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Assistant professor

Are you currently working as an assistant professor or interested in a position as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences? Here you can read about the characteristics of the position at our faculty, and how you can develop your career.


Scientific position: Assistant professor

Assistant professor positions are time-limited and reserved for researchers pursuing a university career. The main tasks of an assistant professor are research and research-based education. We support all assistant professors in qualifying for a tenured associate professor position. To help reasearchers in fixed-term positions with their career planning, a career development plan will be devised jointly with their leader.

  • Assistant professors are typically more independent researchers than postdocs. Many of them build their own research unit.
  • Assistant professors teach, supervise graduate students, and supervise PhD students in cooperation with a more senior colleague. Developing educational skills is a major career development goal for assistant professors.
  • For assistant professors without tenure track, employment at the Faculty of Natural Sciences is limited to at most four years, whereafter they often continue their career at another research institution. Tenure track assistant professors can - after a rigorous external evaluation with positive outcome - continue their career as associate professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

What is an assistant professor position?

Similar to a postdoc position, the position as assistant professor is time-limited. However, unlike a postdoc position, it is reserved for researchers who want to pursue a university career by qualifying for an associate professor position. A position as assistant professor is therefore an important steppingstone from PhD or postdoc to a tenured university position as senior scientist. The main tasks of an assistant professor are research and research-based education.

Assistant professors are more independent researchers than postdocs typically are, and most of them are hired after having developed qualifications and scientific independence during some years as a postdoc, although this is not a formal requirement. At the Faculty of Natural Sciences, they usually establish their own research unit and collaborative network, both within academia and beyond (e.g., with the private sector). Many of them succeed in achieving prestigious career grants from national or international funding bodies, and some also engage in entrepreneurial activities.

Assistant professors teach, supervise graduate students, and supervise PhD students in cooperation with a more senior colleague. Developing educational skills is a major career development goal for assistant professors (cf. section on Education and Teaching in the ABC-criteria), and all newly appointed assistant professors at the Faculty of Natural Sciences must enrol in AU’s University Pedagogical Programme.

For assistant professors without tenure track, employment at the Faculty of Natural Sciences is limited to at most four years, whereafter they often continue their career at another research institution. Tenure track assistant professors at the Faculty of Natural Sciences can - after a rigorous external evaluation with positive outcome - continue their career as associate professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Read more about our Tenure Track - programme.

We supports assistant professors with and without tenure track in planning, shaping, and advancing their careers. Career planning is a mandatory part of the employment as assistant professor and their career development plan can include, but is not limited to, international mobility, mentoring, competency development, recognition of teaching and supervision activities.

What does it take?

Our ABC-criteria describe the entry criteria that the Faculty of Natural Sciences uses when assessing candidates for different types of scientific positions. First and foremost, it is an invitation to dialogue between a (potential) candidate for a position, and the department in question.




Programmes for senior researchers

As a senior reseacher at the Faculty of Natural Sciences you have acces to specialised programmes dedicated to developing your skills as a leader, research manager, and teacher.


Access the Vitae career tools

Vitae is a career platform containing advice and knowledge on delevoping as a researcer and how to support or supervise others in their career.  Aarhus University is a member of the Vitae Community, so all AU researchers have access to the full suite of online resources. 

Sign in and regiser to Vitae with your AU institutional email domain, and you will have unlimited use of professional development and training materials.