Academic Policies

AC21 Definition of Academic Ranks (Formerly HR21)

Policy Status: 

Active

Policy Steward: 

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

 

POLICY'S INITIAL DATE: June 6, 1958

THIS VERSION EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2017

PURPOSE:

This policy provides guidance on the qualifications necessary for appointment or promotion to the various academic ranks.

EARNED DEGREES:

In assessing candidates for appointment, tenure, promotion, sabbatical leave, etc., the University will accept only those degrees earned at institutions in the United States that have been accredited by regional higher education accrediting associations (such as Middle States) and professional accrediting associations (such as AASCB in Business) in disciplines in which such accrediting takes place, or foreign degrees that have been earned at institutions recognized by their respective governments. Degrees from qualified institutions (per above) are the only ones that the University will acknowledge for appointment, determination of rank, or subsequent personnel decisions. Further, misrepresentation of such information by an individual can be cause for denial or termination of employment.

ACADEMIC RANK:

A. Ranks for tenure-line faculty

  1. Assistant Professor - The assistant professor should possess a terminal degree or its equivalent in organized research or professional practice; must have demonstrated ability as a teacher or research worker; and must have shown definite evidence of growth in scholarly, artistic, or professional achievement.
     
  2. Associate Professor - The associate professor should possess the same qualifications as the assistant professor, but must also provide evidence of an established reputation in scholarly, artistic, or professional achievement.
     
  3. Professor - The professor should possess the same qualifications as the associate professor, but must also provide evidence of a substantial record of advanced research and/or creative work, and of leadership in his/her field of specialization. This rank should be reserved for persons of proven stature in teaching and/or research.

B. Ranks for non-tenure-line (fixed-term or standing) teaching faculty

  1. Lecturer or Instructor - A lecturer or instructor should possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent, or be an active candidate for a terminal degree, in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization.
     
  2. Assistant Teaching Professor - The assistant teaching professor should possess a terminal degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; alternatively, the assistant teaching professor without a terminal degree should possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; must have demonstrated ability as a teacher and adviser; and must have shown evidence of professional growth, scholarship, and/or mastery of subject matter. 
     
  3. Associate Teaching Professor - The associate teaching professor should possess a terminal degree in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; must have demonstrated ability as a teacher and adviser; and must have shown evidence of professional growth, scholarship, and/or mastery of subject matter. Alternatively, the associate teaching professor without a terminal degree should possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; must have demonstrated exceptional ability as a teacher and adviser while in the rank of senior lecturer or instructor; and must have shown evidence of professional growth, scholarship, and/or mastery of subject matter at a level of distinction beyond that of the assistant teaching professor. 
     
  4. Teaching Professor - The teaching professor should possess a terminal degree in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; must have demonstrated exceptional ability as a teacher and adviser while in the rank of associate teaching professor; and must have shown evidence of professional growth, scholarship, and/or mastery of subject matter at a level of distinction beyond that of the associate teaching professor. 
     

C. Ranks for non-tenure-line (fixed-term or standing) research faculty

  1. Researcher - The researcher should possess a master's degree or its equivalent, or be an active candidate for a terminal degree, in an academic field related to his/her research. 
     
  2. Assistant Research Professor - The assistant research professor should possess a terminal degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her research. Alternatively, the assistant research professor without a terminal degree should possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her teaching specialization; must have demonstrated ability as a researcher; and must have shown evidence of professional growth and scholarship in his/her discipline. 
     
  3. Associate Research Professor - An associate research professor should possess a terminal degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her research; must have demonstrated ability as a researcher; and must have shown evidence of professional growth and scholarship in his/her discipline. Alternatively, the associate research professor should possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her research; must have demonstrated exceptional ability as a researcher; and must have shown evidence of professional growth and scholarship in his/her discipline at a level of distinction beyond that of the assistant research professor. 
     
  4. Research Professor - A research professor should possess a terminal degree or its equivalent in an academic field related to his/her research; must have demonstrated exceptional ability as a researcher; and must have shown evidence of professional growth and scholarship in his/her discipline at a level of distinction beyond that of associate research professor.

D. Ranks for clinical faculty with terminal degrees

Units that designate faculty as "clinical" should establish, for faculty with terminal degrees, qualifications for each rank that track closely to the qualifications for research and teaching faculty with terminal degrees.

  1. Assistant Clinical Professor
  2. Associate Clinical Professor
  3. Clinical Professor

E. Ranks for clinical faculty without terminal degrees

Units that designate faculty as “clinical” should establish, for faculty without terminal degrees, qualifications for each rank that track closely to the qualifications for research and teaching faculty without terminal degrees.

  1. Clinical Lecturer
  2. Assistant Clinical Professor
  3. Associate Clinical Professor

F. Ranks for faculty in the University Libraries

Ranks for Faculty in the University Libraries are defined in internal University Libraries policies UL-HRG07 Promotion and Tenure Criteria (for tenure-line ranks) and UL-HRG16 Promotion of Full Time, Non-Tenure Track Faculty (for fixed-term ranks).

PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE:

The professor of practice title is limited to those individuals who are non-tenure track faculty who may not have had the traditional academic background that is typical of faculty as they move through the professorial ranks. The title of professor of practice should be reserved for persons who have accumulated a decade or more of high level and leadership experience in the private or public sectors outside the academy that would provide a unique background and wealth of knowledge that is of particular value as it is shared with the University's students and other faculty. Prior to an offer being extended to an individual being considered for the professor of practice title, the appropriate dean or academic administrator shall consult with, and receive approval from, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.

PROFESSORIAL TITLES FOR RESEARCH FACULTY:

Research faculty who profess are entitled to professorial titles in accordance with AC24 (Professorial Dual Titles for Research Faculty).

The equivalency of rank, indicated above, is followed in granting such titles.

FIXED-TERM RANKS and PROMOTION PROCEDURES:

Fixed-term ranks and titles should follow the guidelines set forth above for teaching, research, and clinical faculty, as well as librarians. Units should have clear rationales for the different ranks and titles they choose to use and their expectations for faculty to achieve these various ranks.

Rather than use the titles "lecturer" and "instructor" interchangeably for fixed-term appointments, each college should determine for itself which of the two titles it chooses to use, and then use that title consistently for such appointments.

Colleges should have their own guidelines for distinguishing between lecturer/instructor, assistant/associate/full professor positions for designating a third rank beyond that of lecturer or for promoting from one rank to the other, but all units should operate under the following University assumptions:

  1. Although there can be exceptions, positions above the first rank are designed to be promotion opportunities, with a recommended period of at least five years in rank as an instructor or lecturer (or, for fixed-term and standing faculty without tenure who hold terminal degrees, assistant teaching/research/clinical professors) before consideration for promotion. Fixed-Term and Standing non-tenure-line faculty should become eligible for promotion to the second rank after five years in rank, and would be permitted to compile their promotion dossiers in their fifth year. There should be no fixed time period for promotion to the third rank. Reviews for promotions should be conducted solely with regard to the merit of the candidate.
     
  2. Reviews for promotion of the full-time fixed-term faculty shall be conducted by Fixed-Term Promotion Review Committees. Fixed-Term Promotion Review Committees shall be constituted as follows: each of the colleges at University Park shall establish a committee for that college; each of the five stand-alone campuses (Abington, Altoona, Behrend, Berks, Harrisburg) shall establish a committee for that campus; each of the Special Mission Campuses (Great Valley, College of Medicine, and Dickinson Law) shall establish a committee for that campus; and the University College shall establish one committee composed of full-time fixed-term faculty from the campuses within the University College, with no more than one member from any campus. If a unit shall have fewer than seven fixed-term faculty members, at least two members of that unit's Fixed-Term Review Committee shall be drawn from another unit's Fixed-Term Review Committee. Only full-time fixed-term faculty members in each unit are eligible to serve on and to vote for the members of the review committee in their unit. Only faculty of higher rank than the candidate should make recommendations about promotions. If there should be insufficient numbers of higher-ranked fixed-term faculty, exceptions to this provision may be permitted by the Executive Vice President and Provost at the request of the academic unit.
  3. The promotion procedure itself should include recommendations by both a campus/department faculty committee, (b) the DAA or department/division head, and (c) the approval of the campus chancellor and/or dean of the college.
     
  4. All promotions should be accompanied by a promotion raise, in addition to a merit raise, to be determined and funded by the college.
  5. The exceptions to this policy are the College of Medicine, the Colleges of Law (Dickinson and University Park), and the University Libraries, since their faculty have for many years been hired off the tenure-track and do not create confusion about their relation to tenure-track faculty.

CROSS REFERENCES:

AC23 Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations

UPDATES:

07-01-2017 - Titles for fixed-term and standing non-tenure-line faculty standardized.

4/20/07 - Professor of practice title added.

11/2/06 - Changed Intercollege Research Programs to interdisciplinary programs.