Professor paychecks
Latest government report breaks down faculty earnings at colleges and universities.
By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( A study released by the U.S. Department of Education this week found that full professors at four-year public colleges and universities earned an average of $89,001 in the academic year 2004-05.

Professors at four-year private schools did somewhat better, making an average of $93,024.

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That was the top of the average pay scale for higher education teaching faculty surveyed in the report.

Associate professors at four-year public institutions earned an average of $64,921, while their private-school counterparts made $64,423.

Assistant professors, meanwhile, earned an average of $54,523 at public colleges and universities, and $53,833 at private institutions.

Direct comparison to prior year average salaries was not possible since the Department of Education used a new method to compute average salaries in its latest report.

But a similar study completed last spring by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that for the first time in eight years, faculty salaries in 2004-05 did not keep pace with inflation, rising 2.8 percent while inflation rose 3.3 percent.

That's not a drastic change from prior years. Looked at over "the past 20 to 25 years, faculty salaries have been at the level of inflation or just above," said John Curtis, AAUP's director of research.

Not so tuition, which has risen three to four times the rate of inflation in recent years, due in part to the rising cost of employee benefits such as healthcare and the desire for schools to remain competitive technologically.

The Department of Education study comes at a time when higher education institutions are hiring more non-tenured and part-time faculty, who are paid less than their full-time tenure-track colleagues, and are paying more than ever to college presidents.

A recent study by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that for the first time, five college and university presidents are now paid more than $1 million.

The Department of Education and the AAUP studies also found gender disparity in faculty pay.

At nearly all levels of full-time teaching faculty at four-year institutions, men's average earnings outpaced women's. Among full professors at both public and private 4-year institutions, for instance, male professors earned about $10,000 more than their female colleagues, according to the Department of Education's report.

The only exception was at the level of instructor at 4-year private schools, where women earned an average of $40,534. That trumped the average salary of men in the same position by a mere $182.

Besides issues of gender, in many disciplines there is also a kind of pay disparity for faculty with doctorates considering the level of education, training and experience required to land a tenured position, which are harder than ever to come by. For a look at how that's played out in the sciences, click here.

And for a look at the top 10 most expensive colleges, click hereTop of page

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