In Denmark, an assistant professor is at the same level as a postdoc in terms of their salary scale. I believe assistant professors in Denmark can do independent research and can apply for their own fundings, but do they also have an obligation to work on what their managers (more senior professors) tell them to do? If so, how should the priority be?

  • This is an interesting question, and I am awaiting an answer.that being said, in my experience, the key question to ask when evaluating an assistant professorship in Europe is "promotion rights". Professors without that often end up as glorified postdocs, as you are by definition dependent on senior faculty.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 17:33
  • @xLeitix The concept of assistant professor is somewhat variable across countries: I'm listed as such on my university homepage (the Italian title is different), but I'm independent and have no obligation toward more senior professors. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:01
  • Yes. And this is why I ask for promotion rights more than job title or even things like"tenure-track".
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:05
  • @xLeitix What do you mean exactly by promotion rights? Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:10
  • Whether you can formally graduate your own PhD students. As opposed to needing a "Promoter" (Netherlands) or formally being only a co-advisor of your PhD students with a proxy full professor as the formal advisor (various other places).
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Most Professors in Denmark are Assistant or Associate Professors (AP) not full Professors (FP). Even if you are deemed competent to become an FP, you can only get that promotion if there is such a position available. Otherwise, you remain an AP. FPs have higher salaries than APs, and they often have an extra budget for their research. They have become FPs because their topic is of strategic importance to the Dept. From that also often follow extra funds.

Both as an AP and FP you can graduate PhDs. You can carry out independent research under the given economic limits. Very often, maybe always nowadays, you (FP or AP) are expected to seek your own funding. That's a kind of independence too; you decide what to apply for.

Hierarchies are flat in Denmark. We don't think about who are APs or FPs (or Technicians for that matter) in professional work. Well, that's the case where I go (Natural Science). I have heard stories from Health Science where this is not so, and the Professors behave like kings (or Gods). The general Danish population scoffs at such behaviour; I believe they are a dying race.

  • 3
    Thank you for the answer. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but your answer seems to contrast Full vs Associate Professors. Would you be able to elaborate more on the Assistant vs Associate Professors, or are the distinctions between the two are not so clear that they can be grouped under the same category?
    – adipro
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 13:17
  • 1
    While interesting, this does not appear to answer the actual question, which relates to assistant professors.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 13:55

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