Average pay for adjuncts at colleges and universitiesis $2,987 for a three-credit course, reports The Adjunct Project, which is crowdsourcing information on salaries and working conditions. Community colleges pay much less than most four-year universities, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Adjuncts at 16 colleges reported earning less than $1,000.”
Joshua A. Boldt, a writing instructor in Georgia, is working with The Chronicle on a web site that sorts data by department, college, and region of the country.
At top research universities, adjuncts average $4,750 per three-credit course. Adjuncts at rural, medium-sized, two-year institutions, where pay is the lowest, average $1,808 per three-credit course.
In California, where faculty at two- and four-year public institutions are unionized, the average pay is $3,888 per course, according to data reported to the Adjunct Project as of last month. In Texas, by contrast, a state where unions are rare, the reported pay is lower: $2,805 per course.
Salaries are lower in the humanities: Adjuncts who teach English reported earning an average of $2,727 per course. At Houston Community College, adjuncts average $1,200 to $2,200 for a three-credit English course. The national average for adjuncts who teach engineering is $4,789 per course.
Only 22 percent of adjuncts reported that they were union members. Seventy percent don’t serve on governance committees.
“We’re not compensated when we do that,” Peter Feiden, an adjunct economics professor at Montgomery College, in Maryland, says of part-time faculty members there. He earns about $3,000 per course at Montgomery and about $6,000 per course at Catholic University of America, where he is also an adjunct.
Few adjuncts qualify for health insurance, retirement or other benefits.
About half of all faculty members — 70 percent at community colleges — are part-time adjuncts, estimates a 2010 survey by the American Federation of Teachers. Eighty percent of community college faculty teach part-time, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
Universities keep turning out English PhDs even though there are fewer full-time jobs, writes Mark Bauerlein. That makes it easy to find people to teach freshman composition for low pay and no benefits.
Some adjuncts at a New Jersey community college will be offered one-year lectureships, instead of being hired class by class. Ocean County College‘s adjuncts like the option, which includes more pay and health benefits, though no promise of tenure. But tenured professors are opposed, reports Inside Higher Ed.
The local full-time faculty union, however, counters that the positions amount to “exploitation” and sees the administration’s push to hire more full-time, non-tenured faculty as “union busting.”
Aduncts now outnumber full-time, tenured faculty by nearly four to one. Jon Larson, the college president, hopes to shift many adjuncts to lecturer jobs. The full-time faculty fear the college will stop hiring tenure-track professors.
A lecturer will teach seven courses each in both the fall and spring semesters and two courses during the summer sessions. Full-time, tenure-track faculty are on a 10-month contract. They teach five courses in both the fall and spring semesters; those who teach in a summer session receive extra pay.
Lecturers will start at more than $55,000 a year, with benefits, comparable to full-time professors who teach a similar courseload. Adjuncts earn $2,100 per three-credit course and do not qualify for benefits.
“It seems the only people unhappy about this are the people who had a cushy deal,” said Larson, referring to the tenure-track faculty members. “We understand they’re antsy and concerned about it, but this is a genuine effort to address a problem higher education has.”
The 12-month lecturers will replace tenured faculty, warns Patricia Demko, chemistry professor and president of the Faculty Association of Ocean County College. “There will be no more 10-month, tenured faculty in a few short years. There will be no more continuity and consistency in the faculty. That’ll get lost when you have a revolving door. It’ll just be all professors going from one year to another.”