REG 05.20.37 – Faculty Teaching Workload

Authority: Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

History: First Issued: January 23, 2014. Last Revised: December 17, 2020.

Related Policies:
UNC POL 400.3.1 Tenure and Teaching in the University of North Carolina

UNC POL 400.3.1.1 [G] Guidelines on Teaching and Tenure
UNC POL 400.3.4 Monitoring Faculty Teaching Workloads
UNC POL 400.3.4 [R] Regulations Related to Monitoring Faculty Teaching Workloads
UNC POL 700.6.1 [R] Academic Integrity Regulations
NCSU REG 05.20.27 Statements of Faculty Responsibilities
NCSU REG 05.20.03 Annual Review of Faculty Members

Additional References:
NCSU POL 05.20.01 Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure

NCSU REG 05.58.01 Additional Compensation
NCSU REG 05.20.34 Professional Faculty Ranks and Appointments 
NCSU REG 05.20.24 Scholarly Reassignment for Faculty

Contact: Senior Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs (919-513-7741)


UNC POL 400.3.4 requires all UNC institutions to develop and implement policies and procedures to monitor faculty teaching loads and to approve significant variations from expected minimums. Policies must include the criteria and approval process for reductions in institutional load attendant to increased administrative responsibilities, externally-funded research, including course buy-outs, and additional institutional and departmental service obligations.

While the Board of Governors recognizes in this policy that “individual faculty teaching loads are best managed at the department and school level and not the system or state level,” they require all campuses to adopt a standard methodology for collecting data on teaching load, in order to ensure meaningful comparisons of faculty teaching load over time and across peers. For reporting purposes, the Board of Governors has selected the National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity known as the Delaware Study (see Section 4 of this Regulation.)

The purpose of this regulation is to define how North Carolina State University (NC State) will implement the Board of Governors’ policy in order to monitor faculty teaching loads and put in place processes for approving significant variations form expected minimum loads.


2.1. Teaching Workload: the portion of the faculty workload spent on direct instruction and instructional activities.

2.2 Course Overload: a workload assignment that exceeds the expected teaching load for the discipline/department or the teaching load defined in the faculty member’s Statement of Faculty Responsibilities; faculty may receive additional pay or alternative compensation (such as a subsequent course reduction) for overload assignments.

2.3 Course Reduction: a reduction in the faculty member’s normal instructional load to allow time for work on non-instructional activities.

2.4 Statement of Faculty Responsibilities: a written description of the appropriate mix of the individual faculty member’s realms of responsibility and the mutually agreed-upon expectations from both the faculty member and the department during the faculty member’s appointment as addressed in REG 05.20.27 – Statements of Faculty Responsibilities.


3.1. The duties that commonly constitute a faculty member’s workload fall under the six areas of faculty responsibility defined in NCSU POL 05.20.01 – Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure and REG 05.20.34 – Professional Faculty Ranks and Appointments:

  1. Teaching and Mentoring of Undergraduate and Graduate Students
  2. Discovery of Knowledge through Discipline-Guided Inquiry
  3. Creative Artistry and Literature
  4. Technological and Managerial Innovation
  5. Extension and Engagement with Constituencies outside the University
  6. Service in Professional Societies and Service and Engagement within the University

3.2. The Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, in consultation with the Council of Deans, has established workload criteria for the university based on UNC POL 400.3.4, which defines an average instructional load for Research universities in the system of 4 courses (3-semester hours) per year for Research universities in the UNC system.

3.3. The Board of Governor’s UNC POL 4003.4 does not prescribe teaching workloads for individual faculty members; it defines a standard for Research universities compared to Doctoral, Master’s and Baccalaureate institutions in the system and presumes that a significant part of the workload for faculty at a Research university comprises research and scholarship as well as teaching responsibilities.

3.4. The instructional load for individual faculty members will vary from this average load depending on the nature of the faculty member’s appointment: e.g., responsibilities in teaching, research, extension/engagement, service and other responsibilities as set out in the Statement of Faculty Responsibilities. Teaching workload may also reflect the faculty member’s appointment type (tenure-track/professional or research/teaching/extension tracks) as well as level of performance in teaching and other responsibilities.

3.5 UNC POL 400.3.4 identifies the following possible grounds for course reductions from the expected teaching load for research universities:  increased administrative responsibilities, externally-funded research- including course buy-outs-and additional institutional and departmental service obligations.

3.6. The Dean of each college, in consultation with the department heads/chairs/directors within the College, will establish criteria for expected workload for the departments and schools in the college, including justifications for overloads and course reductions.   Department and school teaching workload expectations may vary in relation to major responsibilities and overall assignment of duties, disciplinary standards, class sizes, contact hours, and accreditation requirements.  The Provost must approve college or department workload expectations which vary significantly from expected college minimum loads.

3.7. Each department or school will develop guidelines for teaching assignments, including how course reductions, overloads, courses for extra compensation, large classes, laboratory or studio sections, graduate student advising, multiple sections of the same course taught simultaneously in face-to-face and distance education formats, and other variations from standard course loads are factored into teaching load and reporting. The Dean must approve guidelines which vary significantly from expected department minimum loads.

3.8 The department head or chair of each department or director of each school is responsible for defining individual workload assignments for each member of the faculty consistent with university, college and department guidelines. These expectations must be incorporated into each faculty member’s Statement of Faculty Responsibilities.  The Dean must approve individual teaching assignments that vary significantly from expected department and college minimum loads.

3.9. For faculty holding a joint or interdisciplinary appointment, the administrator of the faculty member’s primary academic department, in consultation with the administrator(s) of the departments to which the faculty member is jointly appointed or the interdisciplinary programs to which they are assigned, will define the workload expectations.

3.10. Faculty members will include their teaching responsibilities in their annual Faculty Activity Reports, and the department head/chair/director’s annual performance review of faculty members shall be based upon that year’s assigned duties.

3.11 As required by the Board of Governors in its Academic Integrity Guidelines (UNC POL 700.6.1[R]), NC State must develop guidelines for the number of undergraduate independent studies a faculty member may teach per term.  The Provost has determined that a faculty member may teach no more than three (3) undergraduate independent studies for courses regularly available through classroom or distance education in a semester or summer session without written approval from dean (not designee).


4.1 For reporting purposes, the University of North Carolina campuses will use the National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity (Delaware Study) Data Collection Form for full time equivalent faculty within the University.

The Delaware Study provides comparable teaching data at the discipline/department level (not for individual faculty members) using the following faculty categories:

  1. regular tenure or tenure-track faculty
  2. other regular faculty
  3. supplemental faculty
  4. teaching assistants

4.2 UNC institutions, including NC State, will use the Delaware Study data definitions and common definitions of instructional formats; see  UNC POL 400.3.4 [R] Regulations Related to Monitoring Faculty Teaching Workloads.

4.3 For reporting purposes, teaching load is derived by the number of organized courses a faculty member is assigned in a given semester. Courses that are not conducted in regularly scheduled class meetings, such as “readings,” “special topics,” “problems” or “research” courses, including dissertation/thesis research, and “individual lesson” courses (typically in music and fine arts) are excluded from the teaching load calculation reported for the Delaware study.

4.4 The University will use data from the Delaware study to collect information on teaching workload annually at department, college, and university levels and to monitor implementation of the University’s workload expectations.