Science and engineering professors are among the highest paid professors at the University, and earn about $20,000 more than professors of humanities on average.
The average salary for a tenured professor in the College of Science is about $123,769, according to the LSU 2018-2019 Operating Budget. However, the average professor’s salary in three popular humanities departments — English, history and psychology — is about $108,400, which is approximately $20,000 lower than the average professors’ salaries in the Colleges of Science and Engineering.
Professors in both STEM and humanities departments agreed that this pay disparity may exist because of the salary differences of professionals in STEM and humanities fields.
Communication studies senior instructor Kent Filbel agreed that salaries are likely affected by how much professionals make on average in their fields.
Average professors’ salaries vary slightly within the College of Science’s five departments of biological sciences, chemistry, geology and geophysics, mathematics and physics and astronomy.
Although the Department of Mathematics employs 36 tenured professors — more than any other department in the college — its average professor’s salary was the lowest, at about $110,430.
The Department of Chemistry has the highest average professor’s salary within the college At about $136,329. The Department of Biological Sciences’ average professor’s salary of about $129,474 was the second highest. While the average history professor receives the highest salary of about $113,233. The average professors’ salaries within the Departments of Psychology and English are about $108,755 and $103,212, respectively.
Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology assistant professor Sara Thomas-Sharma said the pay disparity may just result from how faculty members negotiate their salaries when they’re hired.
“It’s what you negotiate for- that pretty much determines where you start off,” Thomas-Sharma said. “Depending on how much grant writing experience you have and what skills you bring to the table, you could potentially negotiate for more.”
English instructor Dorothy McCaughey said professors in science and engineering departments may also be paid more because they are typically awarded more grants than professors in the humanities.
Across the College of Engineering’s eight departments, the average salary of a tenured professor is about $127,117, only about $4,000 higher than the average professor’s salary in the College of Science.
The Department of Chemical Engineering has the highest average professor’s salary within the College at about $182,428. The second highest professor’s salary from the Division of Computer Science and Engineering was almost $50,000 lower at about $132,866. The other departments’ average professors’ salaries were in that range as well.
“When it comes to the University, I imagine one of the concerns that determines salary is the competitiveness of the field you’re in,” Filbel said. “You’re going to have to give people a salary to compete with the market realities.”
Filbel also said that while both humanities and STEM fields are important, there’s a difference between what they offer to society.
“People in the humanities are probably in a better position to interrogate, investigate and critique,” Filbel said. “I would be more pleased in a world that really valued and paid for people who do social inquiry and critique and focus on personal and interpersonal worlds. I would want that to be appreciated more.”