2017 Best Universities for Adjunct Professors

These top universities offer the best pay in areas that are affordable.

Life as an adjunct professor can be a rough one – especially for those who aim to make that their sole profession.

A 2014 study from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce highlighted the challenges adjunct professors face, including low wages, a lack of health insurance and other benefits, little or no job stability from one semester to the next, and few if any on-campus resources such as office space or administrative assistance.

And the problems have been growing. The study showed that more than 40% of instructional staff at all public and private institutions of higher learning (both 2- and 4-year schools) were part-time faculty in 2011. That’s compared with less than 25% in 1975.

The percentage of tenured and tenure-track full-time professor positions has fallen to less than half its 1975 total.

Most schools pay adjunct professors per course taught, and the median rate in 2011 was $2,700 for a 3-credit-hour course, according to the CEW report. That leaves some instructors forced to seek second or third jobs, to take on extra courses (which means more work), and even to consider options such as Medicaid or food stamps (SNAP).

But some schools are definitely more generous than others when it comes to pay and support for their faculty. GoodCall® analysts sought to find which schools are better for adjunct and non-tenure-track professors.

The following list of Best Universities for Adjunct Professors was determined based on average monthly pay, pay relative to tenured and tenure-track faculty, cost of living for the area, student-teacher ratio, and student graduation rates. Analysts reviewed data from 292 schools.

Note that since each school classifies its employees differently, some of the pay statistics are solely part-time faculty, while others include both part-time and full-time non-tenure-track faculty.

Many college towns are known as more expensive areas, forcing adjuncts to live farther from the school and deal with longer commutes. A lower cost of living indicates universities where professors can afford to live near work.

Top 10 Best Schools for Adjunct Professors

1. University of Notre Dame

Image shows The Jordan Hall of Science building at the University of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame, Ind.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $14,568

Student-Teacher ratio: 10:1

Graduation rate: 97%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 12,292

 

2. Lehigh University

Campus view of Lehigh University in Autumn with Linderman Library in the middle.

Bethlehem, Pa.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $14,352

Student-Teacher ratio: 10:1

Graduation rate: 88%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 7,054

 

3. Wake Forest University

Image shows Wait Chapel, built in 1956, at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $7,766

Student-Teacher ratio: 10:1

Graduation rate: 88%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 7,837

 

4. Saint Louis University

Image shows Saint Louis University at dusk.

St. Louis, Mo.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $7,264

Student-Teacher ratio: 11:1

Graduation rate: 71%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 17,047

 

5. Mercer University

Image shows an aerial view of Mercer University.

Courtesy of Mercer University

Macon, Ga.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $6,969

Student-Teacher ratio: 13:1

Graduation rate: 61%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 8,600

 

6. Rochester Institute of Technology

Image shows an aerial view of Rochester Institute of Technology.

Elizabeth Lamark photo, courtesy of Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, N.Y.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $7,072

Student-Teacher ratio: 13:1

Graduation rate: 68%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 16,639

 

7. Texas A & M University-Commerce

Image shows the campus of Texas A&M in Commerce, Texas.

Courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce

Commerce, Texas

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $8,262

Student-Teacher ratio: 20:1

Graduation rate: 42%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 12,928

 

8. Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University overlooks Portage Lake in Houghton, Michigan.

Houghton, Mich.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $6,985

Student-Teacher ratio: 12:1

Graduation rate: 65%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 7,218

 

9. Southern Methodist University

Image shows the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Dallas, Texas

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $8,802

Student-Teacher ratio: 11:1

Graduation rate: 79%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 11,643

 

10. Clark University

Image shows Jonas Clark Hall, the main academic facility for undergraduate students at Clark University.

Worcester, Mass.

Average monthly pay for nontenure and adjunct: $8,121

Student-Teacher ratio: 10:1

Graduation rate: 83%

Fall 2015 Total Enrollment: 3,485

 

See the full rankings here.

 

Methodology

GoodCall analysts ranked 292 schools based on five metrics. Schools included are nonprofit universities that offer a full range of both graduate and undergraduate programs.

  • The average monthly salary for lecturers and instructors as reported for the 2015-16 school year from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the National Center for Education Statistics. This salary accounted for 30% of the score.
  • Salary comparison, calculated as the average for lecturers and instructors divided by the average for professors at the same school in the 2015-16 IPEDS data, made up 20% of the score.
  • Cost of living for the city the university is in, as reported by Sperling’s on www.bestplaces.net, accounted for 30%.
  • The student-faculty ratio, from 2015 IPEDS data, made up 10% of the score.
  • Graduation rate, also from the 2015 IPEDS data set, made up the final 10% of the score.

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