I am a newcomer to this site and I want you to help me about my question. Thank you.

I know that in US universities, an electrical engineering professor can earn money from two ways: 1) the salary which get from university which is normally 70 k$ as starting salary. 2) the money which can earn from grants via getting researching project from different companies or others.

So, I want to know, how much money an electrical engineering professor can earn from grants normally?

Thanks a lot.


Professors typically do not supplement their salary with grants with one very large exception. The grant money can allow them to trade some number of required courses for research time.

The big exception to this is that the typical appointment for a university professor in the US is for 9 months. If the professor wants to teach some summer courses, they can earn 3 more months of their salary for doing that, or they can get grants to fill in that time. The National Science Foundation limits US researchers who are professors to 2 months of summer time funding, though, so to get 12 full months of compensation, a professor will need income from some other source (summer teaching, another agency's grants, industrial grants, consulting, etc).

So, that being said, typically professors cannot increase their salary rate. They can only use it to fill in the months that the university does not usually pay them for. Finally, most universities give the option for their professors to take the 9 months of salary over 12 months of payments, so filling in those 3 months may look like a monthly raise from the perspective of their bank statements.

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  • Thank you very much. One person, how claimed that is assistant professor in electrical engineering department in Caltech University, said to me that he earn 100 k$ from university as salary, also, 200 k$ from grants!! Do you think he is lying or not? – tesoke Jan 12 '15 at 19:43
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    Without seeing his exact words, I can't be sure, but he may have meant that he had brought $200k in grants to the university. That doesn't mean that he got to take it home. Also, most universities do not put a cap on what the professor can charge for their time as a consultant, so he may have spent his summer 3 months charging a business for his time at a very high rate as a consultant. – Bill Barth Jan 12 '15 at 19:51
  • His comment is not in English and you may not understand his comment :( He said that he give many projects with grants from companies and his graduated student do them as their thesis, so, he pays their funds from those grants and finally $200k remains for him. – tesoke Jan 12 '15 at 19:56
  • Is that $200k per year or does it pay 3 months of his salary every summer for a number of years? – Bill Barth Jan 12 '15 at 20:22
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    I would take that to mean that he's got $200k to cover his summer salary or more (by buying off courses that he's required to teach) not that he can supplement his salary. It would be unusual if he could do that with grant funds. Maybe you should ask him. – Bill Barth Jan 12 '15 at 21:37

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