Difference Between Adjunct Professor and Associate Professor (With Table)

Difference Between Adjunct Professor and Associate Professor (With Table)

Professors, teachers, and other words refer to the professionals teaching students. They can work in schools, high schools, universities, institutions, and other organizations. But when it comes to the word professor, it majorly refers to a teacher who teaches students in a university or any other such institute.

Professors is a very general word. However, they can be categorized in terms of their experience, educational qualification, work type, and other such factors. All these different types of professors categorized on a certain criterion form a hierarchy. Two types of professors from such a hierarchy could be adjunct professors and associate professors.

Adjunct Professor vs Associate Professor

The main difference between an adjunct professor and an associate professor is that an adjunct professor has a temporary tenure in the university or college in which he or she is teaching. On the other hand, in the case of an associate professor, he or she has a permanent tenure in the university or college he or she is teaching in.

Adjunct Professor vs Associate Professor

An adjunct professor is a sort of temporary professor who does not teach students regularly or daily, just like any other regular professor does. Instead, the professor has a supplementary role with the university with which he or she has the contract. An adjunct professor visits the university after certain intervals and teaches students during those periods of visits. 

An associate professor can also be called an official professor because he or she has completed all of his or her qualifications to become a professor of a university or a college. Moreover, since that person completes the qualifications, that signifies that he or she has also earned the license to teach students. 

Comparison Table Between Adjunct Professor and Associate Professor

Parameters of comparisonAdjunct professorAssociate professor
MeaningAn adjunct professor is a type of visiting professor for a university who does not teach the students on a regular basis.An associate professor is an official professor for a university and teaches the students of that university on a regular basis.
Type of jobThe person works as a part-time professor in the university.The person works as a full-time professor in the university.
FlexibilityAn adjunct professor is more flexible in terms of work as compared to an associate professor.An associate professor is less flexible in terms of work compared to an adjunct professor.
BenefitsAn adjunct professor does not receive benefits from the university.An associate professor receives benefits from the university.
Type of memberAn adjunct professor is not a permanent member of the faculty.An associate professor is a permanent member of the faculty.
ContractAn adjunct professor has a contract with the university for a fixed duration.An associate professor though has a contract with the university, but not for a specific duration only.

Who is an Adjunct Professor?

An adjunct professor can also be called a visiting professor. He or she does not have a full-time job in the university or the college. Instead, he or she works over the contract that person has with the institution. As a result, the university also does not offer a full-time salary to adjunct professors. 

In most general cases, the adjunct professor is ineligible for a permanent tenure. However, some universities offer temporary tenure to adjunct professors. They are also not provided regular benefits, which other professors might avail as they work as a full-time working professor in that university or college.

The major reason why universities and colleges have adjunct professors is because they bring flexibility to the education system. Moreover, the students do not get bored of being taught by the same regular teachers daily. Moreover, since adjunct professors work part-time in the universities as a professor, they can also continue with their research work and side studies.

Who is an Associate Professor?

In the United States, the basic qualifications that a person must hold to become a professor are that the person must have some research work done and must have cleared a doctorate-level exam. Once the doctorate exam is cleared, the person earns the degree to practice teaching.

After earning the license, the person can work as an assistant professor in a university or college for some years. An assistant professor has to teach for a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 7 years in a university or a college. 

During that period, the performance of the assistant professor is analyzed by the university or college authorities. If he or she works well, then that assistant professor is promoted and given the batch of an adjunct professor.

Main Differences Between Adjunct Professor and Associate Professor

  1. An adjunct professor is either ineligible for a tenure offered by the university or college, or that professor receives temporary tenure. While on the other hand, an associate professor receives permanent tenure from the university or the college.
  2. An adjunct professor is not a permanent university or college faculty member. An associate professor is a permanent faculty member of the university.
  3. An adjunct professor receives less salary as compared to an associate professor. On the contrary, an associate professor receives more salary than an adjunct professor.
  4. An adjunct professor does not have to attend regular faculty meetings, but just occasional meetings. On the other hand, an associate professor has to attend all of the faculty meetings.
  5. An adjunct professor has lesser responsibilities as compared to the associate professor. While on the other hand, an associate professor has more responsibilities than an adjunct professor.


Both types of professors, adjunct professors and associate professors have their responsibilities and duties when it comes to teaching. Universities and colleges have a fixed-time contract with adjunct professors, which can be renewed for a further duration of time if both sides feel so. In contrast, the contract of associate professor with the university is not for a certain time limit.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TTMVAAAAMAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=professor&ots=N-OcgnWTBN&sig=WgeYL8V4WiLYkbUtKipyGr2JLQs
  2. https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9884.00113
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