Graduate Faculty Application Process

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Graduate Faculty Application →

Membership in the Graduate Faculty

In support of continuing high-quality graduate education and in recognition of accreditation standards, the following policy for a graduate faculty has been adopted.

In terms consistent with the mission of the University, this policy defines a graduate faculty, describes the criteria for membership in the graduate faculty, and describes the process by which individual selection is made.


There are three categories of membership in the graduate faculty at UTC: Full, associate and special. Graduate faculty may teach graduate courses and undertake other responsibilities as described below.

  1. Full Membership
    Full members of the graduate faculty may teach graduate courses; direct theses, dissertations and doctoral projects; and serve on thesis, dissertation and doctoral project committees. They are eligible for election to the Graduate Council. Membership in this category is provided for individuals who are full-time tenured, tenure-track or research or clinical faculty. Full membership is a five-year appointment and a faculty may be reappointed by reapplying for membership. 
  2. Associate Membership
    Associate members of the graduate faculty may teach graduate courses, serve on thesis and dissertation committees, and are eligible for election to the Graduate Council, but are not eligible to direct theses and dissertations. Membership in this category is provided for individuals who do not meet all the criteria for full membership but are full-time tenured, tenure-track or research or clinical faculty. Associate membership is a five-year appointment and a faculty may be reappointed by reapplying for membership.
  3. Special Membership
    Special members may teach specific graduate courses or serve on specific thesis and dissertation committees. Special membership status of the graduate faculty may be granted to the following:
    • Full- or part-time non-tenure track faculty (with or without a terminal degree)
    • Visiting or adjunct faculty of the University
    • Individuals working in business, industry or the government who have special academic expertise or professional experience and who demonstrate competence in a particular course of instruction or field of study but who otherwise do not meet all the criteria for associate or full membership

Individuals appointed to special membership are not eligible for election to Graduate Council. Special membership is limited to a three-year appointment and may be renewed if necessary.

Criteria for Membership

The criteria for membership in the graduate faculty are designed to advance the specific programs of the University, and it is expected that participating graduate programs, the Graduate Council and the Graduate School will periodically review the selection criteria.

  1. Evidence of Appropriate Degree
    For full members of the graduate faculty in doctoral or master’s programs: an earned doctorate or appropriate terminal degree in the teaching discipline or a related discipline. The degree should have been awarded by a regionally accredited institution or its international equivalent. Associate members of the graduate faculty and special members who will teach graduate courses must have a graduate degree.
  2. Evidence of Ongoing Scholarly and Professional Work
    Graduate faculty must have maintained active and recent scholarship in fields of expertise. While research and scholarly production may be defined differently in each discipline or academic competence, the following guidelines are relevant:
    1. The activity involves a studious inquiry or examination.
    2. The results of scholarship and other professional production are peer-reviewed, depending upon the mode of scholarly production. For example, in the performing arts, there may be a provision for formal, public peer evaluation. In other disciplines, there may be a provision for peer evaluation of products such as archival or published research, presentations before professional societies, licensure and certification or significant consulting activity. Classified or “sensitive but unclassified” efforts will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Documented Commitment to Graduate Education
    Evidence for commitment to graduate education may have been demonstrated at this University or at another institution by activities such as the following:
    • Teaching graduate classes
    • Conducting scholarly activity
    • Directing internships, projects, theses and dissertations
    • Serving on committees for projects, theses and dissertations
    • Serving on Graduate Council, if elected
    • Serving on Graduate Council committees, if designated
    • Advising graduate students
    • Serving as a graduate program coordinator
    • Developing graduate programs and courses
    • Participating in graduate recruitment activities
    • Developing research facilities

      Demonstration of a commitment to graduate education by new members of the faculty in the first year of hiring may be determined in the employment or hiring interview.
  4. Commitment to Professional and Ethical Behavior at All Times
    All graduate faculty are expected to abide by the same behavioral standards as the entire University faculty and/or discipline-specific behavioral standards, such as those required for program accreditation or accepted practice. The University's standards can be found within Section 5 of the University's faculty handbook (click here to go directly to this section)

Processes of Designation, Continuation, and Appeal

IMPORTANT: The following is the sequential order that must be followed for graduate faculty appointment as a full or associate member. Any application not using the prescribed application form and C.V. form will be returned (see appointment to special membership for exception to this requirement).


    1. Full and associate membership appointment process:
      1. The faculty member will initiate the nomination/application process in his/her academic department/instructional unit with an application submitted to the department head. The application packet will include:
        1. The application form
        2. An abbreviated curriculum vita following the prescribed format
        3. Documentation that the applicant meets SACS requirements to teach at the graduate level
      2. The department head will route the application packet through an approved departmental review and recommendation process. For example, a departmental Rank, Tenure and Reappointment Committee could serve this function. If a departmental committee is not available for review, then a college-level committee can serve this role. Departments must have written guidelines that conform to the criteria for membership. The departmental guidelines must be approved by a majority of the departmental graduate faculty and the academic dean of the college.
      3. The recommendation of the departmental committee will be forwarded to the department head who, along with his/her recommendation, will submit under his/her signature the application packet to the dean of the college.
      4. The recommendation of the academic dean, along with the application packet will be forwarded to the dean of the Graduate School. The final decision to grant a graduate faculty appointment will reside with the dean of the Graduate School, whose decision will be based on the relevant departmental and/or college guidelines and the information provided by the applicant.

        NOTE:In some cases—typically in an instance of transdisciplinary research and teaching and in interdisciplinary research and teaching where there may be no single departmental discipline to advocate the appointment—the dean of the college or the dean of the Graduate School may initiate the process. He or she will submit the case for approval by the graduate faculties of the program(s) concerned with the projected research and teaching, after which the normal process will be followed.
        In the case of interdisciplinary programs or college-based programs, as opposed to department-based graduate program structures, case-by-case modifications to the above appointment process steps may be made as appropriate and as approved by the relevant department faculty, department heads, college dean(s) and the dean of the Graduate School.
    2. Special membership appointment process:
      The applicant must provide a completed application form and an abbreviated curriculum vita or resume specifically addressing his/her expertise to the department head in the program where the appointment will reside. The department head must provide a letter of justification for the requested special membership request, the application packet and his/her recommendation to the academic dean of the college. All of these materials along with the recommendation of the dean shall be forwarded to the dean of the Graduate School. The final decision to grant special graduate faculty status will reside with the dean of the Graduate School.

Process of Continuation

Upon completion of a graduate faculty term, a faculty member’s status will be reviewed for reappointment to the graduate faculty, in accordance with the relevant approved department and college guidelines.

  1. The process of continuation varies somewhat according to the three categories of membership.                                          a. For faculty holding full membership, credentials are reviewed at the time of initial appointment and every five                years thereafter through a reapplication process. If the faculty member is a tenured and a Full Professor when              they apply or reapply, a continuation is no longer needed. If a faculty member is promoted to Full Professor                    before their renewal, they will need to submit a final reapplication for approval with their current information.      b. Faculty holding associate membership, status is reviewed every five years for continuation as an associate                      member or for acceptance as a full member. At the request of an associate member, his or her status may be                reviewed for acceptance as a full member at any time when a change in circumstances warrants such change in            designation. This process requires a reapplication process.                                                                                                      c. For faculty holding special membership, appointments will be reviewed after three years and may be renewable            at the request of the appointing department. 
  2. Individuals not meeting the credentials and/or behavioral standards outlined in the Criteria for Membership section of this document and as defined by a specific graduate program may have their graduate faculty status revoked on the recommendation of the department head and college dean.

All re-appointments require department head and academic dean signatures.

Process of Appeal

If a faculty member’s application for membership in the graduate faculty is not approved in the normal process described above, or if it is approved for a category other than the one sought, a written appeal may be made to the next approval level in the process. For example, if the

department head does not approve a nomination, the applicant may appeal to the academic dean of the college. Applications that are not approved by the dean of the Graduate School may appeal to the provost and to the chancellor.