FeaturedHigher Education

Syllabus Adjunct Clause

Hey there, Doubters!

As I promised in the last edition of On the Market, here is a sample adjunct clause that can be inserted into any syllabus for courses taught by temporary faculty.

Please keep in mind that since situations differ from school to school–and even from department to department–the following may not be universally applicable as written. Therefore, if you do decide to use it, make sure to make the necessary changes so as to accurately reflect your own situation. For that reason, and because demanding attribution seems a bit silly for something like this, I release the text of the clause below to the public domain.


Notice: This course/section is taught by adjunct (i.e. temporary or part-time) faculty. Adjunct faculty differ from permanent, full-time faculty (i.e. assistant, associate, and full professors) in a number of important respects:

  • Adjunct faculty are hired on a course-by-course basis. Future employment is not guaranteed regardless of previous work history, and remains at the discretion of the administration depending on the budgetary situation.
  • Adjunct faculty are paid a flat rate for each course taught. This rate is normally set by the school’s central administration and applies equally to all courses and departments. It is not tied to the workload for a given course and does not include standard full-time employment benefits, such as health coverage. Please note that some adjuncts may need to carefully manage the hours they work in order to keep their compensation above minimum wage.
  • Adjunct faculty are not provided with private office space. Most adjuncts share office space with a number of other temporary faculty members. Please note that this can limit their availability outside of posted office hours.
  • Many adjunct faculty work multiple jobs. Many adjunct faculty teach at multiple schools and/or work other jobs. Please note that this can limit their availability outside of posted office hours.
  • Adjunct faculty have limited administrative powers. As contract employees, adjunct faculty may not normally serve as undergraduate advisors, graduate supervisors, or student advocates, and may not oversee independent research projects. They also may not usually sponsor campus clubs or other extracurricular activities.

Please note that adjuncts work very hard to keep these limitations from affecting students’ educational experiences whenever possible. In those rare circumstances where this is not possible, we ask for your understanding and support.



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Dan holds a PhD in Music History from a major Canadian university and is now pursuing a M.Ed in Higher Education at another one, because he likes to collect very expensive paper. He performs stand-up comedy at venues all over Toronto when he's not busy playing JRPGs with his cat, Roy. You can follow him at @incontrariomotu, but he isn't going anywhere. You can also send him a tip on PayPal (paypal.me/dandonnelly) if you like his work!


  1. February 4, 2016 at 3:27 pm —

    I am giving this a standing ovation from my desk. Because I’m at a health sciences institution, large numbers of instructors are clinicians with their own practices to manage, patients to see, etc. And many of them are gratis faculty, who don’t get paid for teaching or supervising students.

  2. February 8, 2016 at 7:03 pm —

    Only one problem: That isn’t what “adjunct” means everywhere.

    There are adjuncts in colleges and universities across the country who have been adjuncts for ten years or longer.  That is not who I was before I retired from my adjunct position. I was full time with full benefits and a good salary. Full time adjuncts are just professors working outside the tenure stream. And to tell you the truth, I deeply resent the way the term has been co-opted to mean all of the things listed in this syllabus clause.


    • February 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm —

      Resent it if you will, but I think this is a combination of institution-specific terminology (what did your school call the sort of teachers described here?) and a change in the way things are done in recent years. Long-term adjuncting with the expectation of continued employment seems to be mostly a thing of the past, except in those cases where it has been renamed something like “Permanent, non-tenured faculty.”

    • February 8, 2016 at 7:53 pm —

      I have to say I agree with Dan.  We are all happy that you had the situation you had, but where is your sense of fellow feeling, of professional camaraderie?  Shouldn’t the needs of those who are experiencing what is listed in the syllabus clause be more important to you than that this word has been co-opted.

      A lot of things in this world have moved from safe and comfortable to uncertain and difficult — in some cases that is natural to a world as complex as the one we live in, but resenting the change is not what we as academics should be doing.

      Isn’t our job in higher education to understand the complexities of the world and find ways to navigate those complexities?  Resentment does not seem to me to be an effective navigational tool.

  3. February 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm —

    I know this is very picky, but we are higher ed educators, aren’t we?  (I should say that overall I like the comment.  It’s very good.)

    In a phrase like this — “at the discretion of the administration and budgetary situation” — both elements should be parallel both in function and sense.  Administration refers to people, but budgetary situation refers to a condition.  While we might say “discretion of the budgetary situation,” we know that the situation itself does not really have discretion.

    Perhaps better — “at the discretion of the administration and the limits of the budgetary situation.”

    • February 8, 2016 at 7:54 pm —

      Yes I rephrased the sentence at some point and didn’t catch this. Following your comment that we are all higher ed educators, consider the necessity of including a condescending grammar lesson for another PhD rather than just pointing out the error.

  4. February 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm —

    I will not be putting this on my syllabus. I do tell my students that I’ve been a part-time lecturer since 1984. I also mention that I’ve always concurrently worked full-time elsewhere, first in the telecommunications industry for 25 years and now for a government agency for the last ten. I have much to offer that someone who has only taught full-time does not. We have a union for part-timers where I teach, and as a result, I am well-paid for what I do.

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