Colleges turn to low-paid adjuncts

Colleges and universities are hiring part-time instructors for an average of $2,987 for a three-credit course. Adjuncts at rural community colleges average $1,808. Part-timers can be hired and fired as needed; few receive health insurance or other benefits.

About half of all college and university faculty — more than 70 percent at community colleges — are part-timers, estimates the American Federation of Teachers.

About Joanne


  1. It’s a mixed bag. My wife just left her adjunct position at a major university after 7 years with no regrets. We were financially secure before she took the job and she’s now doing a tech startup which takes too much time to keep teaching as well. It’s a great opportunity for people who have done well career wise and want to take a few years to teach without having to commit to the tenure track. It can. however, be a dead end for those for whom it is a real job.

  2. It’s also a great place for people who want to work part time. With a set schedule, it’s easy to plan childcare, and if you teach very few classes you have almost no outside (committee, etc) responsibilities. It’s really bad, though, if you’re trying to earn a living by piecing together several classes between different campuses or schools.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    My wife, MA +, was an adjunct for some years. She’d been a HS teacher before and after.
    I met a number of her colleagues, adjunct and PhD types. The question is what a PhD knows that is necessary in the first two years’ study.
    The PhDs were also where the quirky, juvenile, disruptive crap went on. The adjuncts were professional.

    • PhDs can be adjuncts, too…I was one. While I don’t think that my PhD was necessary for the intro level courses, my students liked it when I threw in real-life examples from the seminars that I heard in grad school. Masters students heard them, too, but I went to 5 years worth, not 2 or 3, so I had a lot to draw on. 🙂 I currently teach high school homeschoolers…I guarantee that my PhD isn’t necessary for that one, but I have spent a lot more time thinking about some of the topics than the average high school teacher.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        I should have said tenured and tenure track instead of PhD. The full-timers, in other words. Nutcases.

  4. I was a full time electronics instructor for 13 years before I was asked to become an adjunct. The pay is too low to make it your real job.

  5. Like this is new? My sister has been working on and off as an adjunct since the 80’s.