Compensation Philosophy 

The University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU Boulder’s) staff compensation philosophy provides for equal pay for substantially similar work in accordance with state and federal law. CU Boulder’s compensation philosophy ensures fair and competitive pay with relevant external job markets while ensuring good stewardship of public funds. By ensuring consistent pay practices for similarly situated employees, this compensation philosophy provides a solid foundation for attracting and retaining a diverse and talented employee population and supporting the campus’ strategic imperatives of shaping tomorrow’s leaders, being the top university for innovation, and positively impacting humanity.

Compliance with State and Federal Law

CU Boulder prohibits discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on sex (which means an employee’s or applicant’s gender identity), or on the basis of sex in combination with another protected status. This includes paying an employee of one sex a wage rate less than the rate paid to an employee of a different sex for substantially similar work unless there are other permitted factors that explain the difference. Allowable wage rate differentials are further described in campus pay setting guidelines.

All employees have the right to discuss or disclose their wage rate with other employees and no employee shall be subject to discipline, retaliation, or other adverse action because that employee inquired about, disclosed, compared, or otherwise discussed the employee’s compensation. Employees who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated against with their compensation or have experienced or witnessed a violation of this policy shall promptly report the matter to the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance (OIEC). This includes supervisors and other responsible employees required to report under campus policy.

Guiding Principles

  • Be approved by campus leadership and administered by Human Resources (HR).
  • Align with and support the campus mission, vision, values and strategic plan.
  • Be campus-based and specific to the employment system (classified staff, university staff, or temporary staff), job family and job level.
  • Be data driven, based on sound business practices, and compliant with relevant federal and state laws.
  • Ensure good stewardship of the university’s resources. 
  • Attract and retain a high performing workforce while maintaining internal pay equity for substantially similar work (based on a composite of skill; effort, which may include consideration of shift work; and responsibility), regardless of job title.

  • Utilize national, regional and local market compensation data from AAU peer institutions (public and private) and professional industry sources as appropriate for each job family.
  • Be reviewed annually as part of the campus budget planning process, taking into account such factors as the campus strategic goals, cost of labor, market data for relevant labor markets, pay equity, talent supply and demand fluctuations, and federal and state minimum wage and labor laws. 


  • Classified staff positions will be compensated in accordance with Colorado Personnel Board Rules and Administrative Procedures. 
  • University staff positions, which are exempt from the classified system, will be compensated in accordance with campus and university laws, policies and procedures.