What Our Adjuncts Earn

Last week, I wrote a post about what professors typically earn at 1,251 colleges across the country, and a few of you who work as adjunct professors noted that your pay is pretty awful in comparison. “An adjunct—who is making up much more of the teaching force than tenured or tenure-track faculty—can be paid as little as $2,000 to teach a course,” you said. Another one of you sent me a link to this very interesting website called The Adjunct Project, which is crowdsourcing data on the pay and working experiences of adjuncts from colleges everywhere. The project was started by a 32-year-old writing instructor named Joshua Boldt who was inspired to make the lives of adjunct professors as transparent as possible after meeting with a bunch of them at a conference in Washington D.C.

I went through the spreadsheet a little and pulled out some bits of data. 

• At Oklahoma State, adjunct professors in the department of Foreign Languages earn as little as $700-$1,200 per course.
• Adjuncts at the City University of New York (CUNY) typically earn less than $3,000 per course.
• A math adjunct at Texas A&M is earning $6,500 to teach a course.
• In the Social Science department at USC, adjuncts can earn $7,000 per course. At Duke, the “official rate” for adjuncts is also $7,000, but “those in a position to demand, can.”
• Adjuncts at Devry must teach pre-packaged content.
• A history adjunct who got his Ph.D. at Lehigh says he is “treated as property whose need to survive was disregarded.”

There is a ton of more info on the spreadsheet. It may be useful to you if you are getting a graduate degree at one of these schools, and want to learn what your pay and work experience may be like at the school you are attending.

 

Photo: believekevin/Flickr

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4 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#161)

In 1997 I got paid $5500 to serve as a TA for one class at the UC Berkeley Extension ($7437 in today’s money!), which I considered semi-decent pay for grad student labor, but was horrified to learn that the professor was actually making less than I was. The reason he was doing it (and the reason these adjuncts continue to work for these tiny salaries) is that if you’re looking for an academic real job there’s nothing that says career death like wearing a nametag at conferences that doesn’t have the name of a university under it. The university affiliation is much more potentially valuable for future earnings than the actual money they pay out.

The sad part was this guy believed that Berkeley was doing him a favor — he had gotten his PHD at Berkeley and been on a tenure track job elsewhere that hadn’t worked out for reasons he was vague about, and so in his telling his old profs had arranged for a gig that would allow him a tenuous affiliation with a legit school (though we were employed by the Extension and advisded us that we weren’t allow to refer to ourselves as “professors” or “members of the faculty”) so he could get back on his feet.

The economics of academic careers are unimaginably fucked up and ripe for a Billforld expose!

@jfruh Thank you and thanks to Mike for the post! I have spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family just how ridiculous the labor situation is in academia right now. Here’s some background on the major issues, and I second a call for a post on this: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/issues/contingent/contingentfacts.htm
I’m pretty sure some of these statistics are out-of-date (the percentage of contingent labor is now around 75% or higher), but it’s still helpful to read in order to get a sense of what it’s like out there.

And thanks for also mentioning what is probably the worst part of this entire situation: that those who leave academia even for a semester (to, say, make a somewhat decent wage and start paying off their student loans) are very unlikely to ever be taken seriously as academic tenure-track job candidates after their time outside the ivory tower.

It is honestly the most conservative institution I have ever been a part of, and, though I’d really like to say there is some hope of change, it really is only getting worse.

You quoted me!!! I’m famous!!! Whoooo.
(I’m Miss– er, excuse me Doctor, but not that kind of Doctor– Adjuncts are Poor).

gawe home (#7,229)

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