Faculty Titles and Modifiers

From time to time, updates to the list of Academic Titles Currently in Use are approved by the Provost. For updates to this list, the Provost will seek the advice of the Academic Senate Executive Board.

Individual schools may, with Provost’s permission, use titles from this list; special approval from the Provost, based on unusual circumstances, must be obtained to use a title outside the specifications of this list. When a faculty member has an administrative assignment the dean or Provost may add an administrative title in addition to the faculty title.

Academic Titles Currently in Use

Notes: Wherever “Discipline” is shown in this list it includes, the school’s option as its faculty deem appropriate, discipline, inter-disciplinary area, department, or school. Whenever “Professor” is shown subsequently in this list, it includes the options of Instructor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor. Whenever “Lecturer” is shown subsequently in this list, it includes the options of Senior Lecturer and Master Lecturer.

Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

Entry-level position, generally for those who have not yet completed their terminal degree.

Entry-level position, generally for those who have completed their terminal degree.


Senior faculty rank.


Highest faculty rank


Librarian, Assistant University Librarian, Associate University Librarian, University Librarian are faculty titles corresponding to the ranks of Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professors, respectively. Associate University Librarians and University Librarians are eligible for continuing appointment.

Health Sciences Librarians use the faculty titles Librarian I-IV. Librarians III-IV are eligible for continuing appointment. In the Law School, Law Librarian I-IV are the faculty titles used for all librarians. Law Librarian III-IV are eligible for continuing appointment.

Contract Librarian and Senior Contract Librarian are the faculty titles used for professional librarians on contract status who are not eligible for continuing appointment.

Clinical Scholar, Professor of <Discipline> (Teaching) with Distinction and Similar Titles

For individuals who have gained high scholarly or artistic distinction in their fields, primarily engaged in clinical, creative, or professional practice, teaching or research, but whose effort profile or type of research or creativity differs from that of tenured faculty. It is a high honor that may be awarded by the President of the University on evidence of leadership and impact in the field after recommendation by a school committee and dean, and the University Committee on Appointments, Promotions and Tenure. It is equal in status and dignity with tenure though without the employment guarantees of tenure. It is differentiated from the clinical titles mentioned below.

  • Professor of <discipline> (Teaching) with Distinction (or title as approved by the Provost) – whose contracts will be renewed on the same terms (unless there is a decision to terminate (see Section 4-G)
  • Professor of <discipline> (Clinical Scholar) – may be listed publicly as Professor of <discipline>
  • Professor of <discipline> (Clinical Educator)
  • Artist in Residence

Full-Time Research-Track, Teaching-Track, Practitioner-Track, And Clinical-Track Faculty


For individuals engaged primarily in conducting research, usually on external funding; may engage only in limited teaching and only as an ancillary responsibility:

Research Professor of <discipline>; Professor (Research) of <discipline>; in the medical school, Professor of Research <discipline>.

For individuals engaged primarily in teaching USC credit courses and teaching- related duties, with reduced obligation for scholarship: Instructor, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Master Lecturer; Clinical Professor of <discipline>; Professor (Teaching) of <discipline>; Professor of Clinical <discipline>; in the Law School, Professor of Lawyering Skills.

For individuals who have demonstrated excellence and effectiveness in the public practice of a field of expertise, and who are engaged primarily either in clinical practice, teaching or research, with reduced expectation in the other areas: Instructor, Professor of <discipline> Practice; in the medical school, Clinical Professor of <discipline>.

For individuals primarily engaged in clinical practice, clinical or skills teaching, and clinical research, who demonstrate excellence in one of these areas and strengths in the other two, but who do not have the same scholarly obligations as tenure-track faculty: Professor of Clinical <discipline>; in the law school, Clinical Professor of Law.

As an exception, the title Assistant Professor of Mathematics may be used for a research-track, teaching-track, practitioner-track, and clinical-track appointment in mathematics awarded to faculty who have recently obtained their degrees and who are involved in research and teaching with reduced obligation for university service. Such appointments may be made, based on careful academic review, up to three years, with no possibility of renewal thereafter.

Visiting Faculty

For individuals on temporary appointment who are: (a) on leave from another university or college; (b) on leave from industry, government, an artistic career, or the professions; or (c) citizens of another country limited by their visas to temporary service, and who also satisfy either clause (a) or clause (b). Not appropriate for other faculty who are hired on a short term or temporary basis. Appointed for up to one year. May be renewed for up to a second year by permission of the Provost.

If a visiting faculty member receives a tenure-track faculty appointment, the period of the visit is counted as part of the probationary period, unless the Provost on behalf of the President decides otherwise after advice of the Committee on Probationary Deadlines.

Part-Time Teaching-Track, Research-Track, Practitioner-Track and Clinical-Track Faculty

For individuals with part-time appointments, without tenure and not subject to the up-or-or out rules for tenure: (a) Instructor, Lecturer, Professor; (b) for those whose USC faculty role is adjunct to a primary position or career, Adjunct Lecturer, Adjunct Professor of <discipline>; in the medical school, Adjunct Professor of Clinical <discipline>.

Voluntary Faculty

For individuals who volunteer their services: Adjunct Professor of <discipline>; in the medical school, Adjunct Clinical Professor of <discipline>. Voluntary appointments are at will.

Academic Staff

Whatever their title, individuals in the categories listed below have staff or student or post-doctoral status, or fall in some specially designated category, and are not designated as faculty.

  • For individuals of special expertise, renown or promise, or who teach specialized subject matter, or who teach or do research on a temporary or long-term basis – and who are not members of the faculty:
  • Research Scientist
  • Artist in Residence, Executive in Residence, Scholar in Residence, Writer in Residence, or similar titles;
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow;
  • Visiting Scholar, Visiting Critic, or similar titles.
  • Senior Fellow.
  • For assistants and associates: Teaching, Laboratory, and Research Assistants or Associates, and Assistant Lecturers
  • For those who teach only in continuing education or other programs that do not carry USC credit toward a degree: Teacher
  • For full-time staff employees approved to teach a course: Part-time Lecturer, or Adjunct Professor (at appropriate rank)
  • For others: Non-faculty title as appropriate


The President may approve the title to be added to the last academic title a faculty member held in active service (e.g., Professor Emeritus of <discipline>; Professor <Emerita> of <discipline>, ”Ken Price Professor Emeritus of Art” or “Anton Burg Professor Emerita of Chemistry”). The President will consider the recommendation of the department or other appropriate academic unit and the dean, the individual’s curriculum vitae, and a summary of the individual’s contributions. The President may also approve the designation for a title of honor or administrative title (e.g., named chairs emeriti, Distinguished Professors Emeriti, Deans Emeriti). (See Section 9 of the Faculty Handbook for more information on emeriti status.)

In general, the Provost may approve other titles as appropriate. With approval of the Provost, the modifier Distinguished may be added to any of these titles.

Last updated August 2023