Public-private university salary gap widens: Report

Graduates pose after New York University's commencement ceremony at Yankee Stadium on May 16, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

A new report out today by the American Association of University Professors reveals a widening salary gap between public and private university professors. Given the dismal outlook of State budgets across the country, public universities will have to find a way to compete for talent with fewer resources than their private counterparts.

For a doctoral professor at public research university the average salary this year is $123,393. That same professor at a private university makes just over $167,118. It’s a gap that’s grown since last year.

John Thelin, author of The Rising Cost of Higher Education, says that disparity will have a profound impact on where professors chose to teach.

“Private and independent colleges and universities will be far more competitive and attractive to top academic talent,” Thelin says.

With education funding growing tighter, both public and private universities are offering fewer tenure-track positions. Saranna Thornton, one of the authors of the report, says this could lead to a pipeline effect.

“The best and brightest undergrads, we worry about people like that not even going into higher education,” Thornton says.

Instead, those graduates are could choose more lucrative careers in medicine, law and engineering.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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