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Minimum Qualifications for Individuals with Instructional Responsibilities


Outlines and documents accreditation standards adopted by the Higher Learning Commission for all individuals teaching “for credit” courses offered by the University of Kansas.

Applies to: 

All units/departments/schools appointing instructors of record.

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 

The University of Kansas Lawrence campus and all reporting units adhere to Higher Learning Commission requirements concerning minimum qualifications for individuals with instructional responsibilities (instructors of record).

The standard requirement is that instructors must hold a degree in a field relevant to courses taught, conferred by an accredited academic institution in the United States, or a college/ university of equivalent quality outside the United States. The conferred degree must be at least one level higher than the program courses taught (i.e., a master’s degree is required to teach courses assigned at the bachelor’s level; a doctoral degree is required to teach master’s level course work). It is understood that in terminal degree programs, instructors will have the same level of degree that students are seeking.      

There are a number of cases in which it is acceptable for an individual to teach a course in an area where the instructor’s degree (the level and/or area) does not appear to meet this qualification.

  • An instructor without a master’s degree or higher in a relevant discipline or field, may be qualified for teaching undergraduate courses by obtaining a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in a discipline or field relevant to their instruction areas.
  • Instructors may demonstrate their qualifications in lieu of the required academic credential, based upon tested experience criteria that have been adopted through an established and documented process at the department/school level, and approved by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development. Tested experience is experience, in breadth and depth, obtained outside the classroom, which is relevant to the courses the instructor teaches. Tested experience is typically not exclusively based on years of teaching experience. Tested experience factors may include, but are not limited to:
    • Substantial graduate-level academic coursework and/or methodological training in a discipline appropriate to the field of instruction
    • A record of research, creative activity, scholarship, or achievement appropriate to the field of instruction
    • Related research experience in industry and/or the private sector
    • Practical experience in the arts, business, legal, or political sector
    • Relevant clinical experience
    • Relevant certifications or additional credentials
    • Demonstrated competency or fluency in a relevant skill or skill set

Norms in the discipline, and/or the accreditation standards required by a profession, should be considered in judging the qualifications of instructors. This is especially true in interdisciplinary fields, where instructors in an area may hold degrees from various disciplines (i.e., a J.D. degree holder may be qualified to teach a doctoral course that is law-related, or an M.F.A. degree holder may be qualified to teach a doctoral course related to creative work or the arts).

For information about appointing individuals to mentor graduate students and serve on exam committees, please refer to the Graduate Faculty Appointments policy.

School/Department Level Policy

In order to meet the provision of tested experience, each school/department will define a minimum threshold of experience for assessing the qualifications of instructors. These policies must be approved by the Dean of the professional school or College and by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development.

For each instructor working under tested experience, each school/department is responsible for confirming tested experience credentials and maintaining a justification summary explaining how an individual’s experience meets the tested experience criteria of the school/department. Documentation must be immediately available upon request by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development or Provost Office.

This policy may not be used to terminate, or no longer renew the contract of, a current instructor who does not meet these minimum qualifications. Schools/departments must work with any such instructors to devise an individual plan for the instructor to work toward meeting these requirements.  Individual progress plans must be reviewed and approved by the Dean and the Vice Provost for Faculty Development. Plan updates are required prior to authorized reappointment by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Graduate student instructors (Graduate Teaching Assistants), each of whom works under the supervision of a qualified faculty member, are exempt from this policy. 


Vice Provost for Faculty Development
University of Kansas
1450 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 145
Lawrence, KS 66045

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Effective on: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

Instructor of Record: The primary instructor listed within the Student Information System. The academic unit assigns the instructor of record via the Schedule of Classes for each semester.

HLC, faculty, instruction, accreditation
Change History: 

05/09/2019: Updated the Exclusions or Special Circumstances section for clarity. 
04/17/2019: Approved and uploaded to Policy Library.

Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 

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