The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2019-20

Published May 2020.

This year’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession summarizes results from the 2019–20 Faculty Compensation Survey, which collected data from 928 colleges and universities across the United States, including community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and major research universities. The survey covered 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 began in December 2019 and concluded in February 2020, just as the first cases of COVID-19 were being reported in the United States.

The report summarizes salary data for full-time faculty members, as well as data on gender inequities, retirement and medical benefits, part-time faculty pay and benefits, and administrator salaries. The report also highlights key data points related to the economy, institutional finances, enrollment, the makeup of the academic workforce, and salaries. The findings provide a snapshot of faculty compensation for the 2019–20 academic year, as the country was on the brink of what may be the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Findings from This Year’s Survey

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. For continuing full-time faculty members—those who were employed full time in 2018–19 and remained employed full time at the same institution in 2019–20—salary growth was slightly higher at 3.2 percent, or 0.9 percent in real terms.

Following the Great Recession of the late 2000s, nominal salary growth remained below consumer price growth until 2015–16, and real salary growth has remained flat ever since. Among the 842 institutions that have participated in the survey from 2008–09 to 2019–20, average salaries for full-time faculty members have increased 1.0 percent since 2008–09 and less than 0.1 percent since 2015–16 after adjusting for inflation.

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. Most faculty members who are paid per course section do not receive either retirement or medical benefits contributions. Overall, 35 percent of institutions contribute toward retirement plans for some or all part-time faculty members, and 33 percent of institutions contribute to premiums for medical insurance plans.

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Download the appendices.

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