What is the difference between a Doctor of Philosophy and a Professor?

(43 Posts)
bulletpoint Sun 06-Sep-15 00:18:06

DS and i were were discussing tonight and happened to mention one of his teachers who is referred to Drxx. DS asked if he had a Phd and i answered he did and that he was also Professor, but DS wondered why he wasn't called one. I wasn't sure so googled both, it seems a Professor has to be someone who teacher above secondary school but has the what looks like the same qualifications as a Doctor i.e Phd, MPhil etc

I'm now really unsure wether they are the same and if not what the difference is. DS's teacher has a Phd but works in a secondary school, is this why he can't use the title 'Professor'?

cutsnake Sun 06-Sep-15 00:31:02

A PhD is a degree that you earn at university. 'Professor' is a title that accompanies a very senior paid position at a university, it is basically the top of the tree in academia.

All Professors will have a PhD but not all PhDs will be Professors, there are many people with PhDs struggling to make a living with sessional work and bits of teaching.

'Adjunct Professor' or 'Emeritus Professor' are honorary titles given by universities to eminent people connected with the institution.

titchy Sun 06-Sep-15 00:32:11

Professor is a job title used at university, not in secondary schools, hence why latter teacher isn't a professor. A PhD is a qualification entitling the holder to call themselves Dr. I suspect the first teacher has held a Professor role in a university or he's bullshitting

bulletpoint Sun 06-Sep-15 00:37:25

Thanks for your replies. So i was right then in thinking the only reason he's not called a Professor is because he works in a secondary school.

Titchy Not sure what you meant by the 'first teacher', theres only one teacher I was referring to, and he's always worked in a secondary school.

StormCoat Sun 06-Sep-15 00:38:40

i have a DPhil and work as a university academic, but I am a senior lecturer, so less senior than the holder of a professorship. Even if the teacher has previously held a professorship at a university, he couldn't carry it with him to a school teaching job. I blame the Harry Potter books, as Hogwarts seems to automatically dub teachers professors...

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Sep-15 00:39:23

As I understand it in the UK and Commonwealth (but different in different countries):

A Dr of Philosophy (PhD) is a postgraduate academic qualification, for carrying out original research. You do not need to teach to gain, or keep, a PhD. I have one but have not worked on an academic environment since I got it.i only taught while I was doing my PhD to help pay the rent!

A professor in the UK is a highly ranked university professor. Quite often the title is attached to a post eg: Head of Department, leader of a research group or an industrially sponsored post eg The Mumsnet Professor of Lentil Weaving. This person usually (but not always) has a PhD. In some countries "professor" is used to mean "university lecturer", but is very much an academic role. I am Dr Bike and work in a non-academic field related to my PhD. I would never be consider a professor.

There is also an Emeritus Professor, which is an academic lecturer and researcher who is so highly regarded by their peers, that they maintain the title Professor throughout their life. This person has a PhD. Emeritus professors are elected by their peers/university.

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Sep-15 00:40:19

X post many!

FishWithABicycle Sun 06-Sep-15 00:40:47

I think all university teaching staff in the USA get called professor. They don't have to earn it as we do over here.

bgottalent Sun 06-Sep-15 00:42:31

I agree with titchy. A PhD is a personal qualification in the same way that eg A levels are. you have the qualification for life.

Professor is a university job title and when you leave the job you lose the title -it's not yours for life (although some ex professors insist on using the title)

StormCoat Sun 06-Sep-15 00:43:17

No, bullet. If you have a PhD or DPhil, you're just someone with that qualification, who can use the title 'Dr'. If you then work as an academic at a university, you will probably begin as a junior lecturer, and may eventually be promoted to a professorship. It's a senior rank for research-active academics within the university system, nothing to do with having a doctorate. Schoolteachers aren't eligible because they don't work in universities.

SenecaFalls Sun 06-Sep-15 01:15:16

I think all university teaching staff in the USA get called professor. They don't have to earn it as we do over here.

Partly true. The ranks are usually Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor (sometimes referred to as full Professor). You definitely have to earn promotion from one rank to the next. And then there are endowed chairs for which you have to be a full professor and which are usually the most senior and most prestigious professorships in the university.

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Sep-15 07:32:05

Professor is a university job title and when you leave the job you lose the title -it's not yours for life (although some ex professors insist on using the title)

An Emeritus Professor keeps their title whatever job they are doing, although inappropriate to use it in a non-academic situation.

lemon888 Sun 06-Sep-15 11:56:07

PhD is title through research and study a subject by writing a book with guidence and passed by professor/s who work in a university. Professors are titles that are awarded by university/ies. I think academics can apply for professorship in their specilist field in a uni but it s down to the university to decide to give the award. Not sure if PhD is necessary.

UhtredOfBebbanburg Sun 06-Sep-15 12:57:34

PhD is a qualification. If you have obtained that qualification you can call yourself Doctor. Professor is a job title, obtained through appointment or promotion.

granolamuncher Sun 06-Sep-15 16:56:51

It's possible to be a university professor and a school teacher at the same time: Mark Bailey is currently High Master of St Paul's School in London and Professor of Later Medieval History at UEA.

He's a bit exceptional, though. He has also managed to captain Suffolk at cricket and to be capped seven times for England in rugby.


TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 06-Sep-15 17:01:26

It's not impossible that someone would reach professor level in an American university and then leave academia and become a schoolteacher. I know lots of people who have made the switch from academe to schools, though not usually after reaching that level.

TeenAndTween Sun 06-Sep-15 18:46:41

In Harry Potter, Hagrid gets called Professor when he is given the job of teaching Care of Magical Creatures - he didn't even finish school.

lemon888 Sun 06-Sep-15 22:33:54

One has pay to study (be a PhD student) normally for a few years to gain a PhD when the study s completed then s/he can use a title Dr of so and so. It is a proper qualification like BSc or BEd or MA etc but at a higher level.

However a title Professor of so and so is just given by a University as a recognition of ones expertise in their field.

That my understanding.

bulletpoint Sun 06-Sep-15 23:12:55

Thank you all very much, its very clear now.

bulletpoint Sun 06-Sep-15 23:14:32

Just to add, DS's teacher didn't say he was a Professor, i assumed he was but chose to use 'Dr' as his title. I now realise that wouldn't be the case.

SecretSquirrels Mon 07-Sep-15 17:47:19

I thought that in the UK it was considered bad form to use the title Dr on a day to day basis unless you are a medical Doctor?

NerrSnerr Mon 07-Sep-15 17:52:08

I've never heard that Secret- a person with a PHD is rightly a doctor. My husband has a PHD and works in a team with about 6 others and they all call themselves Dr.

Micah Mon 07-Sep-15 18:00:58

Squirrels I thought it was the other way.. A PhD is a doctor of philosophy and can use that title as it is a gained qualification.

Medics use doctor as a courtesy title, a job description as it were. They have undergrad degrees, no doctoral degrees. A medical graduate who doesn't practice medicine isn't a doctor.

ScottishProf Mon 07-Sep-15 18:02:30

Absolutely not, Secret. In fact, if anything the reverse: many medical doctors don't have doctorates, so are called Dr at work just because of the job they're doing; from a certain point of view of traditional etiquette, calling those people Dr outside a work context is a little odd!

Once you have a doctorate, the Dr is part of your name, as it were. I remember being very pleased to have a title that didn't either declare my marital status or mark me out as a feminist (as Ms did then: it was a fair while ago).

Btw, less of the "just" about Prof, if you will :-) Getting that is not easy. (Another ;-) for good measure?)

ScottishProf Mon 07-Sep-15 18:03:12

xpost Micah!

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