Academic rank in France
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2011)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
The following summarizes basic academic ranks in the French higher education system. Most academic institutions being state-run, people with permanent positions are civil-servants. Several parallel, more or less equivalent, career paths exist, depending on the type of institutions. On the other hand, in most cases, a complete career requires at least two open recruitment procedures, as there is no individual promotion from the level equivalent to Associate Professor to the level of Full-Professor.
State university system
- PU (Professeur des Universités) equivalent to the North American rank of Full Professor
- MCF (Maître de conférences) with or without a habilitation (HDR) to direct doctoral theses. The title is roughly equivalent to the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor (depending on the curriculum) in North America, and Senior Lecturer in the United Kingdom.
Maître de conférences and Professeurs des universités are both permanent positions, and since all French universities are state-run, professors are also civil servants. The permanent position is not the same as tenure, strictly speaking, but is instead due to the status of civil servant in public universities. Other academic positions exist but they are on contractual basis (ATER, allocataire moniteur). These positions have various subcategories, but the title is always the same. The subcategories (2nd class, 1st class, Exceptional Class) solely serve to determine the appropriate income they earn. No one can become Professeur or Maître de Conférence without a doctorate.
In Law, Political Science and Economics it is possible to be recruited directly as a full professor by passing the agrégation (distinct from the secondary school system's agrégation, more widespread). Consequently, some scholars become professors without prior experience as a Maître de conférences. This remains rare however, most of the time the aggregation is a way to accelerate career advancement for the Maîtres de conférences (this is known as the voie courte, or short way, as opposed to the voie longue).
Other academic staff include :
- PRAG (Professeur agrégé) : Secondary school professors teaching at university level (for example a foreign language)
- Professeur invité : similar to a professor of practice in the United States
- ATER (Attaché temporaire d'enseignement et de recherche) : ATERs usually are completing a PhD or have just done so. They have a one year contract renewable once. Laureates of the French agrégation may hold an ATER position up to 4 years in total. ATER have the same responsibilities and compensation as many non tenure-track faculty in North America. They do research work and 192 hours/year of teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels for about 20,000 euros/year.
- Allocataire de recherche-moniteur: PhD candidates who have obtained, based on their academic accomplishments, a 3-years position (non renewable). They are awarded a research grant ("allocation de recherche") which is actually a salary (1400 euros/month) and are expected to work on a dissertation and to participate in research activities. In addition, the best first quarter of allocataires also are "moniteurs" (Teaching Fellow, 1700 euros/month), meaning that they teach about 64 hours per year, usually at the undergraduate level. Being a moniteur usually helps a lot to eventually get a faculty position: less than 1/4 of the regular PhD students have the chance to be a moniteur, however, among the hundreds of new faculty members hired in France in 2005, over one half were former Allocataires de recherche-moniteurs. “Eleves” from the most prestigious French grandes Écoles (École Polytechnique and École Normale Supérieure) usually get moniteur positions during their PhD. One speaks in this case of “Allocataires couplés” or “AC”.
Grandes Écoles system
The Grandes Écoles is a parallel educational system generally attributed to Napoleon. These institutions of higher education each specialize in a specific domain, such as business, political science, or engineering. Some of them (for example Sciences Po Paris) are part of the state university recruitment system. The others - mainly the private ones - follow various guidelines. Among the business schools it is common to follow the North American terminology. That is,
- Instructor (vacataire or chargé d'enseignements)
- Adjunct professor (professeur affilié)
- Assistant professor (professeur assistant(e))
- Associate professor (professeur associé)
- Full professor (professeur)
- Chaired professorships are a new phenomenon and can be given to either an associate professor or full professor.
Typically, anyone teaching in a Grande Ecole will identify themselves publicly as "Professeur" regardless of their internal rank. This is an acceptable practice for tenured or full-time staff ("professeurs permanents") and permanently employed part-time staff (professeurs affiliés). It is considered inappropriate for others who teach a single course (vacataires or chargés d'enseignements).
There also exist permanent, research positions, without teaching duties. They are offered by certain public research institutions, the Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishments, for instance the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) or the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). Again, people in these positions are civil servants (thus, in this sense, tenured).
There are two levels, matching those of the teaching-research staff :
- directeur de recherches (Research Director), equivalent to professeur
- chargé de recherches (Researcher), equivalent to maître de conférences
There are no internal promotion from one level to the other, but a procedure of recruitment in each case (a certain number of positions at each level are opened at a national level and people apply). Inside one level, there are several degrees :
- directeur de recherche 2nd, 1st, exceptional classes (DR2, DR1, DRCE)
- chargé de recherche 2nd and 1st classes (CR2, CR1)
Passing from one degree to the other is also decided by a national commission, by examination of the work of the candidates. Inside each degree, they are also sub-degrees, between which the progression is more or less automatic and concerns only the salary level.
The complete name of the position usually makes the institution explicit, e.g. : directeur de recherche au CNRS, or chargé de recherche à l'INRIA. It has to be noticed that some of these positions can be located not in a laboratory proper to the Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishment, but in a mixed research structure, common with a university (UMR).
These establishments also offer engineer positions that may include a large research part, besides more technical duties (e.g. preparation of a database, experimental apparatus, etc.) : ingénieur d'études, ingénieur de recherche.
There also exists some contractual positions (from a few months to a few years).
Variants of this system also exist for specific institutions, for instance the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) which hosts both researchers from the CNRS and proper researchers, called in this case, maître de conférences and directeur d'études. One of the requirements here is that they organize a research seminar.
- Recteur :Appointed by the Ministry of education they are formally chancellor of the universities in an academic district although they actually only take care of primary and secondary schools. They usually are chosen among senior university professors.
- Président de l'université : Elected position usually held by a professor for four years.
- Doyen : Elected position, similar to a Dean, they steer a faculté or UFR (similar to a US college)
- Président de la commission de spécialistes : Responsible for recruitment in a particular discipline (e.g. Public Law, Economics). This situation does not exist since 2009, as specific commissions are now chosen for each recruitment, with their own president.
- Directeur d'Ecole Doctorale
- Directeur d'un centre de recherche