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Docent is a title at some European universities to denote a specific academic appointment within a set structure of academic ranks at or below the full professor rank, similar to a British readership, a French "maître de conférences" (MCF) and equal or above the title of "associate professor".


Docent is also used at some (mainly German) universities generically for a person who has the right to teach. The term is derived from the Latin word docēns, which is the present active participle of docēre (to teach, to lecture). Becoming a docent is often referred to as Habilitation or Doctor of Science and is an academic evidence that proves that a holder is capable of appointment at the level of associate or full professor. Docent is the highest academic title in several countries and the qualifying criteria are research output that corresponds to 3-5 doctoral dissertations, supervision of PhD students, and concrete evidence of teaching at undergraduate and graduate level.


In the Flemish universities of Belgium docent is the first of four university professor ranks, the others being hoofddocent (head docent), hoogleraar (professor) and gewoon hoogleraar. To be awarded the docent title at the Flemish universities, a candidate has to have a Doctorate. In the French-speaking universities, the word docent is not used in their titles.

Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

In Germany, Austria and in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, Dozent or Hochschuldozent denotes an academic appointment at a university or similar institution, at a mid-level ranking of seniority.

The title of Privatdozent is used (with certain conditions) by those who have successfully completed a Habilitation , thereby denoting that its holder has the right to independently teach without being supervised by a professor. In this way, a Privatdozent may for instance hold an appointment as Dozent or Hochschuldozent.


In the French speaking countries (particularly in France), Maître de conférences (MCF) may refer to docent, equivalent to associate professor in the US or senior reader in the UK. It is a tenured academic post enjoying the status of civil servant ("fonctionnaire d'Etat"). [1] The French Ministry of Higher Education provided a table summarizing the equivalent academic ranks of "professeur" and "Maître de conférences (MCF)" in other countries. [2]

Central and Eastern Europe

In countries with academic traditions that stem from German-speaking countries, "docent" is an academic appointment below that of a full professor. This is the situation in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Docent is considered equal to or above the title "associate professor" as used in Western European countries. In the Czech Republic, a "docent" holder is considered capable of conducting research independently as well as giving lectures.

In Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus docent is an academic title below professor.

In Poland, the title of docent used to be mandatory in order to become a full professor. This is no longer a requirement, and the title nearly vanished in the last 20 years. Currently, it may be given to a teacher or instructor not engaged in research. Only a scientific researcher may apply for the title of professor, and therefore docent is the highest title for teachers and instructors.

In countries such as Lithuania, Bulgaria, [3] "docent" is used as an academic title equivalent to associate professor in German-speaking countries.

In most former Yugoslav countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, the system of academic ranks is similar to that of North America. The academic rank of docent corresponds to assistant professor.

In Armenia, the title of docent — equivalent to Associate professor — is awarded to either a Candidate of Sciences or a Doctor of Sciences before becoming a full professor.[ citation needed ]

Northern Europe

In Denmark and Norway, docent is traditionally a title ranking between associate professor and professor, similar to a readership in the United Kingdom. All docents in universities in Norway became full professors in 1985, when the traditional docent title was abolished. In 2006 the title docent was introduced as the new title of the former teaching docents in Norway; while administratively on the same level as professors, the promotion criteria are different and based on teaching. [4]

In Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia, docent (Finnish dosentti, Swedish docent, Estonian dotsent, Latvian docents) is an academic title conferred to a person fulfilling requirements similar to German Privatdozent. Such persons are usually expected to give lectures on their specialties if their professional activities permit this. Most docents are employed at the university where they are docents, but usually in a different position (often with the title Senior Lecturer; universitetslektor). The Scandinavian title docent as used in e.g. Sweden is often translated into English as Reader to avoid confusion with foreign uses of the term docent. In Finland, the Docents' Union of Finland recommends the term associate professor in English, [5] while the term used by the University of Helsinki is Title of Docent. [6]


In Sweden, there used to be both stipendiary (docentstipendiat) and non-stipendiary (oavlönad docent) docent positions. A stipendiary docent both held the docent title (for life), and benefited from a stipend that paid for their salary at the university for up to six years. The non-stipendiary alternative was solely an academic title (also for life). Today, most universities only confer a non-stipendiary docent title. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Chalmers university of technology still maintain the stipendiary. The title is in most cases awarded to people employed as Assistant Professor("biträdande universitetslektor"), or Associate Professor ("universitetslektor"/Senior Lecturer) with a distinguished international reputation after a rigorous review of their research. Docent can be used as an English term for the Swedish title docent. Since the Swedish title docent is rather a mark of competence than an employment, it is in some contexts less appropriate to use the terms reader and associate professor for this concept in English. [7]

The title of docent is the second highest grade in the Swedish academic system, the highest being (full) professor. A docentship should be regarded as an educational title not connected with the employment pyramid as such. This is rather an assurance of the level of expertise, to enable the person to advance further in his/her academic career. A docent qualification is required of all head doctoral student supervisors. For conferment of the title, there is a requirement that the researcher has a good overview of their research area and has demonstrated both the ability to formulate research problems and to independently carry through research programs. It is a requirement that the researcher should be able to lead research projects. The researcher must have substantial scientific research experience and be well published in scientific journals.


In Finland, docent is solely an academic title (Finnish : dosentti, Swedish : docent) awarded by a university. The title is often translated to adjunct professor or associate professor to make the title more comparable those of the Anglo-Saxon university system. The title of docent can either be awarded for life or for stipulated period of time depending on the choice of the unit that is conferring it. As a prerequisite, a candidate must have comprehensive knowledge of their own field, a capacity for independent research or artistic work demonstrated through publication or some other manner, and good teaching skills. [8] [9] The applicant must demonstrate scientific publications at least to the extent of two doctoral theses from the field of study. [10] Candidates are required to give a lecture demonstrating their teaching skills, and are evaluated by an academic committee.

While traditionally a docentship used to be a formal position without a salary, the 2009 change in legislation changed it to a title only. [11] Thus, docentship is nowadays an official recognition of individual expertise as well as a title equivalent to that of an associate professor also bestowing the right to teach (Latin : venia legendi ) and supervise doctoral students independently. Docents may work as professors, associate professors, assistant professors, university lecturers or researchers at the university, or work elsewhere full-time. The rank of a docent entitles scientists to teach at the universities and to be principal researchers, lead research groups and act as responsible supervisors of doctoral students.

The title cannot be revoked in any circumstances according to Finnish legislation. There has been some discussion among academics whether revoking it should be possible in cases such as criminal convictions. [12]


Traditional use in the universities until 1985

In Norway, the title docent (Norwegian : dosent) was traditionally used for positions immediately below full professors and above those holding the title førsteamanuensis (corresponding to associate professor in the US and senior lecturer in the Commonwealth) until 1985. The requirements were the same as for full university professors, but until then, each department usually only had one professor and other academics with similar qualifications were appointed as docents. Hence, docents could be seen as professors without chair (professor extraordinarius). The title was comparable to reader or associate professor in many Commonwealth countries and professor extraordinarius in continental Europe. All docents were lifted to full professor status in 1985, when the title was abolished at the universities. [13]

College docent and (teaching) docent

The title docent remained in use in the rural colleges (Norwegian : distriktshøgskoler), in the form of college docent (Norwegian : høgskoledosent), which is a position focused on teaching that ranks below professors. In the 2000s only a handful of people still held the title college docent. In 1995, the college docents received the right to apply for promotion to professor. In 2003, the position teaching docent (Norwegian : undervisningsdosent) was introduced. The title was changed to just docent (Norwegian : dosent) in 2006, although it is not a successor of the earlier docent position as used in the universities prior to 1985. The position is similar to college docent and focused on teaching activities rather than research.

Both the titles college docent and (teaching) docent are almost exclusively used in the colleges and new universities, and usually not used in the old universities. (Teaching) docent is ranked within the state pay grade system as administratively equivalent to the position of professor, but promotion to docent is based on a different set of merits, with more emphasis on teaching qualifications relative to research merits than in professorial appointments. Persons holding a permanent position as senior teaching fellow (Norwegian : førstelektor) at a university or university college may apply for promotion to docent. [14] After the 2006 changes there are three parallel academic career ladders in Norway, one focused on both research and teaching, one focused on research and one focused on teaching. [15]

Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands

In Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, docente (Portuguese and Spanish) and docent (Dutch) are a synonym for "teacher" as well as "professor", and are widely used across all academic ranks.

In Spain, an academic with a 'docent' level is one who has been given the accreditation 'profesor titular de universidad' by the 'Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación' (ANECA). This is the equivalent to 'associate professor' in UK or 'Dozent' in Germany. The following level evaluated by ANECA is 'catedrático de universidad', that is 'university professor', according to European standards.

Indonesia and South Africa

In South Africa, the Afrikaans word dosent refers to any full-time university lecturer, independent of rank. While in Indonesia, the Indonesian word dosen refers to any tertiary education lecturer, independent of rank.


In Turkey, doçent is an academic appointment equivalent to an associate professor, ranking between instructor doctor and professor. [16] A doçent candidate has to have a doctor's degree and must meet the requirements provided by the interuniversity board. The title of docent is mandatory in order to become a full professor. In recent years there is no longer need for a docent thesis, rather a candidate must provide evidence of a number of journal papers, or a research-level book in their field with a detail equivalent to journal article.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">University of Oslo</span> Norwegian public research university

The University of Oslo is a public research university located in Oslo, Norway. It is the highest ranked and oldest university in Norway. It is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world and as one of the leading universities of Northern Europe; the Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked it the 58th best university in the world and the third best in the Nordic countries. In 2016, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings listed the university at 63rd, making it the highest ranked Norwegian university.

Habilitation is the highest university degree, or the procedure by which it is achieved, in many European countries. The candidate fulfills a university's set criteria of excellence in research, teaching and further education, usually including a dissertation. The degree, abbreviated "Dr. habil." or "PD", is a qualification for professorship in those countries. The conferral is usually accompanied by a lecture to a colloquium as well as a public inaugural lecture.

Lecturer is an academic rank within many universities, though the meaning of the term varies somewhat from country to country. It generally denotes an academic expert who is hired to teach on a full- or part-time basis. They may also conduct research.

Senior lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and Israel senior lecturer is a faculty position at a university or similar institution. The position is tenured and is roughly equivalent to an associate professor in the North American system.

The title of reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth of Nations, for example India, Australia and New Zealand, denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship.

This article describes the academic positions and ranks in Sweden.

The following are academic ranks in the Finnish higher education system. There are a specific number of posts, which can be applied to when they are vacated or established.

Academic ranks in Canada are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in Germany are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in Norway are the system of merit-based ranks used by academic employees in academia. Similar to the British rank system, the Norwegian rank system is broadly divided into three pathways, a combined research and teaching career pathway, a research career pathway and a teaching career pathway.

Academic ranks in South Africa are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in India are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in Russia are the conferred titles, indicating relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel in Russian academia and scientific institutions. The rank “certifies” the demonstrated ability of an individual to function in the specific academic position(s).

Academic ranks in Kenya are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in Colombia are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.

Academic ranks in Denmark are the positions and titles of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia at Danish institutions, and the relations between them.

An adjunct professor is a type of academic appointment in higher education who does not work at the establishment full-time. The terms of this appointment and the job security of the tenure vary in different parts of the world, however the general definition is agreed upon.


  1. "Maîtres de conférences". Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l'Innovation (in French). Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  4. "Forskrift om ansettelse og opprykk i undervisnings- og forskerstillinger" [Regulations on employment and promotion in teaching and research positions]. Lovdata (in Norwegian). Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  5. "Dosentti-nimikkeen kääntäminen". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  6. "Docents". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  7. Svensk-engelsk ordbok för den högre utbildningen. Universitets- och högskolerådet.
  8. "Applying for the Title of Docent at the Faculty of Medicine".
  9. Oy, Edita Publishing. "FINLEX ® - Ajantasainen lainsäädäntö: Kumottu säädös Yliopistoasetus (kumoutunut) 115/1998". Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  10. [ bare URL PDF ]
  11. Oy, Edita Publishing. "FINLEX ® - Ajantasainen lainsäädäntö: Yliopistolaki 558/2009". Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  12. "Pitäisikö dosentin arvonimi voida perua? Oikeustieteiden professorin mukaan nykykäytäntö on epäjohdonmukainen". Aamulehti (in Finnish). 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  13. Dosent, in Store Norske Leksikon, Vol. 4, 2005
  14. Forskrift om ansettelse og opprykk i undervisnings- og forskerstillinger (Regulations concerning appointment and promotion to teaching and research posts, Ministry of Education and Research 9 February 2006), accessed March 14, 2014.
  15. Forskrift om ansettelse og opprykk i undervisnings- og forskerstillinger,, February 20, 2006 (accessed August 26, 2014).
  16. Büyük Larousse Sözlük ve Ansiklopedisi 1986 "Doçent: Üniversite öğretim üyeliğinde yardımcı doçent ile profesör arasında yer alan akademik unvan."