In the French system and other francophone systems, tenured faculty is divided in two categories: maitre de conferences, equivalent to associate professors if I understand correctly, and professeurs, equivalent to full professors.

I'm preparing a list of people for a meeting. I am required to distinguish between no title, Dr., and Prof. The question is simple: should I call the maitre de conferences "professors"? On the one hand, their title is not formally "professor". On the other hand, their rank is equivalent to "associate professor", and so they deserve to be called "professor".

I am interested in a general answer. Not necessarily only for my situation. Call this curiosity if you wish.

  • 1
    I think your question reduces to academia.stackexchange.com/questions/37037/…
    – user2768
    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:26
  • Yes, you can. (I did my PhD in France). There is actually a big distinction between maitre de conf. (French position) and associate professor. It is not a limited-time position, it is a full tenured one. On her CV in English, my advisor would usually indicate this as Associate Professor (permanent position). Besides, when in doubt always err on the side of caution with academic titles.
    – penelope
    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:45
  • @user91248 On this list would you call a UK lecturer or reader a professor? This can also be an equivalent position to an associate professor. And what about faculty at institutions which do not have professorships like Max Planck Institutes?
    – MJeffryes
    Apr 11, 2018 at 9:41
  • 4
    Why not use the French terms, if you need to be accurate? Apr 11, 2018 at 15:01
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2 Answers 2


This is a very general answer, so for your case you may wish to wait for an answer specific to the French system.

My opinion is that you should never 'translate' someone else's title in this way. You said that a maitre de conference 'deserves' to be called professor. However, the title 'professor' is not a value judgement on a person, it's just a job title.

In the US, this job title is used quite liberally. Outside the US, the title is often restricted to the most senior staff. In the UK, for example, the job positions of lecturer and reader are equivalent to a US associate professor and full professorship respectively. So a maitre de conference wouldn't be equivalent to a professorship in the UK. If you call a maitre de conference a professor, will you also title British lecturers and readers 'professor'?

Many scientists work at institutions which are not universities, and hence, cannot be professors unless they have also have a university appointment. For example, even the director of a Max Planck Institute is not (automatically) a professor. Are academics employed in such institutions also to be upgraded to professor?

It would be strange to invent a professor title in any of these cases. At best, it will cause bemusement, at worst they will think that you haven't properly researched their background.

  • It's perhaps good to note that in France, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers are also called "professeur" ("professeur des écoles" and "professeur certifié/agrégé" respectively). In fact, on its own, "professeur" strongly implies secondary school teacher, you need the qualifier "des universités" to be certain. When I was myself a PhD student, students would refer to me as "le prof de TD" (the "exercise session professor").
    – user9646
    Apr 11, 2018 at 15:58
  • @NajibIdrissi Yes, but my understanding is that you would only be called Prof. Idrissi if you were a university professor, which I think is what the question is about. My knowledge of French is not great, but I think that students would call their teachers Mme./M. X rather than Prof X. Is this correct?
    – MJeffryes
    Apr 11, 2018 at 16:00
  • It would be similar to German, "monsieur le professeur Idrissi" (one can dream!) in French, but yes, that's normally only used for university professors. But honestly that's just never used in French except in very formal documents. While it's common to refer to someone as "the professor" (e.g. "the professor said", and this can be any level of professor), when used with a name it's almost exclusively "monsieur/madame X" (mister/madam), as you said. My point was more than in France, "professeur" is used with even greater abandon than in the US.
    – user9646
    Apr 11, 2018 at 16:10

Yes, Maître de conférences is equivalent to Associate Professor. There is the equivalent table between all the countries and it is equivalent to Associate/Assistant Professor.


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