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What is the difference between

  1. Jun 30, 2006 #1
    What is the difference between....

    I know this is a very dumb question...but here goes....

    I was going through a list of department memebers in the department of mathematics from a particular university and in the list...before the members names you'd find Dr. BUT, there are a few amount of members who have Prof. before there names.

    SO... what is the difference between Dr. and Prof.? I allways thought that it meant you have a ph.d?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2006 #2

    Well, all (most, perhaps) professors have PhDs, but not all PhDs at the university are professors. It is possible that the faculty members that have Dr. in front of their name are not professors, but part time lecturers.

    Also, occasionally you will find a professor WITHOUT a PhD, so he/she is in fact NOT a doctor.

    Generally, however, being a professor is technically considered a higher title than doctor since all profs tend to be doctors, but not all doctors are professors.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  4. Jun 30, 2006 #3


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    Yah, lecturers aren't professors but have doctorates most of the time (or well, i'm not sure about most, but the certainly some do have phd's)
  5. Jul 1, 2006 #4
    man that's confusing....
  6. Jul 1, 2006 #5


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    what is the difference between a math phd and a large pizza?

    answer: a large pizza can feed a family of four.
  7. Jul 1, 2006 #6
    The difference is that a "Professor" is tenured. The other kinds of professor are the ones on tenure-track ("associate" or "assistant" professor) or the ones who aren't ("instructor"). You obviously can't address someone as "Assistant Professor X"; there you would use the "Dr."

    Some of these names vary between countries, I suspect.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2006
  8. Jul 1, 2006 #7
    meh, I've always referred to assistant and associate professors as "prof. x". Is this not formal? Everyone else does it.
  9. Jul 1, 2006 #8
    :rofl: ....... :uhh: ........ :cry:
  10. Jul 1, 2006 #9
    I don't quite often call people before me doctor because (1) I actually don't have a feel for the difference of the terms doctor and professor in relation to social rankings and (2) that I think calling doctor may confuse surrounding people with the one in the hospital. So I use "proffesir" instead.
  11. Jul 1, 2006 #10


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    In a US university system, when you are first hired at the entry level as an instructor, your official title is "Assistant Professor". This is usually a tenure-track position, whereby in, let's say, 5 years, you will be evaluated by the rest of the dept. to see if you can get tenure. When that happens, you raise to the rank of "Associate Professor". You get to become a full-fledged senior position of full "Professor" after another set of evaluation by your dept.

    The details on how these are done can differ slightly from one university to another.

  12. Jul 1, 2006 #11


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    At my University. Most of the professors (unless they are not PhD's) are called Dr. by the students and school in general. Even on the office doors of full profesors the title Dr. proceeds their name, not Prof. I hear that this is different at other schools. From what I've heard most schools prefer to use the term professor instead of Dr. Is this true?
  13. Jul 1, 2006 #12


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    I've never heard that.

    It is title-appropriate to call anyone with a Ph.D as Dr. The title of "professor", while it isn't a big deal if you use it, is more appropriate if someone actually has the full-professorship position. But if you don't know, addressing him/her with a Dr. title is the safest bet.

    On the other hand, I tell all of the students that I work with here at the lab, after the first hour of them calling me with a "Dr." in front of my name, to call me just by my first name. It's a title that I've never gotten used to in front of my name, and not something I commonly use unless it is in an official setting.

  14. Jul 1, 2006 #13
    ^ Hey that's cool. Some of my Ph.d instructors also told us to call them by there first name....

    Yeah...so which is hire in rank, a ph.d prof. or ph.d dr.?
  15. Jul 1, 2006 #14


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    :rofl: The reaction to the joke is as funny as the joke itself was!!!:rofl:
  16. Jul 1, 2006 #15
    Ah yes, that's always very awkward the first time around. :biggrin:
  17. Jul 1, 2006 #16


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    I was wondering about this last semester--one of my instructors was not a professor (he spent most of his time being a programmer for an academic project) and had only a master's degree. People seemed to call him Professor anyway when talking to him.
  18. Jul 2, 2006 #17
    Around here there are quite a few lecturers in engineering with only a masters degree, and people call them professor as well (their official titles are things like adjunct professor, adjunct assistant professor, and the newly created "professor of engineering practice")

    They are great because they are completely dedicated to teaching and your education; they are also student ranked as among the best professors not only in engineering but the whole university.

    I also had a prof who insisted being called by 1st name only. He would refuse to answer questions in or out of class if he was referred to by "dr" or "prof" - he would always make the person repeat the question before he would move on. :)
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