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104.6 - Faculty Credentialing and Verification

University Group Policy #104.6

I.  Policy Statement

This policy is designed to ensure that all individuals assigned instructional responsibilities for credit-bearing courses are qualified to teach at Winston-Salem State University.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) sets standards on faculty qualifications for accreditation purposes.  Standard 6.2.a of the Principles of Accreditation reads, “For each of its educational programs, the institution justifies and documents the qualifications of its faculty members.”  This policy provides clear policy and procedure by which Winston-Salem State University meets this standard of accreditation.

II.     Definitions

Instructional role is defined by the academic level of the course section assigned and the individual’s responsibility for that course section. The following are the categories of instructional roles that may be assigned to faculty members.

Instructor of Record (often referred to as “Course Director”) -- Responsible for: (1) the overall design, contents, and delivery of the course section; (2) overseeing all other faculty or graduate teaching assistants who participate in delivering some component of the course (such as conducting lectures, labs, field work, or related activities); and (3) approval of the final course grade assigned to each student. There must be a qualified Instructor of Record for each credit-bearing course section offered.

Primary Instructor -- May be assigned to any of the following responsibilities: (1) development of the course section content and materials, (2) delivering lectures, (3) managing class-related activities (such as labs, field work, etc.), (4) evaluating or grading student work that contributes to final course grades, and/or approving the final course grade assigned to each student. Typically responsible for 50% or more of the total effort for the course. A Primary Instructor might or might not be the Instructor of Record for a given course.
Secondary Instructor -- May participate in any of the following: (1) development of the course section material, (2) delivering lectures, (3) managing class-related activities (such as labs, fieldwork, etc.), and (4) evaluating or grading student work that contributes to the final course grades assigned. Does not have authority to approve final course grades. Typically responsible for less than 50% of the overall effort for the course, and therefore cannot be designated as the Instructor of Record.

III.    Guidelines

Qualifications for Teaching

Consistent with the Faculty Handbook, an Instructor’s qualifications must be appropriate for the level, discipline, and topic of each course taught. Qualifications may consist of academic credentials (earned degrees or completed coursework) or alternative credentials (professional experience or demonstrated competency) or a combination of these credentials. When determining acceptable qualifications a person must have to serve as Instructor, Winton-Salem State University gives primary consideration to the highest degree earned. The qualifying degree should be in the same discipline or one closely related to the subject matter of the course to be taught. The level of the course dictates the minimum level of the degree the instructor must hold, as described below:

Undergraduate General Education and Baccalaureate Courses:  
Earned doctorate or master’s degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught, or master’s degree with a concentration in that discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours).
Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Courses:
Earned doctorate or terminal degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught.

Alternative Qualifications

In lieu of an earned terminal degree or graduate coursework in an appropriate field as described above, Instructors may be qualified by professional experience or by a combination of education and experience. The University also considers other qualifications, including, as appropriate, undergraduate or graduate degrees, specialized coursework, record of research in the field, related work experiences, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes of the course.

Credentials in the field alone are not necessarily sufficient to establish suitable expertise. Department chairs or their designees are responsible for ensuring that individuals serving as Instructor of Record have suitable expertise in the specific topic or content area of that course. When an instructor teaches a course in which s/he has no documented topical expertise (through, e.g., scholarly research in the area or graduate coursework), department chairs or their designees must document the existence of other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and learning outcomes.

Process to Approve Teaching Qualifications and Justification of Exceptions

Within each college/school, the dean assigns responsibility to the department chair or associate dean for documenting and justifying the qualifications for each course offered by the department/program. The department chair or associate dean shall review the qualifications of the instructor at the time of initial appointment, but in all cases before an instructor begins teaching. The dean is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the qualifications of those with a pedagogical role are justified and the credentials verified. The dean or designee must review and approve all appointments and teaching assignments that are based on alternative qualifications. Written justification for exceptions from the degree requirements listed above must be kept in the school/college and filed with the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost’s Office of Faculty Affairs.

Consistent with university policy, Approval to Teach Graduate Courses, assignments from graduate-level courses are made in accordance with the policy and upon approval of the department, dean and Graduate Council, as required. 

Documentation of Qualifications

Documents verifying the qualifications of an individual in a pedagogical role may include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, professional licenses or certifications, honors and awards, and other evidence of professional experience.

When the primary qualification for teaching a course is an earned doctoral or terminal degree or completion of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline of the course, the appropriate documentation is an official transcript from the institution that awarded the degrees and/or course credits.

When the primary qualification is an earned degree from a foreign institution, appropriate documentation also includes an evaluation of the foreign transcript by a certified external agency.

When an individual is qualified for teaching a course by alternative professional credentials or demonstrated competency, required documentation includes: (1) an official transcript for highest earned degree and any other credentials that are used to establish qualifications for teaching courses; (2) objective evidence of qualifying experiences such as prior work experience, professional licenses and certifications, and other qualifications; and (3) the department head's written justification clearly describing the relationship between the experience and course content and level.

Beginning with appointments effective for the spring semester 2019, individuals with instructional duties who will or may serve as Instructors of Record, Primary Instructors, or Secondary Instructors are responsible for providing the documentation necessary to verify their qualifications before the end of their first semester of employment at Winston-Salem State University. This requirement will be stated in the appointment letter as a condition of employment. Approval from the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs is required in cases in which the instructor cannot provide a transcript or other documentation due to exceptional circumstances. This waiver, and the documentation supporting it, must be kept on file in the appointing department and in the Office of Faculty Affairs. Official transcripts, documentation of alternative qualifications, and letters of justification will be maintained by the Office of Faculty Affairs.

IV.    Roles and Responsibilities

Ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with this policy belongs to the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. Responsibility for communicating instructor qualification policies and procedures requirements is the responsibility of Office of Faculty Affairs. Department chairs and deans, in consultation with the Faculty Affairs Office, have primary responsibility for reviewing evidence of qualifications and verifying that appointees and current instructors meet the requirements for their instructional role and for obtaining approval for any exceptions.

V.     Applicability

This policy applies to: (1) all individuals assigned as Instructor of Record or as a Primary or Secondary Instructor in any section of a credit-bearing course, including lecture, laboratory, seminar, clinical, and other sections, regardless of academic rank or appointment type; and (2) all class sections offered for Winston-Salem State University credit and entered on student transcripts as Winston-Salem State University courses.

Responsible Division: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Authority: Board of Trustees


  • Approved by Faculty Senate: October 25, 2018
  • Approved by WSSU General Faculty: January 24, 2019
  • Adopted: March 15, 2019