Faculty employment at 4-year colleges and universities

Liang Zhang, Xiangmin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the variation in employment levels of part-time faculty, full-time teaching faculty, and full-time professorial faculty across 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. Employment structures and practices in higher education institutions are determined by a variety of economic and institutional factors. For example, a 1% increase in the average salaries paid to professorial faculty increases the employment level of part-time faculty by 0.845%. A 1% increase in the average salaries paid to full-time teaching faculty reduces the employment level of full-time teaching faculty by 0.757%. Institutions located in large cities or suburban areas hire 31.3% more part-time faculty but 12.5% fewer full-time teaching faculty. Private institutions hire more part-time faculty than their public counterparts. A 10% increase in FTE student enrollment is associated with a 5.4% increase in the number of part-time faculty, a 10.1% increase in the number of full-time teaching faculty, and a 9.1% increase in professorial faculty. In addition, we find divergent patterns of temporal variability among these three types of faculty. While employment levels of full-time instructors and professorial faculty are rather consistent over time, there is a wide range of fluctuation in the employment of part-time faculty. Finally, the employment of part-time faculty is significantly affected by that of full-time teaching faculty. There is no substitution effect on the employment of professorial faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Contingent faculty
  • Faculty employment
  • Part-time faculty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics


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