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How Much Do I Make as an Adjunct?


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How Much I Make as an Adjunct Professor?

I’m James Callahan and this is the Do-Over Show where we dig deeper into the how and how much of things like working as an adjunct professor.

And, yes, I’ll show you what I’m going to be paid this semester from Elmhurst University – and how much adjuncts are paid at Elmhurst.

Let’s face it – for many of us working as adjunct instructors or lecturers or professors (whatever your school wants to call you), it’s a temp job – usually a course-by-course contract, and outside of major higher-ed systems and unions like the University of Illinois enjoys – there are no benefits, no guarantees, and no promise of promotion, more courses, or even retention after you submit the final grades each semester.

Some of you are lucky, not as lucky as a tenure-track appointment, but maybe visiting instructors, or full-time temp professors – and I’ve been both of those when I was trying to make a living teaching in higher ed.


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But my life has changed, and I’ve heard from so many of you who have watched my other videos on adjunct pay, how to get hired and keep your job as an adjunct, and how to handle the half-truths and deceptions of administrators and – to be honest – the lies we want to believe because we hope that if we do a great job as an adjunct we’ll get a permanent position.

That’s the lie too many of us want to believe.

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12 Comments

  1. Do you drink coffee or tea? Watch until the end and find out why that matters!

  2. You’ve put it all in the video perfectly! I love being an adjunct mostly. But yes, that’s with ignoring the pay and the drive time between the different campuses.

  3. The Christian university that didn't rehire me won't let me roll over my 401k because they still consider me employed.

  4. So happy to find your channel after searching "adjunct" in the search bar. I noticed you mentioned the University of Cincinnati in your video, which is the institution where I am currently employed as an instructor on one of their regional campuses. The $2700/course figure that was quoted in one of the article shown in the video is for the 2022-2023 academic year, which is what we now make after the proposed pay increase for sessional instructors. We previously made $2400/course. I'm entering my 4th year teaching as an adjunct and UC recently offered me an annual contract. For a 3:3 course load, I will make $16,200 with the potential to make $2700 more over the summer if I am offered a course. Annual adjuncts at UC are capped at ~21 credit hours or ~7 courses annually, reaching 64% Full Time Employment. The upside for this semi-promotion is that I now qualify for health and dental benefits in addition to paying into the state retirement system. My income supplements my family's income; it is not something we can rely on entirely. I'm very happy about the extra benefits this year! It's very important for would-be graduate students to be aware of the realities of the higher education job market and for contingent and FT faculty to be transparent about how much they earn. Thank you for your transparency.

  5. At my law school (this is around 2000) they paid the adjuncts around 500-1000 per course but they had plenty of takers from active attorneys who wanted to put "adjunct professor" on their resume. For us it was pretty good because they were mostly patent attorneys and we got to hear real-world stories-and they were already making decent money as patent attorneys. Since then I have "guest lectured" (for free!) at a couple of universities (in Hong Kong) and continuing ed for lawyers (Tokyo) because, yup, you guessed it, looks good on the resume.

  6. Thank you for your honesty. As an academic advisor at UH, I’ve been gutted by the reality of academia. Questioning my desire for a phd.

  7. Thanks for being willing to be so transparent with discussing the experience of adjuncts. Also, I noticed you don’t have any edit skips in your videos which means you’re a stellar speaker, very impressed as I tend to have to cut out so many uumms and other mistakes on my course videos.

  8. Subscribed!! Do you mentor people by chance??? I have been trying to become an adjunct for over a year and I cannot seem to find anyone to guide me! I need help!! Thank you for fall of your videos! I appreciate every one of them!!

  9. Subscribed! Very informative channel and fun. I’m graduating with my master’s degree this spring semester when it ends and was offered an adjunct position for a community college already for fall (after I put my portfolio together.) Good thing I enjoy academia as much as I do since I won’t be making much. I’m learning so much from you — thank you.

  10. Honestly, this is really discouraging to hear as a student, and it almost seems pointless to continue school. Besides learning, it seems the degree won't help me survive financially. How many courses is an adjunct instructor typically allowed to teach?

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