What is Professors: Definition and 117 Discussions

Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) 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.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". 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 word professor is also used to refer to associate and assistant professors as well. 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. 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.

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  1. AndreasC

    Weird tendency of many professors

    I've noticed lots of physics professors reply before you finish talking. Not specifically talking about questions in a lecture etc, I mean more generally. Not sure how common it is in other disciplines or why, but generally they don't tend to let you finish. As a result often when someone has a...
  2. F

    Programs What is an appropriate way of asking a professor for a project?

    I am an undergraduate Physics student who will just be going to his second year right now. Currently, my summer break is going on and I am interning under the guidance of an Astrophysics professor at a reputed (graduate-level) institute in my country, and I am working on an interesting project...
  3. Gjmdp

    Would Math professors ace PhD qualifying exams?

    I have seen that most PhD Math students struggle a lot with these examinations. It is fair to assume that any PhD student is already very talented and commited to the field of maths, so I am wondering whether professors (including those who write the exam) could actually ace the exam (get a...
  4. G

    How can I strengthen my submitted graduate application?

    I am applying for a master degree in Germany. I have submitted my application but wish to strengthen it as I want to be accepted. What can I do to enhance my application? Can I contact any of the professors or maybe the student advisor? Will it look artificial? If so, what must I say? (I am...
  5. Eclair_de_XII

    Is it normal for professors to allow cheat-sheets in tests?

    In some classes that I have taken in university, it's become sort of a common practice for instructors to allow students to create cheat-sheets that they can refer to while taking tests. They claim that the process of creating this cheat-sheet will allow students to help remember what they must...
  6. P

    How common is it for professors to yell at their students?

    It doesn't have to be just yelling, but any other kind of abuse-- talking down at them, shaming them etc. When I say students, I specifically mean the graduate and undergraduate students who do research under the professor. While I have never personally encountered such a thing, I've heard of...
  7. D

    Studying What Should I Do If My Professors Don’t Teach?

    I’m taking physics II and discrete math this semester. As the title suggests, my professors are awful. Their RateMyProfessor scores are both in the low 2 range. Of course, every person in both lecture halls is freaking out right now because the subjects are difficult and both professors love...
  8. A

    Job Skills Adjunct Professors Living in Poverty

    This is a very sobering story about the harsh life of some adjunct professors. Food for thought for anyone considering the academic career track. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/28/adjunct-professors-homeless-sex-work-academia-poverty
  9. U

    Do professors allow outsiders to assist with research

    I have a bachelor's in physics but I wasn't great as a student and didn't do research. Do you think a professor at the University near me would allow me to fill an undergraduate research position so I could eventually use that experience and relationship as a reference for graduate school?
  10. A

    Are Professors' Quirky Classroom Comments Insightful or Just Funny?

    I wonder if anyone has some fun or interesting stories about their high school or university physics teachers. In my case there are several, and some of these teachers had tremendous reputations. These were actual professors of mine, so I know this is not apocryphal. Of course I will never...
  11. E

    Other Professors, students and careers

    Hello all, I wonder how professors of some fields that have no demand in the job market deal with this fact with their students, especially if they ask? Thanks
  12. Amira bn

    A question for physics students and professors :)

    What are the things you wished to know before starting your education in university? Like skills and somethings like that? I'm going to start physics after a year or two, and I want to be ready to start, what are the things I should learn?
  13. D

    Other Research this summer -- how to ask the professors

    I really want to participate in some research with some professors from another institution this summer. Do you think it's wise to call them rather than send them an email. If calling them is better how do I ask to participate in their research without sounding weird. Thanks.
  14. N

    Other Volunteer research with professors - what am I doing wrong?

    Hello everyone, I am a potential graduate in Electrical Engineering. Being highly interested in doing research, I contacted several professors who lead research groups for possible research opportunities. I included my resume, but did not a transcript (my GPA is not spectacular) in my e-mails...
  15. Derek Francis

    Professors: Where's the line between opinion and bias?

    With social science courses, there's lots of opinions and perspectives. I think it's inevitable that the professor will lean one way or another, and I don't think having an opinion is bad insofar as you're overall fair about the class. One professor I knew taught in Introduction to Global...
  16. jtbell

    Ever wonder what professors do in faculty meetings?

    Professors Goofing Off in Faculty Meetings? Bingo! (Chronicle of Higher Education) (No, this is not my bingo card!)
  17. M

    Etiquette approaching math professors for research?

    How exactly should an undergraduate approach a professor to ask about research opportunities? Would it be preferable to send an email or go talk about it during their office hours? A call perhaps? Also, out of curiosity, is it annoying when an undergraduate wants to do research in math? In...
  18. H

    Emailing mass amounts of professors: Prospective PhD student

    I'm planning to apply for PhD programs for Fall 2016, and I would like to get in contact with physics professor in the universities I'm applying to. I'm applying to 16 PhD programs and after doing research I came up with a list of 64 professors in total out of the 16 schools whose research...
  19. H

    Question for Professors - Students Reading Your Papers

    Questions for all the professors on this site: Have you ever been approached by an undergrad for a research position who has already read at least a few of your published works and has a very basic understanding of their contents? How does this student look in your eyes? Does it creep you out...
  20. M

    What to say in the e-mail to the professors?

    I am planning to apply for a PhD position in the coming December and I think now is the right time to start contacting research group leaders in my desired universities. What I want to know is what you typically say in you first e-mail apart from telling him that you are interested in his group...
  21. Cake

    Professors outright said they'd make it easy on us

    I'm in Calculus 2 and my first intro Calc-based Physics course. Two classes that in most circumstances are meant to weed out potentially moronic engineers and scientists. But my professors aren't going to be challenging me according to their own words. My Calculus professor said he wouldn't put...
  22. M

    Emailing prospective professors

    Hi PF! Okay, so I am looking at applying to graduate school and was researching some professors that I think I would like to work with for a thesis. How do you think I should go about talking to them? If you have any experience from either angle, please let me know. Thanks a bunch for...
  23. P

    Email to professors for research position

    Hello PF! I wish to do research as an undergrad, so I am thinking of sending emails to professors to ask for any available positions. What would be the most professional way to do this? Thanks in advance,
  24. Adoniram

    How to address professors properly as you continue as a PhD student?

    Hello all, I've heard various opinions on this topic, so I thought I would open it up to a wider audience: I am entering a PhD program this fall, and am just curious about proper etiquette. As an undergrad, I always referred to my mentors and professors as Dr. So-and-so, or Professor...
  25. J

    It's remarkable how big of an impact professors can have

    I had a professor for a real analysis class that I really enjoyed. I was curious about his research. I asked him to do a senior thesis and in doing so, he introduced me to area of math/physics that I love (stochastic dynamics, as applied to quantum/stat mech). It was an amazing experience...
  26. D

    Contacting Professors for PhD in Biomed Eng/Mats Sci w/BioMat Focus

    I'm planning on applying to PhD programs in Biomedical Engineering or Materials Science and Engineering with a focus in biomaterials. My undergraduate degree is in Physics with a Mathematics minor, and from what I've been told, the admissions process is different from that of Physics. Some have...
  27. J

    Do professors like when students introduce themselves to them?

    I've always kind of wondered this, but professors like when students stop by their office hours the first or second week of class to introduce themselves?
  28. E

    What is the job outlook for Mathematics professors?

    Will it be easier to find a job as a Math professor in future years or harder? I've always wanted to be a Math professor, but recently it seems as if there are more PhDs than academia spots...
  29. C

    Working With Non-traditional and New Professors

    Is it a waste of time to do research with a professor who is young, less traditional, and doesn't have as much respect in the field as the oldies? Do graduate schools favor research with more elderly and well-known professors? Should you do your PhD with the more elderly and traditional type?
  30. C

    What is the point of professors and lectures

    I have been taking a whole bunch of online courses for a couple of months now, some of which are more challenging to me than others. I don't watch the lectures because they take too long, I usually just stop the video and click on the subtitles to read the slides. Even then I sometimes fail to...
  31. B

    Schools Grad School Letters of Recommendation: Professors only?

    I recently did an internship at my university in which I worked more closely with the engineer in charge of the lab rather than the professor. Would it be okay to ask the engineer in charge to write a letter of recommendation for grad. school since he is more capable of detailing my performance...
  32. A

    Why do Physics Professors Always Seem Unhappy?

    A humorous question, though real enough. Now that I've had a few I can't help but compare them to those in other sciences. They often sound dissatisfied, or as if teaching is a huge struggle. Just an unlucky streak, or something more?
  33. K

    Do professors hate writing multiple LoRs?

    I'm not exactly in college yet but will be soon. Looking at several threads, reus are extremely competitive, especially for freshmen. Many say to apply to ten or fifteen of them. But is it typical to send that many LoRs for one student?
  34. T

    Do physics professors still misunderstand Einstein?

    do physics professors still misunderstand Einstein?? i registered at this site just to ask this question: why do physics professors still talk about gravity in terms of "pulling"?? i download podcasts of physics courses at Yale, Berkeley, etc... yet i always hear these guys say things like...
  35. L

    Contacting professors for research opportunities/volunteer work.

    I would like some advice on how to go about offering myself for any kind of research experience at a local physics/astroph. department(in the US). I am a graduating senior who isn't going to grad school this year, so formal REU's aren't an option (not to mention they always conflicted with my...
  36. M

    Emailing professors for research positions

    So my engineering adviser, let me know I should be talking to professors about research spots. However, I am having a hard time coming up with a plan on how to do this without seeming pushy or intrusive. What I started doing is reading one of their papers that have been published, and...
  37. B

    When to ask professors about undergrad summer research opportunities

    How far in advance should I contact professors about available summer research opportunities? For example, should I wait until a few weeks before summer begins? Right now seems like it'd be way too early. Thanks.
  38. U

    Teachers, professors, instructors and students.

    Having long passed the age of 16 and well into my early 20's I've finally decided to start learning algebra > geometry > trig and eventually calculus. I'm 2 weeks into teaching myself algebra and I have a question for the professors. When teaching students, what is the most common problems that...
  39. K

    When do professors do publications?

    Do they do them only when they make a complete original idea? or can it be anything? I know the question isn't very informative but please be detailed about everything about publications and when and how they publish?
  40. K

    How much money are physics professors in the US making?

    Just asking because I love physics so much but i am just wondering on the average salaries...
  41. H

    How do you tackle professors who only use slides?

    Hi everyone, (dont know if this is the right place to ask) I was wondering if any of you had experience with professors who ONLY use slides, and rarely write on the blackboard. I myself find it quite difficult to note anything down when it is presented on a slide, and sometimes when I look...
  42. A

    Do Professors actually work in the lab or just write grant proposals?

    Do professors push most of their lab work onto graduate students and focus on grant proposals? How does the answer differ for assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors?
  43. H

    Dealing With "Nightmare" Professors

    So I believe I have one of those "nightmare" professors for my digital circuits class this semester. I don't mean he's really hard in the sense he gives really hard exams or tons of homework. I am talking personality wise. He is THE most condescending and arrogant person I have ever met...
  44. N

    Professors and teaching assignments

    Hi, How do teaching assignments work for professors? I want to be a physics professor one day, and I would love to teach QM, electromagnetism, stat. mech, etc...but I am not sure how this works. I have seen teaching records for some profs. and it seems like some have literally taught all of...
  45. D

    Emailing professors for an interview about joining them for research

    I went to my current physics professor and asked about starting to do some research. She gave me a list of the research experimental faculty and said to email them just asking if they would be interested in having me, and asking to meet with them in person. I am just wondering on exactly...
  46. S

    Schools Email professors for graduate school?

    Hello, I am beginning to apply for graduate schools. Normally I wouldn't have thought to email the professors I am interested in working with on research. However, I heard from a professor that when they were applying to graduate schools they were only accepted to those programs that they...
  47. B

    Schools How/What should I ask professors at grad schools I'm checking out

    I've narrowed down a short list of a dozen or so graduate programs it looks like I'd like to apply to. I've heard that it helps to email professors involved in the work I'm interested in, but I'm doing the socially-awkward-penguin and am kinda at a loss for what to say or how to go about saying...
  48. 1

    Math professors thoughts on pure vs applied

    Paraphrased something like (this is an early proof based class) "I hear engineering majors and physics majors say that they like math as long as it can applied to something. So these folks won't take any upper level pure mathematics courses. It's useless. Is it? Did you know that (something...
  49. D

    Little things you do to annoy professors

    Does anyone do things to annoy professors? I don't mean enrage them but just pester. :smile: I'll go first. I scatter my math assignments with "Q.E.D." after a very trivial proof or even just a regular problem.
  50. 1

    Professors thoughts on wikipedia

    Today was my first day in astronomy. My professor, going over the general syllabus and what we'd be doing during the course, asked about good and bad sources for learning. Naturally, the responses for good materials included textbooks, science articles, etc. Bad sources were 'the internet'...