I've noticed that several faculty members (both in my institution and beyond) are affiliate professors in some other institutions (beside being a professor in their own institution, of course). What caught my attention is that the vast majority of them wasn't in any way affiliated with the institution prior to holding the affiliate professor title (the source are their biographies). Afterwards they naturally collaborate on a regular basis.

Example: The professor did their BSc and MSc at my university X, went to university A in the US for a PhD, returned to my institution X (where they are now) and became assistant professor but in the same year became an Affiliate Professor at university B.

So, how does one become an Affiliate Professor?

  • 3
    I think the process may be very different from one institution to the next. Jan 30, 2015 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


A wide range of "Affiliate" and "Visiting" titles are often used to simplify bureaucracy in a long-duration academic interaction. For example, you may have a collaborator who frequently visits, and want to give them access to buildings, networks, and other resources so that their visits are less of a hassle for everybody. A "Research Affiliate" or "Affiliate Professor" or such status allows the institution to officially put the person into the system so that they can be issued keys, ID cards, access permissions, etc.

The mechanism for actually doing this is typically that a sponsoring professor just calls the appropriate department or fills out a form, and it just happens.

  • 3
    This is one possibility, but some places take affiliate professor positions much more seriously (considering it a faculty appointment that requires outside letters, a departmental vote, administration approval, etc.). But I think your description is pretty on target for the title "research affiliate". Jan 30, 2015 at 16:58
  • I would see how this is true for something like a "research affiliate" or a "visiting researcher" or something like that. But are "Affiliate Professor" "titles" really given out as easily too? It is a "Professor" "title" after all?
    – Ela782
    Feb 7, 2019 at 10:49
  • From what I've seen, the exact title you get often depends on what your title is elsewhere. Thus, for example, "Research Affiliate" and "Affiliate Professor" are likely to mean effectively the same thing except that the "Affiliate Professor" is a professor at their primary job, while the "Research Affiliate" is not. Every institution has its own policies and interpretations, however.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 7, 2019 at 12:42

The most frequent use of Affiliate Professor appointments that I have seen are for people that have another primary occupation than research. Typically in the medicine field, for doctors who conduct research besides their clinical work in a university-affiliated hospital. These people need a formal appointment with the university to teach, supervise graduate students, etc.

Now this holds for North America, it might be that things are different in your country.

  • 1
    Agreed. I've seen it used for instructors who do academic work for the department but might only co-teach classes or otherwise work in advisory roles, etc.
    – Raydot
    Jan 30, 2015 at 19:42

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