REG 05.20.40 – Instructor Qualifications

Authority:  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

History: First Issued: July 8, 2014. Last Revised: March 1, 2016.

Related Policies:
REG 02.40.01 Membership in the Graduate Faculty
RUL 02.41.01  Credentials Required for Teaching Graduate Courses
REG 05.55.02  Hiring Procedures for Faculty and EHRA Personnel
POL 05.20.01 Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure
REG 05.20.34 – Non-Tenure Track Faculty Ranks and Appointments

Additional References:
SACSCOC The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Improvement
SACSCOC Guidelines for Faculty Credentials
Graduate Handbook, Section 1.3:  Graduate Faculty
National Student Clearinghouse

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


North Carolina State University ensures that its instructional faculty has the academic credentials and/or professional experience necessary to provide a high quality educational experience for its students.  The university justifies and documents the qualifications of instructors consistent with the Principles of Accreditation established by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  1. SCOPE

This regulation applies to all individuals serving as Instructor of Record for any section or as Classroom Instructor in lecture, seminar, and studio sections, without regard to academic rank or appointment type.  It does not apply to individuals serving in an Instructional Support capacity.

This regulation pertains to all class sections offered for NC State credit and entered on student transcripts as NC State courses, including co-requisite labs, study abroad courses, and courses offered through consortia, regardless of location or mode of delivery.


Instructional role is determined by an individual’s responsibilities, not appointment type.

3.1 Instructor of Record:  responsible for overall design and conduct of the course section, has ultimate responsibility for the final grade

3.2 Classroom Instructor:  provides day-to-day classroom activities throughout the term, evaluates student work to determine achievement of learning outcomes for the final grade

3.3 Instructional Support:  is not responsible for planning or teaching a course section but supports the instructor by handling logistics, grading homework, guest lecturing, facilitating lab sessions, or supervising field placement


An instructor’s qualifications must be appropriate for both the discipline and the level of each course taught.  Qualifications may consist of academic credentials (earned degrees or completed coursework) or alternative credentials (professional experience or demonstrated competency) or a combination of these credentials (e.g., related academic qualification and professional competency).

4.1 Academic Credentials.  When determining acceptable qualifications of its instructors, NC State

gives primary consideration to the highest degree earned in the discipline.  Normally, the discipline of the qualifying degree is in the same or closely related discipline of the course taught as generally practiced in U.S. higher education.

The minimum level of the degree earned is determined by the level of the course taught, as follows:

4.1.1 General education courses at the undergraduate level: doctorate or master’s degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught, or master’s degree with a concentration in that discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours);

4.1.2 Associate degree courses designed for transfer to a baccalaureate degree: doctorate or master’s degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught, or master’s degree with a concentration in that discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours);

4.1.3 Associate degree courses not designed for transfer to the baccalaureate degree: bachelor’s degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught, or associate’s degree and demonstrated competencies in that discipline;

4.1.4 Baccalaureate courses: doctorate or master’s degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught, or master’s degree with a concentration in that discipline (minimum of 18 graduate semester hours;

4.1.5 Graduate and post-baccalaureate course work: earned doctorate or terminal degree in the same or closely related discipline as the course taught.

Graduate teaching assistants may serve as Instructor of Record or Classroom Instructor in an undergraduate lecture, seminar, or studio section if they have completed a master’s degree or 18 graduate semester hours in the same or related teaching discipline prior to teaching the course.

4.2  Alternative Credentials.   In lieu of an earned degree or graduate coursework in an appropriate field, instructors may be qualified by professional experience.  The university also considers competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including, as appropriate, undergraduate or graduate degrees, related work experiences, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes.

4.3 Questions about appropriateness of instructor qualifications for graduate courses should be referred to the Graduate School and, as needed, to the Associate Vice Provost for Assessment and Accreditation and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Questions about appropriateness of qualifications for undergraduate courses should be referred to the Division of Academic and Student Affairs and, as needed, to the Associate Vice Provost for Assessment and Accreditation and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.


5.1 The department head, or  equivalent for an interdisciplinary program outside of a department, is responsible for justifying and approving the qualifications of Instructors of Record and Classroom Instructors for each course offered by the department/program before instructors teaches  the course for the first time.

5.2 The dean is responsible for ensuring that all instructors’ qualifications are justified and the credentials verified.  The dean or designee must review and provide College-level approval for  all appointments based on alternative credentials.

5.3 The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs is responsible for final, institution-level review and approval of qualifications based on alternative credentials. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs may consult as needed with the Associate Vice Provost for Assessment and Accreditation regarding the appropriateness of qualifications.


6.1 Documents verifying an instructor’s qualifications may include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, professional licenses or certifications, honors and awards, and other evidence of professional experience.

6.2 When the primary qualification for teaching a course is an earned degree or completion of 18 or more graduate hours in the discipline of the course, the appropriate documentation is an official transcript provided by the issuing institution.

6.3 When the primary qualification is an earned degree from a foreign institution, appropriate documentation also includes an evaluation of the foreign transcript by a certified external agency.

6.4  When an instructor is qualified for teaching a course by alternative professional credentials or demonstrated competency, required documentation includes:  (1) an official transcript for graduate degree(s); (2) objective evidence of the qualifying experiences such as prior work experience, professional licenses and certifications, and other qualifications; and (3)  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the department head’s justification clearly describing the relationship between the experience and course content and level.

6.5  Instructors are responsible for providing the documentation necessary to verify their qualifications before the end of their first semester of employment at NC State.  An instructor who has not provided an official transcript and documentation of other qualifications as requested by the end of the first semester at NC State may be dismissed for failure to comply with a condition of employment.  An instructor who, through no fault of his or her own, cannot provide a transcript or other documentation may request a waiver of this requirement from the Provost.

6.6 The head or equivalent is responsible for ensuring the authenticity of documents presented as evidence of qualifications.

6.7 Official transcripts will be stored in the Department of Human Resources, which will provide access to electronic copies for academic officials responsible for reviewing them.   The head or director will assemble and maintain in the central repository a completed print or electronic file including other documentation and, if necessary, the written justification summarizing each instructor’s qualifications.

6.8 Questions about the adequacy of the documentation of alternative credentials should be referred to the Office of the Provost.