Academic ranks in Finland

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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.


Finland's system is similar to the traditional German system in that there is a limited number of posts for professors (professori), who head research groups and take part in administration in addition to lecturing. Fulfillment of a professor's post often requires that the previous professor has retired. Traditionally, there was no assistant / associate / full professor career track, nor an official "tenure track". The title of apulaisprofessori ("assistant professor") was retired in 1998, but reintroduced in 2010.

Qualifications for a professor's position are a doctoral degree and an extensive independent publication and teaching record. The degree of lisensiaatti (licentiate) does not qualify (exceptions are legal, but extremely rare). For example, in medicine, the common degree equivalent to a medical doctor is a lisensiaatti degree: additional research and study is required for the degree called lääketieteen tohtori, "Doctor of Medicine."


In Finland, Professori can, in addition to denoting an academic rank, also be an honorary title, awarded usually to heads of certain research organisations as well as to particularly distinguished creative professionals by the President upon recommendation of the Title Board of the Prime Minister's Office.[1][2]

Teachers and researchers[edit]

Mid-career scholars immediately below the rank of full professor are called "yliopistonlehtori", a tenured position equivalent to a senior lecturership/readership in the UK or an associate professorship in the US. The honorary title of dosentti is similar in required qualifications, but the related form of employment is often task-based (e.g., teaching a specific course, supervising a specific student) rather than full-time employment. When it does include full-term employment, it has fewer or no administrative responsibilities and may be combined with work at a company or another university. The alternative translation for docent is "adjunct professor".[3] The rank of apulaisprofessori (literally "assistant professor", but may refer to positions at the level of assistant professor or associate professor depending on the university) is also in use for positions that are tenure-track rather than permanent).

Junior educators are called by other terms such as assistentti (literally "assistant" and is typically a position designed for PhD students), lehtori (lecturer), yliopistotutkija (postdoctoral researcher, literally: university researcher), opettava tutkija (teaching researcher), or yliopisto-opettaja (literally "university instructor").[4] The same applies to researchers (tutkija, etc.).

Researchers and professors funded by the Academy of Finland are generally styled accordingly, "akatemiatutkija" and "akatemiaprofessori" (academy researcher and academy professor, respectively).

Academic Positions[edit]

Research track[edit]

  • Professori (Professor) is the highest non-administrative position.
  • Dosentti (Adjunct Professor), is not necessarily permanently associated with the university but holds the right to teach (Latin: venia docendi) and supervise doctoral students independently. The title also gives the right to act as a principal investigator. Similarly to German Privatdozent and Swedish docent, receiving the title requires academic merits significantly exceeding a doctoral degree.
  • Yliopistotutkija (University Researcher), a position, generally temporary, for a senior researcher.
  • Tutkijatohtori (Post-Doctoral Researcher), a position for a junior post-doctoral researcher.
  • Tohtorikoulutettava (Doctoral student), Tutkija (Research Associate, Research Scientist) and Projektitutkija (Project Researcher) are positions intended for doctoral students
  • Tutkimusavustaja or Tutkimusapulainen (Research Assistant) is a Bachelor's or Master's student position.

Teaching track[edit]

  • Yliopistonlehtori (UK Senior Lecturer or Reader/US Associate Professor), tenured faculty position involving both research and teaching.
  • Lehtori (Lecturer) used only at some universities; tends to be replaced with "assistant professor" tenure-track contracts.
  • Tutkijaopettaja or opettava tutkija (Senior Instructor), a non-tenured senior position involving both research and teaching.
  • Yliopisto-opettaja or yliopistonopettaja (University Teacher), a junior teaching-oriented faculty position.

Administrative positions[edit]

  • Rehtori (Rector) or kansleri (Chancellor) is the highest official of a university.
  • Dekaani (Dean) leads a faculty.
  • Yksikönjohtaja (Head of Unit) leads a laboratory or a unit. This position is typically held by a professor.
  • Laboratorioinsinööri (Laboratory Engineer), a formally administrative position, the holders of which often conduct research and teach, however.
  • Laboratorioteknikko (Laboratory Technician), a junior administrative position similar to Laboratory Engineer

Obsolete Positions[edit]

  • Yliassistentti (Senior Assistant), post-doctoral researcher or senior doctoral student position.
  • Assistentti (Assistant), a teaching-oriented position intended for doctoral students.

Typical organisational hierarchy[edit]

  • Kansleri (Chancellor), only in the Universities of Helsinki, Turku and in Åbo Akademi.
  • Rehtori (Rector)
  • Vararehtori (Vice Rector)
  • Dekaani (Dean)
  • Laitoksen johtaja or osastonjohtaja (Head of Department)
  • Professori (Professor)


  1. ^ "Honorary titles". Prime Minister's Office (Valtioneuvoston Kanslia). Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Tasavallan presidentin asetus arvonimistä (381/2000)". Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Helsinki University job title glossary