Academic ranks in Serbia

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Academic ranks in Serbia are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.


  • Saradnik u nastavi (graduate student instructor/teaching assistant - may teach entire courses or share course teaching with other GSIs/TAs)
  • Asistent (teaching fellow - usually teaching entire courses)
  • Docent (assistant professor)
  • Vanredni profesor (associate professor - non-tenured position)
  • Profesor (full professor - tenured position)
  • Profesor emeritus (professor emeritus)

Administrative ranks

  • Rektor (rector)
  • Dekan fakulteta (faculty dean)
  • Šef katedre (department chair)

Research ranks

  • Istraživač pripravnik (research trainee or junior researcher)
  • Istraživač saradnik (research assistant)
  • Naučni saradnik (research associate or assistant research professor)
  • Viši naučni saradnik (senior research associate or associate research professor)
  • Naučni savetnik (principal research fellow or full research professor)


University career usually begins with an “assistant” academic position. “Assistant” assists to the professor or lecturer, helps in performing exercises or, sometimes, also gives lectures, under the supervision of the professor. “Assistant”, however, is not permitted to hold a chair, or to examine students alone. The level of the “assistant” does not require a Ph.D. but a “Magister” or, in recent times, a “Master” degree.

The next level is reserved for Ph.D. holders only (except in the arts: visual, performing arts, music, film etc.) where “Magisterium” is the highest degree). It is called “docent” (in Latin “instructor”, “lecturer”, “teacher”) and is approximately equivalent to the Assistant Professor level in the English-speaking areas. Unlike “assistant”, “docent” is permitted to give lectures independently, to be examiner, supervisor of paper works and theses, and to even hold a chair in a certain subject. It can also happen that more persons are employed within one chair (e.g. nuclear physics): a full professor, “docent” and “assistant” for instance. In that case, the full professor is normally a chair-holder, while “docent” and “assistant” are chair-related. If this is the case, “docent” usually has some kind of dependence upon the professor, but still possesses much independence, unlike the “assistant”.

After four or five years or more (exceptions are rare), and a significant scientific record, “docent” can be elected to become “vanredni profesor” ("irregular professor"), which is approximately equivalent to the Associate Professor position, or re-elected for the same (docent) position. The rank of the “vanredni profesor” is normally the minimal requirement for the highest Faculty and University positions, such as Dean of the Faculty, member of the University Senate or Rector. In the process of electing an associate professor, just those members of the Department, Faculty or University, who hold associated- or full- professorship are able to vote.

After four or five years and significant score of publications, “vanredni profesor” can be re-elected for the same position, or elected into the next and the highest University and scientific title of “redovni profesor” ("regular professor") – the (Full) Professor. “Redovni profesori”, the full professors, are excluded from further electing processes, that take place for all other university teaching positions, normally after four or five years.

The title of “Emeritus” Professor should usually be granted to small number of professors who had extraordinarily academic and scientific score, as well as to all former Rectors.

When students address teaching staff, they typically use the title “professor” for everyone, including docents and assistants, and even for teachers in secondary education (“gymnasiums” and other schools).

The research positions equivalent to teaching positions are as follows: naučni saradnik (research assistant professor) corresponds to “docent”, “viši naučni saradnik” (research associate professor) corresponds to “vanredni profesor” and “naučni savetnik” (research professor) corresponds to (full) professor. Similarly to teaching positions, researchers are elected to the next degree after typically five years. The first two positions are eligible to re-election, while the highest position (full research professor) is permanent. A set of regulations defines minimum quantitative and qualitative academic achievements for each of the research positions.

Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other former Yugoslav countries have the same system with only minor variations in the terminology. For example, in Croatia the "irregular professor" is “izvanredni profesor” instead of “vanredni profesor”.