What is an Associate Professor? What Do They Do?

associate professor

Associate Professors work in colleges and universities and are highly educated individuals. They teach students, develop lesson plans, grade tests and assignments, and publish in scholarly and academic journals within their field on a regular basis. They are highly skilled researchers and work to advance their field of choice. Associate professors are one step up from assistant professors and one step down from professors. To become a full professor, an associate professor needs to qualify for and be chosen to receive tenure.

What Does an Associate Professor Do?

Associate professors instruct and teach students on courses and subject areas within their discipline. They develop lesson plans and presentations for students as well as create assignments and tests that will engage student learning and subject retention. They facilitate and mediate classroom discussions as well as grade assignments and quizzes, tests, or exams. They may take on 2 or 3 classes per semester and teach hundreds of students in a given academic year.

Many associate professors also work with students who are engaged in the formulation or implementation of research and guide them through their studies.

Associate professors are also responsible for conducting research and studies of their own. They are expected to publish in scholarly journals regularly and advance the information and understanding of subject areas and specializations within their field.

How To Become an Associate Professor

The first step to becoming an associate professor is earning a bachelor’s degree. It is advised that you choose an undergraduate degree that enhances your writing, critical thinking, and investigative skills as this will prepare you best for your career as an associate professor. Maintain an above-average GPA during this stage is crucial for the next step to becoming an associate professor. You’ll also need to take the GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination.

The next step is to earn a doctorate. While some associate professors can get by with a master’s degree, you should go for the doctorate in order to boost your chances of securing an associate professor position. While earning your master’s and doctorate, you should also be publishing papers and other works to academic journals. This will help you stand out as associate professors are expected to be publishing regularly.

Now, you’re ready to apply for associate professor positions. Once you secure an associate professor position, you might be eligible for tenure and could have job security for many years to come.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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