Quantifying and Qualifying the Adjunct Penalty: The Impact of Faculty Composition on Postsecondary Value at 4-year Institutions

Frederick Tucker. Report funded by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2024.


This report explores the impact that institutional reliance on different types of adjunct faculty has on graduation rates and postsecondary value at four-year colleges and universities. Institution-level data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and the Equitable Value Explorer is utilized in a series of ordinary least squares analyses to measure the association between institutional reliance on adjunct faculty, and the academic and economic outcomes of the student-body. Results suggest that greater percentages of full-time, adjunct faculty––as opposed to part-time adjuncts or tenured/tenure-track faculty––are associated with lower graduation rates and postsecondary value at four-year institutions, net of institutional, student-body, and faculty controls. Greater faculty pay is also significantly associated with higher graduation rates and postsecondary value.

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