I am puzzled how can one translate the following academic titles in French:

Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Tenure Track, Instructors

Does Maître de Conférences translate the first three altogether? So, how can we distinguish between the various ranks? Can one use colloquially Maîtresse de Conférences for a woman?

Can we use Conférencier(ère), professeur(e) assistant(e), professeur(e) associé(e) for the first three, respectively? If not, why?

Google Translate gives Professeur agrégé for associate professor but this is partly faulty, for


En France: Professeur agrégé de l'enseignement du second degré Titulaire d'une agrégation de l'enseignement supérieur : agrégation de droit, de science politique, d'économie, de médecine, de pharmacie.


Au Canada: Titre universitaire atteint généralement après avoir été professeur adjoint, avant de devenir professeur titulaire

Further, can we use professeur(e) adjoint(e) for assistant professor?

Ibid. for the couple Instructor and instructeur/instructrice.

Lastly, can we use Tenure Track in French?

For example professeur(e) assistant(e) «tenure track» is comprehensible in general?

Should we use instead something like professeur(e) assistant(e) avec titularisation conditionnelle ?

  • A Lecturer is not a Maitre de conferences, it could be a "vacataire" (a TA would be a "moniteur" or a "vacataire" depending in the contract). Not sure all the different status have an equivalent. Tenure Track would be partly the "Qualification" before the interviews and the hiring. Jan 3, 2019 at 17:34
  • Why do you need a translation? Is it for specifying the jury of a PhD defence? In which case it's rather tricky and you should ask people who know the rules in your institution. In other cases it's often better to keep the title in the original language. Jan 3, 2019 at 17:49
  • @StéphaneGimenez Thanks for the comment. The question is twofold. First curiosity, that is, does MCF covers everything (passe-partout:)!) or not and secondly the dossier (qualification, postulation) de maître de conférences. If the PhD is from abroad how can we distinguish among the various titles in the members of the jury, for instance?
    – Dimitris
    Jan 3, 2019 at 17:54
  • @MatthieuBrucher Thanks. Should then be vacataire (épicène) and moniteur/monitrice?
    – Dimitris
    Jan 3, 2019 at 17:56
  • 1
    MCF for me is the "assistant professor", before the full "professeur", but he already has tenure in France. Aso to be professeur, a MCF needs an HdR. Jan 3, 2019 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Following the feedback, I posted the question in Academia. The answer concerns Quebec

In French North America:

Full professor translates to Professeur titulaire.

A tenured associate professor would be Professeur agrégé.

An untenured assistant professor would be professeur adjoint.

I suppose it’s possible to get promoted to “associate prof” without getting tenure (the processes of promotion and tenure are generally distinct), but “tenure” is agrégation.

The notion of “adjunct professor” does not translate to “professor adjoint” but rather to professeur associé.

I’m not sure there’s an English equivalent to Maître de Conference. Maybe this is before the “professeur adjoint” level.

“tenure track” translates to “en voie d’agregation” or “avec possibilité d’agregration”; the latter formulation is used for recruitment but a professeur adjoint already hired would use the former.

Actually there is a old similar thread in the same forum. Regarding France, there is an answer that covers French particularities.

In France, the position Assistant Professor is a permanent position. As research activities are also done in labs in addition to the universities, the positions are:

assistant professor (maître de conférences) : permanent teaching position, but can not supervise PhD students alone.

Is typically working towards a habilitation (HDR, habilitation à diriger des recherches), a longer-lasting standalone research project of about 5 years, during which the person co-supervised a few PhD students. After defending the project in front of the jury a person with an HDR can supervise PhD students alone.

professor (professeur des universités) : permanent teaching position, can supervise PhD students alone.

full researcher (chargé or directeur de recherche) : permanent research position without teaching, can supervise PhD students alone if holder of the HDR.

There is a complete wiki article as well.


There is a newer answer concerning France in Academia:

To be honest, the first three title (Lecturer, Assistant/Associate Professor) were always quite nebulous to me. What you must understand is that the two systems are completely different.

Basically, if your job is permanent and your activities are split between teaching and research, you have the rank of a maître de conférences (MdC) or professeur des universités (PU). Note that the answer on the "related" question mentions the habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR), which is more of a degree than a rank. You need to have a HDR to apply to full professorship positions, but you are still a maître de conférences in the meantime. Finally, there are several tiers within both positions (MdC and PU) based on seniority.

If your job is not permanent but still have to teach and do research, you are most probably an Attaché Temporaire d'Enseignement et Recherche (or ATER).

If your job is permanent and only have teaching duties, you are most probably a professeur agrégé (or PRAG).

And finally, if your job is not permanent and only have teaching duties, well, you are not really in the academic system and I don't think there is a rank or title for that.

So to answer your questions:

No, I believe maître de conférences is the equivalent of a tenured professor (in terms of service/duties but not necessarily experience). I have seen some people using maîtresse de conférences, so I guess it is accepted. All your translations are not valid since they aren't associated with anything in the French system. Since there is no tenure track in France, it doesn't really make sense to try and translate it. Extra item: If you are searching for translations because you are writing your CV, I also recommend what has already been said in the comments: just use the official title and don't mind too much about translating it one way or the other.

  • Voir au GDT, par exemple chargé de cours pour lecturer dans le domaine académique, conférencier plus généralement. Il y a aussi le maître de conférences : je n'ai jamais entendu ça de ma vie... Il aurait quasiment fallu faire une question pour chacun des termes et ça relève en effet davantage de conventions académiques que de la langue comme telle. Merci !
    – user3177
    Jan 21, 2019 at 2:09

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