Pay Adjunct Professors a Living Wage

Target: Dr. Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of the Department of Education

Goal: Raise adjunct professors’ pay to $6,800 per course

The New York Times recently reported that 76% of university professors are adjuncts, the highest percentage recorded. Adjunct professors make an average of $2,700 per course and receive no health care or other benefits. Three courses taught per semester is the average full-time load, so an adjunct working full-time each semester makes an average of $16,200 in a year.

With student loan debt now overtaking credit card debt by $1 trillion to $798 billion, graduate PhDs desperately need jobs and are increasingly unable to find them. The average student loan burden is about $27,000, but many PhD students are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and owe over $700 a month in repayments.

Adjuncts get little respect from their colleagues. Often they are not allowed to have offices or participate in faculty meetings. The average adjunct position rarely leads to a full-time professorship: about 40% of academic positions have been eliminated since 2008.

The Modern Language Association, an organization that publishes and promotes the work of language teachers, publishes recommendations for salaries of adjunct professors. Last year, the MLA called for adjunct pay to be set at a minimum of $6,800 for a standard 3-credit course, for a full-time total of $40,800 per year. In contrast, the average professor makes $73,000 a year.

We think it’s perfectly reasonable for a teacher with an advanced degree to earn a living salary, especially since that salary has to pay for benefits and is not likely to be full-time. Urge Dr. Martha Kanter, the Under Secretary of the Department of Education, to mandate minimum pay of $6,800 for each adjunct course.


Dear Dr. Kanter,

We would like to address the plight of adjunct professors. As of this year, 73% of college teachers are adjuncts. The average pay for adjuncts is $2,700 per course, meaning with a full-time course load of 3 courses per semester, they make $16,200 per year.

The average student loan burden has now crossed $1 trillion, with the average student owing $27,000. The interest rate on student loans is set to double to 6.8% in July.

The Modern Language Association has recommended that adjunct professors be paid a minimum of $6,800 per 3-credit-hour course, for a total of $40,800 a year full-time. We believe that it’s perfectly reasonable for a teacher with an advanced degree to earn a livable salary, especially since adjuncts are unlikely to get full-time work and don’t get benefits. Please raise adjunct pay to $6,800 per course as soon as possible.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    Totally absurd and disrespectful to pay these highly qualified professors a minimum wage. They help to educate our future citizens and contributors to the well being of our nation.

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