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Thread: How long does it take to become a full professor?

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    Click My Avatar! YoungEconomist's Avatar
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    How long does it take to become a full professor?

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    My understanding is that you start out as an assistant professor, then get promoted to an associate professor, then get promoted to a full professor. Please correct me if this is incorrect. What I don't understand is exactly how you go through the stages. How long does it generally take to go from one stage to the next? Also, is pay dependent on your title or just how long you've been at the school?

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage economicus's Avatar
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    I think it depends on your publication output(?). There are 45 years old people being full professors and still 60 years old people being just associate profs...

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    Click My Avatar! YoungEconomist's Avatar
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    I have another question, what is the difference between being hired as tenure-track and non-tenure-track? I see PhD Job Market Candidates taking tenure-track positions, and I don't know what this exactly means.

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    If you're non-tenure track, then, basically, you won't ever be coming up for tenure. Most non-TT jobs are temporary from one to three or four years. They often pay less than TT jobs, and there's far less security in the job. They tend to be teaching intensive, and the college is less likely to invest in you as a researcher.
    Attending: Georgetown

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    Quote Originally Posted by economicus View Post
    I think it depends on your publication output(?). There are 45 years old people being full professors and still 60 years old people being just associate profs...
    I notice that some people become full professors in a rediculously short period of time. For example, I read that Greg Mankiw became a full professor at Harvard in 2 years. Now, I am not trying to compare myself to Mankiw in any shape or form. But I was wondering if this also happens at small Liberal Arts Colleges? Is it not that uncommon for people at smaller schools to be able to obtain the full professor position within 5 - 10 years? Or is this pretty much unheard of?

    What exacly are the benefits of becoming a full professor? Do you make more? Or is pay at public schools mainly just dependent on the number of years you've taught and not so much about your title? Do you have to teach less classes? Does it mean you're tenured, and pretty much can't get fired?

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage economicus's Avatar
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    I think other members know more about this...

    As I understand, tenured professors practically can't get hired. Full Professors are often the only ones who have the right to supervise phd students, are the ones who have the power in the department.

    Wiki:
    • Assistant professor: the entry-level position, for which one usually needs a Ph.D. or other doctorate; a master's degree may suffice, especially at community colleges or in fields for which there is a terminal master's degree. In some areas, such as the natural sciences, it is uncommon to grant assistant professor positions to recently graduated Ph.D.s, and nearly all assistant professors will have completed some time as postdoctoral fellows. The position is generally not tenured, although in most institutions, the term is used for "tenure-track" positions; that is, the candidate can become tenured after a probationary period—anywhere from 3 to 7 years. Rates for achieving tenure vary, depending on the institutions and areas of study; in most places at least 50% of assistant professors are tenured and promoted to associate professors after the sixth year; however, this number can be as low as 10% in natural sciences departments of top universities, or over 70% in non-Ph.D. granting schools[citation needed]. In unusual circumstances it is possible to receive tenure but to remain as an assistant professor, typically when tenure is awarded early. Traditionally, in an effort to diversify the academic pool, universities prefer to hire those who have graduated from a different university and not someone who may be a former student[citation needed]. This remains true for all levels[citation needed].
    • Associate professor: the mid-level position, usually awarded (in the humanities and social sciences) after a substantial publication record, such as a book, book contract, or second book--although the requirements vary considerably between institutions and departments. Generally upon obtaining tenure, one is also promoted to associate professor. Less commonly, a person may be hired at the associate professor level without tenure. Typically this is done as a financial inducement to attract someone from outside the institution, but who might not yet meet all the qualifications for tenure. If awarded to a non-tenured person, the position is usually tenure-track with an expectation that the person will soon qualify for tenure. However, at some institutions (including Harvard and Princeton), associate professors are untenured and only rarely promoted to tenure.
    • (Full) professor: the senior position. In a traditional school this position is always tenured. However, this may not be the case in a for-profit private institution. The absence of a mandatory retirement age contributes to "graying" of this occupation. The median age of American full professors is currently around 55 years. Very few people attain this position before the age of 40. The annual salary of full professors averages around $95,000, although less so at non-doctoral institutions, and more so at private doctoral institutions (not including side income from grants and consulting, which can be substantial in some fields); in addition, institutions in major cities or high cost of living areas will pay higher salaries[1]. Full professors earn on average about 70% more than assistant professors in the same institution. However, particularly in scientific and technical fields, this is still considerably less than salaries of those with comparable training and experience working in industry positions.

    Life of a typical natural sciences professor in the United States[citation needed]:
    • Bachelor's degree: age 18–22
    • Ph.D.: 22–30 (typically takes between five and eight years)
    • Post-doc: 30–33 (highly variable, and multiple post-docs are increasingly common)
    • Assistant professor: 33–38
    • Associate professor: 38–45 (varies)
    • Full professor: 45–70 (professors were forced to retire at 70 during 1986–1993, this is no longer the case; retirement age is now at professors' own discretion; most retire between 65 and 75)
    • Professor emeritus: 70+
    In addition to increasing salary, each promotional step also tends to come with increased departmental or institutional responsibilities. At some institutions, these changes are offset by a reduced teaching load.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    At my liberal arts college, it took about six years to move from assistant to associate professor and then at least six years more to become a full professor. With state budget cuts, the number of new full professors has dropped to nearly zero, which is becoming the trend at many public institutions.
    University of Wisconsin-Madison--Leaving with a master's degree

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Typically, tenure review (i.e. associate professor) usually comes in year 5-6. I've heard that full professor comes typically around year 10, but this gets discussed much less often than associate tenure-review (probably because associate is a necessary pre-req to come up for full, so the former is presumably the more pressing concern).

    There are certainly exceptions, but I get the impression this is standard (especially for associate professor promotions). Levitt, I think, was a full prof at UofC after three years. Jeff Sachs was a full prof at Harvard in three years, also, if I remember correctly. But these are major exceptions, and many of these came 20 years ago. Levitt is an exception, but remember that he was publishing at the beginning of his (3 year) PhD, and he also did a 3-year stint in the Harvard Society of Fellows prior to his first academic position... so he did have a pretty long track record (close to 9 years) of publications by the time he came up for tenure.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Also, I think a lot of committee work gets dumped on junior, not senior, faculty. After full professor, you can also be promoted to "named professorships", which presumably just means more money to keep you around, but I'm not certain.

    Oh, and those salary numbers sound a bit low for econ.

    Salary bumps up with promotions, but also with outside offers... typically, but not always, a department will take any outside offers into consideration and potentially make a counter-offer... but I hear you want to be careful with this, since a school may tell you to take the other offer (that you may not necessarily want).

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