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What are the US equivalent ranks to the Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader (or Associate Prof), Professor ranks of the UK system? Is it correct that in the US system they are Assistant Prof, Associate Prof, Full Prof and Chair/Endowed Prof, respectively? I know that in the British system, there are further sub-levels in each of these ranks whereas in the US system there is no further gradation within each rank. So I am looking for only rough equivalence.

Edit: It would be great if a formal/informal reference which compares the two is also pointed out.

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  • What is the point of academic rank? In the military, the point of rank is to remind you of where you are on the hierarchy. Wouldn't funding awards do the same thing in academia.
    – emory
    Jul 18, 2015 at 10:56
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    Academic rank often corresponds with pay scale (sometimes with the possibility of bonusses). Often it also corresponds with a set of tasks that the person is expected/required to perform. It also corresponds with where persons are in the hierarchy, i.e. who has power over whom. As to the latter there are significant country and discipline differences. All of these are differences that are not covered by funding awards. Jul 18, 2015 at 12:47
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    I'm not sure there's all that much equivalence between one UK institution and another.... ;-)
    – Flyto
    Jul 19, 2015 at 18:13
  • @John What kind of sub-levels are you referring to in the UK? The salary pay spine? Because (unless my University is special), there is no such thing as "Level 3 Senior Lecturer" :)
    – penelope
    Mar 30, 2021 at 8:21

3 Answers 3

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From the wiki pages https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_ranks_(United_States) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_ranks_in_the_United_Kingdom:

  1. Entry level position
    • UK: Lecturer
    • USA: Assistant Professor
  2. Mid-level
    • UK: Senior Lecturer
    • USA: Associate Professor
  3. Upper-level
    • UK: Reader
    • USA: Professor
  4. Highest level
    • UK: Professor
    • USA: Endowed Chair/Named Professor

Note 1. that in the USA, ranks #2 and higher are normally tenured. Tenure is handled different in the British system.

Note 2. The American rank of a named chair (aka named professorship, endowed chair) is distinct from the administrative head of a department, who is also often called the "Chair."

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  • "Tenure is handled different in the British system." what is that different process?
    – user24094
    Aug 21, 2016 at 1:14
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    "what is that different process", the difference is that there is no tenure in the UK system that is equivalent to the US system. However, in the UK all employees of an organisation (any organisation) have the right not be to dimissed without a good reason and due process once they have been employed for 2 years. Aug 1, 2020 at 14:25
  • @IanSudbery I idly wonder whether universities in England, Scotland and Wales did have tenure equivalent to the US system, prior to the enactment of sections 203(1)(a)-(c) of the Education Reform Act 1988. Either way, I note that Cambridge University's probationary policy still uses the name "confirmation of tenure" for the process whereby an Assistant Professor becomes an Associate Professor (Grade 9). Mar 31, 2021 at 16:40
  • Yes. They did used to have tenure in the US sense. I'm sad to hear that Cambridge is following the herd and adopting US style job titles - lecturers do actaully lecture, where as assistant professors are nobodies assistant. Mar 31, 2021 at 17:17
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    The oxford website lists only the titles of Associate Professor and Professor on its academic pay structure page, and this wiki page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… lists "Departmental Lecturer" in addition to those two titles, but suggests such individuals are not considered part of the permeant faculty of the university. Apr 7, 2021 at 18:58
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Some new data: the University of Cambridge recently decided to phase out the titles "lecturer", "senior lecturer", and "reader", adopting the following mapping of old titles to new titles:

  • Lecturer (who is still on probation) -> Assistant Professor
  • Lecturer (who has already passed probation) -> Associate Professor (Grade 9)
  • Senior Lecturer -> Associate Professor (Grade 10)
  • Reader -> Professor (Grade 11)
  • Professor -> Professor
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Information in Wikipedia is not to be taken for granted. I woould rather suggest the following according to different categorisations in different countries Lecturer is usually someone holding an MA (at least in most of the countries I know) Senior Lecturer usually somewhere between MA and PhD Assistant Professor definitely with PhD Associate Professor with habilitation Full Professor habilitation + many publications

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    My question was specific to the UK (and the British system). @RoboKaren's answer is correct - I have checked with several British academics as well.
    – John
    Aug 10, 2015 at 2:40

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