CAS - Langugage lab

Guidelines for Determining Faculty Qualifications


The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) recently adopted a policy change related to expectations regarding faculty qualifications. By the time of our next HLC review, which will occur in 2018-2019, we must demonstrate compliance with the new policy.

In relation to Criterion Three, Core Component 3.C, reviewers must consider:

3.C. The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

3.C.1. The institution has sufficient numbers and continuity of faculty members to carry out both the classroom and the non-classroom roles of faculty, including oversight of the curriculum and expectations for student performance; establishment of academic credentials for instructional staff; involvement in assessment of student learning.

3.C.2. All instructors are appropriately qualified, including those in dual credit, contractual, and consortial programs.

Reviewers also consider faculty qualifications when reviewing for the assumed practices relating to faculty roles and qualifications (B.2.a and B.2.b), which read:

B.2.a.Instructors (excludes teaching assistants enrolled in a graduate program and supervised by faculty) possess an academic degree relevant to what they are teaching and at least one level above the level at which they teach, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established. In terminal degree programs, faculty members possess the same level of degree. When Faculty members are employed based on equivalent experience (i.e., “tested experience”), the institution defines a minimum threshold of experience and an evaluation process that is used in the appointment process.

B.2.b. Instructors teaching at the doctoral level have a record of recognized scholarship, creative endeavor, or achievement in practice commensurate with doctoral expectations.

HLC expects that using credentials (degree one level in the area of and above the course that you teach and a master's degree for teaching Global Miami Plan) will be the norm for universities.

Faculty Qualifications Using "Tested Experience"

For tenure-eligible ranks, MUPIM (6.3) states that the “…essential factor in such appointment is recognition of a person's competence in an academic discipline or area of knowledge administered by the department.” Thus, tested experience will generally not be a substitute for formal educational preparation required to meet the criteria for tenure and promotion.

Likewise, for faculty appointed to the ranks of Lecturer, Clinical, or Professionally Licensed Faculty, a Master's degree or higher, or the equivalent (MUPIM 7.11) will serve as the standard acceptable faculty credential, and tested experience will generally not be a substitute for formal educational preparation.

When hiring part-time, adjunct or pre-credit-hour faculty, every effort will be made to select individuals who have the traditional faculty qualifications. However, in rare cases, such as in highly applied programs and disciplines, tested experience in the field may serve in place of formal educational preparation.

When applying tested experience, typically the minimum threshold to teach courses in Miami Baccalaureate programs will be a Bachelor's degree plus at least five years of applied experience or equivalent certification or licensure in the field that clearly relates to the learning outcomes of the courses being taught.

All faculty teaching at the master's or doctoral level must have graduate faculty standing. Faculty must apply to the graduate school to obtain graduate faculty standing and must satisfy one of two criteria to qualify (5.2B in the Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty):

Criterion I: An approved terminal degree in the discipline.

Criterion II: A master's degree plus five (5) years of significant and relevant professional experience that meets the applicant's departmental guidelines for tested experience. A department wishing to grant graduate faculty standing under criterion II must submit and have approved by Graduate Council, criteria for evaluating “significant and relevant professional experience” that is equivalent to the terminal degree for the graduate programs offered by the department. The definition of tested experience must be approved by Graduate Council prior to nominating an instructor for graduate faculty standing under criterion II.

Any exceptions to these guidelines must be approved by the Dean and Provost prior to an offer being extended. When requesting to hire faculty based on an exception to these guidelines, the individual must clearly demonstrate extraordinary experience or expertise in the field.