Difference between Adjunct & Associate Professors

Adjunct and Associate Professor are designations you may have heard in colleges. When we are in a college, we often come across designations of teachers that are very confusing. There are lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors, adjunct professors, and of course there are professors. Students rarely know the difference between these designations as after all, what they are concerned with studies. Though adjunct and associate professors perform nearly same duties, there are differences that this article will highlight.
In the US, anyone desirous of becoming a teacher at the college level has to first complete their research and then pass a doctoral level exam to be eligible for a teaching post. However, sometimes, colleges or universities offer jobs to people who are yet to complete their doctorate. Such people, instead of getting regular designations, are called instructors. It is only when they have completed their doctorate that they can start their career towards becoming a professor.

Key Takeaways

  • Associate professors have tenure, which implies that they are permanent, while adjunct professors are part-time professors without tenure.
  • Associate professors perform many activities and have greater responsibilities than adjunct professors.
  • Adjunct professors receive lesser pay and other benefits than associate professors.

There are differences in a post with tenure from a post without tenure. A person with tenure cannot be easily dismissed and their appointment is permanent. Assistant professors have to teach for a period of 5-7 years to gain tenure. During this period, their performance is analyzed, and if tenure is denied, they get a year to find another job. If an assistant professor is granted tenure, he becomes an associate professor. Associate professors later on become full-time professors.

An associate professor is a full-time employee of the University with tenure, which implies that they are permanent. They not only take classes to teach students, but they also advise them. They carry on with their research that gets published from time to time. They also hold positions in university committees and perform many other activities.

There is a special category of professors called adjunct professors who are not expected to perform all these tasks that associate professors perform. This is because they are not on a tenure track. They are in an adjunct or visiting position. Such a professor has a job at a college but also works for a period of time for another college. Adjunct professor is a part-time position and such a person can do research at a college or teach students. However, like associate professors, an adjunct professor has a doctoral degree just like an associate professor.

Being a part-time professor, an adjunct professor doesn’t have a full-time responsibility and colleges also benefit as they are paid less than associate professors. They can be easily denied a new contract, and so when a college decides to reduce the workforce, it is adjunct professors who are first shown the door.

Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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