North Carolina State University
SACS Compliance Certification
August 15, 2003
Comprehensive Standards: Educational Programs 3.7.1 (qualifications)
The institution employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution.  When determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty, an institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline in accord with the guidelines listed below.  The institution also considers competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including, as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes.  For all cases, the institution is responsible for justifying and documenting the qualifications of all its faculty.

Credential Guidelines:

  1. Faculty teaching general education courses at the undergraduate level: a doctoral or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or a master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline)
  1. Faculty teaching associate degree courses designed for transfer to a baccalaureate degree: a doctoral or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or a master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline)
  1. Faculty teaching associate degree courses not designed for transfer to the baccalaureate degree: a baccalaureate degree in the teaching discipline, or an associate degree and demonstrated competence in the teaching discipline
  1. Faculty teaching baccalaureate degree courses: a doctoral or a master’s degree in the teaching discipline or a master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).  At least 25 percent of the discipline course hours in each undergraduate major are taught by faculty members holding the terminal degree—usually the earned doctorate—in the discipline
  1. Faculty teaching graduate and post-baccalaureate course work: earned doctorate/terminal degree in the teaching discipline or a related discipline
  1. Graduate teaching assistants: master’s in the teaching discipline or 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline; direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations

North Carolina State University is in compliance with this standard.

Employment guidelines posted on the Policies, Regulations, and Rules (PRR) website summarize the qualifications that NC State University uses in determining faculty hires, reappointments, or promotions.

For tenure-track positions, these qualifications include at least a doctoral degree or equivalent professional experience; demonstrated ability or potential for teaching, research, extension, and/or another scholarly or germane creative activity; and ability and willingness to participate in university affairs.  For promotion to tenured positions, the requirements also include distinguished academic achievement.  The qualifications for instructors include a master’s degree or equivalent professional experience and the ability or potential for academic pursuits.  Visiting and adjunct faculty are held to the same requirements.

Faculty hiring procedures (pdf) assure that these qualifications are met when faculty are recruited and hired, and reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) policies assure that these qualifications continue to be met as faculty advance through the ranks. 

When they are first hired, new faculty must present documents attesting to their highest degree, according to both state policy and university policy.  Until June 2003, such documents consisted of an official transcript, a letter from the graduate school or registrar of the degree granting institution verifying the degree, or the diploma.  Materials presented by the faculty member are filed in the academic department's office, and a copy is filed in the Human Resources office.  As of June 2003, degrees must be verified with a signed and stamped verification letter (pdf) from the registrar of the degree-granting institution.  This documentation is on file in the university’s Human Resources office.  In addition, hiring officials must verify the validity of academic and professional credentials—including registrations, licenses, certifications, and work history—to qualify or set the salary of an applicant.

NC State University periodically reviews to ensure that every instructor of record, from graduate teaching assistants and adjunct instructors to full professors, has the qualifications outlined in the Credential Guidelines associated with this standard.  Such a check was performed for all 2,107 instructors of record teaching degree-credit courses during fall and/or spring semesters of 2002-03.  

Instructors of Graduate Courses
First, at the request of the Compliance Team, the Graduate School checked the credentials of all instructors of graduate courses.  All graduate courses were taught by members of the Graduate Faculty or by individuals with equivalent credentials approved by the Graduate School to teach that course.   

Qualifications for membership in the Graduate Faculty include an earned doctorate or documented, equivalent professional experience appropriate for the area taught.  Full membership in the Graduate Faculty status also requires distinction in graduate teaching or research.  During 2002-03, all but 263 instructors of graduate courses were members of the Graduate Faculty.

The remaining 263 graduate course instructors were approved to teach those courses based on a review by the Graduate School of their credentials.  Non-members of the Graduate Faculty may teach graduate courses if the department head or director of graduate programs requests permission from the Graduate School.  Permission will be granted only for one semester at a time and only if the credentials offered are at least the equivalent of the Graduate Faculty. 

Instructors of Undergraduate Courses
Next, the Compliance Team checked the credentials of all faculty teaching undergraduate courses, excluding graduate teaching assistants.  Existing electronic records were scanned to verify matches between: (1) level of course and highest degree earned, and (2) discipline of course and discipline of highest degree earned.  In this way, we eliminated from further review: (1) all instructors of baccalaureate-level courses who had at least a master’s degree in the same field as the course taught, and (2) all instructors of associate-level courses who had at least a bachelor’s degree in the same field as the course taught. 

Faculty whose credentials did not match based on this electronic review were examined individually by the Compliance Team and its staff.  This individual review eliminated instructors whose degrees were in fields closely related to the field taught. 

Finally, if it was still impossible to verify a match between credentials and courses, the Compliance Team requested the appropriate dean to justify the credentials.  Inquiries were made for 147 course sections, seven of which had no instructor of record listed in the database.  The deans provided a written response prepared by the appropriate department head, as the heads are responsible for certifying faculty credentials and assessing teaching for each course. 

Information about undergraduate instructors with traditional credentials is provided for fall 2002 and for spring 2003.  Information about undergraduate instructors with alternative credentials is also provided.  In the end, all faculty teaching undergraduate courses were found to have acceptable credentials.

Graduate Teaching Assistants
Finally, each dean was asked to provide information about the 177 graduate teaching assistants (GTA) who served as instructors of record during 2002-03.  For each, the dean reported the highest degree earned and number of graduate student credit hours earned in the field of instruction.  Typically, GTAs who are assigned primary responsibility for a course have either earned a master’s degree or are in the late stages of completing a doctoral degree after completing well more than 18 graduate credit hours. In English, which does not have a doctoral program and relies on master’s students for teaching, all teaching assistants had earned more than 18 graduate credit hours prior to teaching.  The results of this analysis show full compliance with the credit-hours guidelines.


  • Instructors with traditional credentials for fall 2002, spring 2003; instructors with alterative credentials.
    This is protected information, available only on the CD prepared for SACS. Please do not share this information.
  • Undergraduate Faculty Credentials Report, 2002-03