UIS is committed to providing high quality instruction to our students. Tenure system and non-tenure system faculty with instructional responsibilities must be appropriately credentialed and possess minimum required degrees based on the rank of appointment.

To articulate the minimum qualifications for any instructional faculty at UIS including all locations and programs, regardless of method of instruction; to ensure the faculty being appointed have appropriate content expertise in the instructional area of responsibility; and to comply with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) guidelines for determining qualified faculty and the use of tested experience, effective September 1, 2017.

I. Faculty Credentials

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) guidelines, “Determining Qualified Faculty through HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation and Assumed Practices: Guidelines for Institutions and Peer Reviewers,” provide that faculty responsible for developing curriculum and/or providing instruction must meet certain minimum qualifications, dependent upon the level (undergraduate or graduate) of their instructional responsibilities and/or curriculum development. These qualifications are to be judged primarily by academic credentials, which refers to the degree attained. Under circumstances where the faculty member does not possess the minimum academic credentials, the HLC provides that s/he may be qualified using tested experience. Use of tested experience to qualify instructional faculty requires that there be a well-defined set of policies, procedures, and documentation to demonstrate that a faculty member has the expertise necessary to provide instruction in the subject area or discipline.

Units are responsible for assessing faculty credentials when making hiring and appointment decisions (see UIS Faculty Personnel Policy).

II. Tested Experience

It is the expectation that decisions to hire instructional faculty under this provision will be relatively rare and made with the goal of providing students with the best possible learning experience.

Departments wishing to adopt tested experience to credential instructional staff must follow the UIS Instructional Faculty Qualifications Standard Operating Procedure.

III. Definitions

Instructional faculty refers to any faculty member who is responsible for developing curriculum and/or providing instruction for any credit bearing courses. Tenure and non-tenure system faculty ranks include: Adjunct, Teaching Associate, Clinical Associate, Instructor, Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor and any title modifiers (see University Statutes). As per the HLC, teaching assistants who are enrolled in a graduate program and supervised by faculty are excluded.

Academic credentials refers to the degrees that faculty have earned from institutions of higher education that are accredited by regional accreditation agencies, or the equivalent quality of universities or colleges in countries outside the USA.

The following definitions are based on or excerpted from the HLC Guidelines. For further detailed information refer to the Related Laws, Regulations, Statutes and Policies section below.

Minimum qualifications by credentials for instructional faculty require the completion of a program of study in the discipline or subfield of instruction with coursework at least one level above that of the course being taught or developed, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established.

For undergraduate or general education courses, 1) Possession of a master’s degree or higher in the discipline or subfield; or 2) A minimum of 18 graduate credit hours (500-level or above, not undergraduate courses taken for graduate credit) in the discipline in which the faculty member is providing instruction if the master’s degree or higher is in a discipline other than the area of instructional responsibility.

For graduate programs (masters, professional and doctoral education), possession of a terminal degree, as determined by the discipline, and with a record of research, scholarship, or achievement appropriate to the program and degree offered.

Minimum qualifications by tested experience for instructional faculty require that a faculty member have a breadth and depth of experience outside of the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline in which the faculty member would be teaching. This could include skills sets, certifications, additional credentials, and practical (e.g. art, law), clinical, or research experience in industry or the private sector. Prior teaching experience alone is normally not considered sufficient for establishing tested experience, although other experiential factors as noted above may be considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition to the real-world experiences listed above, the candidate must possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Related Laws, Regulations, Statutes, and Policies:

  • University of Illinois Springfield Faculty Personnel Policy Article 10 Section 4B


  • University of Illinois Statutes Article II. Section 3a


  • Higher Learning Commission Guidelines for Determining Qualified Faculty


Approved by UIS Campus Senate September 11, 2020, Resolution 50-02

Link to Instructional Faculty Qualifications Policy pdf

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