AskDefine | Define docent

Dictionary Definition

docent n : a teacher at some universities

User Contributed Dictionary



From docentem, present participle of docere.




  1. Instructive; that teaches.


  1. A teacher or lecturer at some American colleges or universities.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 1212:
      Zermelo had been a docent at Göttingen when Kit was there and, like Russell, had been preoccupied with the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.
  2. In the context of "mostly|US": A tour guide at a museum, art gallery, historical site, etc.
    The docent greeted the visitors and welcomed them to the Louvre.

Extensive Definition

In American English (but not in British English, where the word is not used), a docent has two meanings. Firstly, a professor or university lecturer; and secondly, the corps of volunteer guides who staff museums and other educational institutions. Docent is derived from the present participle (docens, docentis) of the Latin word docēre, meaning "to teach".

University docents

A docent of a university is a doctor who has the right to teach at a university. Qualifications are similar to those of professors: two dissertations and demonstrating the competence of conducting scientific research independently. Unlike professors, docents may not actively take part in senior administrative duties, such as heading a department. Furthermore, their stay at the university may be intermittent, whereas professors are permanent. Instead of a monthly salary, lecturing fees and piece wages are usually paid. However, this is not true in all universities or countries.
In Germany, those who have passed Habilitation, may apply for the title of Privatdozent in a university. In practice, this means research work equivalent to a second doctor's thesis. Similar positions exist in other countries touched by the German university tradition. In Turkey, doçent is an academic title between assistant professor and full professor. In Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary, as in Turkey, it is an academic title immediately below that of a full professor (Hungarian docens). It is equivalent to reader in the UK and the associate professor in USA as well as Latvia. In Finland and Sweden, docent (Finnish dosentti, Swedish docent), is a title conferred to a person fulfilling requirements similar to German Privatdozent. Such persons are usually expected to give lectures on their specialties if their professional activities permit this. There used to be a paid position of "docent" in Sweden, to be held for six years, but currently there are only "unpaid docents", who may use title while holding other positions. In South Africa, the Afrikaans word dosent refers to any full-time university lecturer, independent of rank, as opposed to a lektor which is used to describe lecturers at Technikon and College level.

Museum docents

Docents are educators, trained to further the public's understanding of the cultural and historical collections of the institution. In many cases, docents, in addition to their prescribed function as guides, also conduct research utilizing the institution's facilities. They are normally volunteers.
Prospective docents generally undergo an intensive training process, at the expense of the educational institution, which teaches them good communicative and interpretive skills, as well as introduces them to the institution's collection and its historical significance. They are also provided with reading lists to add to the basic information provided during training, and must then shadow experienced docents as they give their tours before ultimately conducting a tour on their own. Docents are kept up-to-date with continuous training and seminars.
Docents can be found at many institutions, including local and national museums, zoos, historical landmarks, and parks.
docent in Azerbaijani: Dosent
docent in Bosnian: Docent
docent in Bulgarian: Доцент
docent in Czech: Docent
docent in Danish: Docent
docent in German: Dozent
docent in Croatian: Docent
docent in Lithuanian: Docentas
docent in Hungarian: Docens
docent in Norwegian: Dosent
docent in Polish: Docent
docent in Russian: Доцент
docent in Slovak: Docent
docent in Finnish: Dosentti
docent in Swedish: Docent
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