Salaries in Economics in US Academia 2010-11




The American academic market for young economists is undoubtedly the most interesting and sought after. Salary packages are competitive in most universities, and not necessarily in the top-ranked ones.

Each year, The American Economic Association sends out to selected institutions the Universal Academic Questionnaire (UAQ), an annual survey of US economics departments. The American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings includes a few tables assembled from the latest UAQ responses. Even though the accuracy of these results depends on the willingness of individual departments to collaborate, it is, nonetheless, a good indication of the working conditions to be expected in the American job market for economists.

All the figures in the tables below refer to academic-year salaries (calendar-year salaries are converted into academic-year salaries by multiplying by 0.818) and in USD. 1 USD = 0.734 Euros on 28 September 2011. The number of surveyed institutions is indicated in round parentheses; satndard deviations for salaries in square parentheses.


Salaries of tenure-track academic economists by degree-granting institution

The US academic market for economics is highly segmented and either focuses on teaching activities (institutions granting mainly BA and MA degrees) or on research activities as well (most institutions granting PhD degrees).

The Table below shows the salaries of tenured faculty at different institutions, based on the highest degree awarded in economics. Of course, universities granting research-based degrees (PhD) attract the most talented economists and offer the best salary packages.

US academic-year salaries of tenure-track academic economists

   Full Prof Associate Prof  Assistant Prof
PhD Institutions 

$159,816 (76)


$117,231 (76)


$100,451 (83)


 MA Institutions

 $106,953 (33)


$84,803 (31)


$79,492 (40)


 BA Institutions

 $103,262 (148)


$80,382 (30)


$74,677 (37)




Salaries of Associate and Full Professors at PhD-granting institutions

The National Research Council (NRC) rankings of economics graduate programs divide programs into tiers. The top three tiers include:

  • Tier 1 (ranked 1-6): Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale;
  • Tier 2 (ranked 7-15): Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Rochester, California-Berkeley, UCLA, and Wisconsin-Madison;
  • Tier 3 (ranked 16-30): Illinois-Urbana, Boston University, Brown, Cornell, Duke, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, New York University, North Carolina, Texas-Austin, Virginia, California-San Diego, University of Washington, and Washington University-St. Louis.

Not unsurprisingly, as the Table below shows, the lower Tier (lower numbers), the lower the average salary.

US academic-year salaries of tenure-track Associate and Full Professors in PhD granting universities by NRC Tiers (2010-11)

  Full Prof  Associate Prof 
Tiers 1-2 (ranks 1-15) 

 $224,010 (6)


$151,417 (5)


 Tier 3 (ranks 16-30)

 $180,518 (8)


$133,932 (8)


 Tier 4 (ranks 31-48)

 $171,024 (9)


$131,678 (9)


 Tier 5 (ranks 49+)

 $140,714 (45)


$104,758 (42)


Employment conditions for new Assistant Professors

The Table below provides a fuller description of the employment conditions of newly hired Assistant Professors at US academic institutions offering different degrees in economics. In addition to the salary, compensations include: guaranteed summer compensation (over all years), other cash benefits to employees, such as a signing bonus. They do not include fringe benefits, moving expenses, computer that remains the property of the institution. Finally, the Table also summarizes the teaching load for each new Assistant Professor (courses per year), which is inversely correlated to the highest degree on offer.

Employment conditions for new Assistant Professors (2010-11)

   Salary Add. compensation Teaching load 
 PhD Institutions

$111,878 (83)


$39,378 (81)


3.5 (86)


 MA Institutions

 $83,834 (26)


$14,333 (7)


4.6 (35)


 BA Institutions

 $73,431 (10)


$4,214 (9)


5.8 (11)



Scott, C. S. and Siegfried, J. J. (2011): “American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics”, American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 101 (664–667).


Page last updated on 23 April 2012