MIT professors earn $185,900 on average

Institute pays female and male full professors more equally than peers
April 11, 2014

A recent survey of U.S. research universities found that faculty salaries increased 0.7 percent this academic year, the first increase since 2009.

The report was released by the American Association of University Professors, which based its findings on the results of the its annual survey of full-time faculty compensation.

Professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and instructors all saw increases this academic year. The report points out, however, that even though “all the figures are positive this year, meaning that salaries rose on average… that is certainly not the case at every institution.”

At MIT, continuing full professors received an average raise of 4.3 percent, associate professors 7.3 percent, assistant professors 5.2 percent, and instructors 3.3 percent, though the average instructor salary actually decreased. The report also revealed improved gender pay equality at MIT.

At $185,900, MIT’s average 2013-2014 full professor salary was the tenth highest among those at U.S. colleges surveyed. Columbia University topped the report’s list, paying full professors an average of $215,500 annually. Stanford University came in second and the University of Chicago third, paying average annual salaries of $215,200 and $210,700, respectively. (Salaries are less than total compensation.)

Provost Martin A. Schmidt PhD ’88 warned against comparing salary data from different institutions, writing in an email that “salary comparisons made in the aggregate across institutions can be somewhat misleading, given that not all institutions house the same disciplines.” Eight of the top nine schools in the survey have medical schools, he pointed out.

Comparing faculty salaries by gender reveals that the gender pay-gap is smaller at MIT than at its peer institutions. Female MIT full professors make 0.1 percent more on average than their male counterparts. For comparison, female professors at Caltech earn only 90.8 percent as much as their male counterparts. At Harvard, this value is 91.6 percent.

The report criticized the increase in administrative positions across the country. “As this report has argued for many years, the academic mission of teaching and research should be the core of what colleges do, and decisions about spending should reflect a focus on this core mission,” it read.

Citing data that show that budgets for instruction and research have decreased relative to student services and institutional support, the report argues that institutions may not be prioritizing teaching and research.

“Increasingly, institutions of higher education have lost their focus on the academic activities at the core of their mission. Spending on administrative and support positions has continued unabated in the two decades,” the report writes.

MIT may be an exception. According to the preliminary report of the Task Force on the Future of MIT Education, the ratio of administrators to faculty remained relatively constant from 1981 to 2011. In 1981, there were 4.2 employees in administrative roles per faculty member. In 2011, the figure was 4.3.