 percent. Valedictorian, salutatorian, and designations like summa cum laude won't make it onto your college applications.

How is the class rank divided? ›

Your class rank is determined by comparing your GPA to the GPA of people in the same grade as you. So, if you are a junior and your high school has 500 juniors, each of them will receive a number, 1-500, with the person who has the highest GPA ranked #1.

What are the top 3 graduates called? ›

The highest academic distinction is summa cum laude, followed by magna cum laude and cum laude.

What do you call a professor with a PhD? ›

address them as “Professor Last Name.” This includes assistant, associate, clinical, and research professors, as well as full professors. Doctor: Anyone who has earned a doctoral degree can be addressed as “Dr. Last Name”. The most common.

Does a PhD make you a professor? ›

Most professors will be PhD-holders, but so will be many – if not most – other academics employed as university teachers and researchers. 'Professor' doesn't denote a qualification but an academic staff grade – the most senior one.

What do you call an instructor with a master's degree? ›

There could be one title for all—for example, “adjunct professor”—or titles based on degrees earned, such as “professor” for those with PhDs/EdDs and “instructor” for those with no higher than a master's degree. Never make a big deal out of what students prefer to call you.

What is an example of class rank? ›

Your class rank measures where you stand academically compared to others in your graduating class. For example, if you have a GPA of a 3.7 and your friend has a GPA of 3.8, your friend will rank higher than you do. Class rank may be used as a number (such as 6th in a class) or as a percentile (top 25% of a class).

What is it called when you are the top of your class? ›

Valedictorian is an academic title for the highest-performing student of a graduating class of an academic institution.

What is the top student called? ›

Valedictorian is the academic title conferred upon the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution, typically based upon the highest grade point average. Salutatorian is the academic title conferred upon the second highest ranking student in the class.

How many years is a PhD? ›

On average, a Ph. D. may take up to eight years to complete. A doctorate degree typically takes four to six years to complete—however, this timing depends on the program design, the subject area you're studying, and the institution offering the program.

What professors get paid the most? ›

According to the BLS, law professors earn a $123,470 annual median salary which is much higher than professors who teach other subjects. Economics, engineering, and health specialties professors also make significantly more than those who teach more traditional subjects like math and English.

What does PhD stand for? ›

A Ph. D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is a high-level degree earned after a period of three or more years of graduate-level study, culminating in the creation, submission, presentation and defense of a research dissertation.

Can you be a dean without a PhD? ›

Not all deans will hold an EdD or PhD in education, however. Due to the significant role deans play in the development of the curriculum for their colleges, many may instead hold advanced degrees in their field of study.

What is the hierarchy of professors? ›

The standard academic ranks are Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. The standard professorial titles (and where appropriate Instructor) are significantly altered by the addition of modifiers such as Emeritus, University, Clinical, Research, Adjunct, or Visiting.

What do you call a former dean? ›

Emeritus (/əˈmɛrɪtəs/; female: emerita) is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, professor, pastor, bishop, pope, director, president, prime minister, rabbi, emperor, or other person who has been "permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held".

Do professors keep their title when they retire? ›

In most cases, full professors who retire officially become emeritus professors, which entitles them to continue using the title "Professor". This is not always the case, but it is common.

What is the highest position in a university? ›

University president is the title of the highest-ranking officer within the academic administration of a university, within university systems that prefer that appellation over other variations such as chancellor or rector. The relative seniority varies between institutions.

What comes after PhD? ›

Usually there is no degree after PhD is required to become a research associate a PhD suffices. Moreover, the profession as a research associate is high paying and is a stable career.

What are the 7 characteristics of a research title? ›

The “title” should be descriptive, direct, accurate, appropriate, interesting, concise, precise, unique, and should not be misleading.

Is there a hierarchy of sciences? ›

The hierarchy of the sciences is a theory formulated by Auguste Comte in the 19th century. This theory states that science develops over time beginning with the simplest and most general scientific discipline, astronomy, which is the first to reach the "positive stage" (one of three in Comte's law of three stages).

What is the highest position in science? ›

If you want to take your career to the highest level, a doctorate may be the perfect choice. These advanced educations require significant, prolonged, and rigorous study, but once complete you'll be one of the most respected and highly-regarded professionals in science.

What is the highest level of science? ›

There is no “Highest level of science”. There's no “Pope of Science”, etc. In real life, the “Higher” one goes, in a FIELD, the more specialized and more narrowly focused your knowledge tends to get. So, the “higher one got” the less and less you'd be involved with or aware of, other aspects of science.

What is the difference between title and job title? ›

A job title can just be the name of your role, while a job position can include a potentially long and complex list of duties and responsibilities. This list can change as you gain more experience within your field.

What are some job title names? ›

Professional Job Titles for Resume Summaries
  • Administrative Assistant.
  • Executive Assistant.
  • Marketing Manager.
  • Customer Service Representative.
  • Nurse Practitioner.
  • Software Engineer.
  • Sales Manager.
  • Data Entry Clerk.
Feb 1, 2023

What's the difference between job and title? ›

A job title is a label your company gives you, while a job position describes your responsibilities. When including your job positions on your resume, it's important to list your everyday tasks to give the hiring manager a clear idea of your duties.

What is the highest academic qualification? ›

PhD. What is a PhD? A PhD is the highest of the university degree levels (level 8).

What does highest academic level mean? ›

Doctoral Degree

This qualifications is usually called a PhD and can take 2 to 3 years to complete. This qualification indicates that a student has achieved the highest level of study in a certain field and involves a lot of research work.

What is a higher academic degree? ›

Higher education is third level education after you leave school. It takes places at universities and Further Education colleges and normally includes undergraduate and postgraduate study.

What is the hardest academic degree? ›

What are the hardest degree subjects?
  • Aerospace Engineering. Aerospace Engineers study the design, manufacturing and testing of aircrafts. ...
  • Architecture. Architecture is one of those degrees that we wish was easy. ...
  • Pharmacy. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Statistics. ...
  • Nursing. ...
  • Physics. ...
  • Astrophysics.

What is the highest grade student called? ›

Valedictorian is the academic title conferred upon the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution, typically based upon the highest grade point average. Salutatorian is the academic title conferred upon the second highest ranking student in the class.

Can you call yourself a professor without a PhD? ›

Not all professors have PhDs. In fine arts, social work, and law, many professors will have an MFA, MSW, or JD (respectively) rather than a doctoral degree. And although some professors might also be doctors, “Professor” is a higher rank and thus tends to be preferred.


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