Skip to content

Norway, Academic Career Structure




Higher Education System

Norway’s public higher education system consists of 8 universities, 2 national academies of art and 25 university colleges. Most programmes at the colleges are profession-specific whereas the universities cover all wider academic disciplines. All public institutions of higher education are subject to the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research and all are regulated by the same Act of Legislation. The individual institutions have autonomy in regards to teaching and research. The university institutions are almost entirely state funded.


Carrer Curriculum

1. PhD Candidate
2. Postdoc/Research Fellow
3. Lecturer
4. Førsteamanuensis (associate professor) /Senior Lecturer
5. Professor

The average age for finishing the PhD is 38 (2006).


Requirements for Positions

In Norway anyone who holds a PhD degree can apply for a permanent position as Førsteamanuensis (associate professor) – step 2 is thus not required to move to step 3. The position as Førsteamanuensis (associate professor) can also be obtained without a doctoral degree but with documented academic competence at the same extent and quality.

Lecturer and Senior Lecturer are mainly teaching positions that are most common at the state university colleges.

For all academic posts basic academic competence is required. Most academic positions are advertised as open competitions. In 1993 Norway introduced a tenure-track system as academic career structure. This means that once appointed Førsteamanuensis you are eligible to apply for promotion to Professor on the basis of individual research competence irrespective of vacant professorships. However, please note that, opposed to the (American) tenure- track system, the position as førsteamanuensis (associate professor) is a permanent position.Hence a førsteamanuensis is not required to qualify for advancement.

The requirement for a professorship is academic competence in accordance with international or national standards within the subject area. The promotion to Professor is handled locally, by each university. I.e. the university (department) appoints a committee. An applicant can only apply for personal promotion in the subject where he or she holds an appointment. The application date is September 15th each year. The application is registered by the Norwegian Council for Higher Education.

There are thus three ways to become Full Professor: 1) Apply for promotion based on individual competence (see supra). 2) By applying for a vacant professorship in open competition at any university and be appointed the best applicant. 3) By applying for a vacant professorship at any institution in Norway, being found unanimously competent (but not the best qualified for the specific position) and then claim to be promoted to full professor at own institution. The first is by far the most commonly used. 


Research Career

Please contact us if you can provide relevant information.


Barriers to Career Advancement

The main barrier is getting a position as a førsteamanuensis in the first place. Many people spend many years in temporary positions with meagre possibilities to qualify for a førsteamanuensis position. The average age for obtaining a permanent position is 42, and the average age for finishing the PhD is 38 (2006). This leaves a gap between the PhD and the Associate Professor position, time spent in temporary jobs at the Postdoctoral/Assistant Professor level, working to obtain the qualification and experience needed to be appointed a permanent position. For the Full Professor positions the average age is 47-48.

The number of women in academic positions seem to decrease within the academic hierarchy; On the Postdoc/Assistant Professor level 43% were women in 2005, amongst the Associate Professors it was 31%, while only 17% of the Professors were female in 2005.


Job Security

PhD researchers and Postdocs have status as educational positions. A PhD position is normally 3 years and Postdocs 2-4 years limited position. The permanent academic positions in universities and colleges are: Professor, Foerste Amaneuensis (university sector), Senior Lecturer and Lecturer (colleges). All holding permanent positions are civil servants. In Norway, PhD Candidates hold the same employment benefits as other positions: Employee status yields social benefits such as pension rights, unemployment support, maternity and sick leave, and democratic rights in the university.


Contracts and Duties

There is a general guideline of 50% teaching and 50% research time for academic posts. In the colleges the Lecturers in general have more teaching obligations and less research time. Whereas most positions in the universities involve personal research as well as some teaching obligations. In praxis there has been much debate because most academics feel they have too many teaching obligations and too little research time; this applies to faculty at both colleges and universities.


Sabbatical Opportunities 

Please contact us  if you can provide relevant information


Gross Salaries

Gross Monthly Salaries (October 2005)


PhD researcher

2817 €/month

3203 €/month


3090 €/month

3950 €/month

Foerste Amaneuensis

4017 €/month

4330 €/month


4657 €/month

5297 €/month

Source: NIFU Step and The Norwegian Association of Researchers

Note: These are gross monthly salaries. The individual tax level is about 40% depending on income level and personal finances.


Number of Existing Positions

Number of existing positions in 2005

Social SciencesHumanitiesAll Disciplines

PhD Candidate






Associate Professor



Full Professor



Source: NIFU Step – Forskerpersonaleregistret

Note : Numbers show the amount of academics holding the positions in 2005.
In Norway Humanities include History, Languages etc. Social Sciences include Political Science, Economy, Law etc.


Internal Recruitment

The competence advancement model seems to reduce mobility between institutions. A survey found that among Full Professors who advanced from Foerste Amaneuensis during 1993-2001, 98% did so within the same institution. Not surprisingly, mobility is much higher amongst academics with temporary positions.


Accessibility for Non-Nationals

Norway welcomes foreign applicants as long as they meet the academic requirements for a position. The main language in university institutions is Norwegian but English is becoming more widely used and an increasing number of courses are offered in English, which eases accessibility to Norwegian academia for foreign candidates. Language should thus not be considered a barrier for applying in Norway. About 20% of all PhD students are not Norwegian citizens (mainly other European nationalities), whereas the total number of international faculty in the university sector was 11% in 2003.


National Universities


Research Institutions

List of all research units outside of the universities


Academic Unions


Useful Websites

  • Research Norway - this webportal gathers and displays information and news regarding research on a broad variety of disciplines in Norway and elsewhere.


Info for History


Info for Economics


Info for Law

Please contact us if you can provide relevant information.


Info for Social and Political Science


Postdoctoral Information

For information on how to apply for postdocs and funding options in Norway contact the Norwegian Research Council 

In 2003, 30% of the Postdoc positions were funded by the university or research institution, 40% by the Norwegian Research Council, the rest were funded by external or private sources.


Websites for Job Postings

See also the websites of the individual universities and research institutions.



Boering, Paal et al. (2005) Indikatorrapporten (in particular ch. 2 'Menneskelige Ressurser'), Research Council of Norway 

'Eurodoc 2004 Questionnaire Norway'

Gunnes et al. (2007) Forskerreuttering i Norge - Status og Komparative Perspektiver, NIFU STEP, Rapport 2/2007.

Olsen et al. (2005) 'The Promotion to Full Professor - Through Competition or by Individual Competence?', Tertiary Education and Management, Vol. 11, pp. 299-316.

See NIFU Step website to download reports and publications


Special thanks to:

Kaja Wendt, NIFU STEP

Agnete Vabø, NIFU STEP

Svein Atle Skalevag, Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow 2006/2007, EUI

Espen Olsen, PhD Candidate, EUI

Silje Tellmann, Research Assistant, EUI

Page last updated on 18 August 2017

Go back to top of the page