Skip Navigation
Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty

Last Updated: May 2020
|

From fall 1999 to fall 2018, the total number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 49 percent (from 1.0 to 1.5 million). While the number of full-time faculty increased by 40 percent over this period, the number of part-time faculty increased by 72 percent between 1999 and 2011 and then decreased by 7 percent between 2011 and 2018.

In fall 2018, of the 1.5 million faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, 54 percent were full time and 46 percent were part time. Faculty include professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, lecturers, assisting professors, adjunct professors, and interim professors.

Select a subgroup characteristic from drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Figure 1. Number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by employment status: Selected years, fall 1999 through fall 2018
Figure 1. Number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by employment status: Selected years, fall 1999 through fall 2018

NOTE: Includes faculty members with the title of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, assisting professor, adjunct professor, or interim professor (or the equivalent). Excludes graduate students with titles such as graduate or teaching fellows who assist senior faculty. Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Data prior to 2007 exclude institutions with fewer than 15 full-time employees. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Staff Survey” (IPEDS-S:99); IPEDS Winter 2001–02 through Winter 2004–05, Fall Staff survey; IPEDS Winter 2005–06 through Winter 2011–12, Human Resources component, Fall Staff section; and IPEDS Spring 2014 and Spring 2016 through Spring 2019, Human Resources component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 315.10.

From fall 1999 to fall 2018, the total number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 49 percent (from 1.0 to 1.5 million). The number of full-time faculty increased by 40 percent (from 593,400 to 832,100) from fall 1999 to fall 2018—an increase of 28 percent from fall 1999 to fall 2011 and 9 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2018. In comparison, the number of part-time faculty increased by 72 percent (from 444,200 to 762,400) between 1999 and 2011 and then decreased by 7 percent (from 762,400 to 710,500) between 2011 and 2018. As a result of the faster increase in the number of part-time faculty during the first part of this time period, the percentage of all faculty who were part time was still higher in 2018 (46 percent) than in 1999 (43 percent). Also between 1999 and 2018, the percentage of faculty who were female increased from 41 to 50 percent. [Time series ] [Full-time/Part-time ]
Although the number of faculty in degree-granting public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit postsecondary institutions was higher in 2018 than in 1999, the percentage changes in the number of faculty were much smaller in public institutions and private nonprofit institutions than in private for-profit institutions. The number of faculty in 2018 compared to 1999 was 36 percent higher in public institutions (980,800 vs. 718,600), 70 percent higher in private nonprofit institutions (491,000 vs. 288,700), and 134 percent higher in private for-profit institutions (70,800 vs. 30,300). Despite the larger change in the number of faculty in private for-profit institutions between 1999 and 2018, only 5 percent of all faculty were employed by private for-profit institutions in 2018, while 64 percent were employed by public institutions and 32 percent were employed by private nonprofit institutions. [Time series ] [Control of institution]
The ratio of full-time-equivalent (FTE) students to FTE faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions was 14:1 in fall 2018, a lower ratio than in both fall 1999 (15:1) and fall 2009 (16:1). The FTE student-to-faculty ratio in 2018 was higher in private for-profit institutions (22:1) and public 2-year institutions (18:1) than in public 4-year institutions (14:1) and private nonprofit 4-year institutions (10:1).1 For more information about how student enrollments have changed over time, see the indicator Undergraduate Enrollment. [Time series ] [Control of institution*Level of institution]
Figure 2. For each academic rank, percentage distribution of full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and sex: Fall 2018
Figure 2. For each academic rank, percentage distribution of full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and sex: Fall 2018

# Rounds to zero.

NOTE: Sex breakouts excluded for faculty who were American Indian/Alaska Native and of Two or more races because the percentages were 1 percent or less. Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Percentages are based on full-time faculty whose race/ethnicity was known. Detail may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), IPEDS Spring 2019, Human Resources component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 315.20.

Of all full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2018, some 40 percent were White males; 35 percent were White females; 7 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander males; 5 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander females; and 3 percent each were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females.2 Those who were American Indian/Alaska Native and those who were of Two or more races each made up 1 percent or less of full-time faculty. [Other] [Race/ethnicity*Sex]
The racial/ethnic and sex distribution of faculty varied by academic rank at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2018. For example, among full-time professors, 53 percent were White males, 27 percent were White females, 8 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander males, and 3 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander females. Black males, Black females, and Hispanic males each accounted for 2 percent of full-time professors. The following groups each made up 1 percent or less of full-time professors: Hispanic females, American Indian/Alaska Native individuals, and individuals of Two or more races. In comparison, among full-time assistant professors, 34 percent were White males, 39 percent were White females, 7 percent each were Asian/Pacific Islander males and Asian/Pacific Islander females, and 5 percent were Black females. Black males, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females each accounted for 3 percent of full-time assistant professors, while American Indian/Alaska Native individuals and individuals of Two or more races each made up 1 percent or less of full-time assistant professors. [Other] [Race/ethnicity*Sex]
Figure 3. Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by academic rank: Selected years, 1999–2000 through 2018–19
Figure 3. Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by academic rank: Selected years, 1999–2000 through 2018–19

NOTE: Data for academic year 2000–01 are not available. Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Data prior to 2007 exclude institutions with fewer than 15 full-time employees. Data exclude instructional faculty at medical schools. Data include imputations for nonrespondent institutions. Salaries are reported in constant 2018–19 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits of Full-Time Instructional Faculty Survey” (IPEDS-SA:1999–2000); IPEDS Winter 2001–02 through Winter 2004–05, Salaries survey; IPEDS Winter 2005–06 through Winter 2011–12, Human Resources component, Salaries section; and IPEDS Spring 2013 through Spring 2019, Human Resources component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 316.10.

In academic year 2018–19, the average salary for full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions was $88,700. Average salaries ranged from $62,500 for lecturers to $124,700 for professors. The average salary (expressed in constant 2018–19 dollars) for all full-time instructional faculty increased by 4 percent between 1999–2000 and 2009–10 (from $83,600 to $87,200) and was 2 percent higher in 2018–19 than in 2009–10 ($88,700 vs. $87,200). A similar pattern was observed for faculty at most individual academic ranks. The increase in average salary between 1999–2000 and 2009–10 was 9 percent for professors (from $111,300 to $121,200), 6 percent for associate professors (from $81,600 to $86,600), 8 percent for assistant professors (from $67,300 to $72,700), and 7 percent for lecturers (from $57,100 to $61,000). The average salary for most academic ranks showed smaller changes between 2009–10 and 2018–19 than between 1999–2000 and 2009–10. The average salary was 3 percent higher for professors, assistant professors, and lecturers and 1 percent higher for associate professors in 2018–19 than in 2009–10. The average salary for instructors was 28 percent higher in 2001–02 than in 1999–2000, but there was no measurable change in average salary for instructors from 2001–02 to 2018–19. [Time series ]
Average faculty salaries also varied by sex. The average salary for all full-time instructional faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions was higher for males than for females in every academic year from 1999–2000 to 2018–19. In 2018–19, the average salary was $96,400 for males and $80,000 for females. In 2018–19, the male-female gap in average salaries ranged from $3,800 for instructors to $19,500 for professors. Between 1999–2000 and 2018–19, the male-female salary gap (in constant 2018–19 dollars) increased by 38 percent for professors (from $14,100 to $19,500), 8 percent for associate professors (from $5,800 to $6,200), 47 percent for assistant professors (from $4,600 to $6,700), and 56 percent for instructors (from $2,400 to $3,800). In contrast, the gap decreased by 1 percent for lecturers during this time period (from $5,400 to $5,300). [Time series ] [Sex]
Figure 4. Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution: 2018–19
Figure 4. Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution: 2018–19

NOTE: Doctoral institutions include institutions that awarded 20 or more doctor’s degrees during the previous academic year. Master’s institutions include institutions that awarded 20 or more master’s degrees, but less than 20 doctor’s degrees, during the previous academic year. Data exclude instructional faculty at medical schools. Degree-granting postsecondary institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Salaries are reported in constant 2018–19 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), IPEDS Spring 2019, Human Resources component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 316.20.

Faculty salaries also varied according to control (i.e., public, private nonprofit, or private for-profit) and level (i.e., 2-year or 4-year) of degree-granting postsecondary institutions. In academic year 2018–19, the average salary (in constant 2018–19 dollars) for full-time instructional faculty in private nonprofit institutions ($97,300) was higher than the average salaries in public institutions ($85,100) and in private for-profit institutions ($53,700). Among the specific types of private nonprofit institutions and public institutions, average salaries for instructional faculty were highest in private nonprofit doctoral institutions ($112,800) and public doctoral institutions ($95,900). Average salaries were lowest for instructional faculty in private nonprofit 2-year institutions ($57,100), public 2-year institutions ($70,400), and public 4-year institutions other than doctoral and master’s degree-granting institutions ($70,900). Average salaries for instructional faculty were 3 percent higher in 2018–19 than in 1999–2000 in public institutions ($85,100 vs. $82,300), 12 percent higher in private nonprofit institutions ($97,300 vs. $87,000), and 21 percent higher in private for-profit institutions ($53,700 vs. $44,200). [Level of institution ] [Control of institution]
In academic year 2018–19, approximately 57 percent of degree-granting postsecondary institutions had tenure systems. A tenure system guarantees that, after completing a probationary period, a professor will not be terminated without just cause. The percentage of institutions with tenure systems ranged from 1 percent at private for-profit institutions to 99 percent at public doctoral institutions. Of full-time faculty at institutions with tenure systems, 45 percent had tenure in 2018–19, down from 54 percent in 1999–2000. At public institutions with tenure systems, the percentage of full-time faculty with tenure decreased by 9 percentage points over this period; at private nonprofit institutions, the percentage decreased by 7 percentage points; and at private for-profit institutions, the percentage decreased by 65 percentage points. At institutions with tenure systems, the percentage of full-time instructional faculty with tenure in 2018–19 was higher for males than for females (54 vs. 40 percent). [Time series ] [Control of institution]

1 The ratios are calculated by dividing the number of FTE undergraduate and graduate students by the number of FTE faculty (full-time faculty, plus the full-time equivalent of the part-time faculty, including instructional, research, and public service faculty).

2 Percentages are based on full-time faculty whose race/ethnicity was known. Race/ethnicity was not collected for nonresident aliens.

Supplemental Information

Table 314.10 (Digest 2019): Total and full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff and FTE student/FTE staff ratios in postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV aid programs, by degree-granting status, control of institution, and primary occupation: Fall 1999, fall 2009, and fall 2018;
Table 314.50 (Digest 2019) : Full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff, FTE faculty, and ratios of FTE students to FTE staff and FTE faculty in public degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of institution and state or jurisdiction: Fall 2018 ;
Table 314.60 (Digest 2019): Full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff, FTE faculty, and ratios of FTE students to FTE staff and FTE faculty in private degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of institution and state or jurisdiction: Fall 2018;
Table 315.10 (Digest 2019): Number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by employment status, sex, control, and level of institution: Selected years, fall 1970 through fall 2018;
Table 315.20 (Digest 2019): Full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, sex, and academic rank: Fall 2015, fall 2017, and fall 2018;
Table 316.10 (Digest 2019): Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by academic rank, control and level of institution, and sex: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2018-19;
Table 316.20 (Digest 2019): Average salary of full-time instructional faculty on 9-month contracts in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by academic rank, sex, and control and level of institution: Selected years, 1999-2000 through 2018-19;
Table 316.80 (Digest 2019): Percentage of degree-granting postsecondary institutions with a tenure system and percentage of full-time faculty with tenure at these institutions, by control and level of institution and selected characteristics of faculty: Selected years, 1993-94 through 2018-19
CLOSE

Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/csc.