Faculty in Demand

A quick look at which disciplines are attracting  the most faculty and whether that trend is changing.
Faculty in Demand

While business school deans worry that global competition for faculty will increase the doctoral shortage, for the moment the situation seems relatively stable. Five-year data trends show that, despite minor fluctuations, demand remains nearly constant for PhDs in specific disciplines, at least in North America. Conclusions are based on data drawn from a controlled set of 430 schools in the annual Salary Survey conducted by AACSB International. For this particular set of respondents, the majority are from North American schools.

According to the Salary Survey, accounting is the discipline that needs and draws the most candidates every year. It’s the field that has the highest numbers in terms of positions filled, positions filled by doctorates, positions that are currently open, and additional positions planned for growth in the next year. The other top contenders annually are finance, marketing, management, and economics.

While the explosion of business education worldwide might lead observers to expect that schools are posting an increasing number of positions that are going unfilled, that does not appear to be the case, at least in the U.S. In the 2008–2009 academic year, for instance, schools reported a total of 21,026 full-time positions that were currently filled and 1,058 unfilled. In the 20122013 year, those numbers were actually better—22,330 and 872, respectively. And the gap should only get a little wider in the next 12 months: Five years ago, schools expected to add 785 new doctoral positions in the next academic year; today, that number is 812.

Accounting is the discipline that needs and draws the most candidates every year.

Again, these numbers are drawn from the Salary Survey and primarily reflect the situation in North America; worldwide, demand for doctoral faculty can vary by location, local competition, and the needs of specific disciplines As Juliane Iannarelli, vice president of AACSB’s Knowledge Development, explains, “Any attempt to quantify a doctoral shortage globally requires a vast oversimplification of the relationship between supply and demand figures. Even if these figures we more comprehensively available, they still wouldn’t take into account facilitators and barriers of international mobility, individual graduate strengths and research productivity, and competing hiring interests from the corporate world. What we do know is that in the regions where business schools are experiencing the greatest growth, administrators express strong desires to strengthen the research culture among their faculty, and one way they try to do this is through a stronger cadre of doctoral faculty.”

One thing’s certain: As schools hire more faculty with PhDs, they’re seeing salaries rise. According to the Salary Survey, in the 2008–2009 academic year, the average salary for a full professor was US$131,200; today, the average has climbed to $144,200.

The disciplines that enjoy the highest paychecks are behavioral science/organizational behavior, where the average salary for a professor is $172,000. It’s followed by finance ($167,000), strategic management ($163,500), business ethics ($148,000), and marketing ($147,500).

A few professors are making considerably more. The highest reported individual salary for 2012–2013 was $529,200 for a professor of marketing. The other highest salaries were for professors in behavioral science/OB ($497,000), finance ($487,500),economics ($420,600), and accounting ($389,000).

The upshot? It’s a good time to be a professor with a PhD. But business schools with job openings will continue to work hard—and pay heavily—to attract quality faculty to their campuses.

For more insights on global models of doctoral education, watch for a report that will be released in September by AACSB’s Doctoral Education Task Force. The report pays particular attention to how doctoral education can continue to evolve in a way that best supports different needs, experiences, and goals around the globe.