What does 'Prof.' mean exactly?

Is it merely for professor(as job title), or for any educator with higher education background?

  • 1
    Academic politics are notoriously vicious (ask Sayre). It's safest to reserve prof. for actual professors. That said, different institutions will have different standards, so you should follow whatever conventions are standard at your institution. For example, in the US we don't have lecturers or readers.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 13:42
  • Dan beat me to it, but I was basically just going to say that you should probably only use Prof. for professor. i dug around a bit on ye olde interwebs and was unable to find a single reference to it being used for any other kind of educator, but your mileage may vary. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 13:44
  • The French word for any kind of university or college teacher is 'professeur', regardless of academic status. So it depends on the language as well. See wordreference.com/enfr/teacher
    – Charl E
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 14:56
  • @DanBron I was a lecturer in the US for several years. :-)
    – jimm101
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:31
  • @jimm101 Sure, you were a lecturer, but were you a Lecturer? ;)
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


Professor is a job title, and a title earned by having the job. It does not apply to lecturers or educators who have not been given the title.

Assistant Professors are professors, and have the title.

Many students will refer to you as professor simply because "doctor" or your first name will seem awkward. In my years of teaching at a University as a non-professor, I eventually gave up correcting it. But I would never use the title myself, because it is not correct.

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