Professorship in India: Your Complete Guide

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The professorship is pivotal in the realm of higher education, encompassing the provision of advanced knowledge and mentorship to students in colleges, universities, and other tertiary institutions. While a career as a professor is undoubtedly rewarding, it involves meeting specific eligibility prerequisites that require dedication and time. This article serves as a comprehensive guide, shedding light on the journey to becoming a professor, the professor’s roles and responsibilities, the essential qualifications, and an insight into the job prospects for individuals aspiring to this esteemed profession.

Choosing Your Academic Path and Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

Your journey towards becoming a professor begins with careful consideration of your field of specialization within the arts, commerce, or sciences. Securing your entrance into this journey involves excelling in your 12th Higher Secondary Certification examination with a remarkable aggregate score, preferably exceeding 80-90%. This sets the stage for enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program tailored to your chosen field. It is imperative to maintain a stellar academic record throughout this phase, aiming for a substantial academic performance that surpasses the baseline requirement of 50-55% aggregate marks.

Category Educational Qualification 
General Master’s degree with a minimum of 55% marks
ST/SC/OBC/PWD/Transgenders Master’s degree with a minimum of 50% marks 

Pursuing a Master’s Degree

Upon successful completion of your bachelor’s degree, the next step is to take the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and embark on a master’s degree program in your chosen area of expertise. Achieving a high score during your master’s program is essential, surpassing the minimum requirement of 50-55% aggregate marks. This accomplishment paves the way for eligibility as a lecturer or demonstrator, marking a significant milestone in your academic career.

Conquering Competitive Examinations

After obtaining a master’s degree, the next phase involves appearing for and successfully passing competitive exams. The available options include:

  • National Eligibility Test (NET): Conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) under the University Grants Commission (UGC), this exam qualifies you for assistant professor roles in colleges and universities across India.
  • State-Level Eligibility Test (SET): Administered by the NTA, SET clears the path for assistant professor positions within the state where you pass the examination.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) NET: This national-level exam, conducted by the NTA, opens doors for candidates from various science fields to secure lecturer positions or junior research fellowships.

Attaining a Doctoral Degree

Consider enrolling in a doctoral degree program, which exempts you from appearing in competitive exams and allows you to directly apply for a college professorship.

Gaining Practical Experience

Specialize in your chosen field and acquire practical experience, which may involve obtaining relevant licenses or gaining hands-on experience. You can gain teaching experience while still completing your education by tutoring, working as a student instructor, or holding part-time teaching positions. Volunteering for research roles can also provide valuable experience for teaching.

Research and Publication

Distinguish yourself as an authority in your chosen field by authoring well-researched blogs, articles, and papers. Contribute to academic blogs, websites, magazines, and other publications to build your academic reputation. Moving from an assistant professor to an associate professor typically requires at least five high-quality publications, while qualifying for the Professorship may necessitate a minimum of ten research publications.

Job Search and Application

Conduct an extensive job search on college and university websites, online job boards, professional networking groups, and social media platforms. Tailoring your application materials, including your resume and cover letter, for each position and preparing for common interview questions can significantly enhance your chances of securing your desired role.

Becoming a successful professor or lecturer requires a diverse set of skills to effectively teach and engage with students while contributing to academia.

Here are seven essential skill sets:

Subject Matter Expertise: A deep and comprehensive knowledge of your field is fundamental. You should stay current with the latest research, theories, and developments in your area of expertise.

Effective Communication: The ability to communicate complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner is crucial. This includes strong speaking and writing skills, as well as the ability to adapt your communication to various audiences.

Pedagogical Skills: You must be skilled in instructional design, curriculum development, and classroom management. Understanding various teaching methods, learning styles, and assessment techniques is essential for engaging and educating students effectively.

Adaptability: The education landscape is constantly evolving. A successful professor or lecturer should be adaptable and open to new teaching technologies, methodologies, and diverse student populations.

Critical Thinking: Encouraging students to think critically and analyze information is a key role of an educator. You should also be capable of assessing the quality of research and academic work.

Mentorship and Guidance: Guiding students in their academic and professional journeys is a significant part of the role. Being approachable, providing feedback, and offering support and mentorship are essential for their growth.

Research and Scholarship: For many professors, research and scholarship are a core part of their responsibilities. This includes conducting original research, publishing in academic journals, and contributing to the knowledge base in your field.

What does a Professor do?

In a professional capacity as an educator in colleges, universities, and other higher learning institutions, a college professor typically carries out the following responsibilities:

  • Overseeing student admissions.
  • Developing course syllabi and materials.
  • Teaching and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • Preparing and conducting examinations, as well as evaluating exam papers.
  • Training and mentoring assistant professors.
  • Assisting graduate students in their research work.
  • Providing student counselling.
  • Active participation in departmental and faculty meetings.
  • Delivering guest lectures at other academic institutions.
  • Organizing public talks in venues such as museums and community halls to promote learning opportunities.
  • Conducting research, leading field trips, and investigating specific academic topics.
  • Writing and publishing research reports, papers, articles, and books.
  • Attending academic conferences, making presentations, and networking with peers in the field.

Qualifications Required to Be a Professor:

To embark on a career as a professor in India, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Candidates must first be a citizen of the country. Especially to apply for government colleges and universities, candidates must show proof of their nationality.
  • Candidates aspiring to become a Professor must be a minimum of 23 years old, however, there is no upper age limit
  • A master’s degree with a minimum of 55% marks (or 50% for specific categories such as ST/SC/OBC/PWD/Transgenders).
  • Successful completion of a competitive exam such as NET, GATE, SET, or CSIR NET.
  • A doctoral degree, if bypassing competitive exams.
  • Substantial teaching experience.
  • Active involvement in research and academic publications.

The Duration of the Journey to Professorship

Becoming a college professor entails several years of diligent work. The process typically encompasses a three-year or four-year bachelor’s degree, a two-year master’s degree, participation in state or national-level competitive exams, and several years of teaching or research experience. Additionally, obtaining a doctoral degree may require three to six years beyond the master’s program.

Promotions: The Path from Professor to Chancellor

In the academic hierarchy, a professor can aspire to the prestigious position of Chancellor through a well-defined path. Beginning as a Professor, one can progress to become a Senior Professor, further achieving the esteemed title of Professorship. Following this, the journey may lead to administrative roles such as Dean or Director, with the titles of Dean or Director of a department or school. The path continues with ascending responsibilities as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and, ultimately, Vice-Chancellor, responsible for the leadership and management of an educational institution. Finally, the pinnacle of this career trajectory is the position of Chancellor, a role that holds great significance in the governance and oversight of the institution as a whole. This path showcases the potential for growth and advancement within academia, where educators can make a substantial impact on the direction and administration of the institution.

Can You Attain the Position of Professor with Only a Master’s Degree?

You can secure a role as an assistant professorship with a master’s degree, provided you meet certain conditions, including achieving a good academic record, passing competitive exams, and gaining relevant teaching or research experience.

Job Outlook for Professorship

The job outlook for professors in India is promising, with stable employment opportunities available in both private and government educational institutions. Salaries can vary, with the national average being ₹8,44,895 per year. Distinguished institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) may offer higher salaries. Additionally, each promotion to a higher academic rank can bring about a salary increase. Many professors go on to assume leadership positions such as deans and chancellors.

In summary, Professorship in India is both challenging and rewarding. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide and conducting thorough research on educational institutions, you can increase your chances of achieving your dream of becoming a professor and making a significant contribution to the academic landscape. Persistence and a genuine passion for your field are crucial to your success in this esteemed profession.


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