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Graduate Faculty Membership

Graduate Faculty Policy GCAC-101

Purpose: to define that categories and associated duties/privileges/requirements of membership in the Graduate Faculty.

Academic Goal: to assure that graduate students are taught, advised and guided in their culminating experiences by faculty members who possess qualifications and relevant experience appropriate for the degree and field of study.

Scope: all faculty members who participate in graduate education.

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 Background

As a world-class, research-intensive public institution, the scope of graduate education at Penn State encompasses a broad spectrum of advanced degrees under the Graduate School. These include the highest degree that defines research universities, the research doctorate (Ph.D.) and related research master’s degrees (the M.A. and M.S.), which emphasize training in research methodologies and a focus on scholarly inquiry for the creation of new knowledge. Additionally, Penn State offers an expanding portfolio of professional doctorates (e.g., the D.Ed., D.M.A., and D.N.P.) and professional master’s degrees (M.F.A., M.B.A., M.Eng., M.Ed., M.P.S., M.P.H., M.Arch., M.L.A., etc.). Participation in graduate education at the University is reserved for individuals appointed to the Graduate Faculty whose qualifications, experience, and institutional appointments enable them to make significant contributions to the training of graduate students in research and/or professional graduate degree programs in a comprehensive and sustained manner.

Membership in the Graduate Faculty is not intended for the limited purpose of teaching a graduate course(s), or for serving on a singular or occasional doctoral committee. Nor is it intended as a means to recognize an individual who holds a graduate degree and may be employed at the University otherwise. Membership is intended for individuals who will participate broadly in the training of graduate students (e.g., supervising research master’s or doctoral research or the culminating experience in a professional master’s program; serving on program committees; chairing doctoral committees; etc.) on an ongoing basis, and in the case of Ph.D., M.S. and M.A. degree programs, who have an active program of research or scholarship appropriate to the field. The Graduate School recognizes that many individuals who are not eligible for membership in the Graduate Faculty nonetheless have the potential to bring significant knowledge and experience to our graduate students. Appropriately-qualified individuals who are not members of the Penn State Graduate Faculty may teach graduate-level courses, including under certain conditions for multiple year periods, with the permission of the Dean of the Graduate School (see form - Recommendation for Approval to teach 500- or 800-level Courses [PDF] by non-members of the Graduate Faculty), or serve as a Special Member of a doctoral committee, and graduate programs may utilize these means to provide opportunities for such individuals to become engaged in graduate education.

In general, individuals who hold Adjunct, Affiliate, Visiting, and Part-Time appointments, and who have an interest and qualifications to make a contribution in teaching a graduate course or serving on a committee should be accommodated through the above means, rather than nomination for membership in the Graduate Faculty.

With limited exceptions (e.g., highly recognized scholars who reside outside the U.S. and who can make a unique contribution by participating in a graduate program), independent contractors are not eligible for membership in the Graduate Faculty.

Graduate students are NOT eligible for nomination to the Graduate Faculty (any category) and are not allowed to serve as the Instructor of Record (i.e., be responsible for) for graduate (i.e., 500, 600- and 800-level) courses. Graduate students may serve in a limited supportive role as Student Instructional Assistants for graduate courses, within specified guidelines and under the supervision of members of the Graduate Faculty who are responsible for all graduate courses (see Policy GCAC-902).

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 Definitions

Tenure-Line Faculty: Faculty members who are tenured or on the tenure-track.

Affiliate Faculty: Individuals whose primary responsibilities are non-academic, e.g., staff or non-academic administrator appointments.

Adjunct: Appointments without remuneration.

Fixed-Term I (FT-I): Appointments that are full-time for at least six months, but with an ending date specified.

Fixed-Term Multi-Year (FTM): Appointments that are full-time for a minimum of 36 weeks, but which have an ending date specified, and may exceed one year in duration, up to a maximum of five years for a single appointment. These appointments are renewable.

Fixed-Term II (FT-II): Appointments that are less than full-time, or full-time for less than six calendar months.

Standing: Appointments that are full-time, but with no ending date specified.

Independent Contractor: An individual hired by Penn State to perform a non-routine activity. Per Policies AC80 and IP06, the individual may not be a current Employee of Penn State. Typically, an Independent Contractor faces the risk of loss as well as profit when providing such services, as opposed to an Employee who does not.

Head of a graduate program: Member of the Graduate Faculty with ultimate responsibility and academic authority for a graduate degree program. For departmental graduate programs, this may be the Department Head; for Intercollege Graduate Degree Programs it is a faculty Chair. In all cases, the Head must be a tenure-line member of the Graduate Faculty.

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC): Member of the Graduate Faculty who may be delegated responsibility for oversight and operation of a graduate degree program by the Head of the program. For graduate research degree (Ph.D., M.S. and M.A.) programs, must be a Category R member of the Graduate Faculty. For graduate professional degree programs, may be a Category R or Category P member of the Graduate Faculty. Responsibilities include signatory for all official paperwork submitted on behalf of the program to the Graduate School.

Program Coordinator: Staff-level appointment reporting to the Head of a graduate program, or to the DGS/PIC, who generally assists with managing graduate program operations. The Program Coordinator may not be involved in academic program functions, including admission decisions, academic advising, program approvals, etc.

Policy Statement

  1. Graduate Faculty may be granted one of three categories of membership.
    1. Category P Membership: The primary purpose of this category is the training graduate students in professional graduate degree programs offered by the Graduate School. This category is appropriate for nomination of Tenure-Line, Full-Time Fixed-Term (FT-I, FTM), and Standing faculty whose highest degree is at the master’s level, or who hold a doctorate and may not have a record of scholarly achievement and an active program of research/scholarship, but have professional experience appropriate to the graduate program field.
      1. Expected Duties: Academic advising of professional graduate degree students; teaching 800- level graduate courses; supervising the culminating experience in a professional master’s or professional doctoral degree program; chairing/serving on professional doctoral committees. Tenure-Line Category P members of the Graduate Faculty may also teach 500-level courses and may serve as a Special Member of research-doctorate (Ph.D.) committees. Perform other academic duties as may be authorized by the dean of the Graduate School.
      2. Other Privileges: Serve as the Head of a professional graduate degree program (Tenure-Line only), or as DGS or PIC (Tenure-Line, Full-Time Fixed-Term (FT-I, FTM), and Standing). Tenure-Line and Standing Category P members of the Graduate Faculty may also serve on Graduate Council and its committees and subcommittees, and vote on matters submitted to the Graduate Faculty for vote.
      3. Minimum Qualifications: For Participation in a Professional Master’s Degree Program (Category P-M) member must have a Tenure-Line, Full-Time Fixed-Term (FT-I, FTM) or Standing appointment; a master’s degree; and professional experience relevant to the professional master’s degree program field. For Participation in a Professional Doctoral Degree Program (Category P-D), member must have a Tenure-Line, Full-time Fixed-Term (FT-I, FTM) or Standing appointment; a doctorate; and professional experience appropriate to the professional graduate program field.
      4. In rare and extraordinary cases, nominations for Category P membership may be considered for individuals who do not hold a graduate degree, but for whom clear evidence of a) exceptional experience and outstanding achievement at a national or international level; b) sustained excellence and recognized leadership in their professional field; and c) effective teaching ability are evident. Such individuals would be limited to teaching graduate professional (800-level) courses.
    2. Category Q Membership: The primary purpose of this category is the academic advising of graduate students in master’s degree programs; teaching 500-, 600-, and 800-level graduate courses; supervising M.A. and M.S. research and the culminating experience in professional master’s degree programs; serving on master’s degree committees; co-advising research doctorate (Ph.D.) students and co-supervising Ph.D. dissertation research with a Category R member of the Graduate Faculty; and serving on Ph.D. committees as a regular member, including as Major Field Member, Outside Field Member, Outside Unit Member, and/or Minor Field Member. Category Q members may not serve as Chair of a Ph.D. committee. Category Q Members may however, perform other academic duties as may be authorized by the dean of the Graduate School.
      1. Minimum Qualifications: 1) A tenure-line appointment; 2) either a terminal master’s degree with research training, or a terminal master’s degree and a record of research, in either case sufficient to contribute to research doctorate training; and 3) an active program of research appropriate to the graduate program field.
      2. For research doctorate (Ph.D.) committees, one member of the committee may be a Category Q member of the Graduate Faculty and serve in the roles specified under Expected Duties of Category Q members.
    3. Category R Membership: The primary purpose of this category is the training of graduate students in research doctorate (Ph.D.) and research masters’ (M.S. and M.A.) degree programs offered by the Graduate School. Category R membership is restricted to those full-time faculty members who are assigned significant responsibilities in graduate education and research. This category is appropriate for Tenure-Line faculty who hold a research doctorate; Tenure-line faculty who hold a professional doctorate and have a record of scholarly achievement and an active program of research/scholarship appropriate to the graduate program field; and Full-time, FT and Standing faculty who hold a research doctorate or professional doctorate and have a record of scholarly achievement and an active program of research/scholarship appropriate to the graduate program field.
      1. Expected Duties: Academic advising of graduate students; teaching graduate (500-, 600- and 800-level) courses; supervising research master’s (M.A. and M.S.) research; supervising research doctorate (Ph.D.) dissertation research; serving on research doctorate/masters committees; chairing research doctorate/masters committees. Perform other academic duties as may be authorized by the dean of the Graduate School.
      2. Other Privileges: Serve as the Head of a graduate program (Tenure-Line only), or as DGS or PIC. May serve on Graduate Council and its committees and subcommittees, and vote on matters submitted to the Graduate Faculty for vote. May advise and supervise the culminating experience of students in a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program.
      3. Minimum Qualifications: 1) A Tenure-Line appointment and a research doctorate (Ph.D.); or 2) a Tenure-line appointment and a professional doctorate (e.g., M.D.), record of scholarly achievement, and an active program of research/scholarly activity, appropriate to the field; or 3) a Full-time FT (FT-I, FTM) or Standing appointment, a research doctorate (Ph.D.) or a professional doctorate (e.g., M.D.), a record of scholarly achievement and an active program of research/scholarly activity, appropriate to the field.
  2. The dean/chancellor of each college/school approved to offer graduate degree programs shall each year send to the Graduate School for the dean's concurrence the names of members of the Graduate Faculty serving on the college/school Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation Committee. The committee shall consist of no less than a chairperson and two members, all of whom shall be tenured or tenure-track members of the Graduate Faculty, and whose terms of service shall be staggered to ensure continuity.
    1. The dean of the Graduate School shall be the final appeal authority for any recommendation of a college/school Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation committee and/or program head and college/school dean/chancellor, and may establish such ad hoc procedures in each case as deemed appropriate.
  3. The duration of Graduate Faculty membership for individuals on Fixed-Term appointments is only for the period of their full-time employment with the University. Continuation of Graduate Faculty membership is allowed with renewal of a Full-Time Fixed-Term appointment upon notification by the academic unit in which the Fixed-Term appointment is held to the Graduate School of the renewal/reappointment terms (including ending date).
  4. A member may be dropped from the rolls of the Graduate Faculty by the dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation or concurrence of the program Head and with the concurrence of the college/school Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation Committee where appropriate, if he or she fails to participate significantly in the graduate affairs of the University or has no record of continuing scholarly or creative activity.
    1. A member may be dismissed from the Graduate Faculty by the dean of the Graduate School for failure to maintain appropriate standards of professional ethics as described in University Policy AD47. The action will be contingent upon the recommendation of an ad hoc investigatory committee, consistent with University Policy RP02.
    2. Criteria for such dismissal include: ethical misconduct, including fraud, fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, and other serious deviation from accepted practices within the roles of teacher, researcher/scholar, colleague, and member of the University; failure to adhere to the principles of co-authorship in scholarly reports, papers, and publications (ref. IP02); or failure to exercise utmost good faith in all transactions touching upon the individual's duties with and on behalf of the University, so as to avoid conflict between the interests of the University and the member of the Graduate Faculty (ref. HR91).
  5. Under special circumstances, on recommendation of the graduate program head and with approval of the dean of the Graduate School, individuals who are not members of the Graduate Faculty but are otherwise qualified with respect to credentials and experience may be approved to teach specific 500- or 800-level courses for a specified period of time.

Process

Process for Appointment to Category P Membership in the Graduate Faculty

For Tenure-line, Full-Time FT (FT-I, FTM) and Standing Faculty in Academic Units That Offer a Professional Graduate Degree:

Faculty members with Tenure-line, Full-Time Fixed-Term (FT-I, FTM), or Standing appointments in academic units that offer a professional graduate degree under the Graduate School may be granted Category P membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation by the head of the academic unit offering the professional graduate degree program to which the nominee will contribute; support of the dean/chancellor for the college/school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; and approval and appointment by the Dean of the Graduate School.

For Tenure-line, Full-Time FT and Standing Faculty in Academic Units That Do Not Offer a Professional Graduate Degree:

Faculty members with Tenure-line, Full-time FT and Standing appointments in academic units that do not offer a professional graduate degree may be granted Category P membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation by the Head of a professional graduate degree program to which the nominee will contribute; support of the nominee’s unit leader; support of the dean/chancellor for the college/school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; and approval and appointment by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Process for Appointment to Category R Membership in the Graduate Faculty

Tenure-line in Academic Units That Offer a Research Doctorate (Ph.D.) and/or Research Masters (M.S., M.A.):

Faculty members with Tenure-Line appointments in academic units that offer the research doctorate and/or research masters may be granted Category R membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation of the Head of the academic unit that offers the program to which the nominee will contribute; support of the dean/chancellor for the college/school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; and approval and appointment by Dean of the Graduate School.

Tenure-line in Academic Units that Do Not Offer a Research Doctorate (Ph.D.) or Research Masters (M.S., M.A.):

Faculty members with Tenure-Line appointments in academic units that do not offer the research doctorate and/or research masters may be granted Category R membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation of the Head of the graduate program to which the nominee will contribute; support of the nominee’s unit leader; support of the dean/chancellor for the college/school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; and approval and appointment by Dean of the Graduate School.

Full-Time FT and Standing:

Faculty members with Full-time FT and Standing appointments may be granted Category R membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation of the Head of a research doctorate (Ph.D.) and/or research masters (M.S., M.A.) program to which the nominee will contribute; support of the nominee’s unit leader (if different than the Head of the graduate program); approval by the Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation Committee for the college/school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; support of the dean/ chancellor for the college/ school in which the program to which the nominee will contribute resides; and approval and appointment by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Forms

Forms for Category P Membership - Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “P” (PDF) (for nomination of Tenure-Line, Full-time Fixed-Term and Standing faculty)

Forms for Category Q Membership - Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “Q” (PDF) (for Tenure-Line Faculty)

Forms for Category R Membership - Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “R” (PDF) (for Tenure-Line, Full-Time Fixed-Term, and Standing Faculty)

Form - Recommendation form for approval to teach 500- or 800-level course (PDF)

Further Information

Graduate Faculty Membership FAQs

Revision History

Approved by Graduate Council, May 6, 2015. Effective Fall 2015 semester.

Amendment to add Q Category approved by Graduate Council, May 3, 2017. Effective Fall 2017 semester.

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