The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2021-22

Published June 2022.

This year’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession documents the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in a year when the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 7.0 percent, the largest December-to-December percentage increase since 1981. The report documents the economic status for not only full-time faculty members but also part-time adjunct faculty members paid on a per-course-section basis—and faculty members on contingent appointments in general. It also includes special sections on the academic labor force and key gender equity indicators, with an eye toward documenting changes that have occurred since the 2019–20 academic year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The primary data source is the AAUP’s annual Faculty Compensation Survey (FCS), a national survey completed by US college and university administrators. The report also incorporates data from the US Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database and other sources.

Data collection for the AAUP’s 2021–22 Faculty Compensation Survey concluded in March 2022, with over 900 US colleges and universities providing employment data for more than 370,000 full-time and 90,000 part-time faculty members as well as senior administrators at over 500 institutions. Participants reflected the wide range of institution types across the United States, including nearly 280 major research universities, 320 regional universities, 160 liberal arts colleges, and 100 community colleges. Over 170 minority-serving institutions participated, including 17 historically black colleges and universities.

Key Findings

Provisional results were released in early April 2022, including summary tables and institution-level datasets. Key findings include:

  • From 2020–21 to 2021–22, average salaries for full-time faculty members increased 2.0 percent, consistent with the flat wage growth observed since the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
  • Real wages for full-time faculty fell below Great Recession levels in 2021, with average salary falling to 2.3 percent below the 2008 average salary, after adjusting for inflation.
  • Real wages for full-time faculty members decreased 5.0 percent after adjusting for inflation, the largest one-year decrease on record since the AAUP began tracking this measure in 1972.
  • In 2021–22, 97.2 percent of full-time faculty members were covered by retirement plans, a 2.8 percentage point increase from 2020–21.
  • Institutions reported full-time faculty salaries for women that are 81.9 percent of those for men in 2021–22, on average. The gender pay gap is greatest at the full professor rank.
  • From 2019–20 to 2021–22, the number of full-time women faculty members increased 1.6 percent, compared with a 2.5 percent decrease for men.
  • In 2020–21, average pay for adjunct faculty members to teach a course section ranged from $2,979 in public associate’s institutions without ranks to $5,557 in public doctoral institutions.
  • In fall 2020, about three in five (61.5 percent) faculty members were on contingent appointments.

Report Highlights

This is the sixty-third Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession since the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey program was established in 1958. The report includes two tables presenting annual full-time faculty salary growth by rank in both nominal and real terms from 1972 to the present, two tables presenting changes in the makeup of the faculty since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, ten figures representing a wide range of economic indicators, an explanation of statistical data, and eighteen summary tables that allow for comparisons among different categories of colleges and universities, including:

  • Average percentage change in salaries for all full-time faculty [Survey Report Table A]
  • Average percentage change in salaries for continuing full-time faculty [Survey Report Table B]
  • Salary differences by institutional category, control, affiliation, and region [Survey Report Tables 1, 2, 4, and 5]
  • Gender differences [Survey Report Tables 3, 6, and 7]
  • Retirement benefits [Survey Report Table 8]
  • Medical benefits [Survey Report Table 9]
  • Dependent tuition benefits [Survey Report Table 10]
  • Administrator salaries [Survey Report Tables 11, 12, 13, and 14]
  • Part-time faculty pay (2020–21). [Survey Report Table 15]
  • Part-time faculty benefits (2020–21) [Survey Report Table 16]

The AAUP’s 2021–22 Faculty Compensation Survey has given us a first look at how full-time faculty salaries have changed in the second academic year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will have a better picture next year when the US Department of Education releases IPEDS data. The survey also has provided us a sense of how fringe benefits, administrator pay, gender pay equity, and part-time faculty pay have changed. Collectively, these data sources paint a bleak economic picture of the profession: deteriorating wages of college and university faculty members in relation to the wages of other professions, continued gender pay inequality, appallingly low pay for adjunct faculty members, erosion of the financial structures that support higher education, rising threats to academic freedom and shared governance, and continued uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic—all threaten the standards of the profession and the quality of higher education itself.

The report concludes by arguing that in order to meet the AAUP’s goals of achieving equality of opportunities and compensation in the profession, we must develop indicators and procedures, set quantified, verifiable goals, and periodically adjust our policies to help fight gendered, ethnoracial, and other social discrimination in the profession. Furthermore, achieving those goals will require the participation of faculty members, administrators, associations, labor unions, elected officials, and citizens, who must all demand access to relevant data to inform policy decisions. We can break the cycle only through up-to-date, objective, reliable demographic data and complete transparency regarding faculty compensation and working conditions, combined with collective action focused on social justice.

Data Components Now Available

  • AAUP chapter and conference leaders may order full datasets and research portal access free of charge and institutions may purchase data products for a fee.
  • An interactive AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey Results Tool is also available and includes data from 2019–20 through 2021–22.
  • Download appendices that provide average pay and benefits data for each participating institution. Important: The appendices are designed to be viewed as two-page spreads. If your web browser doesn't offer an option to view as a spread, please download the PDF and reopen it after saving.

Download the report as a PDF.

Download the appendices.

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