Thursday, January 8, 2009

Professor Dr. Mr. Advisor, Sir

I put up the draft of my thesis on the flat screen at my lab meeting this week, even though I am not nearly ready to hand it over yet. I just wanted to show yes, your youngest grad student has been working, and yes, I do have the number of pages I say I do. Plus I enjoy seeing the title page - just seems so official and important.

However the other students immediately pointed to the line my advisor has to sign - where I put my advisor's name underneath. 

Dr. Advisor, what's wrong with that?

Apparently, it's rude to say "Dr." when referring to your PI or teacher. The appropriate designation is Professor, always. In undergrad, all my teachers were "Dr. Rocket Power" or "Dr. Senior Capstone." Not so at World's Best School.

Well, goodness - and here I always use Dr. when I speak to Professors.

My advisor explained that he always gets that from students who went to school west of the Mississippi, which I did. I'm not sure why that might be - perhaps it's a slight against MidWest schools, that they like to emphasize who has a PhD? And everyone on the coasts already has a PhD, of course, so the higher designation is Professor?

How do you address your teachers?


  1. in my grad classes, apparently everyone calls the profs by their first name.. i know, weird right?! I tend to use Professor so-and-so because not everyone had a PHD where I went for undergrad and those that do, yes, liked to emphasize that they have a PHD. hm.. perhaps it's the same with here...? Profs can be an MD (which would also be dr.) or have a MBA, JD degree to be teaching?

  2. I almost always call professors 'Doctor' (if I am using a title). However, on any kind of written document (e.g. your thesis signature page), the appropriate title for your advisor is 'Professor'. Don't want to be confusing him with a postdoc, now do you?

  3. I call my professors by the "Dr." however some have asked us to refer to them by their first names... which I ignore because its just too weird for me.

  4. Ummm, unless someone is officially a professor (as in, promoted to that stage), it was my impression they were always referred to as "Dr. So and So."

    I also usually go by their own email signature designation of themselves.

    As an assistant prof, I think it's weird being called "Professor." I think it's fine to be called "Dr." until I actually do achieve the rank of full professor...

  5. I've always heard that since all Professors have PhD's, but not all (by far) PhD's are Professors, Professor is the higher and therefore more respectful title.