Is it possible for faculty members to enrol themselves for a degree while being employed? I have seen professors attending classes occasionally, but how about earning a full degree?

I guess this may not be an issue within a university, but what if the professor wants to earn the degree with another university in the same city, for example?

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    In the first case it would be a question of time. Who has time to do another degree? In the second case one would need to check with one's present department to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. – Dave Clarke Jun 1 '12 at 8:36

Normally someone who holds the rank of a professor already has an earned doctorate, so there really isn't any need for additional qualifications. It's not really clear to me why a faculty member would then want to go on to pursue an additional degree. To my mind, it would be one of those warning signs that they're not entirely serious about working in their given field, and might choose to move on to "greener pastures" in a few years.

So, in short, I don't think there's any real advantage in a professor obtaining an additional degree.

However, if one is a lecturer or adjunct, then returning for a further degree in the field in which one is working makes sense from a career perspective.

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    Maybe if the person wants to do some multidisciplinary research. – Dave Clarke Jun 1 '12 at 9:00
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    The best way to get into multidisciplinary research after you have your PhD is to either postdoc in with a group in the second discipline, or if you already have a faculty position, take a sabbatical and do the same thing. – Ben Norris Jun 1 '12 at 16:09
  • I don't know whether there's any such thing elsewhere, but here in the UK people with full-time jobs sometimes do Open University undergraduate degrees just as a matter of personal interest in a subject. Sure, they could hire a private tutor instead, but the fact of impending assessment does focus the mind. If a tenured Professor of Mathematics wants to enrol in an undergraduate degree in fine arts or medieval literature, you probably don't have to panic about their loyalty to the faculty ;-) – Steve Jessop Dec 6 '14 at 22:07

In France, it is possible, in particular in order to get the "Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR)", which is a degree one can get after a PhD, and that demonstrates the ability to fully supervise a PhD student. It is required in order to apply for a full professorship position.

In order to get the HDR, the lecturer must write a thesis and defend it in front of a committee, and needs to enroll in a university (and therefore is a student), usually the one where she is working (but I don't think it is required). Note that for the HDR, there is no class or lectures to attend, only the thesis to write.

  • But this answer misses the point of asking if faculty members get additional degrees. Somebody looking for a habilitation presumably does not yet have a faculty position. – aeismail Jun 1 '12 at 20:23
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    I guess it depends what ones means by "faculty position", but in France, an assistant/associate professorship (that does not require Habilitation) is a permanent position, and one can have his entire career without the habilitation (especially when focusing on teaching). There is no notion of tenure in France (or, in other words, every position is tenured). – user102 Jun 1 '12 at 20:32

I've seen a few examples of people getting other qualifications in the Australian context:

  • Some universities require or encourage lecturers to get a qualification (perhaps a diploma) related to higher education teaching. These courses are often provided by the employing university.
  • Some academics want to expand their skill set; doing a formal qualification is one way of doing this. It really depends on circumstances and personal goals. Often an academic has a choice between self-study or doing a formal qualification.

In general life, many people do a degree part-time while they work full-time. If you are still able to perform your duties at your job, then there typically wont be any issue with the study.

Of course, if you need some time off from your job to attend classes, then in most jobs you would typically want the support of your supervisor. In an academic context, if the study is related to your research or teaching, then a supervisor (e.g., a Head of Department) is likely to give such support. Furthermore, most academics have a high degree of autonomy in how they spend their time, such that no one is keeping track of when they go off campus, whether that be to attend a colloquium, collaborate with other researchers, or do a little study somewhere else.

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