Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.[1]) is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes". Professors are usually experts in their field and teachers of the highest rank.[1]

Albert Einstein as a professor
Occupation type
Education, research, teaching
Activity sectors
CompetenciesAcademic knowledge, research, writing journal articles or book chapters, teaching
Education required
Master's degree, doctoral degree (e.g., PhD), professional degree, or other terminal degree
Fields of
Related jobs
Teacher, lecturer, reader, researcher

In most systems of academic ranks, "professor" as an unqualified title refers only to the most senior academic position, sometimes informally known as "full professor".[2][3] In some countries and institutions, the word "professor" is also used in titles of lower ranks such as associate professor and assistant professor; this is particularly the case in the United States, where the unqualified word is also used colloquially to refer to associate and assistant professors as well.[4] This usage would be considered incorrect among other academic communities. However, the unqualified title "Professor" designated with a capital letter nearly always refers to a full professor.

Professors often conduct original research and commonly teach undergraduate, professional, or postgraduate courses in their fields of expertise. In universities with graduate schools, professors may mentor and supervise graduate students conducting research for a thesis or dissertation. In many universities, full professors take on senior managerial roles such as leading departments, research teams and institutes, and filling roles such as president, principal or vice-chancellor.[5] The role of professor may be more public-facing than that of more junior staff, and professors are expected to be national or international leaders in their field of expertise.[5]