2009-10: Faculty Salaries in Graduate Departments of Psychology

Marlene Wicherski, Tanya Jacobsen, Victoria Pagano and Jessica Kohout
APA Center for Workforce Studies
March 2010
Report Text


Surveys of faculty salaries in graduate departments of psychology have been conducted since the mid-1960s, first by the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP), and after 1978 by the American Psychological Association (APA) in conjunction with COGDOP. Subsequent years saw the survey broaden in scope to cover more diverse issues concerning graduate education, and in 1990 it was divided into two separate components, with the initial phase of the survey addressing faculty salaries and the second covering other topics. More recently that second portion was folded in with the ongoing Graduate Study in Psychology effort. This was accomplished by modifying the Graduate Study instrument.


In early October, 2009, chairs of U.S. and Canadian graduate departments of psychology were contacted. Those with valid email addresses were sent instructions for completing the survey on a secure internet server. Hard-copy questionnaires were mailed to chairs whose email addresses were not known, and to chairs who requested hard copies or experienced technical difficulties with the online survey. Those who had not yet responded to the survey solicitation or completed all of the forms were sent a reminder email two weeks later; another follow-up was done two weeks after that, and a final reminder was sent after another two weeks. After the initial email invitations, hard copies were sent to all those who still had not responded by the end of January.

Eligible departments were drawn from the current edition of Graduate Study in Psychology (APA, 2009) and prior editions, and from the membership of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). The questionnaire requested information on demographics, employment status, rank, years in rank, highest degree and year awarded, and salary for all faculty members.

Of the 665 departments and professional schools surveyed, 337 provided at least some usable information, for an overall response rate of 50.7%. Data presented in this report are based on 6,530 faculty who hold doctorates, who are employed full time, and for whom the relevant data were available. Included in this total are 5,251 faculty in 253 U.S. doctoral departments, 1,007 faculty in 75 U.S. master's departments, and 272 faculty in 9 Canadian departments. Twenty departments responded to other portions of the survey but did not provide information on the salaries of individual faculty.

Consistent with previous efforts, response rates varied considerably, depending on the geographic location of the institution, the highest degree offered by the department (doctoral or master's), whether the institution is public or private, and the department type. Substantially higher levels of response were obtained in the U.S. for doctoral departments (59%) than for master's departments (37%). Departments in the U.S. overall were far more likely to have completed the survey than Canadian departments (52% versus 29%). Psychology departments were more likely than other types of academic units (e.g., professional schools or educational psychology departments) to provide data. More information on specific response rates can be found in Appendix Table A (PDF, 14KB).

Structure of the Report

Results are presented separately for (1) U.S. doctoral departments; (2) U.S. master's departments; and (3) Canadian departments. For U.S. doctoral departments, salaries are broken out along the following dimensions: geographic region, public or private institution status, and type of department (e.g., psychology, professional school of psychology, or human development). Among master's departments, the majority of participants were psychology departments; thus, detailed analyses have been limited to this category. No master’s-level departments in Canada participated in the survey this year.

Most salaries are reported according to academic rank and years in rank, or by years since earning the doctorate. Additional tables report salaries paid to chairs, other administrative positions, and newly hired faculty, changes averaged over the past three years, a comparison of salaries paid to men and women of equivalent years in rank, and average amounts paid to adjunct or other part-time faculty who are compensated on a per-course basis. New tables added this year present data on faculty who departed their positions and procedures for filling these vacated faculty lines.


Readers of this report should consider possible error introduced by nonresponse. Comparisons of respondents with nonrespondents indicated few marked differences in terms of the geographic distribution for U.S. doctoral departments overall and doctoral psychology departments, in particular. However, the response rate was lower for U.S. master's departments and for departments in Canada. Thus, in reading the results, it is important to consult Appendix A for the appropriate rate of response.

Several tables report percent changes in average salaries over the past two years. These percentages are discussed in both monetary terms (as measured in current dollars) and in real terms (those that have been adjusted for inflation rates reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the national statistical agency of Canada, Statistics Canada). It is important to note that these percentage changes are based on salary data reported by departments that responded to the survey for the respective years; they are not based on changes in faculty salaries computed on an individual basis. Thus, they are subject to the error that may be introduced by a slightly different set of departments responding to each survey.

Readers should also note that the term "Graduate Departments of Psychology" is meant broadly to encompass departments, schools, interdisciplinary programs, or other academic units listed in recent editions of Graduate Study in Psychology as offering a graduate degree in one or more areas of psychology. Departments may be called any of the following: (a) psychology; (b) educational psychology; (c) counseling psychology; (d) human development; (e) professional school; (f) counseling, guidance and counselor education; (g) school psychology; (h) education; or (I) other, but these department names are not synonymous with program areas. For example, a program in counseling or school psychology may be found in any of several categories. Almost two thirds of the departments award degrees in multiple areas of psychology. The remaining third tend to be departments that are specialized, offering degrees in a few closely related subfields. Thus, "graduate departments of psychology" refers to any academic unit that offers one or more graduate degrees in psychology.