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Author Topic: Adjunct salary -- how much?  (Read 70647 times)
« on: September 25, 2002, 6:11:28 pm »

Can anyone tell me what the going rate is for an adjunct (with a Ph.D.) teaching one course at a university or college on the East Coast? Thanks. Is negotiatimg common? I appreciate your advice.
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2002, 12:08:16 am »

It varies widely. Negotiations are not common.

For the same course in NJ you might earn
$3,000 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (that's typical of a public) or $7,000 at Stevens Institute of Technology or Seton Hall University (privates).
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2002, 7:49:24 am »

With an A.B.D. or Ph.D. you might get about $2,500-$3,000 per course per semester at a campus of the City University of New York  in a high-rent area like Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc. It is about the same in the Midwest. Some really cheap schools only offer $1,000 or $1,500, but that's really poor pay, relatively speaking.  Even at wealthy private schools, the rate is usually no more than $3,000 per semester (that's how much my husband earned as an adjunct at a private-liberal arts school).

That works out, after taxes, to about $60 per week. Now you know why adjuncts are always trying to stack up three to four courses a semester at various places, so they can get about half of a permanent lecturer's salary.   One doesn't do it for the money, but for one's vita! I did it for two years and it added great stuff to my vita, which did help me get a real job.  

Community colleges pay about the same, by the way.  

Having a Ph.D. matters money-wise if you are going into a full-time temporary lectureship, but usually not for an adjunct one-course thing, unfortunately.
The Original Anoyomous Adjunct
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2002, 5:45:17 pm »

To respond to the post by "Anon"--a terminal degree may not help you pay-wise, but it could be the difference between getting into the adjunct pool or not. In my area, many of the colleges prefer people who Ph.D.'s and other terminal degrees because they believe those with Ph.D.'s can offer better instruction to the students. Also, it means less difficulty in proving your eligibility and credentials to the various powers that be.

Regarding salary and negotiation, most public colleges and universities have published pay schedules. Your credentials and years of experience will determine where you fall on the scale. Also, many schools have collective bargaining, so it is possible that private institutions can have a similar pay schedule. Typically, there is no negotiating if pay schedules and/or collective bargaining exist at the school in question.  Everything is already pre-negotiated by the union or set by the respective state offices that determine such things.


Anonymous Adjunct
Marcus Welby
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2002, 8:24:01 pm »

I did this type of work at two different universities for several years while finishing my Ph.D. and became quite familiar with the pay scales at those two institutions.

The pay was similar: about $3,500-$4,000 to teach a four-month course and $7,500-$9,000 to teach an eight-month (or equivalent) course. Tutorial leader positions generally paid less, although both those and course instructorships included adjustments in pay in cases of particularly high enrollments.  

Marking positions were also sometimes available.  They paid either by the hour or by the paper and drew on a finite pool of money available to the department.  You marked large numbers of essays and/or exams in short order for tenured professors with high student loads in introductory-level courses.  

Most universities limit the number of courses a single candidate can teach in order to protect the full-time cohort. Benefits are few, if  any, although some universities have unions for part-time instructors. They may give you some limited seniority rights.

This type of work can help you hone your teaching skills and is ideally suited to a person who is finishing or who has recently finished a Ph.D, provided he/she doesn't get carried away cobbling several courses together and ties up all of his/her valuable time. The first time you teach a particular course the workload (prep time) is at least double what it is on subsequent occasions. There is a very real danger of falling into the trap of getting part-time pay for full-time work, and if you aren't careful it is quite possible to derail or delay your thesis progress or to mistakenly defer a full-time job search.

Part-time positions also can be appealing for someone with a master's degree who is interested in trying out teaching, or for a professional or retired professor who would like to teach one course a week.

Adjunct work is a precarious way to make a living because you are always subject to budget cuts, course
cancellations, changes in department heads, variations in enrollment, and other developments beyond your control. As others have noted, you also can get slotted or typecast at your institution and viewed by other department members as a "temp" rather than an aspiring professor.

The good news is that some employers will be quite impressed with your range of work experience and offer you full-time positions with pay and benefits commensurate with your degrees and accumulated knowledge and skills.
Brent Chesley
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2002, 8:43:42 am »

Li asked about negotiations. Adjuncts are not in a position to negotiate. If a person won't accept the going rate, the school can find someone who will.  

The main reason to become an adjunct is to gain experience that will get you an interview for a full-time job at a teaching institution.
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2002, 8:24:02 am »

Here at my public "university" they pay $300 per credit hour. That's $900 a course. Gross.

That really is gross ...
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2002, 10:10:56 am »

For anyone to answer:

Has the "virtual" adjunct idea come up? I mean are there institutions where someone can work a "hybrid" deal, part distance learning, part face-to-face?

I'm technically retired, but continued my career -- focused on research and developing new models for hybrids -- and I thought I could see a time when a qualified full professor could be shared among several schools and dozens of students in specialties, seminars, individual studies, etc.
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2002, 1:48:06 pm »

Correct. I have made about $3,000 per course at a  large, private university in New York. If it weren't for adjuncting I would have little teaching experience. That and my Ph.D. have helped me to get interviews at colleges and universities across the United States. Jobs offered? None yet.
Adjunct sharecropper
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2002, 1:48:36 am »

I was an adjunct for several years because my husband was a tenured professor and I was stuck in the small town in which he was teaching. Any time the state budget was cut, my job was cut, too. Eventually, I earned a Ph.D. The commute was difficult and cost me my marriage, although my professor-husband had provided me a written guarantee (his idea, along with a renewal of our marriage vows) promising that he would support me fully (after I had supported his career for 12-plus years), and that his unconditional love would assuredly deepen if he could see me fulfill my educational and creative aspirations. He even said he'd follow me if I got an offer far from home.

Instead, he found a graduate student who was more than happy to stop at the M.A. level. He moved her into our house and -- voila! -- it was time for me to go on the job market.

Which I did. And got a tenure-track job.  

Five years later, I find myself marooned in the Midwest. I am not going to receive tenure, not because I can't measure up professionally, but because my senior colleagues dislike juniors who manage to publish more than they do or who manage to achieve anything, professionally, which they themselves have not. Since tenure requires such achievement, it's easy to see why no one is ever tenured.

So now I'm on the market again. I had one offer, based on a reading I did at a conference last year, but won't be interviewed until March. In the meantime, adjuncts across town earn $2,500 per semester class -- $20,000 per year for four courses a semester. (I made almost $10,000 more a year as an adjunct on the West Coast.) In California, an adjunct makes from $4,700-$5,700 per course. But the living expenses are higher -- much higher. Either way, you have no status, no job security, crummy benefits, and are the first person fired in bad times.

It isn't for nothing that creative writers have been called the migrant workers of the word harvest.

That's OK when you're in your twenties. Even when you're in your thirties. When you work in a tenure-track job, write at night, and stay up until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to keep current in your field, get high teaching evaluations, and are ejected from the tenure system anyway, you feel tired, overworked, and misused.

Or, anyway, I do.

I envy those who say they suffer now only with the angst of rejection, but that their spouse pays the bills. If that's the case, be grateful and use your intelligence and creativity to write a book or create a business or seminar series or reinvent your life in some other, creative way.  

I don't have a financial partner. I already know I have to give up my house and move into the unknown -- and I don't have the financial resources to do that.

In the meantime, I hear the grad student/new wife has the sunniest office in the building and teaches some dandy classes -- because my ex- is now the department chair.
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