Assistant professor – Definition & Meaning

An assistant professor is a position in academia that is typically held by someone who has recently completed their doctoral degree and is beginning their career in teaching and research. This position is often a stepping stone towards a tenured position as a full professor.


An assistant professor is a faculty member at a college or university who has been appointed to a tenure-track position, but has not yet achieved tenure. They are responsible for teaching courses, conducting research, and publishing scholarly articles.


The term “assistant professor” originated in the United States in the late 19th century. It was used to describe a junior faculty member who was in the process of working towards tenure.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an assistant professor is “a member of the academic staff of a college or university who is below the rank of associate professor and above the rank of instructor.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an assistant professor as “a member of a college or university faculty who ranks above an instructor and below an associate professor.”


Assistant professors are typically associated with academic institutions, such as colleges and universities. They are also associated with the fields of teaching and research.


Some synonyms for assistant professor include:

  • Lecturer.
  • Instructor.
  • Assistant lecturer.
  • Assistant professor of practice.


Some antonyms for assistant professor include:

  • Full professor.
  • Associate professor.
  • Adjunct professor.
  • Visiting professor.

The same root words

The root words in assistant professor are “assistant” and “professor.” “Assistant” comes from the Latin word “assistere,” which means “to stand by.” “Professor” comes from the Latin word “profiteri,” which means “to declare openly.”

Example Sentences

  • Dr. Smith is an assistant professor of biology at the university.
  • The assistant professor taught a course on American literature last semester.
  • The assistant professor is currently conducting research on the effects of climate change on plant life.
  • After five years as an assistant professor, Dr. Jones was promoted to associate professor.
  • The assistant professor received a grant to study the impact of technology on education.
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