I am in a bit of a pickle as soon I will finish my PhD and I will need to think about the next step in the academic career. One thing I realized is that is very unclear how the scientific production (papers And funding) should be considered when thinking about moving to a higher position such as Associate/Assistant Prof. To clarify, I will be taking about bioscience field and Europe as context :)

I have 2 papers in IF 10-14 first name and several co-authorship of different importance, two of which on >10 IF third name. I have been acquiring grant form the country I was graduating in for an amount of 100.000 € over the span of my PhD. I have been told by people that just met me and knew my CV to try to move directly to Assistant/associate professor position, which to me sounds a bit crazy (?).

How do people navigates these situations? I feel like around me there is not much discussing the backstage part of academic life, so I am utterly confused at the moment. Would it be weird just apply for grants on projects and also to uni for assistant/associate? Are they going to laugh to my face? I am really not sure how we are supposed to evaluate our carrer for the next step. Sorry for the naivety.

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    You can certainly apply, but don't expect success. I think associate professor is impossible unless you have solved a long standing important problem in field. But it is impossible to predict as it depends on too many factors. Lots of qualified people in the market.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


In many countries you can apply for positions at Assistant Professor level directly after your PhD. For example Junior Professor in Germany. Your PhD needs to be strong, probably also publication record, but what is "strong" will strongly depend on your subject area. Chances are going via fellowship/grant happens more often, but for sure you can try. And being worried about what's "weird" or whether "people laugh in your face" is hardly ever productive. It doesn't hurt (other than costing a bit of time) to apply and now win.

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    A junior Professor (W1) in Germany is typically a fixed term position (typically 3 years) not a permanent position. A junior professor (W2) is really a mixed bag: could be permanent, could be fixed term. I have seen many that primarily focuss on teaching, but that is not exclusively true. Especially at the W2 level there are lots of differences between federal states. It often feels like a "rest" category to me. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 13:45
  • Hello, thanks for the infos! I understand what you mean.. my problem is exactly understanding what “strong” means. I was surprised myself when PIs told me themselves to give it a shot because of the publications and the amount of grants I secured. I guess I will just give it a shot and see! I was wondering if someone else has done it and their experiences!
    – Qpcrqueen
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 16:52
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    @MaartenBuis: Hmm, I have a few doubts whether your comment reflects the situation in Germany correctly. W1 positions typically last 6 years rather than 3 (but there is usually a mid term evaluation after 3 or 4 years, so formally the position lasts for 3 or 4 years first and is then prolonged by another 3 or 2 years). Regarding W2 positions, I'm under the impression that your perspective is specific for Baden-Württemberg (as I saw you're located in Konstanz): [...] Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:34
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    [...] Baden-Württemberg typically doesn't give W2 positions to university professors with permanent positions, but this is really a speciality of this state. In most other federal states it's totally common to find both W2 and W3 university professors with permanent positions. (Another relevant point is that some - but not all - W1 positions come with tenure track to a permanent W2 or W3 position, subject to a positive evaluation after 6 years.) Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:34

In the U.K. at least In biosciences, virtually nobody goes from PhD to some kind of associated/assistant professor role, unless you are some kind of genius. Almost everyone who makes it to that position will go the post-doc -> fellowship -> associate professor route. This is what you should aim for.

This may vary across different fields, howeverz

  • When I was in the UK (until 2018) I saw quite a number of people who came pretty much straight from a PhD winning lecturerships, which is now Assistant Professor. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 13:22
  • @ChristianHennig could be field dependent - I will clarify my field.
    – user438383
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 13:39

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