Professor pay varies greatly by discipline

Professional school profs make much more than humanities; Quebec pay less than other provinces

Want to be a university professor when you grow up? Well, your paycheck will be greatly determined by your discipline, according to a study by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Professors in disciplines such as business and law make considerably more than their literature and philosophy counterparts, and the gap has grown significantly in the last 20 years, Inside Higher Ed reported. Although the study is based on American universities, a quick look at salaries in Canada points to a similar conclusion.

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By comparing the salaries of assistant professors, AAUP found that there is a large gap between professional schools and humanities. For instance, the average salary of business, administration, and management assistant professors is more than twice that of the English department average.

Using the English department average as a base, only other humanity faculty averages come in below, including foreign languages, literature, and philosophy. Computer and information sciences, economics, business, and law professors get paid at least 50 per cent more than English professors. Engineering and health sciences also fare well.

Although comprehensive analysis is not available for Canada, what we do know suggests that pay here is likely in line with that of American institutions. For instance, by comparing the faculty salaries of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto to the university’s classics department, one sees a significant salary gap.

Of the 149 faculty members listed on the Rotman school website(including adjunct, assistant, emeritus and full professors, and deans)only 32 were not on the annual Ontario public salaries disclosure list. Ontario annually discloses all public employee compensation over $100,000, so this suggests that, in 2006, only 20 per cent of Rotman faculty were paid less than $100,000 per year.(The number may be lower, due to the fact that the list measures compensation paid, not contracted salary. A individual on leave may not show up on the list, for example).

In the classics department, however, 45 per cent of professors listed as faculty on the departmental website do not show up on the disclosure list.

The highest paid position at Rotman in 2006 goes to dean Roger Martin, at $358,817.08, including salary and other compensation. Although the classics department does not have its own dean, department chair and ancient philosophy professor Brad Inwood earns salary and other compensation of $163,413.33.

The highest paid full professor at Rotman was paid a salary of $328,501.96 while the classics department’s top prof took home a salary of $160,076.04. Eight faculty members broke the $300,000 salary bracket at Rotman last year while no one in classics even broke $175,000.

Of those making more than $100,000, the average salary in the management school is $196,704.78 while the classics department is averaging $129,020.73. Of course, these averages do not include employees making less than $100,000, therefore the gap is likely even more dramatic.

Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, told Inside Higher Ed that the gap worried her. “I’m someone who thinks the value of a society – and the well-being of its citizentry – is reflected in the value we collectively place on the arts and letters,” she said. “We ought to be rewarding those who help us learn the lessons of Shakespeare’s plays just as we reward those who can teach us the lessons of Enron.”

Arthur Kraft, dean of the business school at Chapman University and chair of the board of AACSB International, said that business schools must pay professors considerably more to attract them to teaching positions. “It’s simply supple and demand.” Business programs must compete with the professional business world to get qualified teachers.

The AAUP study also found that full professors at top research universities in the U.S. make three times more than professors at smaller, less wealthy schools. The most recent Statistics Canada data, from 2003/2004, shows that Canadian salaries are much more consistent from university to university.

The average salary for a full professor at the University of Toronto is $125,578 while most universities in Ontario pay their professors between $100,000 and $110,000. Smaller universities with less of a research focus pay less, but not dramatically so. For instance, Lakehead University’s average pay for full professors is $101,865.

When comparing similar institutions in different provinces, the one standout is Quebec. The average salary for full professors at the majority of French-language universities in Quebecc is under $100,000. For example, Universite Laval’s average is $93,978. The province’s two large English-language universities, however, offer pay more in line with other provinces. McGill’s average salary for full professors is $112,084.