Honorary professor

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Honorary professors are part-time university lecturers . You must long as self-employed for several years teachers or lecturers their teaching have proven suitability. In addition, they must have achieved special scientific or artistic achievements. In some federal states, for example in Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia, the qualifications of the person to be appointed must be proven by reports from external scientists. Honorary professors use the title of professor (Prof.) without any additional information, but in Lower Saxony they only use the title of honorary professor during the appointment. You hold courses , can hold exams and supervise doctoral students (details are regulated by the respective examination regulations of the universities), but continue to work full-time outside the university. The appointment of honorary professors is intended to attract people with practical relevance to university teaching and to keep them closely tied to the university over the long term.

In 2012 there were around 1,600 honorary professors in Germany.


In contrast to a university professorship with civil servant status , which is legally connected with an appointment and takes place full-time, the titular professorship or honorary professorship is not related to an appointment , but can be awarded by the university after usually five years of teaching (the details are regulated by the university laws and regulations. Regulations for the appointment of honorary professors). It distinguishes itself from the honorary honorary professor , who with the addition h. c. (honoris causa) is to lead.

The designation honorary professor means that the function is usually voluntary , i.e. H. without remuneration, is exercised (from the Latin honor = honor, honorary office). In contrast to the honorary professor or Prof. h. c. the honorary professor is still not an honorary title.



In most federal states, different admission requirements apply to honorary professors than to full-time and non-scheduled professors. Although the prerequisites for professors are sometimes required (Section 65 (2) of the Schleswig-Holstein University Act), a habilitation is not required (in many subjects, however, the habilitation is no longer mandatory for full professors either). However, the performance in the respective subject does not have to correspond exactly to the scientific requirements that are placed on full-time university lecturers. A formal or factual condition can be a ten semester previous activity as a lecturer . The conditions depend on the respective regulations of the universities and federal states. For example, there are no general regulations in Lower Saxony , but each university can regulate the appointment of honorary professors in its own regulations, and in Hesse , honorary professorships are usually only awarded to people who have made a name for themselves in putting scientific results into practice. Often, according to university-internal regulations or customs, a prerequisite for the appointment is that three professors from other universities approve the appointment in their reports.

In the past, honorary professors in Germany were usually obliged to teach two hours per week per semester free of charge (so-called “maintenance teaching”). In many federal states, this obligation has now been changed into a target provision. In the Higher Education Act of North Rhine-Westphalia, teaching is no longer even provided for. If an honorary professor does not fulfill his teaching duties or if he acts to the detriment of the awarding university, the title can be revoked.

When it comes to employment at the higher education institution, the federal states differ considerably. While Bremen , Hamburg , Lower Saxony , North Rhine-Westphalia , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia have no restrictions, the person appointed in Baden-Württemberg , Berlin , Brandenburg and Saxony is not allowed to work full-time at the same university. In Bavaria , he may not be appointed to any other university. In Rhineland-Palatinate and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , on the other hand, part-time employment at the university is mandatory. In Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein only people with practical experience can be appointed.

The appointment is made, depending on the federal state, either by the university or the responsible ministry.

In Baden-Württemberg, honorary professors are people who teach at least two hours a week. The Senate decides whether remuneration is paid, which is usually the case.

In Thuringia, honorary professors are legally obliged to teach at least two hours per week in their specialist area free of charge. The use of the title is tied to the duration of the teaching activity. If honorary professors leave because they have reached the age limit, they may, like the other university professors in Thuringia, continue to use the title of professor as an academic title.


The designation titular professor is common here, although there are also honorary professorships regionally (e.g. Geneva, Neuchâtel).


In Austria, the title of honorary professor is awarded by the university, provided that the statutes provide for an academic honor. In contrast to the old legal situation according to UOG 93, according to UG 2002 there is no automatic award of the license to teach (venia docendi), as this is usually linked to a habilitation procedure (Section 103 UG).

At the University of Vienna , the Rectorate can “grant academically particularly qualified specialists, in recognition of their particular scientific and pedagogical achievements, the license to teach (venia docendi) as honorary professors for an entire scientific subject at the University of Vienna for a certain period of time.” The Rectorate grants similarly Approval by the Senate for an honorary professorship at the Vienna University of Economics and Business .

The guidelines for honors of the Vienna University of Technology stipulate that “the rectorate, after hearing the dean and the faculty council of the faculty (s) concerned, award the title to scientifically excellently qualified persons in recognition of their particular academic and / or educational achievements for a certain period of time or for an unlimited period Honorary professor and the associated honorary license to teach a specific academic subject ". Decisive for the award of the title and an associated teaching license are the ability to fulfill the following tasks: holding bachelor and diploma examinations as well as rigorous examinations and supervision of diploma theses and dissertations ; Holding of courses within the scope of the subject; Supervision of young scientists and / or supervision of outstanding scientific projects.

Criticism in Germany

The journalist Hermann Horstkotte speaks of an "often adventurous practice of awarding honorary professorships". Instead of scientific achievements, completely different qualities were often important. By appointing celebrities from business and politics as honorary professors, universities gain influential friends, and in some cases also donors.

The appointment of Josef Ackermann , then CEO of Deutsche Bank AG , as honorary professor at the Faculty of Economics at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main caused heated discussions . It took place in July 2008 in the second attempt, after a first attempt failed in 2005. The critics said that a professor should not only teach but also set an example; Among other things, they accused Ackermann of his decision to massive layoffs at Deutsche Bank despite the simultaneous large profits. Some critics also saw a connection between Ackermann's honorary professorship and Deutsche Bank's financial support for a new institute at Goethe University.

In order to counter such criticism, many universities are starting to publish the regulations for the orders and to make the criteria more transparent, e.g. B. at the TU Braunschweig . Here, honorary professors are appointed according to a procedure similar to the normal appointment procedure, and in accordance with the examination regulations, the honorary professors can usually teach independently, conduct examinations and supervise doctoral students.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. landesrecht.thueringen.de , requested on November 3, 2011.
  2. a b § 35 Lower Saxony Higher Education Act , accessed on August 20, 2019
  3. a b c Hermann Horstkotte: How celebrities become professors . Time online. October 23, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  4. FAZ, August 4, 2007, No. 179 / page C2
  5. Statutes of the University of Stuttgart on the appointment of honorary professors and on the awarding of the designation "extraordinary professor" or "extraordinary professor" (PDF; 27 kB)
  6. http://thueringen.de/de/tmbwk/wissenschaft/hochschulrecht/hochschulgesetz/teil_5/content.html , § 81, Paragraph 1, requested on November 5, 2011
  7. compare proff.ch ( memento of the original from October 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , the swissuniversities database @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / proff.ch
  8. UG 3.01, Perthold-Stoitzner: § 103 (Rainer) Habilitation: RDB legal database. Retrieved March 12, 2019 .
  9. University of Vienna § 2 and § 4 Rectorate Directive (PDF; 91 kB), requested on September 28, 2010.
  10. Vienna University of Economics and Business: Appendix 8 WU statutes: Honorary guidelines of the Senate. (PDF) November 29, 2017, accessed August 1, 2018 .
  11. Vienna University of Technology: Resolution of the Senate of December 9, 2013. (PDF) Retrieved on August 1, 2018 .
  12. Second attempt: Josef Ackermann is now an honorary professor . Mirror online. July 23, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  13. Christoph Titz: Controversial honorary professorship: Frankfurt University wants a second chance for Ackermann . Mirror online. July 21, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  14. Regulations for appointing an honorary professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig , accessed on May 20, 2015.