The Dissatisfaction of the Associate Professor

October 30, 2017
This article was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education


  • Associate professors rate their satisfaction with numerous aspects of their jobs lower than do both full and assistant professors. Those aspects include appreciation and recognition, collaboration, departmental collegiality, institutional support for research and scholarly work, departmental leadership, and promotion.
  • Associate professors who have been in the position for more than five years tend to be, by and large, less satisfied than associate professors who have recently earned tenure.
  • These experienced associate professors are often dissatisfied with the promotion process. Of more than 2,180 who were asked, 64 percent said they had never received formal feedback on their progress to full professor.
  • About 20 percent of these associate professors said that their chief academic office didn’t seem to care about their quality of life.
  • Many long-term associate professors appear to languish in their academic careers, with 40 percent saying that they either didn’t know if they would submit a dossier for consideration to advance to full professor or that they would never do it.

Source: Harvard University’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education 2012 survey of 13,510 professors at 69 colleges.