University regulations and the accreditation standards established by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) require that the university justify and document the qualifications of all instructors in relation to the content and level of the credit courses they teach. The Office of the Dean of Faculties assumes responsibility for checking the teaching qualifications for faculty. Colleges and departments oversee hiring of graduate assistants who serve as instructors-of- record.

Instructors may be qualified by academic credentials (earned degrees and/or completed graduate coursework) and/or by alternative credentials (professional experience and/or demonstrated competency). Sections II and III below address procedures for these instances. 

We use the federal Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes to determine whether or not an instructor’s educational background is in the same discipline as courses he/she teaches. The CIP codes for courses are maintained in the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s course inventory for Texas A&M University. The CIP code of each instructor’s highest earned degree is maintained in the DOF Portal.

Because faculty members sometimes teach courses that are closely related to but not the same as their highest-earned degree, we worked with deans and department heads to establish a cross-walk that documents similar disciplines. As new faculty are hired, we request both the highest-earned degree CIP code and the CIP codes for courses the faculty member is qualified to teach so we are able to update our database and cross-walk.

Prior to the first day of classes, we compare the CIP code for each instructor’s highest- earned degree to the CIP code for course sections the instructor is teaching. If degree and course CIP codes are not an exact match, we then check the cross-walk to determine whether or not the instructor is qualified to teach the course because the disciplines are similar. If the degree and course CIP codes still do not match, we require additional information in order to verify and document the instructor’s qualifications to teach the course. A justification needs to show why a particular instructor is adequately prepared to teach a specific course, not to justify the hiring of the person in general. Thus, will not be able to recycle previously prepared information.

Recommendations for Colleges and Departments

Courses: Course CIP codes are designated by the department or unit administering the course, typically when the course is first proposed. Generally, the CIP code requested for a course should be the same as the CIP code affiliated with the administrative unit or degree program.  The Office of the Dean of Faculties does not have the ability to alter a CIP code for a specific course.

Course CIP codes for all Texas A&M University programs are included in an inventory maintained by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and may be downloaded from the Board’s data server (http://www.txhighereddata.org/interactive/UnivCourse).

We recommend departments periodically review CIP codes assigned to their courses to ensure alignment between the CIP code, course content, and degree program. Administrative units wishing to change CIP codes assigned to courses already listed on the THECB inventory should contact Texas A&M University Curricular Services for information regarding the request and approval process. 

New Faculty: Information on instructor qualification is needed for new faculty at the time of hire to update data resources used for the semester-based credentialing process. Administrative units should complete and submit credentialing to the Office of the Dean of Faculties along with other request-to-hire materials. In the DOF Electronic Hiring Portal, administrative units will be required to complete the credentialing information regarding the faculty member’s highest earned degree, courses the individual is expected to teach, and the individual’s qualifications to teach assigned courses. Consider the following when completing the form:
  • Use the major or discipline noted on the transcript of the faculty member’s highest earned degree.
  • CIP codes by discipline are available from the NCES CIP 2010 Inventory (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/browse.aspx?y=55) 
  • Use the course CIP codes listed on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s course inventory http://www.txhighereddata.org/Interactive/CIP/
  • Provide a teaching qualification justification statement for each degree/course CIP code pairing           
Graduate Teaching Assistants: To meet SACS guidelines regarding graduate teaching assistants, all graduate students assigned as instructors of record should have satisfactorily completed at least 18 semester-based graduate credit hours in the same or a closely related discipline to that of instruction. Credits for which an “incomplete” has been assigned, such as research hours, should not be included in determining the number of graduate hours completed. Graduate student instructors of record should receive appropriate training prior to instruction. Training may include completion of the teaching assistant training provided by the Center for Teaching Excellence, auditing the course during the term prior to instruction, or in-department training. All graduate student instructors of record must be supervised by a faculty member holding teaching credentials appropriate to the course and should be regularly evaluated on their teaching performance. 

Departments wishing to appoint as instructors of record faculty or graduate students with fewer than 18 completed graduate credit hours in the discipline assigned to teach should maintain documentation demonstrating additional credentials that qualify the individual for instruction. In every case, the department should receive prior approval from the office of the dean of faculties for these exceptions.

CIP Code References
Course Inventory, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Degree Program Inventory, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/apps/ProgramInventory/InvSearch.cfm
CIP Code Tools, National Center for Education Statistics