Meaning of "venia docendi" and "Privatdozent" in Austria in comparison to US "associate professor"

The venia docendi is the result of a process called habilitation, which is common in German-speaking countries. In this process the scientific achievements of a candidate in the Postdoctoral stage, together with his or her teaching ability, are scrutinized by renowned experts in their field. To fulfil the requiremcnts for the venia docendi, several years of research at a high level are necessary. In German-speaking countries the venia docendi or an equivalent qualificalion is required to be eligible for appointment as a full professor. When the candidate is given the venia docendi she or he is at the same time awarded the academic degree of a Privatdozentin or Privatdozent respectively (abbreviated PD). She or he is then entitled and obliged to give lectures at her or his university.

The process of habilitation can thus be compared with tenure track in the US. With respect to the level of academic achievement, the title "Privatdozent" consequently compares to associate professor (North America) or senior lecturer (UK); however, the title is not connected to any salaried position.