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National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF)

1. Overview


NSOPF includes:
  • Institution Questionnaire
  • Faculty Questionnaire
  • Department Chairperson Questionnaire (1987–88 only)

The National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) is conducted to provide information on postsecondary faculty and instructional staff: their academic and professional background, sociodemographic characteristics, and employment characteristics, such as institutional responsibilities and workload, job satisfaction, and compensation. Thus far, there have been four NSOPF administrations—in the 1987–88 academic year (NSOPF:88), the 1992–93 academic year (NSOPF:93), the 1998–99 academic year (NSOPF:99), and the 2003–04 academic year (NSOPF:04). The first cycle was conducted with a sample of institutions, faculty, and department chairpersons. The second, third, and fourth cycles were limited to surveys of institutions and faculty, but with a substantially expanded sample of public and private, not-for-profit institutions and faculty. Furthermore, unlike any previous cycle of NSOPF, the fourth cycle was conducted in tandem with another study, the 2004 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:04) (see NPSAS chapter), as a component of a larger study, the 2004 National Study of Faculty and Students (NSoFaS:04).


To provide a national profile of postsecondary faculty and instructional staff: their professional backgrounds, responsibilities, workloads, salaries, benefits, and attitudes.


NSOPF consists of two questionnaires: one for institutions and one for faculty and instructional staff. Institutions receive both an Institution Questionnaire and a request to provide a faculty list. The Faculty Questionnaire is sent to faculty and instructional staff sampled from the lists provided by the institutions. The 1987–88 NSOPF also included a Department Chairperson Questionnaire.

Institution Questionnaire. The Institution Questionnaire obtains information on the number of full- and part-time instructional and noninstructional faculty (as well as instructional personnel without faculty status); the tenure status of faculty members (based on definitions provided by the institution); institution tenure policies (and changes in policies on granting tenure to faculty members); the impact of tenure policies on the influx of new faculty and on career development; the growth and promotion potential for existing nontenured junior faculty; the benefits and retirement plans available to faculty; and the turnover rate of faculty at the institution. The questionnaire is completed by an Institution Coordinator (IC) designated by the Chief Administrator (CA) at each sampled institution.


Faculty Questionnaire.This questionnaire addresses the following issues as they relate to postsecondary faculty and instructional staff: background characteristics and academic credentials; workloads and time allocation between classroom instruction and other activities such as research, course preparation, consulting, public service, doctoral or student advising, conferences, and curriculum development; compensation and the importance of other sources of income, such as consulting fees and royalties; the role of faculty in institutional policymaking and planning (and the differences, if any, between the role of part- and full-time faculty); faculty attitudes toward their jobs, their institutions, higher education, and student achievement in general; changes in teaching methods and the impact of new technologies on teaching techniques; career and retirement plans; differences between individuals who have instructional responsibilities and those who do not (e.g., those engaged only in research); and differences between those with teaching responsibilities but no faculty status and those with teaching responsibilities and faculty status. Eligible respondents for this questionnaire are faculty and instructional staff sampled from lists provided by institutions involved in the study. These lists are compiled by the IC at each sampled institution.

Department Chairperson Questionnaire. Administered only in the 1987–88 academic year, this questionnaire collected information from over 3,000 department chairpersons on the faculty composition in departments, tenure status of faculty, faculty hires and departures, hiring practices, activities used to assess faculty performance, and professional and developmental activities.


The NSOPF was conducted in the 1987–88, 1992–93, 1998–99, and 2003–04 academic years. No specific administration date has been set for the next round of NSOPF.

Data Availability

Information on NSOPF data files through NSOPF:04 is available at