Professor Emeritus: Here’s What It Really Mean

Did you know that some professors can’t be fired?

That’s what universities call “tenure.”

Tenure grants a professor permanent employment!

When a tenured professor retires, he is given the honorary title of “professor emeritus.”

What are the duties of a professor emeritus?

Faculty often switch the status of a professor to emeritus to free up a faculty slot for a new hire.

Emeritus professors are typically no longer expected to conduct research, attend meetings, and teach classes.

However, they sometimes retain office space to continue their academic duties. For example, the famous professor Donald Knuth retired at 54 years and became an emeritus professor. He stopped teaching his classes and focused on writing a set of books about computer science, called The Art of Computer Programming.

Frequently asked questions

Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions about emeritus professors:

  • Are emeritus professors still paid? Yes! However, they usually earn half as much as they used to. The average salary for emeritus professors is $46,366 a year. For more information, check out our breakdown of professor salaries by academic rank.
  • Can an emeritus professor supervise a graduate student? Yes, some emeritus professors are willing to serve as research mentors for graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Are all retired professors emeritus? Not all professors are tenured. A retired professor is given the title of “professor emeritus” provided that he has tenure.
  • What are retired female professors called? If they are tenured, they are called “professor emerita.”

Learn more

Check out this page where I ranked each professors from assistant to emeritus!

I also wrote other articles about academic rankings that might interest you:

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