Chen Ying
What title should I use to call a teacher in universities in English?

Hi, the world!

Could anyone tell me what I should call a teacher in universities in English?

I know that I should call a professor named John Smith as professor Smith. But what about an associate professor and a lecturer? Should I call them professor Smith too or just Mr. Smith?


Apr 14, 2017 6:24 AM
Comments · 5

You should only address John Smith or Jane Smith as "Professor Smith" if that is their actual title and rank. You cannot call someone "Professor" if that is not what they are. Find out what their actual title is, and use that. Senior university teaching staff are likely to have a PhD, so "Dr Smith" would be the usual form of address. In many English-speaking countries, informality is encouraged, so Dr Smith may well say "Call me John". You can use their given name if  (and only if!) the person invites you to do so.

April 14, 2017

At the university I attend we call all of the lecturers by their first name. i.e. if their name was Anna Berry we would just call them 'Anna' even if they do have a PhD.

The level of formality decreases when someone progresses from sixth form to university. As Su.Ki. has already mentioned informality is encouraged at English universities.

April 14, 2017

@Su.Ki. and @Summor, thanks for your answers. They are quite helpful.

I am confused about this question for a long time. Though I do not have too many chance to meet oversea university teachers, each time when I try to talk to them I feel nevious since I don't know how to call them. Next time I will try to use Dr. and their actual title as you suggest, as well as their given name if they ask me to do. : )

April 14, 2017

I have called every person I have ever met in a professional capacity by their first name. And I work in a research laboratory, so I have encountered dozens of people who have PhDs and many Professors too. It's a bit different if you are writing an email or a letter to someone, then I would go by their academic title, whatever that may be (at least in the first message if you are writing an email, once you have established a connection you can perhaps switch to first names.)

A small thing to note, in the UK, 'Professor' is an honorary title conveyed by universities to researchers/academic staff who have made outstanding contributions to their field. That is to say, here, all Professors here will have a PhD but all not people with a PhD are Professors (in fact comparatively few will be.) I am not sure how it functions in other English-speaking countries.

April 14, 2017

Call them "Professor XX" in class, call them "Lecture" after class, call them "Mr./Mrs. XX" when you talk with friends, and call them"sir" if you would like to be loved. 

Glad to help, good luck.

April 14, 2017