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What is a Professor?

2014

Hello.

I live in Canada and am confused by the use of the title Professor.

In Universities, the term 'professor' (or assistant / associate/ full professor) is used to indicate, I think, one's progress, and accomplishments, through the University system.

But in Colleges in Canada which offer certificates and diplomas (but not degrees, like a BA) it seems one is called a Professor right from the beginning.

Can someone help me understand this difference?

Singlu
...

A professor in Canada, whether at a College or University must hold a Post Doctorate (Ph.D) to have such a title. Those with Masters, even part-time instructors at either type of post secondary institution are only qualified as instructors or those working on their Ph.D degree, can be titled 'associate' professor with a designation... Ex: Associate professor Lane to Professor Thomson, Ph.D. They must accredit their superior in which ever department.

Once anyone has achieved and received the Post Doctorate they're either/and or both, a professor and doctor. One can also be a doctor of physical education; it does not differentiate the subject once the Ph.D is obtained.

Hope this helps :)

Dominique von Getz
...

Hello Singlu,

I am from South Africa and I must say that I too was a little confused about the title of "professor" when I arrived in Canada and attended a college in Ottawa because the title professor in South Africa is only usually bestowed upon those of highest academic standing within an institution like a university. Even teachers in technical colleges do not hold this title in South Africa.

However, since the technical definition of "professor" is one who teaches, professes or vows to have expertise and experience in a particular field, colleges in Canada take into consideration academic qualifications, years of experience working in a particular sector and personal professional development related to a particular trade or job when hiring staff to teach in specific programmes. So technically, those who teach in specific programmes who have the experience and expertise can call themselves professors of a specific skill because they have the extensive knowledge and experience in that particular field.

Hope this helps to clear up any confusion.

Sincerely,
Delphine Amer
...

The definition of the word in Canada is one who teaches and holds a Ph.D (and if you believe my uncle has a requirement to stay published biannually - but that might be just the university he teaches at).

The use of the word 'professor' for other lecturers/teachers is slang use of the word. My uncle has a Masters and holds tenure, his students refer to him as their "prof" yet technically he is not a prof, doesn't refer to himself as a professor and when he introduces himself to his class he says he is a Tenured Lecturer. But I suppose its just easier for the students to call him their Prof.

Lisa
...

Hi,

Yes these titles can be confusing. Much of what makes it confusing is that some of the titling will depend on the institution and their collective agreement. For example, in many college institutes that do not have the Rank system, teachers are titled instructors. Other institutes have what is known as a Rank system and if that is the case the typical titling goes: those who are not yet tenured are titled assistant professors, those who have tenure and work at a certain pace and fulfill certain expectations on a yearly basis are titled Associate Professor. Those known as Full Professor or in some institutes simply Professor (those who are not full should use associate or assistant as a prefix).

To become a full professor you need to have achieved national or international recognition for your work.

Some institutions that do not have Rank will title differently so it is important to know how the institution uses titles. There are times when an instructor will call him or herself a professor, but unless that is the actual title used in that person's institution then they really should not be using that title.

I hope that helps to clarify for you.

Pat Kostouros
...

Singlu,

As a former college "teacher" or "instructor" who started teaching in the 1970s, the difference has mainly to do with inflation and status-seeking.
Most employment positions over the past 20-30 years have taken on titles denoting what most people see as higher status positions. Bank tellers are "service representatives," salesmen are "account executives," workers are now "practitioners," etc..

University professors with PhDs weren't all that common up to 1950s. Many were Masters degrees. Many jobs required Grade 10, some required Grade 12. Now, you'd need a college diploma just to get an interview. Inflation has not been limited to economics.

It's probably all connected to people's desire to better themselves, feel important, etc. -- the same reason people in the past chose the names of gods and royalty for their children, and now media and pop stars.

Dennis McDermott
Harrowsmith, Ontario
...

Hi Singlu:

I live in manitoba currently, raised equally in Ontario and Nova Scotia, born in Alberta. Traditionally, in my experience across this country, professor was used for PhDs at universities. People who have studied many years in their field and deemed knowledgeable enough to teach with great authority. I think though in more recent years we are relaxing our definition of the word. We need more people in skilled positions and Canada is slowly recognizing that teaching these skills also comes from people who have worked in the field for many years and have gained vast experience. These teachers have also earned the right to professor.

This Wikipedia link (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor#Canada) gives a good definition. I would like to add that some schools may be giving out the title arbitrarily, the aim being to make the student feel important and give the school a higher reputation.

Emily
...

A Professor ‘professes’, a Teacher has tea with the Dean, an Instructor is just instrumental ... I’m not sure what I should say about Lecturers.

Cedrick
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