I am puzzled how can one translate the following in French?

Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Tenure Track, Instructors

Does Maître de Conférences translate the first three altogether? So, how can we distinguish between the various ranks? Maîtresse de Conférences for a woman is considered a "barbarisme" or not?

Can we use Conférencier(ère), professeur(e) assistant(e), professeur(e) associé(e) for the first three, respectively? If not, why?

Google Translate gives Professeur agrégé for associate professor but this is partly faulty, for


En France: Professeur agrégé de l'enseignement du second degré Titulaire d'une agrégation de l'enseignement supérieur : agrégation de droit, de science politique, d'économie, de médecine, de pharmacie.


Au Canada: Titre universitaire atteint généralement après avoir été professeur adjoint, avant de devenir professeur titulaire

Further, can we use professeur(e) adjoint(e) for assistant professor?

Ibid. for the couple Instructor and instructeur/instructrice.

Lastly, can we use Tenure Track in French?

For example professeur(e) assistant(e) «tenure track» is comprehensible in general?

Should we use instead something like professeur(e) assistant(e) avec titularisation conditionnelle?

  • 1
    Well, first you should consider if the posts in France are equivalent then consider if the titles should translate... Perhaps the French titles have a longer history than the American ones (gasp, shock horror...:) )
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:24
  • 1
    Related -- you may want to edit your question so it doesn't overlap with this one. In general, they are two different systems that don't correspond exactly -- you wouldn't call an Army O-10 an admiral, even if it's essentially the same rank as a general.
    – cag51
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:46
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    What's your usecase? If this is for a CV the answer maybe be somewhat different than for an official translation of a legal text, say.
    – quid
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:45
  • Generally, if someone asks me how to translate "Maitre des conferences" into English, I tell them to write "Maitre des conferences", and, if necessary, add a reference or long footnote about how titles work in French universities. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 23:05

2 Answers 2


To be honest, the first three title (Lecturer, Assistant/Associate Professor) were always quite nebulous to me. What you must understand is that the two systems are completely different.

Basically, if your job is permanent and your activities are split between teaching and research, you have the rank of a maître de conférences (MdC) or professeur des universités (PU). Note that the answer on the "related" question mentions the habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR), which is more of a degree than a rank. You need to have a HDR to apply to full professorship positions, but you are still a maître de conférences in the meantime. Finally, there are several tiers within both positions (MdC and PU) based on seniority.

If your job is not permanent but still have to teach and do research, you are most probably an Attaché Temporaire d'Enseignement et Recherche (or ATER).

If your job is permanent and only have teaching duties, you are most probably a professeur agrégé (or PRAG).

And finally, if your job is not permanent and only have teaching duties, well, you are not really in the academic system and I don't think there is a rank or title for that.

So to answer your questions:

  1. No, I believe maître de conférences is the equivalent of a tenured professor (in terms of service/duties but not necessarily experience).
  2. I have seen some people using maîtresse de conférences, so I guess it is accepted.
  3. All your translations are not valid since they aren't associated with anything in the French system.
  4. Since there is no tenure track in France, it doesn't really make sense to try and translate it.
  5. Extra item: If you are searching for translations because you are writing your CV, I also recommend what has already been said in the comments: just use the official title and don't mind too much about translating it one way or the other.
  • This is the right answer for the French system.
    – Erwan
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 23:23
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    you could add the case of non permanent research position: postdoc, which is not a real rank afaik but it's quite common.
    – Erwan
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 23:29
  • @Erwan Yes you're right. I didn't because OP did not really mention anything regarding postdoc positions.
    – PatW
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 7:11
  • "if your job is not permanent and only have teaching duties, well, you are not really in the academic system and I don't think there is a rank or title for that": some places have "chargé d'enseignement"
    – a3nm
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 16:51

In French North America:

Full professor translates to Professeur titulaire.

A tenured associate professor would be Professeur agrégé.

An untenured assistant professor would be professeur adjoint.

I suppose it’s possible to get promoted to “associate prof” without getting tenure (the processes of promotion and tenure are generally distinct), but “tenure” is agrégation.

The notion of “adjunct professor” does not translate to “professor adjoint” but rather to professeur associé.

I’m not sure there’s an English equivalent to Maître de Conference. Maybe this is before the “professeur adjoint” level.

“tenure track” translates to “en voie d’agregation” or “avec possibilité d’agregration”; the latter formulation is used for recruitment but a professeur adjoint already hired would use the former.

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