Higher Learning Commission


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Determining Qualified Faculty

Update: Application for Extension of Effective Date of Revised Assumed Practice B.2. and Revised Guidelines on Determining Qualified Faculty Available

The application form for member institutions with dual credit programs to request extensions related to compliance of faculty qualifications in these programs with Assumed Practice B.2. is now available. Institutions seeking an extension must submit an application by December 15, 2016, as instructed on the form.

In addition, HLC has published a revision to the guidelines for determining qualified faculty. This revision, effective March 2016, makes more explicit how HLC intends to review institutions and how peer reviewers will examine contextual nuances regarding faculty qualifications, including as they apply to dual credit faculty. The document also provides guidance to institutions accredited by HLC in determining and evaluating minimal faculty qualifications.

The Higher Learning Commission Board of Trustees adopted a clarification to HLC's Assumed Practice B.2. regarding faculty roles and qualifications in June 2015, with an effective date of September 1, 2017. This revision clarified HLC’s longstanding expectations regarding the qualifications of faculty and the importance of faculty members having appropriate expertise in the subjects they teach. HLC published updated guidelines on faculty qualifications in March 2016 to reflect the policy revision.

The September 1, 2017, implementation date reflects the need expressed by institutions to work with faculty in dual credit programs, challenges facing rural-serving institutions, faculty development considerations, and the time needed to address these types of concerns. It allows institutions a two-year time frame to assess their needs in the area of faculty qualifications and achieve compliance with the policy. This date also aligns with the start of an academic year in accordance with faculty contracts and core institutional documents such as faculty handbooks.

HLC expects institutions to use this time frame to carefully consider their needs. The policy should not be construed as requiring institutions necessarily to make current or long-term changes in staffing or personnel. HLC fully expects that institutions will work with their current faculty to come into compliance with these future expectations. It should be noted that this policy change is in regard to faculty only and does not apply to institutional staff in roles outside of instruction. Qualifications of those individuals are determined by the institution’s own policies and procedures. 

Implementation Extensions for Dual Credit Programs

At its meeting on November 5, 2015, HLC’s Board of Trustees resolved to provide an opportunity for institutions with dual credit programs to apply for extensions related to compliance of faculty in dual credit programs with the revision to Assumed Practice B.2. If an institution believes its dual credit program is not able to be in compliance by September 1, 2017, it may submit an application for an extension by December 15, 2016.  A state higher education entity may also apply for the extension on behalf of accredited institutions under its jurisdiction.

A review panel will evaluate all applications. Approved applications will be granted an extension of up to September 2022 based on the circumstances presented in the application. The extension will only be available for dual credit programs; the revised Assumed Practice will be effective for all other programs at an institution that has received an extension.


Additional Resources

Criteria for Accreditation
Faculty qualifications are considered in relation to Criterion Three, Core Component 3.C (See subcomponents 3.C.1, 3.C.2 and 3.C.4).


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