Community Colleges hire many part-time instructors to fill positions at a reduced cost compared to tenured full-time staff. Adjuncts save two-year institutions not only in salary, but also in benefits. Part-timers are valuable because they have flexible schedules and expertise in their area (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013). Adjuncts are valued--not only for their specialized knowledge, but for their real-life work experience and their business connections (Wallin, 2007). In order to better serve the students, leadership and faculty should make a commitment to integrate part-time instructors in their decision making processes.


  • Full-time faculty teach four or five classes each term (Cohen, et. al., 2013).
  • In 1953, 48 % of the instructors were part-time (Cohen, et. al., 2013, p. 93).
  • By 2009, 70 % of the instructors were part-time (Cohen, et. al., 2013, p. 93).
  • Historically, the early junior colleges employed secondary schools teachers.
  • Today, the pool of applicants may come directly from universities, other professions, or returning teachers to the workplace.
  • Many junior colleges began as an annex to high schools and their organization and governance resembled secondary schools.
  • More men work in community colleges than in secondary schools, but less than in university.
  • Many adjuncts and some full-time faculty work a second job.
  • Tenure rules vary from state to state: Some community colleges award tenure after one year and other institutions -- after two or three years. In either case, it is less than in universities.
  • Faculty members believe that close individualized contact with students is the most valuable and flexible form of instruction.


  • Researchers have found that faculty satisfaction depends largely on the circumstance of employment.
  • In 2004, almost 90% of part-time faculty reported being somewhat or very satisfied.
  • Older faculty with a mid-life career change were found to be more satisfied with their type of job.
  • Younger instructors with other career expectations were the most dissatisfied.
  • Community college faculty are more satisfied than university faculty with respects to their institution, salary, departmental reputation, balance between work and family, and their professional relationships with other faculty.
  • Community college faculty are less satisfied with their academically underprepared students, work schedule, professional recognition, and opportunities for scholarly engagement.

Demographics and Attainment Level

  • Full-time and part-time faculty are similar demographically (Jaeger & Eagan, 2009).
  • The major difference is in degree attainment: More full-time faculty hold a master's, professional, and doctoral degrees than adjuncts (Jaeger & Eagan, 2009).
  • Data on faculty demographics confirms that 80% of community college faculty is white: A percentage that is surprising because it does not mirror the student body (Twombly & Townsend, 2008).
  • Visit this link for more information regarding how to promote institutional diversity.

The graphs below shows the degree attainment level and demographics of faculty at varying institutions of higher education, as well as between full-time and part-time faculty at community colleges.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2009.

Source: American Association of Community Colleges. (n.d). "Faculty Degree Attainment." Retrieved from:


Visit this link for more information regarding faculty gender equity.

Future Issues

Full-time vs. Part-time

  • The chronic use of adjuncts--due to budget constraints--continues to be a pervasive practice: Seventy percent of the faculty are part-timers. More full-time faculty is needed to continue curriculum development and improve academic instruction in community colleges. Low tuition and budget cuts continue to undermine efforts to hire more full-time instructors.
  • Administrators will continue to hire part-time faculty, because they are less expensive and research confirms that the quality of adjunct instruction is equal to full-time faculty instruction (Wallin, 2007).
  • Many full-time faculty teach additional courses for extra pay. Full-time faculty normally teach these extra courses at the lower hourly rate. Administrators will continue to pay the reduced hourly rate for extra courses in order to balance their budgets. This leads to the perpetual use of adjuncts, since they are a cost saving method for community colleges.


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Click on the button to read an article about community college faculty.


Cohen, A. M., Brawer, F.B., & Kisker, C.B. (2013). The American community college (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Eagan, K. (2007). A national picture of part-time community college faculty: Changing trends in demographics and employment characteristics. New Directions for Community Colleges, 141, 5-14.
Jaeger, A. J., & Eagan, M. K. (2009). Unintended consequences: Examining the effect of part-time faculty members on associates's degree completion. Community College Review, 36, 167-191.
Twombly, S., & Townsend, B. K. (2008). Community college faculty: What we know and need to know. Community College Review, 36, 5-24.
Wallin, D. L. (2007). Part-time faculty and professional development: Notes from the field. New Directions for Community Colleges, 140, 67-73.