Press Release

March 28, 2016                                             

Contact Information:
Missy Kline
Content Manager – Communications and Marketing

Instructors in Tenure-Track Positions Saw Highest Overall Median Salary Increase for 2015-16
Highest Paid Disciplines Are “Legal Professions and Studies” and “Business, Management and Marketing”

Instructors in tenure-track positions received the highest overall median salary increase (2.2%) of any academic rank, according to data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2015-16 Faculty in Higher Education Salary Survey. According to the data, the highest paid disciplines at public and private institutions are “Business, Management and Marketing” and “Legal Professions and Studies.” “Engineering” and “Computer and Information Sciences” round out the top four.

Commenting on the survey, CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley said, “We are very pleased to share this data regarding over 240,000 faculty positions from institutions across the country. The data emphasize that institutions are continuing to make clear distinctions in pay by discipline. It’s also important to note which disciplines are hiring the largest numbers of new faculty.”

Other Findings

  • The overall median salary increase for faculty was 2.0% for both public and private institutions, which is consistent with increases for the past two years. Public doctoral institutions saw the highest median salary increase at 2.2%.
  • Specific Average Salaries:
    • In one of the highest paid disciplines, “Legal Professions and Studies,” the overall average salary for tenure-track faculty ranged from $95,606 for assistant professors to $145,732 for professors. The overall average salary for non-tenure-track faculty in this discipline ranged from $78,571 to $112,252.
    • In one of the lowest paid disciplines, “Theology and Religious Vocations,” the overall average salary for tenure-track faculty ranged from $56,590 for assistant professors to $79,838 for professors. The overall average salary for non-tenure track faculty ranged from $52,468 to $69,552.
  • New assistant professors make up 3.5% of the faculty at private institutions and 4.2% of the faculty at public institutions. The top discipline for new assistant professors (as measured by the percentage of new assistant professors in each discipline) at public institutions is “Physical Sciences” and at private institutions is “Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services.”

  • In general, tenure-track positions remain the highest-paid faculty positions in higher education. When it comes to earning a salary comparable to their tenure-track counterparts, “Science Technologies” has the lowest non-tenure-track to tenure-track ratio; non-tenure-track faculty earn only slightly more than half that of tenure-track faculty in the same discipline. The discipline that comes closest in equal pay between non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty is “Theology and Religious Vocations,” in which non-tenure-track faculty salaries are 97.5% that of tenure-track faculty salaries. (However, faculty in religious studies are some of the lowest paid in general.)

Findings from the 2015-16 Faculty in Higher Education Salary Survey reflect detailed aggregate salary information from 743 institutions for 241,491 full-time faculty in 32 general disciplines and 345 specific disciplines.

Visit the CUPA-HR website to order results and to see more data from the 2015-16 Faculty in Higher Education Salary Survey.


CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving more than 20,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 1,900 member organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

CUPA-HR surveys are designed by higher ed HR and research professionals for higher ed HR and research professionals.