HLC Credential FAQs
1. What is HLC?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.
2. How does the HLC determine if faculty are qualified to teach?
The HLC expects that faculty have the appropriate expertise in the subjects they teach, and that institutions are able to demonstrate consistent procedures and careful consideration of qualifications for all instructional faculty.
While the primary factor in determining qualified faculty members is academic credentials, other factors such as equivalent professional/expert experience or certifications, may be considered. Click here for additional information.
3. When does the UA have to comply with HLC requirements?
Assumed Practice B.2 Faculty roles and qualifications, as defined by HLC, are effective September 1, 2017.
4. Is there a UA policy that addresses faculty credential requirements?
Current Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) and University of Arizona policies do not define necessary credentials to the degree required by our accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. What is the deadline to submit credentials for existing employees to meet the HLC requirements?
In preparation for the 2020 HLC review and site visit, teaching credentials will be collected and submitted in the MSS Credential feature for all newly hired teaching faculty beginning September 2017. Collection and submission of teaching credentials for existing teaching faculty will also begin September 2017 and will need to be completed by September 1, 2018.
Teaching Qualification Requirements
6. Do conditions of employment or ABOR codes identify the population impacted by the HLC requirements?
All courses that receive credit and which are recorded on an academic transcript for credit, whether in the major, minor, concentration, or elective, should be taught by a suitably-prepared faculty member, regardless of whether that faculty member is full time, part time, contingent, or a part time administrator or occupies any other status with the institution. By “suitably-prepared,” you can determine an instructor’s eligibility based upon credentials and/or tested experience, as defined in the [HLC] document.
This means every individual who is assigned to teach a UA credit-bearing course must have their credentials for teaching in the discipline of the course recorded in the MSS Credentials system.
7. Will MSS credential information be required for the following employee types teaching courses?
Post Docs: YES
Seasonal faculty: YES
Individuals in a DCC category that is related to the academic mission of the University who serve as instructors: YES. This includes Affiliates, Affiliate Partners, Associates, Associate Partners and, Inter-Institutional Faculty & Staff.
DCCs (retired faculty) running research labs who are assigned to teach a UA course for credit: YES
Staff who teach UA courses: YES
Guest lecturers teaching more than 10% of the course: YES
Guest speakers: NO. If the teaching covers less than 10% of the course.
Graduate Assistants/Associates: NO. However, graduate students need to be supervised by a faculty member.
8. Are employees paid Other Professional Services (OPS) compensation to teach single courses required to meet the HLC credentials requirement if their primary job is not Faculty? If yes, is it necessary to complete the MSS Credentials information?
Yes, MSS Credential information will be completed for all individuals teaching courses, including those receiving OPS.
9. Is primary teaching responsibility defined by person or by job for employees with multiple positions?
The position held or the normal job of a person in that position is irrelevant. Persons teaching UA courses for credit must be qualified to teach and have their credentials recorded in the MSS Credential feature.
Assessing Teaching Qualifications
10.What is considered expertise?
Expertise is considered the specialization held by a faculty member that appropriately matches the academic field for the course(s) the individual teaches.
Examples of expertise are:
The CEO of Macy’s who teaches a course in the MBA program on running large corporations is an expert.
A practicing architect with a BArch degree teaching a course on architectural techniques is an expert.
An experienced dancer with New York Ballet Company, but with no college degrees, who teaches undergraduates and graduate students in ballet and modern dance is an expert.
Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a PhD degree in neurobiology who has funding and publications on molecular biology has expertise to teach molecular biology.
11. Will guidelines be provided to define what constitutes expertise?
Yes, basic information will be provided, but the final determination should be made by the department head in consultation with the academic associate dean in the college. We will have open workshops for department heads and associate deans where specific questions can be reviewed.
12. Does teaching assistant (TA) experience count as expertise?
TA experience does NOT count as expertise.
13. Are professional advisors qualified to teach?
Professional academic advisors must meet the HLC qualification to teach regular UA courses for credit. However, UA policies and a special evaluation process will permit some advisors to teach success courses, probation courses, and major exploration courses.
14. Who determines whether the completion of MSS credential information is necessary for a faculty member?
If the faculty member teaches, HLC requires that they have appropriate faculty qualifications. To document that they have the appropriate credentials, UA has developed the MSS Credential feature.
15. How do we determine if a faculty member is qualified to teach specific courses without requesting transcripts or asking them to respond to a set of questions?
We expect that most of the qualifications will be on the basis of degrees earned that are verified by a third party vendor. A second area that will be used for many faculty is productive scholarship; faculty who have published or demonstrated scholarly or creative work in an area will likely be qualified to teach in those areas. For others, qualification will depend upon licenses or certifications; the faculty member will need to present the department head with appropriate documentation.
16. Will current faculty be grandfathered?
No, but those who do not meet the HLC faculty qualifications and have been teaching at UA for at least three years, will have their teaching reviewed under a separate process. No future faculty will have this review process available to them.
17. Is teaching considered a faculty member’s primary responsibility if they are on the 40/40/20 split? Are the HLC requirements applicable?
Yes, all tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure track faculty, lecturers, instructors, adjuncts, etc. who teach a course must be qualified and HLC requirements are applicable.
18. Who determines or defines the teaching qualifications for employees who do not have degrees?
Faculty qualifications for teaching will need to be defined and may need to be justified by department heads in concert with the associate dean in the college.
19. Are the credentials all self-reported or is an external collection of information necessary?
Self-reported credentials will need to be verified.
20. Who will verify the accuracy of the MSS credential information?
College or Department representatives will be responsible for verifying degrees with assistance from a third party vendor. Expert qualifications will be determined by the department head in collaboration with the associate dean.
*The department head must also note if the degree is considered a terminal degree (see below).
Degrees, Licensing and Certifications
21.What qualifies as the Terminal Degree of Discipline, and what source is available for determining the selection for each major/degree type?
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is considered the terminal degree in most academic fields of study in the United States. The terminal degree for HLC considerations is usually a professional degree such as Master of Business Administration (MBA), Bachelor or Master of Architecture (BArch or MArch), Master of Landscape Architecture (MLArch), Master of Engineering (MEng), and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The Juris Doctor (law degree), Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), and Doctor of Education (EdD) are also considered terminal degrees.
First, see the list of terminal degrees in the Appendix at the bottom of this page. Wikipedia has an extensive list of degrees that have been considered terminal degrees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_degree
22. What is considered a license or certification?
A license is issued by a government agency or board and is a requirement in order to practice a profession. Certification is a professional recognition by a credentialing agency that certifies the practitioner meets the standards set by that agency.
Examples of professions with licenses include: Clinical psychological, dentist, audiologist, speech pathologist, nurse, architect, certified public accountants, and physicians.
23. Are reference materials available that contain a list of licenses or certifications?
We are unaware of a list of licenses or certifications.
24. Are there standards for completing license descriptions?
These have not been defined. If you are using the license as a teaching qualification in a specific program, the program faculty and department head would know best how to define the acceptable standards. The Associate Dean within your college may also be able to provide guidance with this issue.
Completing MSS Credentials
25.Are department/college representatives expected to complete the MSS Credentials information for existing employees whose primary responsibilities are to teach? If yes, what is the deadline?
According to HLC guidelines, institutions are responsible for demonstrating that all faculty members have the appropriate expertise and qualifications in the subjects they teach, and college and department representatives are expected to update MSS Credential information for existing employees no later than September 1, 2018.
26. Is the credential information required at the time a New Hire request is submitted?
The HLC requirement begins September 1, 2017. Thus, newly hired faculty and instructors who teach should have the MSS Credentials completed as soon as possible this fall
27. What is the minimal information that can be entered for a teaching faculty?
The minimum information required depends on the level of the course faculty members are teaching, the variety of courses they teach, and the category by which they meet HLC faculty qualifications.
28. What types of degrees should be entered?
Any degree appropriate for the discipline of hire, and all masters degrees, all doctoral degrees, all professional degrees.
29. Will spreadsheets be available as source documents for uploading credentials for current faculty?
In lieu of spreadsheets, a MSS Credentials direct entry portal will be available for updating credentials for current faculty or persons teaching UA courses through December 31, 2017.
30. Are CVs required as an attachment to the MSS Credentials direct entry portal temporarily provided to update credentials for current faculty?
No, CVs are not a required attachment for the MSS Credentials direct entry portal which will be temporarily available to update credentials for current faculty or persons teaching UA courses.
31. Do we add degree information for an individual whose degree status is all but dissertation (ABD)?
No; however, Educational Expertise may be added to indicate the graduate courses completed in the area of teaching.
32. Can data be used from internal information collected last year?
Information collected last year may be referenced; however, all information must be added to MSS Credentials after a data review is completed by the department head and associate dean. We will also use a third party verification process for all current faculty, but this will take place over the next two years.
33. Is the use of acronyms acceptable for completing credential details?
To ensure clarity of the information you provide, we recommend that details be fully spelled out when completing the MSS Credentials sections.
34. Can duplicate entry of credentials be eliminated by system integration of UAccess, UA Careers and UA Vitae?
Given the verification process that will be put into place for degrees awarded, UAccess will be the system of record.
35. Does the effective date of the transaction impact the effective date of the credentials section in Manager Self Service (MSS)?
In addition to the effective date of the transaction, each section contains date prompts relevant to its contents.
36. Where can we find a list of all degrees and majors offered?
Many degree types are listed in the MSS Credential feature, but the list is not exhaustive. Degrees not listed in the dropdown menu may be added in a text format after selecting “other” from the list. International degrees will be added to the dropdown as they are identified.
37. Will a report be available to determine the impacted population?
We can pull a report of all the instructors teaching in a given semester, but the department needs to list the instructors teaching each section of the course. This is important for RCM as well as for the HLC Qualified Faculty documentation.
38. When will the reports be available in Analytics?
This has not been determined. We will let departments know when the reports are available.
39. Can the reported credential information be used for data mining? For example, who at the UA qualifies to teach a class in the event of an emergency?
The MSS Credentials feature was not built with this purpose in mind. If enough examples of this situation arise, we can explore whether it can function for this purpose.
40. If an employee switches positions, will a notification be sent to units to update the credential information?
This feature is currently not available.
Terminal Degree of Discipline
Wikipedia has an extensive list of degrees that have been considered terminal degrees.
Typical first professional and advanced professional degrees, professional/clinical doctorates and research doctorates
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Educational Specialist (EdS)
Doctor of Engineering (Dr.-Ing./DEng/Dr. Eng./EngD)
Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS, MLS, MSLS) (Given in the US, by an ALA accredited school or program.)
Doctor of Computer Science (DSc.Comp, DCS, D.C.Sc.)
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Doctor of Theology (ThD or DTh)
Master of Art and Design (MAD)
Master of Architecture (M.Arch)
Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch)
Doctor of Design (DDes)
Master of Design (MDes)
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLArch and/or MLA)
Master of City Planning (MPLAN, MCRP, MUP, MCP, MCD or MURP)
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Master of Graphic Design (MGraph)
Doctor of Arts (DA)
Doctor of Music (DM or DMus)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) (Usually awarded to performance majors in the musical arts)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
Doctor of Management (DMgt or DM)
Doctor of Health Science (DHSc)
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT or OTD)
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH, DPH)
Doctor of Science (DSc)
Doctor of Social Science (DSocSci)
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
Doctor of Canon Law (JCD)
Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD/SJD) (in the U.S.)
Typical first professional degree
Master of Accountancy (MAcc, MAcy, MSAcy)
Architect (B.Arch, M.Arch, D.Arch)
Architectural Engineering (B.A.E, M.A.E)
Landscape Architect (BLArch-First Professional Degree)
Urban Planning (MPLAN, MCRP, MUP, MCP, MCD or MURP)
Bachelor of Education or a Bachelor's usable for teaching (BEd), or BA, BME, BSE,BSocSc, BSc
Advanced Practice Nurse (DNP, DNAP, DNS, DNSc)
Audiologist (MS, or AuD)
Mental Health Counselor (MA, MSc, PhD)
Dentist (DMD, BDent, DDS, BDS, BDSc, BChD, CD, Cand.Odont., Dr.Med.Dent. etc.)
Midwife (BMid, BScMid)
Nurse (BSN, BSc)
Occupational Therapy (OTD, DrOT, or MSOT, MA, MOT)
Optometrist (OD, B.Optom)
Pharmacist (BPharm, BScPhm, PharmB, MPharm, PharmD)
Physical Therapist (DPT, DPhysio, MPT, BSPT)
Physician Assistant (MPAS, MPS, MS)
Podiatrist (DPM, DP, BPod, PodB, or PodD)
Radiation Therapist (BSc, BRad)
Radiographer (BSc, BMRSc or BRad)
Scientist (BSc, BS)
Social worker (BSW, BA, BSc)
Speech-Language Pathology (MA, MS)
Veterinarian (DVM, VMD, BVS, BVSc, BVMS, etc.)
Advanced professional degrees
Education (MEd, MAT, MT, EdS)
Engineering (MEng, MASc, MMSc, PD)
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN: CRNA, NP, CNM, CNS) (DNP, DNAP, DNS, DNSc)
Dental Science (DDSc, Dr.Odont) (advanced degree in countries that award a bachelor's degree in dental surgery as first professional degree, usually awarded for outstanding research to a particular field of Dentistry)
Dentistry (MDS, MSD, MDSc, or DClinDent) (these are usually granted at the culmination of a specialty training program in dentistry in those programs that also require research and a thesis to be completed)
Medicine (MD) (advanced degree in countries that award a bachelor's degree in medicine or surgery as first professional degree, usually awarded for outstanding research to a particular field of Medicine)
Midwifery (MMid, MScMid)
Surgery (MS, MSurg, MCh, ChM, or MChir) (Usually granted after completion of surgery training program in conjunction with a research thesis)
Social Science (PhD, DPhil)
Social Work (MSW, DSW, ProfD or PhD)