Academic Policy  1435.50 

Faculty Ranks and Titles, Qualified Faculty, and Research Assistant and Research Associate Positions

University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Policy 405.1 establishes the academic ranks/titles for faculty members at the system campuses. Consistent with Board policy, the specific and complete rank/title to which a faculty member is appointed should be entered on all appointment, employment, and personnel records and on all official correspondence. It is the responsibility of the employing college or school to ensure that the correct rank/title is used. It is particularly important that full title and rank be used, as omitting a modifier can cause the individual to be appointed to a tenure-track position rather than a non-tenure-track position. Faculty titles may be used only for appointments to faculty positions.

Faculty appointments are for one year or less, and reappointment or termination must be made on an annual basis, consistent with performance review and other applicable deadlines and personnel policies.

The provisions of this policy apply to all faculty members, including contingent faculty members who serve without pay.  Contingent is used as a modifier for individuals who are not paid and have positions outside the institution. The letter of offer must state the full contingent title and department and school or college of appointment, state that the appointment is a courtesy appointment, without pay, but obligates the individual to comply with all applicable state and university policies, and state whether the individual is recommended or has graduate faculty status.

Ranks/Titles in Use for the University of Arkansas

Tenure-track and tenured ranks include assistant professor, associate professor, professor, university professor, and distinguished professor.

Tenure-track and tenured non-teaching titles are director of libraries, librarian, associate librarian, assistant librarian, curator, associate curator, and assistant curator. Faculty with these titles will also have a tenure-track or tenured rank. Both the rank and the title must be stated in the appointment and on employment records.

Non-tenure-track rank/titles are lecturer, master lecturer, instructor, advanced instructor, senior instructor, and one of the above tenure-track and tenured ranks modified by teaching, research, clinical, visiting, professor of practice, and executive in residence.

Adjunct can be used as a modifier to the rank of lecturer or instructor for individuals who are typically assigned teaching duties for a period of less than one year and at an effort of half-time or less.  

Qualified Faculty

Criteria and Process to Qualify Faculty Based on Academic Credentials

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Assumed Practices B.2.a requires that qualified faculty members are identified primarily by credentials. Faculty (tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure track, adjunct, contingent, etc.) at the University should be primarily qualified by their academic credentials ensuring adherence to the following HLC policies: 

  • Instructors (excluding, for this requirement, graduate assistants enrolled in a graduate program and supervised by faculty) possess an academic degree relevant to what they are teaching and at least one level above the level at which they teach, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established. In terminal degree programs, faculty members possess the same level of degree.
  • Faculty teaching general education courses, or other non-occupational courses, hold a master’s degree or higher in the discipline or subfield. If a faculty member holds a master’s degree or higher in a discipline or subfield other than that in which they are teaching, that faculty member should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline or subfield in which they teach.
  • Instructors teaching in graduate programs should hold the terminal degree determined by the discipline and have a record of research, scholarship, or achievement appropriate for the graduate program.
  • Instructors teaching at the doctoral level have a record of recognized scholarship, creative endeavor, or achievement in practice commensurate with doctoral expectations.
  • When faculty members are employed based on equivalent experience, the institution defines a minimum threshold of experience and an evaluation process that is used in the appointment process.

For the purposes of qualifying faculty based on academic credentials, academic units have the responsibility to determine if a faculty member’s academic degree is relevant to what they will teach.  Units should take into consideration how their academic discipline and accreditation requirements define best practices in regard to if a degree is within their discipline or subfield.  A faculty member with an academic degree in an adjacent field may be qualified by that academic credential provided that the unit demonstrates that peer institutions and/or their academic discipline recognize such a credential as equivalent to the degree(s) the unit awards.

Criteria and Process to Qualify Faculty Based on Experience

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Assumed Practices B.2a permits faculty to be qualified based on equivalent experience. The faculty member qualified based on experience must, at a minimum, include the following experience.

    1. The experience should be equivalent to the degree it would otherwise require for a faculty position.
    2. The experience should include 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.

The process at the University of Arkansas to determine qualified faculty based on experience must follow the process for initial appointments as outlined in Academic Policy 1405.11 as appropriate to the rank of the faculty member. 

Each College or School shall establish their own policies and procedures for determining qualified faculty based on experience, including developing faculty hiring qualifications that outline a minimum threshold of experience and a system of evaluation.  This evaluation may include appropriate skill sets, types of certifications, additional credentials, work experience, or other relevant factors.  The faculty hiring qualifications and the procedures to approve such qualifications, which must include approval by the appropriate Dean and Office of the Provost, should be reviewed and approved through a faculty governance process as determined by each College or School.  This process must also be approved by the appropriate Dean and the Office of the Provost. 

Record of Faculty Status

The Registrar shall maintain a record of all faculty qualified to teach at various levels at the University of Arkansas.

Terminal Degree Definition

A terminal degree is the highest academic degree in a given field of study (normally a Doctoral level degree, but in some fields a master’s level degree).

The University of Arkansas defines the terminal degree as a doctorate-level degree, which includes the PhD, EdD, JD, MD, DNP, DVM, DDS, DM, DMA, OTD, and PharmD.  In addition, the following masters-level degrees are considered terminal in their respective disciplines:

Master of Architecture (MArch)
Master of Design (MDes) (NASAD accredited terminal degrees)

Master of Graphic Design (MGD) (NASAD accredited terminal degree)
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLArch, MLA)
Master of Library Science (MLS, MLIS, MSLS)
Master of Social Work (MSW) (clinical only)

Research Assistant and Research Associate Positions (Non- classified/Non-faculty Positions)

Research Assistant and Research Associate positions/titles are used only for individuals whose duties are solely research related unless a waiver is approved by the Provost.

Reformatted for Web October 2, 2014