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GCAC-101

Graduate Faculty Membership

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Purpose

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

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Academic Goal

to assure that graduate students are taught, advised and guided during their education by faculty members who possess qualifications and relevant experience appropriate for the degree and field of study.

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Scope

all faculty members who participate in graduate education.

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 education and 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 education and training of graduate students on an ongoing basis (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) 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 Council 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 with approval (see form - Recommendation for Approval to teach 500- or 800-level Courses [PDF] for non-members of the Graduate Faculty), or serve as a Special Member of a doctoral committee. 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 in and the qualifications to make a contribution in teaching a graduate course or serve on a doctoral committee should be accommodated through the above means, rather than by 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).

Adjunct
Faculty appointments without remuneration.
Affiliate Faculty
Individuals whose primary work responsibilities are non-academic, e.g., staff or non-academic administrator appointments.
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 authority for official paperwork submitted on behalf of the program to the Graduate School.
Graduate Program Head
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 Graduate Program Head must be a tenure-line member of the Graduate Faculty.
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 the potential for profit when providing such services, as opposed to an Employee who does not.
Non-Tenure-Line Faculty
Faculty members who are not tenured or on the tenure track.
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.
Tenure-Line Faculty
Faculty members who are tenured or on the tenure-track.

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 education and training of graduate students in professional graduate degree programs offered by the Graduate School. This category is appropriate for nomination of Tenure-Line and full-time Non-Tenure-Line 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 or full-time Non-Tenure-Line).
      3. Minimum Qualifications: For Participation in a Professional Master’s Degree Program (Category P-M) member must have a Tenure-Line or full-time Non-Tenure-Line 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 or full-time Non-Tenure-Line 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 there is 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 education and 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 Non-Tenure-Line 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 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 Non-Tenure-Line 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 concurrence of the Dean of the Graduate School the names of the members of the Graduate Faculty serving on the college/school Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation Committee (GFNEC). The committee shall consist of no less than a chairperson and two members; all committee members shall be members of the Graduate Faculty and have significant graduate education experience. Their terms of service must be multi-year and shall be staggered to ensure continuity.
  3. The duration of Graduate Faculty membership for Non-Tenure-Line term faculty members 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 term appointment upon notification by the academic unit in which the appointment is held to the Graduate School of the renewal/reappointment terms (including ending date).
  4. Each GFNEC shall create college/school-specific Graduate Faculty membership qualifications that interpret the general guidelines provided in Policy Statement 1. The college/school-specific Graduate Faculty membership qualifications must be approved by the Graduate Council Committee on Academic Standards and by the Dean of The Graduate School. These membership qualifications must be shared with the faculty members in the college/school.
    1. College/school membership qualifications must be submitted every four years on a schedule to be determined by the Committee on Academic Standards.
    2. In the case of an Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IGDP), the Graduate Faculty membership nomination for the degree program will be reviewed by the GFNEC of the academic home of the IGDP. If the academic home of the IGDP is the Graduate School, then the nomination will be reviewed by the GFNEC of the nominee’s home college/school.
  5. 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 graduate program head and with the concurrence of the college/school GFNEC. This might be appropriate if a Graduate Faculty member fails to participate significantly in the graduate affairs of the University or ceases to have arecord 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 AC47. 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).
  6. 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. Each GFNEC shall create college/school-specific Approval to Teach qualifications that interpret the general guidelines provided in Policy Statement 1. The college/school-specific Approval to Teach qualifications must be approved by the Graduate Council Committee on Academic Standards and by the Dean of The Graduate School. These qualifications must be shared with the faculty members in the college/school.
    1. College/school Approval to Teach qualifications must be submitted every four years on a schedule to be determined by the Committee on Academic Standards.
    2. Graduate program heads may approve individuals to teach graduate courses for which they are qualified for at most one calendar year (three consecutive semesters) without further approval.

Process

Full-Time Tenure-Line Faculty Members in Any Category

Faculty members may be granted membership in the Graduate Faculty upon recommendation of the graduate program head to which the nominee will contribute; support of the nominee’s unit leader (if different than the graduate program head); 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.

Full-Time Non-Tenure-Line Category P or R Faculty Members

Faculty members with full-time Non-Tenure-Line 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.

Nominations Not Advanced by the Graduate Program

When a graduate program head declines to nominate a faculty member to the Graduate Faculty of their program, they must submit the application to the entire Graduate Faculty of the program along with a written explanation of the reason for the denial.  If the Graduate Faculty of the program uphold the denial, the program head’s explanation must be provided to the faculty member along with any comments from the program faculty.

Faculty members who were denied nomination but believe they do meet the qualifications as approved by the college/school GFNEC may submit i) their request to join the program, ii) their curriculum vitae and iii) any correspondence received from the graduate program to the Secretary of the Graduate Council for review by the Executive Committee of the Graduate Council.

Approval to Teach

Initial One-Year Approval to Teach

The graduate program head may approve non-members of the Graduate Faculty to teach graduate courses for up to 1 calendar year (3 consecutive semesters); programs must follow the college/school-specific qualifications when approving an individual to teach.

Continuing Approval to Teach

Individuals may receive continuing Approval to Teach upon recommendation of the head of the graduate program offering the course; support of the nominee’s unit leader (if different than the graduate program head); approval by the GFNEC for the college/school in which the course is offered; support of the dean/ chancellor for the college/ school in which the course is offered; and approval by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Individuals with continuing approval to teach are subject to performance evaluations by the Dean of the Graduate School every four years.

Procedure

P1 - Approval to Teach 500- and 800-Level Courses

P2 - Graduate Program Roles and Responsibilities

Forms

Forms for Category P Membership

insert_drive_file Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “P” (PDF) (for nomination of Tenure-Line and full-time Non-Tenure-Line faculty)

Forms for Category Q Membership

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

Forms for Category R Membership

insert_drive_file Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “R” (PDF) (for Tenure-Line and full-time Non-Tenure-Line Faculty)

Approval to Teach 500- or 800-Level Courses

insert_drive_fileRecommendation Form for Approval to Teach 500- or 800-Level Course (PDF)

Further Information

Individuals who are not members of the Graduate Faculty may serve as Special Members of Ph.D. committees or professional doctoral committees. See GCAC-602 Ph.D. Committee Formation, Composition, and Review – Research Doctorate, Policy Statement 4.f. and GCAC-702 Professional Doctoral Committee Composition – Professional Doctorate, Policy Statement 4.d.

Graduate Faculty Membership - FAQs

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, April 13, 2022. Effective date: Summer 2022 (5/9/2022)
    • Policy revised extensively. Major changes include expanding college Graduate Faculty Evaluation Committees (GFNEC) to allow non-tenure-line members; designating GFNEC responsibility to develop specific criteria for nomination to the Graduate Faculty and Approval to Teach graduate courses; streamlining process for nomination to tenure-line and non-tenure-line processes; allowance for non-Graduate Faculty members to teach up to 1 year at program head discretion if meeting the criteria set by the GFNEC; extending continuing Approval to Teach periods from 3 years to 4 years; and establishing a reporting process for nominations that were not advanced.
  • Editorial revisions to remove the terms "fixed-term" and "standing" as a result of changes to AC21 Definition of Academic Ranks, July 1, 2021.
  • Revised to remove statements that conflict with Graduate Council Bylaws, May 1, 2019. Effective immediately. Revisions clarify that all categories of members of the Graduate Faculty are eligible to be elected to Graduate Council as long as they meet the Qualifications listed in the Graduate Council Bylaws, Article I, Section C.
  • Approved by Graduate Council, May 3, 2017. Effective date: Fall 2017 (08/14/2017)
    • The Graduate Faculty Membership policy was revised to include a new Category of membership, Category Q. In the Graduate Faculty Membership Policy, under Categories of Membership in the Graduate Faculty, a section for Category Q Membership was added (Section 1.b.). This section defines the expected duties and minimum qualifications of a Category Q member and states that only one member of a Ph.D. dissertation committee can be a Category Q member of the Graduate Faculty. The nomination forms for all categories of membership in the Graduate Faculty were updated.
  • Approved by Graduate Council, May 6, 2015. Effective date: Fall 2015 (8/17/2015).
    • Policy revised extensively.
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