What's the difference between a professor and and førsteamanuensis? What about a universitetslektor and a postdoc? While there will be some differences university to university, here's a breakdown of the most common academic job titles used in Norway.
PhD candidates in Norway are considered employees not students and most PhDs are fully funded. In order to apply to a doctoral program, the candidate must have a Master’s degree. A Norwegian PhD takes three years to complete and is a mix of coursework and writing a thesis which is orally defended to a jury. The average age at completion of the PhD in Norway is 38.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
After earning their doctorate, researchers go on to a postdoc. A postdoc is a continuation of the researcher’s training that allows them to further specialize in a particular field to qualify for senior academic positions. It may also require them to take on some teaching responsibilities. Postdocs in Norway usually last between two and four years.
There are three academic career pathways in Norway: the research career pathway, the teaching career pathway, and the research and teaching career pathway. The research career pathway is used at research institutes, while the teaching career pathway is usually used at professional colleges or newer universities. The research and career teaching pathway is the normal career pathway at universities and is explained below.
This position is translated as assistant professor, however unlike assistant professorships elsewhere in the world, it does not require a doctorate. Sometimes the “assistant professor” rank is conflated with a postdoc in Norway. Universitetslektor positions are not as common as førsteamanuensis positions since it possible to apply to be a førsteamanuensis directly after earning a doctorate. A universitetslektor can apply for a promotion to førsteamanuensis, but it is a personal promotion and will not change their responsibilities.
This rank is translated as associate professor. It is primarily a research position but some teaching is also required. It is possible to apply to førsteamanuensis positions after right out of the PhD without first doing a postdoc or holding a more junior appointment. As academic are considered civil servants in Norway, this position is permanent and can be held until retirement. However, about 25 years ago Norway introduced a tenure-track system making it possible for a qualified førsteamanuensis to apply to be promoted to a professorship.
Professors usually have a record of original scientific production at an international level. They are responsible for conducting research, teaching, and some administrative duties. In order to be appointed or promoted to a professorship from førsteamanuensis, the candidate must first be awarded “professor competence”. This happens through an evaluation by an independent committee following a procedure prescribed by Norwegian law. Once an applicant has professor competence they can apply to a vacant professor position or apply for a promotion to the position. As in many countries, professorships in Norway are permanent positions.