I am considering taking a position as a "junior assistant professor" in Japan. There are certain international fellowships to which I may apply, but they require that the applicant does not hold a "faculty-equivalent position". One in particular is Switzerland based.

I do plan to ask the fellowship contact directly how they determine faculty-equivalency. However, I prefer to be as informed as possible before asking them directly; that way, I can best pose my question. For instance, it may be that the fellowship office does not have a simple definition, but may ask for several pieces of "evidence" that I am not at a "faculty-equivalent position". This would be similar to the NIH having a list of "evidence" that an early career candidate is not yet independent.

I am curious to know opinions from the academic community on StackExchange: What, in your experience, typically constitutes "faculty equivalency" (voting rights, salary, tenureship, etc.)? I am hoping to hear these opinions so I can start collecting "evidence" (possibly some that the fellowship committee may not have defined yet but would welcome) that I am or am not of "faculty equivalency".

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

2 Answers 2


In my field (particle physics) positions considered as "faculty equivalent" positions are usually non-university permanent (or close to that) positions.

For example, in the US at national labs, there are several named fellowships and when applying to them they might state something like "this position is considered equivalent to an assistant professor at a university". The idea usually being that the person in this position would be hired into a permanent position at the end of their fellowship, e.g., as a staff scientist.


At least in my mind, the threshold between "non-faculty" and "faculty" is tenure or tenure-track. If a position is tenured or tenure-track, then it is a faculty position, otherwise it is a non-faculty position.

Salary is not relevant as it varies widely between countries, and in some countries postdoc are paid better than early-career faculty to account for job instability. Voting rights vary even more widely between countries, and you can see everything between "faculty has total control over the whole university's operation" and "faculty have barely any say over their working conditions".

But of course, you don't want a general answer, you want to know what the fellowships you have in mind consider to be faculty positions. You would have to ask them. I don't understand why you would ask random strangers without even saying what the fellowships are. Sorry. Read carefully whatever call for applications, FAQ, information documents... you have, and ask whoever is in charge.

There are some subtleties. Sometimes it is possible to hold a temporary position that is considered equivalent to a tenured position. Like "visiting professor", "invited professor", "partner professor". This is much muddier and again, you should ask whoever is in charge of granting the fellowships you want. But typically they concern either people who are already otherwise employed as faculty, or who are external contractors who have a day job and teach / do research on the side. These people wouldn't typically care about whether they satisfy the criteria for a (postdoc, I presume) fellowship.

I do not know the Japanese system at all and I am only going off what I read at Wikipedia (I'm being honest so you can judge if it's worth anything). It seems that you are talking about the position called "Kōshi". It definitely sounds like a faculty position from what I've gathered, but again, I'm no expert. Ask Japanese academics and the institution that grants the fellowships you are interested in.

  • Could the downvoter explain? Should I have sugarcoated "don't ask random strangers, ask the people in charge" more?
    – user128986
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:08
  • Thanks. I did not down vote. I should state that I do plan to ask the fellowship contact directly. However, I prefer to be informed as much as possible before asking questions. I could not find a consistent definition upon searching the internet, so I thought I may garner more knowledge to help me appropriately form my question directed to the fellowship contact by asking on academia.stackexchange.
    – BG44
    Sep 1, 2020 at 23:35
  • For instance, it is possible the committee does not have a solid definition themselves but may ask for several factors as "evidence". They may consider me eligible if I take the initiative to inform them something about my position that renders it not "faculty-equivalent". However, I may not know to inform them of such factors if neither them nor myself considers it from the start. Gathering more information in advance increases my chances of discovering "evidence" that my position is not "faculty-equivalent" that I can be prepared to present to the fellowship contact.
    – BG44
    Sep 1, 2020 at 23:40
  • 1
    I'm downvoting because many faculty are not tenure track, including in universities that do not have a tenure system. Sep 3, 2020 at 3:59

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