In order to become a tenure track assistant professor, you need to hold a Ph.D in the specific subject area. Throughout your studies for your undergraduate degree, you must have a major concentration in one area. When you advance to the Master’s degree level, this is usually the area in which you concentrate and write a thesis on a topic related to that field. Therefore, by the time you reach the stage at which you start taking the courses leading to the doctoral degree, you care very knowledgeable in this field. Your dissertation as part of your doctoral studies will also be on a related topic stemming from your major concentration. The only exception to this stage of progression will occur if you pursue your post-graduate studies in Education, where your thesis and doctoral dissertation will be related to an aspect of teaching and learning.
Some universities will still offer you the position of tenure track assistant professor if you do not yet hold a doctoral degree. In this case, you will receive a term appointment, during which time you must start the process of studying for the advanced degree. At the end of the term if you have completed the course work, you can then be appointed to the position. This does not mean that you then have a full time position as an assistant professor at the university. It means you are now on track to become tenured as a permanent professor, but the process is a long one.
The route to obtaining a permanent position as a professor takes at least six years working as a tenure track assistant professor. Your first appointment will be for a three-year period, during which you will be subject to periodic reviews of your performance. If you are successful during your first contract, you will receive a second contract for a further three years. At the end of thus contract you can be offered a position as an associate professor with tenure. This is the next step up from the position of assistant professor and once you receive tenure you will, automatically receive a promotion to the next level.
One of the requirements for being hired in a position of tenure track assistant professor is that you are a published author in your field. This means you need to have written and published scholarly writings in academic magazines or have written a book related to your field of expertise. During your two three-year appointments, you are expected to continue with this work and become involved in various research projects at the university. For many people hired as assistant professors while working on their doctoral degree, this position places them in the prime location to conduct the research they need for that degree and to seek help from experienced professors in the field.
The normal time for working as a tenure track assistant professor is six years. If the university does not decide to appoint you to the position of associate professor at this time, due to the fact that there are no openings at this institution, you will still have another year at the same university. This is because universities allow an extra year in the position so that you have time to apply for positions as tenure track positions in other locations and for you to complete any research you may have started.