Focus on Psychology Faculty: Salaries, Pay Equity, Minority Representation, and the Growth of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

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By Jacqueline Bichsel, Jasper McChesney, and Anthony Schmidt  |  November 2019

Introduction

Psychology remains one of the more popular undergraduate majors in higher education, ranking behind only business, health professions, and social sciences and history.1Social sciences and history were combined. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2018). Chapter 3. Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094). One reason for psychology’s popularity is its versatility — an undergraduate degree in psychology can lead to a career or graduate study in law, medicine, teaching, business, and many other areas.2Franek, R. (2018). Top 10 College Majors (Article). The Princeton Review. 

A sizeable number of psychology faculty complement this discipline’s popularity as a major. Overall, psychology faculty make up about 5 percent of the total faculty population.3Across all 34 disciplines surveyed, n = 12,378 psychology faculty out of N = 258,378 total faculty. Source: CUPA-HR 2018-19 Faculty in Higher Education Survey. In this brief, we provide a snapshot of psychology faculty data: how their salaries compare to other disciplines, the representation and pay of women and minorities, and the growth of non-tenure-track faculty.4Data are from the CUPA-HR 2018-19 Faculty in Higher Education Survey, which uses IPEDS Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes to designate faculty discipline. Data consist of institutional-level median salaries paid by discipline and rank.

How Do Psychology Faculty Salaries Compare to Faculty Salaries in Other Disciplines?

Figure 1 depicts the pay ratios of selected faculty disciplines compared to what faculty from all disciplines combined are paid.5Data displayed are for full-time, tenure-track faculty. Pay ratios are derived by dividing the median salary of all faculty combined by the median salary of faculty from the designated discipline. Psychology faculty with all ranks combined are paid $0.92 on the dollar compared to faculty from all disciplines. Their salaries are also lower than faculty in the social sciences. This disparity exists at each rank but is most notable at the rank of assistant professor. In contrast, faculty in business are paid well above the all-disciplines-combined level at every rank.6To view salaries from other faculty disciplines, see results available in DataOnDemand or the Faculty in Higher Education Annual Report.

Figure 1. Median Pay Ratios by Faculty Disciplines by Rank

Psychology faculty have been paid below the median level of all faculty combined for the past 16 years (Figure 2).7Data are for full-time, tenure-track faculty. The $1.00 mark represents median pay for all faculty disciplines combined. Their pay ratio was lowest after the recession, when budget cuts forced many institutions to decrease or freeze raises, indicating that psychology faculty sustained an especially hard hit compared to other faculty during this period. Although there was a rebound in 2017, the pay ratio remains low.

Figure 2. Pay Ratio of Psychology Faculty to All Tenure-Track Faculty

Pay and Representation of Women Tenure-Track Faculty

Figure 3 displays median pay ratios and representation of women in tenure-track faculty positions at each rank. The pay gap for women widens with increases in rank for female tenure-track psychology faculty.8The $1.00 line represents what men are paid at each rank. Whereas new hires (new assistant female psychology professors) are paid more than men ($1.02), the pay ratio gradually decreases with each increase in rank. Women at the full professor level in psychology are paid $0.94 on the male dollar. It’s notable that this gap at the full professor level for women psychology faculty is narrower than the gap for women faculty with the rank of full professor in all disciplines combined, where women are paid only $0.89 for every dollar earned by men.

Women are better represented among tenure-track psychology faculty at all ranks than among faculty as a whole. However, as is the case with all faculty, their representation decreases with increases in rank. Whereas women make up nearly two-thirds (63%) of new tenure-track psychology hires, they make up less than half (45%) of full professors.

Figure 3. Representation and Pay of Women in Tenure-Track Faculty

Pay and Representation of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Tenure-Track Faculty

Figure 4 displays median pay ratios of racial/ethnic minorities in tenure-track faculty positions at each rank. In all faculty positions combined (represented by round dots), minorities are paid more than equitably, and Asians in particular are paid well above equity at all ranks. This may represent an effort to attract and retain minorities in tenure-track faculty positions. The same result is found for psychology faculty (represented as squares), although Asians do not receive the same disproportionate pay in psychology. In addition, at the rank of professor, Hispanic and Black psychology faculty are paid much more than they are for all disciplines combined.

Figure 4. Pay of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Tenure-Track Faculty

For all tenure-track faculty combined, 24% of new hires (new assistant professors) are minorities (Figure 5). However, their representation decreases with each increase in rank — only 17% of full professors are minorities. The decline in minority representation at each rank for psychology faculty is even more precipitous, from 23% representation at the rank of new assistant professor to 10% at the rank of professor.

Figure 5. Representation of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Tenure-Track Faculty

The Growth of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

As a percentage of all faculty, non-tenure-track (NTT) full-time teaching faculty have risen steadily over the past six years (Figure 6).9For the CUPA-HR Faculty in Higher Education Survey, data are collected separately for tenure-track (TT), non-tenure teaching (NTT), and non-tenure research (NTR) faculty. In 2013-14, NTT faculty made up approximately one-fourth (24%) of all faculty. In 2018-19, they made up more than one-third (34%). In comparison, NTT faculty currently make up only 22% of psychology faculty and have increased proportionally at a slower rate than other disciplines since 2013-14.

Figure 6. Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Growth, 2014-19

Pay and Representation of Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Figure 7 displays median pay ratios and representation of women and minorities in NTT faculty. The pay gap for NTT women in psychology (who are paid $0.96 on the male dollar) is less than that for all NTT faculty ($0.93).10The $1.00 represents what men are paid for the “Women” category, and it represents what White faculty are paid for the “Blacks” and “Hispanics” categories. Women make up more than half (56%) of all NTT faculty. They make up two-thirds (66%) of NTT psychology faculty.

Pay gaps for different ethnicities vary widely. Asian NTT faculty are paid much more than are White NTT faculty across all disciplines, whereas they are paid near equity in psychology. Black NTT psychology faculty have less of a pay gap than they do in all disciplines combined, and Hispanics have more of a pay gap. The representation of Asians among NTT psychology faculty is less than that of all disciplines combined. The representation of Black and Hispanic NTT psychology faculty is approximately equal to that of all disciplines combined.

Figure 7. Representation and Pay of Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Non-Tenure Faculty

Summary Points

  • Tenure-track psychology faculty are consistently paid less than faculty as a whole across all ranks, and this is established as a long-term trend.
  • Although women are better represented in psychology than in all disciplines
    combined, their representation decreases with increases in rank, a trend seen across all disciplines. The same trend is seen with female/male pay. With each
    increase in rank, the pay gap between male and female psychology faculty
    increases.
  • Psychology faculty have a lower percentage of racial/ethnic minorities at each rank when compared to all faculty. In addition, the percentage of minorities decreases greatly with each increase in rank. However, minorities are paid more than equitably at each rank, and — at the rank of full professor — Hispanic and Black psychology faculty are paid much more than are full professors of color in all faculty combined.
  • The growth in non-tenure-track faculty as a proportion of all faculty has not been as steep for psychology faculty in comparison to other disciplines. Psychology has maintained relatively low numbers of non-tenure-track faculty.

Citation for this report: Bichsel, Jacqueline; McChesney, Jasper; & Schmidt, Anthony (2019, November). Focus on Psychology Faculty: Salaries, Pay Equity, Minority Representation, and the Growth of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty (Research Report). CUPA-HR.


 

Printer-friendly Version 1 Social sciences and history were combined. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2018). Chapter 3. Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094). 2 Franek, R. (2018). Top 10 College Majors (Article). The Princeton Review.  3 Across all 34 disciplines surveyed, n = 12,378 psychology faculty out of N = 258,378 total faculty. Source: CUPA-HR 2018-19 Faculty in Higher Education Survey. 4 Data are from the CUPA-HR 2018-19 Faculty in Higher Education Survey, which uses IPEDS Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes to designate faculty discipline. Data consist of institutional-level median salaries paid by discipline and rank. 5 Data displayed are for full-time, tenure-track faculty. Pay ratios are derived by dividing the median salary of all faculty combined by the median salary of faculty from the designated discipline. 6 To view salaries from other faculty disciplines, see results available in DataOnDemand or the Faculty in Higher Education Annual Report. 7 Data are for full-time, tenure-track faculty. The $1.00 mark represents median pay for all faculty disciplines combined. 8 The $1.00 line represents what men are paid at each rank. 9 For the CUPA-HR Faculty in Higher Education Survey, data are collected separately for tenure-track (TT), non-tenure teaching (NTT), and non-tenure research (NTR) faculty. 10 The $1.00 represents what men are paid for the “Women” category, and it represents what White faculty are paid for the “Blacks” and “Hispanics” categories.