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Colleges with the Highest-Paid Professors

Paychecks for Professors


The process of becoming a college professor is a rigorous one, but the rewards for those who earn a staff position can be pretty sweet. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that included 1,142 American colleges and universities, the average salaries for full professors for the 2012-2013 academic year were often in the six figures, with some surpassing $200,000.

Which schools shell out the highest salaries of all? Using rankings published by The Chronicle of Higher Education that are based on data from the AAUP survey, we’ve rounded up the top 10 colleges that pay their full professors the biggest bucks. Read on to check them out—and see if your alma mater made the list.

#10: California Institute of Technology

Average salary for full professors: $179,200

Situated on a 124-acre campus in Pasadena, Calif, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering institution with a focus on both research and education. The attractive salaries of Caltech’s full professors are what earned the school the tenth spot on our list, though paychecks for Caltech’s lower-ranking professors aren’t too shabby either. Associate professors made $122,300 and assistant professors made $112,800 on average for the 2012-2013 academic year, though instructors made only $46,500.

#9: Duke University

Average salary for full professors: $180,200

Located in Durham, N.C, Duke is the only school from the southern United States to make our list. Salaries for full professors at the highly selective private institution averaged $180,200 for the 2012-2013 academic year, while associate professors made $120,000 and assistant professors made $97,300 on average.

#8: Yale University

Average salary for full professors: $186,300

This 312-year-old Ivy League institution comprises Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and 13 professional schools. Regarded as one of the top universities in the country, Yale’s salaries for full professors are near the top nationwide as well. Salaries for lower-ranking professors for the 2012-2013 academic year were also attractive, averaging $113,100 for associate professors and $94,200 for assistant professors.

#7: University of Pennsylvania

Average salary for full professors: $187,000

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in the 1740s, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) currently employs more than 4,000 active faculty members. The average salary for full professors ($187,000) isn’t much more than fellow Ivy Leaguer Yale (see previous slide), and isn’t far behind #6 on our list. Associate and assistant professors at UPenn also do well, earning average salaries of $117,300 and $116,200 for the 2012-2013 academic year, respectively.

#6: New York University

Average salary for full professors: $187,600

Boasting more than 40,000 students, New York University is one of the largest private universities in the country. With its main campus located in Manhattan’s vibrant (and expensive) Greenwich Village, it’s a good thing professors make enough to enjoy all the Big Apple has to offer. While not earning quite as much as full professors, associate and assistant professors took home average salaries of $107,700 and $105,300 for the 2012-2013 academic year, respectively.

#5: Princeton University

Average salary for full professors: $200,000

This prestigious Ivy League university offers graduate and undergraduate programs in a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. For the 2012-2013 academic year, full professors earned an average salary of $200,000 , while associate professors made $129,100, assistant professors took home $96,800, and instructors earned $81,500.

#4: Harvard University

Average salary for full professors: $203,000

The nation’s oldest institute of higher learning dating back to 1636, Harvard is known for educating some of the best and brightest scholars. Full professors earned an average salary of $203,000 for the 2012-2013 academic year, while associate professors made $118,900, assistant professors took in $113,400, and instructors earned $58,800. Students in Harvard College, which offers undergraduate degrees, can get to know their well-compensated professors up close—class sizes consist of fewer than 40 students on average, and more than half of the courses offered each semester enroll 10 or fewer students.

#3: The University of Chicago

Average salary for full professors: $203,600

“If the first faculty had met in a tent, this still would have been a great university,” Robert Maynard Hutchins, the University of Chicago’s fifth president, declared in his 1929 inaugural address. Today the 123-year-old private institution in the Windy City continues a tradition of academic excellence and pays its current staff generous salaries. For the 2012-2013 academic year, full professors made $203,600, while associate professors made $117,600, assistant professors made $102,700, and instructors made $59,300.

#2: Stanford University

Average salary for full professors: $207,300

In addition to paying its full professors royally, Stanford paid its associate professors $135,100 and its assistant professors $111,300 on average for the 2012-2013 academic year. Given those paychecks, it’s little wonder Stanford has managed to attract such distinguished faculty members as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is currently a professor of Political Economy and Political Science.

#1: Columbia University

Average salary for full professors: $212,300

With a rich history dating back to 1754, this private Ivy League institution located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side ranks first on our list of colleges with the highest-paid professors. Full professors at Columbia made a whopping $212,300 on average for the 2012-2013 academic year, while associate professors and assistant professors made $132,400 and $105,800, respectively. Instructors made more than six figures as well, with salaries averaging $112,200.

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