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Adjunct Pay Vs. Administrator Pay

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I was calculating the income for an Adjunct Professor:

(However, know there is a big difference between the pay levels between an adjunct, an instructor, a lecturer, an assistant professor, an associate professor, a professor and a big difference between tenured and non-tenured, and instructional staff or a research professor… it gets complicated on purpose)

$2,100 adjunct pay for one 3 unit class over a semester

subtracting ~18% taxes (10% income and 8% fica/state)

= $1,722 semester take home pay

minus – parking ~$300 (wow)

minus – commute / gas ajuncts drive a lot ~$300 (wow)

= $1,122 net pay

/ 15 weeks = $74.80 per week

@ 10 hours per week

(if 40 hrs is full time, if a 3 credit class is 25% of full time for a professor = 10 hours)

= $7.48 per hour, net income

Not including time creating the class and not including finals week.

This can’t be right. What am I missing?


I learned that 5 – three credit class is considered a full time job for lecturers. I might think this applies to adjuncts too? Allocating 8 hours per class.
That changes it to $9.35 per hour.

Wait. If the average debt to get a teaching level degree is _ and payments after graduation total______________
this leaves __ to live on.

And remember healthcare is not included. Many adjuncts take on extra classes from other schools, and since they are part time at each one, no one includes benefits…

Update 2,

If I add one week before classes start, to load a class into a software system and create a syllabus, and add one week after for submitting final grades.

17 weeks, at 8 hours per week = $66 per week = $8.25 per hour.

Adjunct Pay Range

Average adjunct faculty instructor pay varies by community college, but is significantly lower than the salaries of tenured professors. In some cases, adjunct faculty are paid as little as $1,000 per course. A few schools pay as much as $5,000, with the median salary paid to adjunct professors being $2,700 per three-credit course. Community colleges also save money by hiring several part-time adjunct instructors instead of one who is full-time, so they don’t have to pay the health benefits a full-time employee would receive.

(So, let’s retire all the tenured professors, and hire a fresh out of college, adjunct to keep costs low:)


The average graduate student loan debt balance is $102,913 among federal borrowers. The average undergraduate student loan debt balance is $37,651. The average debt among master’s degree holders is $80,494. The average debt among PhD holders is $132,268.Oct 26, 2022
Average Graduate Student Loan Debt [2023]: for Master’s & PhD Education Data Initiative

Monthly loan payment over 10 years @ 4.66% for the average PhD is $1,381.
A semester might span 4.5 months = $6,214.50 / 5 classes = $1,242.90 loan payment per class, which eclipses the net salary of $1,122 for the class – which is often paid back to the University where one received the PhD in the first place.
Remember, these loans are not forgivable in bankruptcy – these students now professors are in debt for life. See: Peonage

Not to mention, if a full class is 30 students at $1,000 tuition each = $30,000 income with a cost of $2,100 for the professor. What is the IRS rule for Administration to Program Cost Ratio for a Non Profit Organization?

But, but, you receive a tax deduction for the loan payment – (The maximum deduction is $2,500 a year). But, but, not everyone pays for parking and some don’t commute that far.

Even at full gross pay not paying any taxes, not having any expenses, at the rare full employment level at $2,100 x 5 = $10,500 – $6,214 = $4,286 for 680 hours of work, (8hrx17wk=136hrx5cl=680hr)

equals a grand total of $6.30 per hour.

The only way to really make this work is to graduate as a PhD with no debt, be within walking distance to 2 Universities, teach 5-6 classes, hide from the IRS, don’t have children (and have a spouse that works for a living).

My math must be wrong. Someone please tell me where I’m going wrong, and what I’m missing?

And, how does this compare to Administrator’s pay, (or athletics)?

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