PhD-Professor

nikkieli

Senior Member
Bulgaria, Bulgarian
Hi, again,
we had this argument that when a, say, postgraduate obtains his PhD, he is called 'Professor X'. My friend maintained that he is called 'Doctor X', because that's what we do in my country. However, I know that in the US a professor is what everyone on the academic staff is called.
Please settle our little agrument.
Thank you
 
  • liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    A PhD qualifies you as a doctor (Doctor of Philosophy). In the UK, I think the title/position of Professor is conferred on someone by the university. Although you probably need a PhD to be a professor, you are not automatically a professor because you have one.
     

    BoTrojan

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Traditions around academic titles, and the like, differ greatly from country to country and are heavily bound and conditioned by culture, history, language, etc. For U.S. usage and practices around these concepts, I can give you the following guidelines:

    1. Ph.D. is an academic degree, whereas Professor is a title and in fact technically a specific rank. Typically full-time, tenure track, academic faculty members begin as Assistant Professors, get tenure and are promoted to Associate Professor, then achieve the rank of (Full) Professor when they've attained a very high status at their universities and in their fields.
    2. In a university setting, you can be (and are) called "Professor" without having a Ph.D., as the two things (degree vs. title or rank) are only loosely related.
    3. Most students at U.S. universities will refer to a given teacher as "Professor ____" regardless of the person's precise degree or rank.
    4. You wouldn't normally refer to someone with a Ph.D. as "Professor ___" outside of an academic context. You might hear "Dr. ____" in a corporate setting, for example, but even that's a bit unusual.

    There's much more to this, but hope this helps.

    PS: I have a Ph.D. (in International Political Economy from the University of Southern California and at one time was a full-time faculty member at the University of Florida).
     

    nikkieli

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria, Bulgarian
    Thank you, prof. BoTrojan. Great explanations, and more importantly, you answered my question to the full. So, when I meet a person with a PhD, I can refer to him as 'Hello, prof. Smith' and I can even say this to any faculty member.
    Would you please clarify what is meant by 'tenure track'?
    Thank you
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Thank you, prof. BoTrojan. Great explanations, and more importantly, you answered my question to the full. So, when I meet a person with a PhD, I can refer to him as 'Hello, prof. Smith' and I can even say this to any faculty member.
    Would you please clarify what is meant by 'tenure track'?
    Thank you
    Just to underline BoTrojan's point that his answer is US specific, do note that this is not how it works in the UK. In the UK a professorship is a post at a university - there are not many around so the title "Professor...." is quite rare. If you have a PhD then you are known as "Doctor..." and if you do not have a PhD then you are "Mr/s...".
     

    BoTrojan

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Thank you, prof. BoTrojan. Great explanations, and more importantly, you answered my question to the full. So, when I meet a person with a PhD, I can refer to him as 'Hello, prof. Smith' and I can even say this to any faculty member.
    Would you please clarify what is meant by 'tenure track'?
    Thank you

    Well, my point was, first of all, that customs and practices differ a lot from culture to culture. Germans, for example, tend to be much more formal with these sort of things than Americans. My guess is that things are sort in the middle, perhaps, in the U.K.

    As for here in the U.S., the gist of my explanation is that you'd only refer to someone with a Ph.D. as "Professor ___" if the person was, in fact, a university Professor by trade and then really only in an academic setting. There's a lot more nuance to this that we can't get into here, but you should get the idea.

    Tenure is another subject that would require a lengthy discourse. Essentially, it is a complex set of processes and traditions which, at American universities, creates a framework for granting (or not) virtually permanent job security to academic faculty.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Thank you, prof. BoTrojan. Great explanations, and more importantly, you answered my question to the full. So, when I meet a person with a PhD, I can refer to him as 'Hello, prof. Smith' and I can even say this to any faculty member.
    Would you please clarify what is meant by 'tenure track'?
    Thank you

    No, you only use the title Prof. in an academic setting. Do not use it to address anyone with
    a PhD. outside of academia unless you know that they are a professor in an academic institution.

    At some U.S. universities, the preferred title for professors is Doctor, rather than Professor.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Professor" is usually used at the univesity/college level in the USA. I have acquantances who are from South America and they use "professor" to refer to High School teachers. In the USA, we usually call High School teachers "teachers", and not professors.

    Private schools are a bit freer with the "professor" titles in my experience.

    My sister got her PhD before her husband did and for a brief period of time the mail came to her house addressed to : "Dr. and Mr. XXXX"

    Later it came to: "The Dr.'s XXX"

    Absent of a title, convention has the man's name first: Mr. and Mrs. XXX".
     

    konungursvia

    Banned
    Canada (English)
    A professor has a teaching job at a university at a minimum rank of Assistant Professor. Just getting your Ph.D. does not entitle you to be called this. Doctor is fine, however. Mister is based on Monsieur, however, and being called Mr. is not really a slight or insult either. I don't care if people call me Mr. Dr or Professor M***, thought I have earned all three.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    A professor has a teaching job at a university at a minimum rank of Assistant Professor. Just getting your Ph.D. does not entitle you to be called this. Doctor is fine, however. Mister is based on Monsieur, however, and being called Mr. is not really a slight or insult either. I don't care if people call me Mr. Dr or Professor M***, thought I have earned all three.


    How did you earn the "Mr." title?
     

    cfu507

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    In addition, before being Professor, you have to do post-doc. Also, to get Professor title you have to publish a lot of articles in high impact journals.

    I have two questions:
    A) A colleague in my lab told me that if I want to speak to someone and I don't know his title, I should call him "Doctor XXX". Is it right?

    B) When I see the title Professor on a door of physician, for example, does it mean that he necessarily has an academic job?
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    If a doctor chooses "Professor," I think it's safe to assume he has some just such an academic position.
    As to the post-doctorate comment, anyone can be a professor who is awarded or achieves the position of professor in an institution of higher learning. (Or even in the context of secondary education, where tradition might dictate that title for teachers).
    As to "Doctor XXX," that a rule of thumb that I would apply only if I suspect that the person might actually have doctorate. I wouldn't bandy it about in most encounters.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    As to "Doctor XXX," that a rule of thumb that I would apply only if I suspect that the person might actually have doctorate. I wouldn't bandy it about in most encounters.
    Yes, this is true even in the university context. I had a tutor once who I assumed was a doctor (I didn't know for sure because we use first names (!)). I went to leave her a note at her college and completely confused the gate-keeper by asking to leave a note for "Dr Smith". It honestly took a while before he realised, "oh, you mean Mrs Smith!"
     
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