Average Pay Increases for Professors on Tenure-Track Matched Inflation This Year

March 11, 2013

The median base salary for tenured and tenure-track faculty members increased this academic year by an average of 2.1 percent, matching the rate of inflation. That year-to-year increase was slightly higher than the growth last year, when the average increase was 1.9 percent, according to an annual report released this week by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

As in previous years, the average pay increases were higher at four-year private institutions, where professors saw an average jump in pay of 2.4 percent, than at four-year public institutions, where the average was 1.9 percent. The gap, however, has narrowed from last year, when the average pay increase for tenured and tenure-track professors was 2.3 percent at private institutions and 1.1 percent at public ones.

Andy Brantley, president of the association, said his group was pleased to see that faculty salaries continued to climb. Their rise was just slightly smaller than the average 2.3-percent increase in salaries for administrators that the association reported in data released in late February.

The new faculty data, Mr. Brantley said, are one sign that the economy is improving and that colleges are rebounding from the recession.

"Many institutions have made significant changes as a result of what happened with the economy several years ago," he said. And beyond what colleges can do on their own, "many public institutions had access to salary-increase funds this year that were not available from their state legislatures and others in the last few years."

Off the Tenure Track

For the first time this year, the association collected data on pay from faculty members who work off the tenure track at four-year institutions. The report does not include data for adjunct instructors who are paid by the course.

Instead of listing a combined, average salary for all non-tenure-track appointments (as the report does for professors who are tenured and on the tenure track), the payment data are presented only by field.

The disciplines with the highest average salaries for teaching faculty off the tenure track are: health-related fileds; legal professions and studies; engineering; and business, management, marketing, and related support services. Non-tenure-track faculty members in each of these fields earn more than $65,000 a year, though the individual amounts vary by rank and discipline.

Similar disciplines also rank highest in average salaries among professors who are tenured or on the tenure track. The top three, in descending order of average pay, are: legal professions and studies; business, management, marketing and related support services; and engineering. The average salary, across all ranks, for professors in legal studies was $117,938 at private institutions and $108,853 at public ones.

The lowest salaries varied between private and public institutions. But English language and literature, visual and performing arts, and theology and religious vocations were among the lowest paid at both types of colleges and across all ranks.

While the average faculty salaries are rising, Mr. Brantley said, there were still many institutions that had increases of zero or less than 1 percent. Some faculty members have received no salary raises for many years in a row, he added.

"This affects higher education's ability to recruit, retain, and motivate," Mr. Brantley said, "and also acknowledge the great work of the faculty."

The association's report reflects the salaries of 184,924 faculty members who are tenured or on the tenure track at 794 four-year American institutions.

Of the colleges surveyed, 60 percent were private and 40 percent public. The salary data for people off the tenure track reflects 41,000 appointments, sampled discipline by discipline.