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2019-20 Faculty Compensation Survey Results

For our annual Faculty Compensation Survey, the AAUP collected data from 928 colleges and universities across the United States, including community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and major research universities. The 2019–20 survey covers almost 380,000 full-time and more than 96,000 part-time faculty members, as well as senior administrators at nearly 600 institutions. Data collection concluded in February 2020, and the results may serve as a snapshot of full-time faculty compensation for the 2019–20 academic year. Data on part-time faculty were collected for the prior academic year, 2018–19, to ensure that institutions could provide complete data records.

On average, salaries for full-time faculty members at US colleges and universities are 2.8 percent higher in 2019–20 than they were in the preceding academic year. With consumer prices growing by 2.3 percent during the year, the increase in real terms was 0.5 percent. Following the Great Recession of the late 2000s, nominal salary growth remained below consumer price growth until 2015–16 and has remained flat ever since. Among a cohort of 842 participating institutions, average salaries for full-time faculty have increased less than 2.5 percent since 2009–10 and less than 0.1 percent since 2015–16 after adjusting for inflation.

More highlights of the data include the following:

  • Gender differences. On average, faculty salaries for women were 81.4 percent of those for men. Despite shifts in distributions between men and women in terms of faculty rank, the gender pay gap has not budged over the last ten years. The annual report scheduled for release in May will discuss in greater detail gender differences in salary by rank, tenure status, and type of institution. [Survey Report Tables 3, 6, and 7]

  • Retirement benefits. Almost 97 percent of full-time faculty earn additional compensation in the form of contributions by the institution or state or local government toward retirement plans, with an average expenditure of 10.7 percent of the average salary of faculty who are covered. [Survey Report Table 8]

  • Medical benefits. About 94 percent of full-time faculty receive medical benefits in the form of institutional contributions to premiums for insurance plans, with an average expenditure of 11.9 percent of the average salary of faculty who are covered. [Survey Report Table 9]

  • Salary variation. Full-time faculty salaries vary not only by faculty rank but also by institutional affiliation or category. For example, the average salary for a full professor at a private-independent doctoral university is almost $203,000, while the salary for a full professor at a public baccalaureate college is just over $99,000. [Survey Report Table 1]

  • Salary growth. Average salaries for full-time faculty in doctoral institutions increased 2.8 percent overall, or 0.5 percent in real terms after adjusting for the 2.3 percent increase in the consumer price index. Average salaries at master’s and associate’s institutions increased 1.2 percent and 1.0 percent respectively; in real terms, average salaries decreased 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent respectively after adjusting for inflation. At baccalaureate institutions, average salaries increased 2.3 percent, matching the annual inflation rate. [Survey Report Table 2]

  • Part-time faculty pay. Average pay for part-time faculty members teaching a three-credit course section varies widely between institutional types, with average rates of pay ranging from $2,263 per section in public associate’s institutions without ranks to $4,620 per section in private-independent doctoral institutions. Within institutional categories, minimum and maximum pay rates span huge ranges. [Survey Report Table 15]

  • Part-time faculty benefits. Most faculty members who are paid per course section do not receive either retirement or medical benefits contributions. Overall, 38 percent of institutions contribute toward retirement plans for some or all part-time faculty, and 37 percent of institutions contribute to premiums for medical insurance plans. Among doctoral institutions, part-time faculty are more likely to receive benefits, with 52 percent of institutions contributing to retirement plans and 60 percent contributing to medical insurance plans. [Survey Report Table 16]

  • Presidential salary. Salary growth for college and university presidents continues to outpace growth for full-time faculty across all institutional categories. Presidential salaries at doctoral and master’s institutions increased 6 percent since 2018–19, while presidential salaries at baccalaureate and associate’s institutions increased 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Median salaries in 2019–20 range from around $230,000 for public associate’s institutions to nearly $800,000 at private-independent doctoral universities. Ratios of presidents’ to full professors’ salaries range from just over three to one in public associate’s institutions to over five to one in private-independent doctoral institutions. [Survey Report Tables 11 and 12]

Benefits data collection was simplified in 2019–20 to reduce the reporting burden on institutions, improve data validation processes, and increase comparability between institutions with respect to compensation beyond base salary. This year, we have reduced the number of benefit items to three—retirement, medical, and dependent tuition—and eliminated the “total compensation” statistic. While some institutions may lament the loss of the total compensation statistic as a means of demonstrating high levels of faculty compensation, this year’s survey will allow for apples-to-apples comparisons of faculty benefits.

Last year, the survey began collecting data on pay rates for part-time faculty members who were paid per course section taught. Participation increased from 335 to 370 institutions this year, with 438 institutions providing data on benefits for part-time faculty. The AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey is the largest source of such data and draws attention to the appallingly low rates of pay offered to part-time faculty at many institutions.

The Faculty Compensation Survey data are available exclusively from the AAUP and include two tables presenting annual faculty salary growth by rank in both nominal and real terms from 1971–72 to the present, seventeen summary tables that allow for comparisons among different categories of colleges and universities, and three institution-specific appendices that provide average pay and benefits data for each participating institution.

Complete analyses of this year's results will be presented in the upcoming Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, to be released in May. While we cannot predict the precise effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the economic status of faculty, the annual report will highlight some of the lessons learned from previous economic crises.

Download the survey tables.

Download the appendices.

Download the explanation of statistical data.

Important: The appendices are designed to be viewed as two-page spreads. In order to view the appendices as a spread, please download the PDF and reopen it after saving.