1997-98: Faculty Salaries in Graduate Departments of Psychology

Marlene Wicherski, Steven Williams and Jessica Kohout
APA Center for Workforce Studies
March 1998
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 effort. This has been accomplished by modifying the Graduate Study instrument and including brief inserts with Graduate Study. This effort is being re-evaluated to see how we can best balance demands on the chairs for data with chairs' continuing needs for certain department-level data.


In September 1997, the Faculty Salaries portion of the 1997-98 Survey of Graduate Departments of Psychology was mailed to 632 U.S. and Canadian graduate departmetns of psychology. Eligible departments were drawn from the current edition of "Graduate Study in Psychology" (APA, 1997) and prior editions, which included many departments not strictly defined as psychology departments (e.g., "Graduate Study in Psychology and Associated Fields," APA, 1991), 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. Departments that had not yet returned completed forms by December were sent a second set of materials. In February, those who had still not responded were contacted by phone in an attempt to boost the rate of participation.

Of the 632 departments and professional schools surveyed, 362 provided at least some usable information, for an overall response rate of 57.3 percent. Data presented in this report are based on 6,427 faculty who hold doctorates, who are employed full time and for whom the relevant data were available. Included in this total are 4,863 faculty in 253 U.S. doctoral departments, 1,165 faculty in 95 U.S. master's departments and 399 faculty in 14 Canadian departments.

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 instution is public or private, and the department type. Substantially higher levels of response were obtained in the U.S. for doctoral departments (65.4 percent) than for master's departments (45 percent). Departments in the U.S. overall were far more likely to have completed the survey then Canadian departments (58.2 percent vs. 41.2 percent). 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.

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: geogrpahic 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. Statistics on Canadian faculty concentrate on doctoral-level departments as there was only one at the master's level supplying data.

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, and a comparison of academic salaries paid to men and women of equivalent years in rank. The final table presents average amounts paid to adjunct or other part-time faculty who are compensated on a per-course basis.


Readers of this report should consider possible error introduced by nonresponse. Comparisons of reposndents 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 repsonse rate was lower for U.S. master's deparmtents and especially for departments in Canada. Thus, in reading the results, it is important to consult Appendix A for the approrpiate rate of response.

Several tables report percent changes in average salaries over the past two yeras. 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 Embassy of 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 respoective years; they are not based on changes in faculty salaries computed on an indvidual 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.