What's the difference between a profesor ayudante doctor and profesor contratado doctor? What about a profesor titular de universidad and a catedrático de universidad? While there will be some differences university to university, here's a breakdown of the most common academic job titles used in Spain.
All PhD programs are research oriented and take a minimum of four years to complete. The first stage of the program is a two-year period of coursework that culminates with a public dissertation presented to a panel of professors. After a successful presentation, the PhD candidate receives a diploma de estudios avanzados which is equivalent to a research Master’s. If the candidate already has a Master’s they can move straight to the second stage of the program, which is the two-year research stage. They may work as an ayudante (teaching assistant) during this time. At the end of this stage the candidate presents and defends their doctoral thesis. Spanish doctoral degrees are granted by the university on behalf of the king.
After earning their doctorate, researchers go on to a postdoc. Postdoc grants in Spain are usually for two years. A postdoc is a continuation of the researcher’s training that allows them to further specialize in a particular field and learn new skills and techniques. It may also require them to take on some teaching responsibilities.
Profesor Ayudante Doctor
This is typically the entry-level academic position in Spain after earning a PhD. These are non-tenured, full time positions for one to five years. To apply for these positions, candidates must receive the acreditación profesor ayudante doctor from ANECA, the national accreditation agency.
Profesor Contratado Doctor
A profesor contratado doctor position is the next step in the career path. It’s the most junior of the tenured positions, but unlike the two highest positions it does not confer civil servant status. These academics have full capacity for teaching and research. Candidates need three years of postdoc experience to apply for the acreditación profesor contratado doctor, a qualification for these positions.
Profesor Titular de Universidad
This position is equivalent to an associate professor. It is tenured, civil servant position with, full capacity for teaching and research. About 40% of Spanish academics have this title, making it the most common position. In order to apply, the candidate’s research, teaching, administrative, and supervisory experience needs to be evaluated for the acreditación profesor titular de universidad. They must also have EU citizenship.
Catedrático de Universidad
This is the highest ranking academic position in Spain. It is tenured, civil servant position with, full capacity for teaching and research. A profesor titular de universidad needs to have been in their position for at least three years in order to apply for a vacant catedrático de universidad position. Before they can apply, the candidate’s research, teaching, administrative, and supervisory experience needs to be evaluated for the acreditación catedrático de universidad. They must also have EU citizenship.
Similar to an adjunct professor, this is a part time professorship for someone who has a professional career in an outside industry.