The nine colleges in America with the most ridiculously overpaid professors

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Back in April, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released an extensive report detailing the economic situation of the country’s professoriate. Inside Higher Education nicely summarized the findings.

Among the many impressive charts and graphs are listings of the various public and private schools which employ the highest-paid full and assistant professors.

Full professors at Columbia University bring home the highest salaries in the industry on average ($212,300). At Harvard, the average figure is $203,000. At Caltech, it’s $179,200. You could argue that these numbers are too high or too low, but it’s hard to argue that these schools shouldn’t be among the ones paying professors the most.

Other schools, not so much. Some colleges and universities that pay their professors a ton of money relative to the rest of the industry are real head-scratchers. These nine schools simply do not belong among the schools paying top dollar for their faculties.

New York University Getty Images Mario Tama

New York University is a fine school for privileged kids who want to spend four years and drop a ton of cash in the heart of a glorious city. Also, the Big Apple is nothing if not expensive, so it makes intuitive sense that all salaries would reflect the high cost of living. At the same time, NYU is nowhere near the Ivy League, now is it? The average full professor’s salary of $187,600 (more than at Yale, more than at Penn) seems excessive.


New Jersey Institute of Tecnhology Google street view

The vaunted U.S. News rankings — the last word on the quality of American colleges for some reason — places the New Jersey Institute of Technology #139 on its list of national universities. That’s a whopping 56 spots behind the University of Tulsa (but a few spots ahead of St. John Fisher College). Why do full professors at the public school average $166,700 per year, which is considerably more than full profs make at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor? For the record, the cost of living in NJIT’s hometown of Newark is roughly comparable to the cost in San Diego, according to

Rutgers University Newark Creative Commons Darkcore

At the Rutgers University campus in Newark, N.J. — which has taken to calling itself as Rutgers–Newark these days — full professors bring home an average of $154,700 per year. That’s righteous bucks for teachers at the school ranked #115 among national universities by US News. On the one hand, it can’t be easy to lure quality professors to a public school in Newark. On the other hand, there are a lot of struggling professors looking for job security out there. As noted above, the cost of living in Newark is roughly the same as the cost of living in San Diego.


Rutgers University New Brunswick public domain Metallurgist

Rutgers–New Brunswick, the flagship campus of Rutgers University is the third consecutive public school in New Jersey (and the fourth overall) on this list. It’s obviously good to be a professor sucking at the government teat in The Garden State. Full professors on the ugly Rutgers–New Brunswick campus average salaries of $151,000. According to CNN Money, the average family income in New Brunswick is a mere $45,357.


Rutgers University Camden public domain Henry Montesino

Rutgers–Camden, the Rutgers University campus in Camden, has an admit rate of over 62 percent and it doesn’t even make the list of national universities at U.S. News. Instead, Rutgers–Camden finds itself at #20 on the U.S. News Regional Universities (North) list. The school is lodged between Rowan University and Canisius College. Nevertheless, full professors at Rutgers–Camden haul in an average of $145,000 annually.

University of Texas at Dallas

No one is likely to confuse the University of Texas at Dallas with its more prestigious relative down the road in Austin. First of all, the campus at UT Dallas is a mostly a sad collection of atrocious 1970s-era buildings. Second, the school’s acceptance rate is over 50 percent and it U.S. News ranks it #151 among national universities—just ahead of a place called Maryville University of St. Louis. Nevertheless, full professors at UT Dallas average annual salaries of $143,100, a mere $900 less than their peers in Austin.


Wesleyan University Creative Commons Smartalic34

Wesleyan University is an outrageously expensive bastion of the liberal arts and sciences in Middletown, Conn. It’s a perfectly well-respected school with a low admit rate (and a legendary reputation for leftist intolerance). A typical salary for a full professor at Wesleyan is $133,700 per year. That’s just a few thousand dollars less than professors make at some far better schools including Amherst, Harvey Mudd and Williams.


Colgate University Creative Commons Stephen Sommerhalter

Colgate University is another perfectly fine school. It’s not clear why full professors there are pulling down $133,000 per year on average, though. Colgate does rank in the top 20 in the U.S. News rankings of national liberal arts colleges. On the other hand, the school is located in a pleasant rural hamlet in upstate New York where the median family income is just over $50,000.


Bryant University public domain SayCheeeeeese

Bryant University is a very business-oriented private school in Rhode Island. U.S. News ranks Bryant as the #15 school in the Regional Universities (North) list. According to the AAUP report, Bryant pays its assistant professors an average of $104,900 per year. This figure is on par with such academic powerhouses as MIT ($106,300), Carnegie Mellon ($103,900) and the University of Chicago ($102,700).

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Photo credits (in order of appearance): Getty Images/Mario Tama, Google street view, Creative Commons/Darkcore, public domain/Metallurgist, public domain/Henry Montesino, public domain/Stan9999, Creative Commons/Smartalic34, Creative Commons/Stephen Sommerhalter, public domain/SayCheeeeeese