Professional in Higher Education Survey Methodology, 2021-22


CUPA-HR has been collecting data on higher ed professionals since 1998. The data collection period for CUPA-HR’s Professionals in Higher Education Survey ran from November 1, 2021, to January 14, 2022. The survey was conducted through Surveys Online.[1]


The survey collected data on 405 positions grouped into the following professional areas:[2]

  • Academic Affairs
    • Academic Coordinators, Accrediting and Credential Specialists, and Advisers
    • Instructional Design and Media, Training Delivery, and Faculty Development
    • Librarians (with and without faculty status)
    • Museum Professionals, Performing Arts Professionals, and Religious Officials
    • Admissions, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management Professionals
  • Athletics
    • Athletics Professionals and Trainers
    • Head Coaches
    • Specialty Coaches
    • Assistant Coaches
  • External Affairs
    • Development and Fundraising Professionals
    • Alumni Relations, Community Relations, and Public Policy Professionals
    • Communications and Marketing Professionals
    • Media Heads and Managers
    • Event Professionals
    • Extension Program Professionals
  • Facilities
    • Heads of Printing or Mailing Services, Maintenance, and Construction
    • Facilities Planners and Architects
    • Engineers
    • Environmental Safety and Risk Management, Facility Operations, and Retail Operation Professionals
  • Fiscal Affairs
    • Accounting Professionals
    • Audit and Finance and Budget Professionals
  • Information Technology (IT)
    • IT Heads
    • IT Analysts, Web Professionals, and Other End-User Specialists
    • IT Database, Client Support, and Network Support Professionals
    • IT Systems Support, Security, and Telecommunications Specialists
  • Institutional Affairs
    • Administrative Professional Associates
    • Legal and Human Resources Professionals
    • Organizational Development and Planning Professionals
    • Institutional Research and Assessment Professionals
    • Materials Management and Business Operations Professionals
    • Supervisors of Office and Clerical, Skilled Craft, and Service and Maintenance Personnel
  • Research Professionals, Statisticians and Data Scientists, and Health Science and Environmental Sustainability Professionals
    • Research Professionals: Physical and Social Sciences
    • Research Professionals: Medical and Life Sciences
    • Laboratory Coordinators
    • Research Support Professionals
    • Statisticians and Data Scientists
    • Health Science and Environmental Sustainability Professionals
  • Student Affairs
    • Student Success Professionals
    • Housing Professionals
    • Student Activities, Wellness, and Counseling Professionals
    • Cultural, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Professionals


This year’s survey includes data for 257,258 professionals. For each professional reported, the following data were collected:

  • Annualized base salary (effective date November 1, 2021)
  • H-1B status
  • Exempt/non-exempt status
  • Full-time/part-time status
  • Sex (optional)
  • Race/ethnicity (optional)
  • Year entered current position (optional)
  • Birth year (optional)
  • Bonus eligibility (yes or no; for coaches only)
  • State of residence

Participants could either enter this data manually online for each professional or upload a file containing this data.

Institutional Basics

Basic data on institutional characteristics were collected from all participants:

  • Total expenses reported to IPEDS in 2020-21
  • Student enrollment (effective date approximately October 15, 2021)
  • Faculty size (effective date November 1, 2021) and number of separations in the past year
  • Staff size (effective date November 1, 2021) and number of separations in the past year
  • Human resources staff size and number of separations in the past year
  • CHRO reporting relationship
  • Whether collective bargaining exists for the following groups:
    • Full-time faculty
    • Part-time or adjunct faculty
    • Full-time staff
    • Graduate students

Basic information on total expenses as well as student, faculty, and staff size were required questions. All other questions were optional.


Respondents were largely human resources professionals from higher education institutions in the U.S. There were 979 institutions that completed the survey.[3]


1 Surveys Online is a product of Peerfocus.

2 See the Professionals Survey Participation and Information Template for a complete list of all professional positions surveyed, instructions to participants, and more information on how data were collected.

3 Special focus institutions include medical institutions, law institutions, art design schools, tribal colleges, and others. Institutions not classified include international institutions, higher ed affiliates, and any other institution not listed with a basic Carnegie classification. Higher ed affiliates include research foundations, research laboratories, preparatory academies, and other institutions that CUPA-HR has deemed to have similar enough workforces to higher ed institutions that they may participate in CUPA-HR surveys and benchmark their positions using CUPA-HR data. For-profit institutions, higher ed affiliates, and non-classified institutions are generally not included in overall analyses of CUPA-HR data unless otherwise specified.