I have a Bachelor's in EE and Master's in Automation and 3 years experience, including 2 in software development. For me, an academic career would be both more meaningful and professionally rewarding in its flexibility.

I think someone with experience but without formal qualifications could teach a subject such as mechatronics well.

How I might switch to teaching mechatronics? Should I stay in industry for a few more years and then move straight to being a full-time professor? Or, should I work part-time for a lest prestigious college and try to progress incrementally?

Note: I don't want to obtain a PhD. Rather, I'd prefer to obtain the necessary qualifications while part-time, while working as a professor.

  • 4
    As far as I know, you cannot be professor unless you hold a PhD in the first place.
    – seteropere
    Dec 12, 2012 at 1:53
  • @seteropere I think it's location dependent. At some places, PhD is not an absolute requirement to teach at a college. Full professorship would require PhD. However, I believe the qualification varies differently and 3 years is far far away from it. It's also far away from a senior technical position in industry.
    – Nobody
    Dec 12, 2012 at 7:26
  • There are quite a few professors without PhDs. And there are a lot of professors without industrial experience. And once you've got a professorship, why would you then want to study for a PhD?
    – 410 gone
    Dec 12, 2012 at 8:04
  • @EnergyNumbers I personally know people(more than one case) who taught at colleges as assistant professors holding only masters. But it's very hard to get promotion(e.g. to become associate professor), so they had to get PhD to get to higher positions.
    – Nobody
    Dec 12, 2012 at 8:12
  • I dis-agree with scaaahu here. There are people who teach with just a Masters degree. Typically they are termed as 'Lecturers' then. A Professor, has to have a Ph D.
    – Naresh
    Dec 12, 2012 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Your answer seems to confuse teaching with being a professor. One can teach without being a professor. Furthermore, and although this may be controversial, I think the quintessential characteristic of a professor is a scholar who can carry on substantial independent research.

Neither teaching skill nor experience in industry counterbalance the lack of that.


It's not clear where you're writing from, and where you'd like to become a professor. But it's almost certainly true that, given your chosen field (mechatronics), you will need to be working at a four-year university with an engineering program.

In the US and Western Europe, this means that you will almost certainly be required to have a PhD before you begin your position as a professor; this isn't really negotiable. You would not be permitted to complete the PhD while being a full-time professor. In other parts of the world, this is not a strict requirement.

However, if what you want is to teach, the rules are substantially different. In such cases, having a PhD is not required, and you can instead work part time as a lecturer or adjunct professor (or other equivalent title, depending on location). You would be expected to teach a certain number of courses per semester, but otherwise you would not be responsible for teaching students, nor would you have many of the other commitments required of full-time faculty.

  • In many fields, and at many schools, even lecturers and adjuncts are strongly preferred to have a Ph.D. Dec 15, 2012 at 14:09
  • @NateEldredge: This is true, but it is certainly not required. In many cases, particularly for design courses and other "practical" courses, having a PE (practicing engineer) degree might be more useful than the PhD. But especially at top universities, yes, a PhD might still be expected.
    – aeismail
    Dec 15, 2012 at 14:32

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