May 25, 2010

Where Professors Make the Best Salaries

The headlines from the annual report on faculty salaries produced by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) focused on how small this year’s average salary increase would be for college professors across the country. And, it’s definitely been a tough year.

Data collected from this year’s national survey of faculty compensation indicates that the overall average salary for a full time faculty member went up by only 1.2 percent over last year—the lowest year-to-year change recorded in the fifty-year history of the AAUP survey. And about one-third of the 1200 responding institutions reported that overall average salary levels actually decreased.

But beneath the headlines lie some interesting facts. Not only do some professors receive pretty good salaries, but these salaries vary wildly from institution to institution. And the link between salaries and tuition isn’t as simple as it may seem.

The average pay for a full time professor in 2009-10 was $109,843, for the academic year. The five highest paying institutions were:

• Harvard: $191,500
• Columbia University: $188,600
• University of Chicago: $184,100
• Stanford: $181,400
• Princeton: $181,000

Locally, the highest average full time faculty salaries may be found at Georgetown University. Professors at Georgetown earn $155,500 in base salary with compensation packages bringing the total to $191,700 per year. At American, the average professor’s salary is $146,500 ($176,500 with benefits). George Washington comes in third at $142,900 ($170,200 with benefits).

On either side of the District, professors make slightly less. In Maryland, the University of Maryland Baltimore, the University of Maryland College Park, and the US Naval Academy listed the highest average salaries paying $141,100, $134,700, and $125,000 respectively. No information was available from Johns Hopkins University, which probably pays fairly well if the president’s compensation is any indication.

In Virginia, the top three average salaries were found at UVa ($134,700), the University of Richmond ($132,100), and George Mason University ($126,400). More toward the lower end were Longwood ($74,300), Radford ($77,200), and Randolph-Macon ($78,600).

It’s worth noting that administrative salaries at colleges and universities have generally been increasing far more quickly than pay for faculty and at every type of institution, men were paid substantially more on average than women. But without making too much of the obvious, for salary purposes, prestige usually trumps relative job difficulty in the ivory tower.

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