Posted by & filed under Q&A Series.

Matt and I get several really good questions from adjuncts regarding anything from the inner workings of the AdjunctWorld database to the general state of online adjunct teaching these days.  Because these questions are poignant and relevant to our community, we thought we’d start a series of Q&A articles based on the emails we receive.  We answer based on our knowledge, research, and experience, but leave the comment section open for you to help us answer these questions too!

Here is a recent question from an AdjunctWorld community member:

As I look through online adjunct teaching vacancies, I notice that the institutions appear to avoid specifics, like the number of weeks of each class, the salary range, and the anticipated class size.  I’ve clicked through several institutional websites without being able to find this information, or even the individual who might know the answer.  Without this specific information, these listings are really not very useful. Can you help?

You are hitting on one of the frustrations I have both as an adjunct and as someone who lists jobs on AdjunctWorld.  I can only take information that the school itself has listed on their human resources page.  In the vast majority of cases, they do not list much about salary, time committment or class size.  I agree–pretty important information!  I’ve noticed this not just for adjunct positions, but for a lot of job descriptions out there on the web, even for full time, tenure-track faculty positions.  Makes me wonder if its not a legal thing that schools are adhering to or if it is somehow, in some strange way, “better for buisness” not to offer that information.  Maybe they want folks to begin the applicaiton process before knowing those specifics.

Some other hypotheses I have–it could be a seller’s market out there.  Currently more adjuncts looking for work than there are positions available.  Knowing that, schools may be focused on making sure they are hiring the adjunct who best fits their needs–focusing on requirements, skills, and talents they are seeking in an adjunct.  Most all job postings consist of very long lists of qualities they are looking for in an instructor.  They assume they pay fairly, but don’t focus there, instead emphasizing finding the right person for them (someone who meets their accreditation requirements, too).

Another guess–salary varies based not only on degree but on experience.  To list a salary range might not be all that helpful if the salary range is large (from a Bachelor’s degreed adjunct with little experience to a Doctoral degreed adjunct with 20 years experience).  It wouldn’t help me to know that the salary range was $1000 – $5000.  A range like that might also set up expectations that the school can’t meet depending on how well they are doing financially at that time.  The job posting itself might be general because the specifics change from month to month.  Class sizes one term may be small, the next large.  They don’t know.  Same with how much they are able to pay.

I’ve always found that the best way to get the skinny on the specifics of a job is to talk to an adjunct who is currently teaching there.  Do you belong to adjunct groups on LinkedIn or Facebook/Twitter?  You could make connections with adjuncts who teach at the schools who have jobs listed that you are interested in and open a dialogue with them about salary/time committment, etc–and get the kind of information you would need to determine if you’d like teaching there or not.

Since schools are competing with each other for qualified online applicants, I would say that they are all offering close to what could be industry standard.  I’ve found that industry standard is $1300-1500 for 5 week online courses.  That’s for undergrad classes.  Incremental increase in that as the class gets longer and a little bit more for graduate courses.  PHD instructors get paid a bit more (but not a whole lot more, in my experience) than Master’s level instructors.

Best practices in online teaching suggests that classes be no bigger than 20-25 with anticipated drops getting you closer to 18 in an online class.  This doesn’t speak to what schools actually do, but if a school if following best practices, you shouldn’t have more than 20ish in each class.  But a school who wants to follow best practices might not be able to in a given term based on enrollment, need, and financials.

Hope you find this helpful!  You are reminding me, in the rare event that a school does list salary/time committment information, to make sure I include it in my 500 character blurb!


I open this question up to the AdjunctWorld community–why do you think schools don’t always list the specifics we often look for?  Comment below!

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