SACS credentialing requirements for instructors of record are as follows:
  • Faculty teaching general education courses at the undergraduate level: doctor’s or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).
  • Faculty teaching baccalaureate courses (upper level undergraduate courses): doctor’s or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).
  • Faculty teaching graduate and post-baccalaureate course work: earned doctorate/terminal degree in the teaching discipline or a related discipline.
  • Graduate teaching assistants: master’s in the teaching discipline or 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline, direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations.
  • If the instructor of record does not have a terminal degree in the teaching discipline (first 4 digits of the CIP code of the terminal degree and the course being taught do not match), a detailed justification relating the course content to the instructor's education and experience is required.  The following are possible justifications, but they must be clearly articulated and connected to the content of the course:
    • Related work experience in the field
    • Professional licensure and certification
    • Honors and awards (research and publications)
    • Continuous documented excellence in teaching (must specify the number of years and the discipline)
    • Reason Justifications are marked Invalid:
      • “Individual has a degree in the field.”
      • “Individual taught this course previously.”
      • Justification is vague
      • Justification doesn't detail course content and relate to experience
      • No Certification on file at DOF
      • "CIP Code for course is wrong"
      • Degree CIP Code is edited to match course CIP code in order to get them to match
      • Justifications are copied over from other courses and they don't apply
Justifications should:
  • be brief and refer to information provided on the CV. At a glance of the justification and CV, the SACS evaluator should be able to determine that the professor is qualified.
  • explain why the professor is qualified to teach the course when the training is in a different area and/or the degree level does not match what is expected.
  • highlight professional experience, academic research (doctoral thesis title perhaps), and/or prior teaching at the higher education level specific to the qualification.  

Sample Justification -- Explaining Degree Level with Professional Experience

For example, if Professor Jane Smith teaches a Criminology, Law and Society course on crime reporting but her highest degree listed is a BA in psychology, we would request a justification.  The justification could be:

 “Professor Smith is a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter with more than 25 years' experience as a criminal and investigative reporter for the The Baltimore Sun, The Daily News, and The New York Times. Since 1998, Smith has worked at the Globe covering federal courts cases. She was lead writer for the Virginia Tech shooting coverage, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Her reporting has covered all varieties of courtroom experience, from traffic court to federal terrorism to capital murder.” 

Sample Justifications -- Different Degree Field

The definition of "in the field" is subjective and slippery, especially with interdisciplinary areas. Most of these are simply instances where the relationship between the field of the degree and the field of the course needs only a little explanation to become clear.

For example, if Professor John Doe is teaching a History course about race in America, but his conferred degree is in the field of English Literature, a justfication is warranted. The following justification lists his published research and previous teaching experience, demonstrating his qualification in the course field. The department could also send a longer version including teaching experience
"Dr. John Doe is the author of Imagining Race and Class in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction (Press, 2005) and is editor of “More Essays on Race in America” (Press, 2008). Doe's thesis for his doctoral degree in English and American literature (University of Virginia, 2003) was entitled "Protrayals of Race Experience in the Works of Early Nineteenth-Century Writers."

For example, if Professor Sally is teaching an Applied Genomics course but her terminal degree is in Animal Science, a justification is needed.  The following justification lists her terminal degree and research specialization as well as details the number of years of teaching experience in animal science courses.

"Individual has a PhD in Animal Science with a specialization in animal molecular genetics.  Her research focuses on comparative genetic mapping with bovine, ovine, and porcine BAC clones.  Additionally, she has 15+ years of teaching experience in functional genomics and animal science courses."

For example, if Dr. Black is teaching a National Security and Defense Planning course but his degree is in Political Science, a justidication is needed. 

"Individual has a PhD in Political Science with emphasis in international relations.  Specifically, his dissertation on national defense planning.  His research and teaching concentration focus on regional security affairs and national security and defense policy and planning."

Credentialing 101

DOF Credentialing Training Handout

What is considered a Terminal Degree?

Course Cross-Walk

THECB Program Inventory