How To Become an Assistant Professor

The steps below outline the educational path for becoming an assistant professor:
  1. Earn your bachelor’s degree. …
  2. Complete a graduate program. …
  3. Take and pass the graduate record exam (GRE) …
  4. Obtain your doctoral degree. …
  5. Build your work experience. …
  6. Advance in your career.

How to Become an Assistant Professor? Step by Step Guidelines | Strategy for NTA UGC NET/JRF

Assistant professor salary

Assistant professors work in colleges and universities, where their schedules can change based on the demands of the institution. Assistant professors typically work in an office and classroom environment at a university. To get a sense of what to anticipate when you begin your career, take into account the following elements of the working environment for assistant professors:

Work schedule

Each semester, assistant professors usually instruct two to three undergraduate or graduate courses. Assistant professors may instruct day classes, night classes, or a mix of both depending on the course schedules. Assistant professors work full-time hours, sometimes up to 55 or 60 hours per week to meet particular standards or academic goals, just like associate and full professors.


The primary place of employment for assistant professors is the classroom at a university or college. However, they may also travel to other cities to present research, make proposals, or engage in other crucial collaborations at conferences, board meetings, and committee meetings. Assistant professors might also travel to different academic conferences or lectures where they give presentations, participate in panel discussions, or pursue professional development.


Typically, assistant professors strive for tenure at their institution of higher learning. When assistant professors advance in their careers, they are eligible for tenure, which is a professional academic appointment that grants indefinite employment. Universities and colleges can only terminate a professor’s employment for a severe reason or extraordinary event, such as the end of an academic program or financial hardship. As a result, assistant professors who progress and earn full tenure are guaranteed a job at their universities.

What does an assistant professor do?

Assistant professors are entry-level university or college instructors who assist full professors with lesson planning, student instruction, and assessment evaluation. An assistant professor typically works for the institution where they hope to obtain tenure. Additionally, assistant professors conduct research, oversee undergraduate students, and sit on committees at their institutions of higher learning. Assistant professors may also: Depending on the university or college they work at

How to become an assistant professor

To start their careers, assistant professors must have at least a master’s degree, though many university employers demand a doctoral degree. The following steps describe the educational requirements to become an assistant professor:

1. Earn your bachelors degree

You must first earn your bachelor’s degree to be admitted to a graduate program and ultimately a doctoral program. While any major or academic focus is appropriate for a graduate program, it’s crucial to concentrate on a field that you’re passionate about and that improves your writing, research, and critical thinking abilities. For entry into your master’s program and eventually your career as an assistant professor, it is highly advantageous to major in a field that encourages the use of these kinds of skills.

2. Complete a graduate program

Enroll in a master’s degree program in your chosen field after completing your bachelor’s program. You might be able to enroll in a doctorate program after earning your bachelor’s degree depending on the college or university you attend. It’s crucial to understand the requirements of the university you’re attending because many require a masters or graduate-level degree in order to enroll in a doctorate program.

3. Take and pass the graduate record exam (GRE)

Even if you can enter a doctorate program right after completing your bachelor’s degree, you still need to take and pass the GRE to be admitted. The GRE is a standardized test that checks your analytical writing, verbal, quantitative, and logical reasoning. You might also be required to submit your results from a subject-area GRE, depending on the program you’re enrolled in.

4. Obtain your doctoral degree

While a doctoral degree is not a requirement for assistant professors at all universities, many of them prefer that their assistant professors have one. D. in their chosen field. The average doctorate program can be completed in six years, which also includes the time it takes to conduct research and write your dissertation. You may need to finish a graduate assistantship where you work with undergraduate students in addition to the extensive research you conduct and organize for your dissertation.

5. Build your work experience

It’s crucial to gain experience while enrolled in your doctoral program, both professionally and in terms of research and reporting techniques. Consider publishing research reports and analyses about your subject area in addition to your dissertation to showcase your expertise and contributions to your field of study. Similar to this, many PhD graduates may work as part-time lecturers, assistants, or in internships to gain experience teaching at the collegiate level.

6. Advance in your career

The primary objective for assistant professors is frequently tenure. For tenure in most universities, assistant professors must become associate professors first. The length of time it takes to obtain tenure can vary depending on the institution, but on average, you need to gain experience as an assistant and associate professor for seven years before you are qualified for tenure. To prove your effectiveness as a faculty member in higher education during these initial years, it’s crucial to continue to meet your employers’ expectations and make significant contributions to relevant research in your field.

Assistant professor vs. associate professor

Understanding the distinctions between assistant and associate professors will help you better plan your career path. The primary distinction between these two positions is that associate professors fall just short of full professors while assistant professors are entry-level professionals. As a result, assistant professors are not eligible for full tenure until they become associate professors.

Unlike assistant professors, associate professors interact more with graduate students. After completing assistantships in their own research, many associate professors also instruct and direct graduate students through crucial research. As opposed to assistant professors, who may only teach undergraduates during class and while working on research projects,


Which degree is best for assistant professor?

You can become an assistant professor with a master’s degree if you can fulfil the following conditions:
  • You earned a master’s degree with at least a 55% grade point average from an accredited institution.
  • You have successfully passed the competitive UGC NET, UGC SET, or CISR NET exams.
  • You have some teaching or research experience.

Does an assistant professor need a Phd?

Assistant professors are beginning-level professors at colleges and universities. An assistant professor position typically requires a Ph. D. and experience with teaching and research in a specific field.

How does an assistant professor become a professor?

When an assistant professor earns tenure, typically after five to seven years of employment and after demonstrating exceptional teaching or research abilities, they advance to the rank of associate professor. They develop curricula, teach classes and conduct research.

How do I become a new assistant professor?

Tips for new assistant professors
  1. Assess the situation. There is much variation in the ways institutions approach mentoring.
  2. Find a mentor for yourself by contacting them.
  3. Continue to develop professionally. …
  4. Make writing routine. …
  5. Work on your teaching – but not too much. …
  6. Understand institutional expectations.

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