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Faculty Credentials Policy

Purpose and Summary

In support of its goal to ensure high-quality teaching and learning in its curricula, Northern Illinois University ensures that members of its instructional corps are well-qualified to teach students enrolled in credit-bearing courses. This policy establishes the minimum standard for ensuring all members of the instructional corps are qualified to teach courses to which they are assigned.

This policy complies with the Assumed Practices of the Higher Learning Commission.

Scope

This policy applies to all individuals assigned an instructional role in a credit-bearing class that will appear on a student transcript as an NIU-offered course. Individuals who are invited to deliver a guest presentation or presentations are exempt from this policy.

Definitions

Members of Instructional Corps: Any individual assigned to teach a course that will appear as an NIU-delivered, credit-bearing course, except study abroad courses offered by a third-party. In the case of such study abroad course work, it is assumed that the provider ensures the qualifications of the instructional corps within the context of the course and within the relevant national context.

Teaching Field: A teaching field is defined by the particular content of the course.

Terminal Degree: The highest order degree that an individual may normally achieve in a teaching field offered at regionally-accredited institutions in the United States. (For example: Ph.D., Ed.D., M.F.A., J.D., DBA.)

Policy

General

Qualification to teach a given course is normally based on the highest earned degree in the teaching field in which the course is situated.

Degrees earned are acceptable only if documented by an official transcript, or the international equivalent, with the degree posted (or via letter from an appropriate university official attesting that all requirements for the degree have been completed and that the degree will be awarded on a particular date according to the university schedule for doing so). Additionally, the degree must be awarded by a regionally-accredited U.S. institution or by a recognized foreign institution, as determined by the Office of the Provost in consultation with the Dean of the Graduate School.

It is the responsibility of any prospective member of the instructional corps to supply any and all documentation attesting to the awarding of an appropriate degree or other documents required to ensure that the individuals meet minimum standards. Such documentation must be on file with NIU, verified, and approved by the Office of the Provost prior to the first day that the individual is scheduled to teach.

Undergraduate Courses

A member of the instructional corps may be deemed academically qualified if they have earned:

  • A master’s degree or higher in the teaching field; or
  • A master’s degree or higher in a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit; or
  • A master’s degree or higher in any discipline with at least eighteen graduate credit hours in the teaching field or a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit
Exceptions may be granted in the following cases:
  • Members of the instructional corps assigned to teach physical education activity classes need only possess a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field; alternatively, they may possess appropriate certifications, licenses or a documented high-level of achievement in the activity coupled with a high-level of understanding of the pedagogy pertaining to the activity.
  • Members of the instructional corps in the College of Visual and Performing Arts who are assigned to teach applied lessons or to provide studio instruction need only possess a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field; however, they must have achieved substantial regional or national recognition in the skill that they teach and ordinarily must have accumulated at least 5 years of professional experience in the field.
  • Members of the instructional corps assigned to co-teach UNIV 101 or UNIV 201 as a secondary instructor, need only possess a bachelor’s degree, provided that the primary instructor holds at least a master’s degree. Secondary instructors who are qualified at the baccalaureate level to co-teach UNIV 101 or UNIV 201 must also have at least one year of full-time experience working at a regionally-accredited institution of higher learning.
  • Members of the instructional corps assigned to teach courses applicable to the Reserve Officer Training Corps program who have been qualified by the Department of Defense to do so are exempt from NIU credentialing requirements.
  • Graduate teaching assistants without a master’s degree may teach at the undergraduate level within the teaching field or a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit in which they are pursuing a degree provided that they are supervised by an appropriately qualified member of the instructional corps. If graduate teaching assistants are not supervised, they must be otherwise qualified to teach at the bachelor’s level.
  • Members of the instructional corps may teach baccalaureate students without regard to educational attainment if they have a demonstrable regional, national or international reputation for excellence in the field in which they are being hired to teach.
  • Members of the instructional corps with only a bachelor’s degree may teach bachelor’s level students if they have appropriate licensure or certification that their students cannot yet possess because they lack the degree required, provided that the content of the course is directly relevant to achieving licensure or certification or if they hold a bachelor’s degree in the field or a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit, and have 5 years of full-time professional experience directly related to the field in which they are being hired to teach. Typically, bachelor’s-degree qualified members of the instructional corps who are approved to teach at the baccalaureate level teach “applied” courses such as clinical, practicum or other similar courses.

Graduate Courses

A member of the instructional corps may be deemed academically qualified if they have earned:

  • A terminal degree in the teaching field; or
  • A terminal degree in a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit; or
  • A terminal degree in any discipline with at least eighteen graduate credit hours in the teaching field or a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit.
Exceptions may be granted in the following cases:
  • Members of the instructional corps may teach doctoral students without regard to educational attainment if they have a demonstrable regional, national or international reputation for excellence in the field in which they are being hired to teach.
  • Members of the instructional corps with only a master’s degree may teach master’s level students if they have appropriate licensure or certification that their students cannot yet possess because they lack the degree required, provided that the content of the course is directly relevant to achieving licensure or certification or if they hold  a master’s degree in the field or a closely related field, as defined by the academic department/unit and have 5 years of full-time professional experience directly related to the teaching field. Typically, master’s-degree qualified members of the instructional corps who are approved to teach at the graduate level teach “applied” courses such as clinical, practicum or other similar courses.

This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis.