Becoming a Professor/Lecturer in India: Pathways and Requirements in 2023




Many tend to need clarification from a teacher and a professor, and even those who recognize the difference often need help pinpointing what sets them apart. A teacher imparts knowledge while a professor ignites curiosity; the former imparts facts, the latter fosters critical thinking; a teacher instructs, and a professor guides exploration. It's a journey from sharing information to inspiring lifelong learning.

That was easy, but is that all? Technically, there's more differentiating the two than just the nuance in their job roles. A teacher holds a basic degree in education and imparts knowledge. At the same time, a professor is an expert with advanced qualifications, usually a Ph.D., and contributes to research, shaping their field. If you are not fully sure about a professor's job, this article could help you. 

If you want to explore the pathway to becoming a professor in India, you've come to just the right place. Through this article, we will explore the eligibility markers, entrance examinations, other formalities, and hurdles on the way. 



 Eligibility Criteria to become a professor in India 

A professor's eligibility criteria are slightly heavier than those of a teacher who only needs to complete their basic education degree. They usually require postgraduate and often doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) in the relevant field. There are also minimum percentage requirements and specialization criteria, along with the crucial qualification of clearing the National Eligibility Test (NET), a testament to their subject expertise and teaching capabilities.

To become a professor in India, ensure that you: 

  • Attain a master's degree from a recognized university with a minimum of 55% marks.

  • Successfully pass UGC NET, UGC SET, or CSIR NET exams.

  • Accumulate teaching or research experience.

  • Consider pursuing a Ph.D. for advanced qualifications and career growth.

Entrance Examinations that a doctoral aspirant must prepare for:

Becoming a professor demands that you attend and crack certain specific entrance examinations, including:

  • NET (National Eligibility Test): Required by UGC for lectureship eligibility and JRF (Junior Research Fellowship). It assesses teaching and research skills.

  • GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering): For engineering and technology disciplines, evaluating subject knowledge for postgraduate programs and careers.

  • SLET (State Level Eligibility Test): Conducted by states to determine lecturers' eligibility within their region.

  • CSIR NET (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research National Eligibility Test): To award JRF and assess lecturership eligibility for science streams.

Thorough preparation using recommended study resources is vital due to the competitive nature of these exams.

Peeping into the Doctoral Journey:

The most challenging and intense part of becoming a professor is to acquire a Ph.D. This typically spans around 5 years, although applicants can take more or less based on their caliber and circumstances. Applicants must select a research area, find a suitable guide, and choose an institution. Finding a mentor is a significant hurdle as well. The journey involves navigating research work, aiming for publications, and participating in conferences. Contributing original research significantly enhances one's prospects in academia.

Beyond the Subject Expertise: Teaching and Communication Skills: 

One of the things that makes the job of a professor truly remarkable is the sweet spot of being a subject expert and having the ability to hold engaging lectures. Even though the big barrier between a teacher and a professor is publishing research, it's also about possessing the soft skills needed to teach and spark student curiosity. A teacher teaches from a book, and the professor is a teacher who probably wrote that book.

This means that their job involves:

  • Developing authentic and effective teaching methods and strategies.

  • Clear and engaging communication and presentation skills.

  • Striking a chord with the students by making the lectures a profound experience for students.

Building a Profile: The professional backbone 

A profile is a resume that showcases the academic journey, track records, and all contributions and achievements of an applicant/ professor. To maintain a brilliant profile, the holder must participate in events, broaden their network, engage people with articles about their work on social media or other platforms, join workshops and seminars, and associate with senior professors in related fields. This helps a professor build a dynamic professional image.

Publications and Research:

Becoming a professor is about more than just teaching facts and doing research separately. It's more like teamwork – research and teaching support each other. Publishing research articles is like showing off your cool ideas in credible magazines, newspapers, and online platforms. The target here is to slowly but steadily gather an audience. When lots of people talk about your work (citations and impact factors), it's like getting a thumbs up. And these exciting research experiences make their teaching way more interesting because they bring fresh knowledge and excitement to your students. This is why we say that even though the job of a teacher and a professor plants similar images in your mind, they function on two completely different levels. 



Industry Interactions: multi-faceted role

Professors bridge the gap between academia and industry. They do not have the privilege or obligation to stick to a syllabus and run through it repeatedly. They approach the subject more lively, updated, and fashionable by participating equally in the industry and academia. Doctoral candidates also show their involvement in consultancies and projects by other experts and engage in collaborative research that strengthens their grasp on the subject.

The objective behind such a dynamic role is to enhance the curriculum for current students to meet the industry needs and ensure the curriculum is updated, functional, and impractical. 

This imposes the following recurring responsibilities onto the professors and doctoral candidates: 

  • Staying updated with the latest advancements in the field.

  • Pursuing additional courses, certifications, or specializations.

  • Adapting to changes in teaching methodologies and educational technology.

Mentorship and Guidance:

Finding a mentor can be the making or breaking point of a doctoral candidate's research work. Mentorship from an expert who is also a professional in a similar field and their approval of the research is a mandated formality to becoming a professor. This includes: 

  • Seeking advice from experienced professors/lecturers.

  • Building relationships with mentors for career growth.

  • Learning from their experiences and challenges.



With the right purpose, the path to being a professor is extremely exciting, long-lasting, and fulfilling. It is said to be one of the most satisfying professions out there. It requires a candidate to be a good student, a good teacher, a good researcher, and an amazing personality at once. This article is written strictly in an Indian academic context. If you are interested in exploring foreign education opportunities, here’s exactly what you are looking for. 

To conclude, let's brush up on the basics of how to become a professor in India: 

Your Steps:

  • Step 1 - The Gateway: Crack entrance exams like NET GATE – your ticket to the expedition.

  • Step 2 - Passion and Grit: Fuel your journey with passion, and don't let go. It's like your trusty compass.

  • Step 3 - The Deep Dive: Dive into Ph.D. research and become a guru in your field.

  • Step 4 - Magic of Teaching: Weave your magic with clear words and creative teaching. Every class is a new adventure.

  • Step 5 - Building Your Map: Attend workshops, write research papers, and go online – creating your academic identity.

  • Step 6 - Adapt and Thrive: Embrace change and adapt like an explorer in new terrains.


We wish you all the best on this wonderful journey. 





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