The Working Environment Matters: Faculty Member Job Satisfaction by Institution Type

March 2018

Changes to faculty status may discourage new doctoral recipients from pursuing academic careers.


Ongoing shifts in faculty roles and responsibilities – particularly the increasing use of part-time and nontenure-track positions – may lower faculty job satisfaction and diminish academia’s appeal for highly qualified candidates. Faculty attitudes, in turn, can have concomitant effects on student learning, academic scholarship and institutional success. This study examines faculty job satisfaction across different types of institutions and explores how gender, race, age and other personal factors interact with faculty expectations, experiences, and perceptions of the work environment to determine satisfaction.

Key Insights
Although some faculty report low job satisfaction and a few expressed enough dissatisfaction to consider leaving the profession, most full-time faculty appear satisfied with their work.
Women report lower salaries than men, but not lower overall job satisfaction.
Professors in baccalaureate and master’s institutions seem to achieve better work-life balance than those in doctoral and research universities.
Across all types of institutions, many faculty have seen an increase in their workload and express dissatisfaction with rising levels of bureaucracy.

Guided by Hagedorn’s (2000) framework for job satisfaction and Rhoades, Eisenberger and Armeli’s (2001) theory of Perceived Organizational Support, the author used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design to examine survey data from Harvard University’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. She also interviewed a sample of respondents to explore their level of job satisfaction and intent to leave academia.