How Much Do Professors Make: A Quick Guide

Professors’ earnings, on a scale of one to ten, range from one to ten! There are different levels of university teaching staff which include assistant, associate, and full professors. Full professors’ salaries will depend on whether or not they have tenure (a long-term teaching contract), their education, how many degrees they have and in what subjects, the type of college or university, e.g., public or private, research, and even location. The top five full professors’ annual salaries for public and private universities according to salaries are listed below.

  • University of California, San Francisco, $295,123 (Public)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch, $256,817 (Public)
  • New York University, $225, 325 (Private)
  • Yale University, $216,723 (Private)
  • Harvard University, $205,584 (Private)

Published Professors Earn More

A professor’s salary can be increased by money earned through grants, published articles or books, summer teaching, sabbaticals to work with private or public organizations, overtime, and incentive payments. There also are annual raises which can impact pay especially for tenured professors.

As a result, there are some very highly-paid professors whose pay falls far outside the salaries listed above. David Silvers earns more than $4M a year as a professor of Dermatology and Pathology at Columbia. He teaches and runs a highly specialized lab at the University’s Medical Center. Another professor falling outside the average, Zev Rosenwaks is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cornell University and is the director of a reproductive medical center at the University’s Medical College. He earns more than $3M annually. You can see that the amount of money college professors earn varies widely and for many reasons.

Salary Difference in University vs. College

Additionally, while the words college and university are often used interchangeably, there are differences. A university is a large institution wherein students may earn undergraduate or graduate degrees. Research is generally performed at larger institutions. Colleges are generally smaller institutions and may offer an associate degree or liberal arts baccalaureate degree.

This distinction is important when looking at how much college professors earn. Salaries are determined by several variables including include education level, related degrees earned, the discipline or field of study, the type of educational institution, i.e., public or private and two- or four-year programs, research, tenure, and even location. 

There are different levels of university instructors including assistant and associate professors whose career at that level is a tenure-track position. Only the full professor may have tenure at a university. Having tenure is having a contract between the university and the professor wherein they agree that the professor’s appointment to the university may be indefinite. At most universities, a tenured professor has multiple degrees including a doctoral degree, has taught for an extended period, and is involved in extensive research in their field of study.    

No origination fees or prepayment penalties

Fixed rates from 3.70% - 8.24% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

Top Paid Professors’ Colleges

So, where do professors earn the most? Our 2023 rankings are based on data about college professor and faculty AVERAGE salaries at each institution. As mentioned above, faculty who earn higher salaries tend to be more tenured, so colleges and universities with higher average salaries are often seen as an indicator of higher academic strength. But, this ranking can also be affected by other factors — such as the presence of a medical school or other high-paying faculty positions.

  1. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: Average Faculty Salary $232,396
  2. Harvard University: Average Faculty Salary $151,262
  3. California Institute of Technology: Average Faculty Salary $148,763
  4. Princeton University: Average Faculty Salary $148,403
  5. University of Chicago: Average Faculty Salary $140,850
  6. Yale University: Average Faculty Salary $137,155
  7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Average Faculty Salary $134,572
  8. Columbia University in the City of New York: Average Faculty Salary $133,945
  9. University of Pennsylvania: Average Faculty Salary $132,785
  10. Stanford University: Average Faculty Salary $131,504

For more information on what college professors earn, go to the full table on to see what your college professor earns.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.