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Lecturer is an academic rank
Academic rank
This list of academic ranks identifies the hierarchical ranking structure found amongst scholars in academia, whether tenured or non-tenured. The lists below refer specifically to colleges and universities throughout the world, although other institutions of higher learning may follow a similar...

. In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, lecturer is a position at a university
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 or similar institution, often held by academics in their early career stages, who lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach. However, in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and other countries influenced by their educational systems, the term is used differently but generally denotes academics without tenure
Tenure commonly refers to life tenure in a job and specifically to a senior academic's contractual right not to have his or her position terminated without just cause.-19th century:...

 who teach full or part time but have few or no research responsibilities.

Academic usage

A Lecturer in UK universities usually holds a permanent position that involves carrying out both teaching and research. After a number of years, permanent Lecturers might be promoted and become a Senior Lecturer
Senior lecturer
Senior lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, lecturer is a faculty position at a university or similar institution. Especially in research-intensive universities, lecturers lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach...

. This position is below Reader
Reader (academic rank)
The title of Reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth nations like Australia and New Zealand denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship...

 and Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...


It is also common for 'temporary lecturers' to be appointed to cover specific short-term teaching needs; these positions are by-definition non-permanent and non-renewable, and should be clearly distinguished from permanent lectureships. Some universities also refer to graduate students or others who undertake ad-hoc teaching for a department as 'lecturers' or' sessional lecturers'. In Oxford and Cambridge Colleges the term lectureship always refers to such temporary positions (to be distinguished from 'university lectureships' which are permanent); some are very low paid (as little as £6000 p.a. in 2011-12). This can cause confusion, especially for academics from outside the British system, as it is important to understand in exactly which sense the term lecturer is being employed.

The position of permanent Lecturer does not map easily on to the American system. In terms of responsibilities and recognition, the position of a newly-appointed Lecturer is similar that of an assistant professor; but many Lecturers are experienced researchers with many publications, and their position is more equivalent to that of an associate professor in the North American universities and international universities that are modelled on the US higher education system.

Traditionally, a Senior Lectureship reflected prowess in teaching or administration rather than research, and was far less likely to lead directly to promotion to professor. In recent years a Senior Lecturer has also had to demonstrate strong research prowess, as well as sound teaching and administrative skills, but promotion to Reader is usually necessary before promotion to Professor. However Senior lecturers and Readers are paid on the same salary scale and in many departments Senior Lecturers are comparatively senior staff.

Most permanent lecturers in the UK have a doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 and often have postdoctoral research experience. In many fields a doctorate is now the prerequisite although historically this was not the case and some academic positions could have been held on the basis of research merit alone without a higher degree.

The New Universities
New Universities
The term new universities has been used informally to refer to several different waves of new universities created or renamed as such in the United Kingdom. As early as 1928, the term was used to describe the then-new civic universities, such as Bristol University and the other "red brick...

 (that is, universities that were until recently termed polytechnics) have a slightly different naming scheme than that just described in which the grades are lecturer, senior lecturer and principal lecturer, with the latter corresponding to senior lecturer in the pre-1992 institutions .

The University of Warwick
University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

 decided in 2006 to use the terminology assistant professor for lecturer, and associate professor for senior lecturers and readers. It was claimed that this was to make it easier to appoint staff from the US despite the fact that assistant professor generally refers to a non-tenured position in the US while at Warwick it is a permanent position (subject possibly to probation), and that both readers and professors in the UK would correspond to professors in the US . Nottingham has also adopted the same convention. At Reading job advertisements and academic staff web pages use the title associate professor, but the Ordinances of the university makes no reference to these titles and gives only procedures for conferring the traditional UK academic ranks .

Ecclesiastical usage

A lecturer is typically an assistant curate
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense "curate" correctly means a parish priest but in English-speaking countries a curate is an assistant to the parish priest...

 serving in a Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 parish. It is an historic title which has fallen out of regular use, but several churches in the UK still have clergy with the ancient title lecturer including many London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 churches, St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest religious foundation in the City of Nottingham, England, the largest church after the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the largest mediæval building in Nottingham....

 and Carlisle Cathedral
Carlisle Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, otherwise called Carlisle Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle. It is located in Carlisle, in Cumbria, North West England...


United States

The term lecturer is used in various ways across different US institutions, sometimes causing confusion. On a generic level however, the term broadly denotes one who teaches at a university but is not eligible for tenure, and has no research obligations. At non-research schools, the latter distinction is of course less meaningful, making the absence of tenure the main difference. Unlike the adjective "adjunct" (which can modify most academic titles, from professor to lecturer to instructor, etc.), the title of lecturer itself at most schools does not address the issue of full-time vs. part-time status. Lecturers almost always have at least a masters degree, and quite often a doctorate. Sometimes the title is used as an equivalent-alternative for instructor
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

 but schools that utilize both titles tend to provide relatively more advancement potential to their lecturers.

It is becoming increasingly common for major research universities to hire full-time lecturers, whose responsibilities are primarily undergraduate education, especially for introductory/survey courses that involve large groups of students. These tend to be the courses that tenure-track faculty do not prefer to teach, and are unnecessarily costly for them to do so (at their comparatively higher salary rates). When a lecturer is part-time, there is little practical distinction from an adjunct professor, since neither has the prestige of being on the tenure-track. For full-time lecturers, many institutions now incorporate the role quite formally with performance reviews, promotional tracks, administrative service responsibilities, and many faculty privileges (e.g. voting, use of resources, etc.).

One emerging alternative to the use of full-time lecturers at research-heavy institutions is to create a parallel professorship track that's focused on teaching, which may or may not offer tenure, with a title series such as teaching professor. This would be analogous to how some universities have research-only faculty tracks with title series' such as "Research Professor/Scientist/Scholar."

It should also be noted, however, that the title is sometimes, paradoxically, used in just the opposite sense: in some institutions, a lecturer especially "Distinguished Lecturer" may also refer to a position similar to emeritus professor. Also, in some schools it's a temporary post for visiting academics of considerable prominence—e.g. a famous writer may serve for a term or a year, for instance. When confusion arose about Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

's status on the law faculty at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, the institution stated that although his title was "Senior Lecturer," that school actually uses that title for notable people such as federal judges and politicians who are deemed of high prestige but simply lack sufficient time to commit to a traditional tenure-track position.


In Australia, the term lecturer may be used informally to refer to anyone who conducts lectures at a university, but formally refers to a specific academic rank. The academic ranks in Australia are similar to those in the UK but there is one additional rank. The academic levels in Australia are Associate Lecturer (academic level: A), Lecturer (B), Senior Lecturer (C), Associate Professor (D), and Professor (E).

Unlike in the US, even relatively senior academic staff are referred to as lecturers. Generally, Australian senior lecturers (level C) are considered equivalent to associate professors in North America, because it usually entails tenure. A very small number of Australian universities have most recently begun to bring academic titles - and perceived status - more into line with the United States. Consequently, they have replaced the Australian term associate lecturer with lecturer, lecturer with assistant professor, and senior lecturer with associate professor.

Other countries

In other countries, usage may vary unpredictably. For example, in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 lektor is a term used for a teaching-only position, generally for teaching foreign languages.

In France the title maître de conférences ("Lecture Master") is the first academical rank.

In German speaking countries, the term Lektor historically denoted a teaching position below a professor, primarily responsible for delivering and organising lectures. The contemporary equivalent is called Dozent or Hochschuldozent. Nowadays, the German term Lektor only exists at philology or modern language departments at German-speaking Universities, for positions that primarily involve teaching a foreign language.

In Norway, a Lektor is an academic rank, usually reached after three or five years of education, which enables a teacher to lecture at Ungdomsskole (Secondary school) or Videregående skole (high school) level.

In South Korea, the term "Gangsa" is the literal translation of "Part-time lecturer". A Gangsa is usually part-time, paid by the number of hours of teaching. No research or administrative obligation is attached. In most disciplines, Gangsa is regarded as a first step in one's academic career. In Korea, the tenure position started from "Full-time Lecturer." The tenure position in South Korea is composed of "Full-time Lecture(JunImGangSa)", "Assisstant Professor(JoKyoSu)", "Associate Professor(BuKyosu)", and "Professor(KyoSu)". Therefore, "Full-Time Lecturer" is the same position as "Assistant Professor" in other countries including U.S.A.

In Sweden, a Lektor is an academic rank similar to senior lecturer in Great Britain, or Associate Professor in USA. The Lektor holds the position below Professor in rank.