Academic ranks (Portugal and Brazil)

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


In Romance languages (spoken in Portugal, France, Italy, Romania and Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin AmericaIbero-America), the term "professor" and "teacher" translate the same ("professor" / "professeur" / "professore" / "profesor") thus it is used for anyone teaching at a school (grade/elementary, middle, and high school), institute, technical school, vocational school, college or university, regardless of the level of the subject matter taught or the level or ages of students. However, one who teaches at a university is specifically called "professor universitário" ("university professor"), although it is also common to call university professors just "professor".

As subtypes of professors the following are distinguished:

  • Professor catedrático (Portugal) or Professor titular (Brazil): full professor; it is the highest faculty position
  • Professor associado, professor adjunto, professor auxiliar: various intermediary professorship levels, roughly equivalent to associate professor or assistant professor – not to be confounded with adjunct professors –, depending on country and if it's a state or federal university; see country-specific sections below for details
  • Professor substituto: a short-term contract for replacement of professors on maternity leave, sabbatical years or other temporary situations
  • Professor visitante: same as visiting professor; usually conducts research as an obligation from his/her contract and so is required to hold a PhD


  • Professor catedrático: equivalent to full professor
  • Professor associado: equivalent to associate professor
  • Professor auxiliar: equivalent to assistant professor

Both professor associado and professor auxiliar may have Agregação, an extra degree mandatory to all applicants to the rank of professor catedrático which one can apply to usually years after the PhD (similar to the French Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches). Agregação is a two-day exam based on curriculum vitae evaluation and a public lecture, where the candidate is evaluated by secret vote by a large number of other full professors, in which the professors insert a white or a black sphere into a bag according to his or her decision.

The three ranks of professors may also be held by invited professors, according to the rank, from outside the university.

Portuguese universities still have a few other teaching staff in two ranks not holding a PhD. These two ranks were extinguished in 2009 and will vanish after all the ongoing contracts terminate in the next few years.


Federal level[edit]

Academic ranks in the federal universities have been updated slightly over the years via new legislation. Since 2013, ranks are organized in five classes, containing up to four levels each:[1][2]

  • Class E, Professor titular (single level): equivalent to full professor
  • Class D, Professor associado (levels 1, 2, 3, 4): must hold a PhD, equivalent to associate professor
  • Class C, Professor adjunto (levels 1, 2, 3, 4): must hold a PhD, equivalent to assistant professor[3][4]
  • Class B, Professor assistente (levels 1 and 2): must hold a master's degree
  • Class A (levels 1 and 2): pre-tenure faculty
    • Professor adjunto A: must hold a PhD
    • Professor assistente A: must hold a master's degree
    • Professor auxiliar: must hold an undergraduate degree or specialization title

Federal university professors are public servants and as such acquire tenure automatically after an initial three-year probationary period (Portuguese: estágio probatório; see also Brazilian Civil Service#Tenure).[5] Salary is pre-determined for each class/level combination, increasing with rank advancement,[6][7] and includes a thirteenth salary.[8][9] Federal university professors are also entitled to 45-day annual leave,[10][11] compensated one-third higher than the normal salary.[12] Hiring is done through a civil service entrance examination open to anyone eligible – though normally in Portuguese, which represents a challenge for internationals[13]– and normally leads to the bottom rank (class A, level 1).[14][15]

Career advancement is achieved through progression across levels of a given class and promotion across different classes, with each step normally requiring two years of service plus approval in a performance evaluation (internal to the university).[16][17] Faculty may expedite promotion upon tenuring (3-year probation) thus advancing to the first level of class B or class C if they are holders of the required degrees (master's or PhD, respectively).[18][19] Advancement to the top rank (class E) requires additionally either a type of Habilitation (defense of an original thesis) or approval of a written document (Portuguese: memorial) describing the applicant's professional achievements (in teaching, research, outreach, and academic administration); the evaluation process in this case is carried out by a special commission made of at least 75% of members external to the applicant's own university.[16][17]

State level[edit]

At São Paulo state universities, particularly at the University of São Paulo, the academic rank system is as follows:[citation needed]

  • Professor titular (MS-6): equivalent to full professor, the position normally requires years of academic experience and meaningful publications in international academic journals
  • Professor associado (MS-5): must hold a livre docente title (similar to a German Habilitation), equivalent to associate professor
  • Professor doutor (MS-3): must hold a PhD, equivalent to assistant professor
  • Professor assistente (MS-2): must hold a master's degree and a pedagogical preparation (PAE), equivalent to scientific assistant or research assistant
  • Auxiliar de ensino (MS-1): only a bachelor's degree is required, equivalent to teaching assistant


More recently, permanent academic posts for researchers that do not necessarily involve teaching have appeared. Those are not to be confused with temporary graduate-level and post-doctoral research positions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anexo I.a, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  2. ^ Anexo I.a, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)
  3. ^ "Significado de "adjunto"". Michaelis Dicionário de Inglês Online (in Portuguese). Editora Melhoramentos. 2009. 
  4. ^ Rubens Ramos (25 July 2012). "Análise da Proposta do Governo, Parte 2: Os Salários" (in Portuguese). 
  5. ^ Article 41, Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, 1988
  6. ^ Article 16, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  7. ^ Article 16, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)
  8. ^ Lei No. 4090 of 13 July 1962 (in Portuguese)
  9. ^ Lei No. 4749 of 12 August 1965 (in Portuguese)
  10. ^ Article 36, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  11. ^ Article 36, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)
  12. ^ Article 7, Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, 1988
  13. ^ Andrew Downie (4 September 2010). "Brazilian Universities Find Challenges in Internationalization". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 
  14. ^ Article 8, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  15. ^ Article 8, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)
  16. ^ a b Article 12, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  17. ^ a b Article 12, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)
  18. ^ Article 13, Lei No. 12863 of 24 September 2013 (in Portuguese)
  19. ^ Article 13, Lei No. 12772 of 28 December 2012 (in Portuguese)