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The Highest-Paid Professors in the U.S.

Tenured law professors make a median $143,509 a year—nearly twice what professors teaching English, history, the arts, and theology make

Law schools are in crisis: Enrollment is plummeting, bar exam pass rates are declining, and the employment rate for fresh graduates is abysmal. There's one area, however, in which these institutions still outpace the rest of academia: how much they pay. Tenured law professors pulled in a median salary of $143,509 in 2014, more than professors in any other discipline, according to new survey data.

All told, professor salaries rose 2 percent in 2014, edging above the inflation rate and pushing the median pay for tenured professors to $100,087, according to a report released on Monday by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. The group tracked faculty pay at 303 public institutions and 543 private institutions.

Professors teaching business, management, marketing, and related studies were the second-highest-paid of the bunch. They reported making $126,549 before bonuses. Engineering professors were a close third, at $126,653—still far more than the lowest-paid professors, who pulled in about $80,000 teaching theology and religious vocations, the arts, English, and history. 

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Before embarking on a rant about the plump pockets of tenured faculty, keep in mind that data tell us only part of the story. Professors who are publishing groundbreaking research or commanding world-renowned laboratories are likely to make hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the median figure. So, too, are faculty members lucky enough to score tenure at top private universities. Yet academics who fail to get tenure, are employed at public institutions with shaky finances, or work as adjuncts aren't likely to command competitive salaries. Academia is a world of extremes; earning those three coveted letters is hardly a ticket to stacks of cash.

What is safe to assume is that, even if the law school bubble is imploding, the professors at their helm seem to be doing just fine.

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