Demystifying part-time faculty pay

money_foodstampsFormer CIA Director, General Petraeus makes $200,000 teaching a 3-unit course at CUNY. On the other-hand, you may have heard stories of adjuncts on food-stamps, homeless, and dying in poverty. If you are looking to find out the salary of part-time professors, you can find some pretty extreme examples.

So what’s the real story?

The average salary of a part-time professor per course is between $1500 and $5000.

In most universities, a credit-hour or unit roughly equates to the number of hours in class per week. There are of course exceptions with schools that have a different assignment of time/unit, but for our purposes, it won’t make a difference.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, the IRS quantified the time required to teach a course. In February 2014, the approved time multiplier of 2.25 hours for every hour a faculty member is in class was ratified as the official guideline for higher education institutions. Given this formula a part-time faculty member teaching a 3-unit course will be credited with 6.75 hours our service per week; therefore if you are teaching a 15-week semester, that would be 6.75 x 15 or 101.25 hours of work per semester.

The typical part-time faculty position pays between $1500 – $5000/ college course. For the purposes of explanation, let’s assume you make $2500 for teaching a 3-unit course for 15 weeks. Based on the 2.25 formula, you would make $24.69/hour. That rate includes your time in class, office hours, preparing,  and grading papers. Some weeks you will work more than 1.25 additional hours for each hour in class and other weeks you will work fewer.

According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 2013 data, the average salary of a full-time assistant professor nationwide is $58,406. Adjusting for inflation at 1.5% per year, the 2014 median salary would be as high as $59,282. Based on a work week of 40 hours, the assistant professor working full-time would be paid for 12-months at a rate of $28.50/hour. Based on a 9-month contract, the median rate for a full-time Assistant Professor is $37.05/hour.

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3 replies
  1. Alec MacLeod
    Alec MacLeod says:

    that’s it? just 3.75 hours a week to plan a 3 unit class, have office hours, and respond to student work, not to mention the administrative stuff? That means as a student’s submitted work in a class of 25 (what is still considered a “small” class) would get 5 minutes or less of the faculty member’s attention per week. I would not want to be a student in that class.

  2. Lesa Hammond
    Lesa Hammond says:

    Yep. That’s it. I am not justifying the amount of time, just giving the information. I know the first time a class is taught it takes significantly more time than subsequent classes. Also 3.75 hours outside of class per week = 225 minutes per week or 9 minutes outside of class per student with 25 students if you want to measure it that way. Having taught as an adjunct, I know that there were some weeks when I spent fewer than 3.75 hours preparing for my class and communicating with students and other weeks when I spent more hours preparing for the class, grading papers, communicating with students, etc.

  3. Alec MacLeod
    Alec MacLeod says:

    Actually, in coming up with the 5 minutes to attend to student work, I imagined that the professor would also have to devote at least an hour a week to student contact (one or more office hours is a typical expectation) and that she would want to do some minimal preparation for class.

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