Faculty Credentials and Equivalent Tested Experience

The College for Creative Studies adheres to The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) guidelines on Determining Qualified Faculty Through HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation and Assumed Practices. These guidelines state that institutions will use credentials as the primary mechanism to ascertain minimal faculty qualifications. HLC recognizes that tested experience also may be considered in determining faculty qualifications.  The following guidelines apply to all faculty members whose primary responsibility is teaching, including full-time, part-time, adjunct, dual credit, and/or temporary faculty.


Faculty credentials refer to the degrees that faculty have earned that establish their credibility as content experts and thus their competence to teach that content in the classroom.  Common expectations for faculty credentials include the following:

  • Faculty teaching should have completed a program of study in the discipline or subfield (as applicable) in which they teach, and/or for which they develop curricula, with coursework at least one level above that of the courses being taught or developed. Completion of a degree in a specific field enhances an instructor’s depth of subject matter knowledge and is easily identifiable.
  • Faculty teaching in undergraduate programs should hold a degree at least one level above that program in which they are teaching. If a faculty member holds a master’s degree or higher in a discipline other than that in which he or she is teaching, that faculty member should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline in which he or she is teaching.
  • Faculty teaching in graduate programs should hold the terminal degree determined by the discipline and have a record of research, scholarship or achievement appropriate for the graduate program.
  • Faculty guiding doctoral education should have a record of scholarship and preparation to teach at the doctoral level. Research and scholarship should be appropriate to the program and degree offered.

Faculty Credentialing Table

DepartmentLevel Being TaughtCourse LevelsRequirement
Art Practice
Communication Design
Craft & Material Studies
Entertainment Arts
Fashion Design
Interdisciplinary Art & Design
Interior Design
Liberal Arts
Product Design
Transportation Design
BFA Undergraduate100-400MFA with specialty relative to course content being taught or other Master’s degree with at least 18 graduate credit hours relative to course content being taught
Art EducationTeacher Certification

MA Graduate

500 – 700
MA with state teaching certification or MAAE or MFA in art, studio art, or art education

MFA or Ph.D in Art Education
Color and Materials Design
Motion Design
User Experience Design
Transportation Design
MFA Graduate500 – 700MFA or Ph.D with specialty relative to course content being taught or other Master’s degree with at least 18 graduate credit hours relative to course content being taught

Tested Experience

According to HLC, “Tested experience may substitute for an unearned credential or portions thereof.” Criterion B.2, Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support, states that “when faculty members are employed based on equivalent experience, the institution defines a minimum threshold of experience and an evaluation process that is used in the appointment process.” Consistent with HLC policy, “experience should be tested experience in that it includes a breadth and depth of experience outside of the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline in which the faculty member would be teaching.”

Equivalent Tested Experience Table

For a faculty member to be considered eligible to teach, they must have completed 18 credits toward the educational credentials listed on the Faculty Credentialing Table or provide evidence of one of the below qualifications. Faculty must receive a score of “3” in ONE of the below categories for activities within the last ten years.

Indicate the creative output expertise evidenced in the candidate’s portfolioNo ExperienceBeginner (Fewer than 3)Average
Above Average (10+)Advanced (10+ National and/or International)Not Applicable (N/A)
Exhibitions and/or Performances123456
Lecture/Presenter/Visiting Artist/Panelist/Keynote123456
Publications of Artistic Work (i.e. short story, poem, illustration etc.)123456
Curatorial experience123456
Professional Awards/Memberships123456
Indicate the candidate’s professional qualifications (evidence must be on CV or resume)No ExperienceBeginner (Fewer than 3 years)Average (3-5 years)Above Average (5-10 years)Advanced (10+ years)Not Applicable (N/A)
Professional Experience123456
Professional-level Projects or Consulting123456
Workshops, Training, or Seminars123456
Indicate the candidate’s teaching qualifications (evidence must be on CV or resume)No experience teaching at the College levelBeginner (Less than 4 semesters of experience)Average (4-5 semesters of experience)Above Average (More than 5 but less than 10 semesters of experience)Advanced (More than 10 semesters of experience)
Teaching at the College level12345
Indicate the candidate’s research experience (evidence must be offered on CV or resume)No ExperienceBeginner (1-2 conference papers, 1-2 journal publications, 0 monographs or book chapters)Average (3-4 conference papers, 3-4 journal publications, 1+ monographs or book chapters)Above Average (4-8 conference papers, 5-8 journal publications, 1+ monographs or book chapters)Advanced (9+ conference papers, 9+ journal publications, 2+ monographs or book chapters)Not Applicable (N/A)
Conference Papers123456
Journal Publications123456
Book Chapters123456

Determining Faculty Credentials or Equivalent Tested Experience

Once a faculty search process is initiated, the Department Chair develops a position description in consultation with the appropriate Dean. Throughout the search process, the CCS Faculty Credential Table should be used to evaluate candidates according to HLC’s Determining Qualified Faculty requirements. The Faculty Credential Table should also be used to assess qualifications for adjunct instructors as well as dual enrollment faculty. If a candidate does not meet the minimum required credentials as outlined in the table, the rubric for Equivalent Tested Experience should be used to determine whether or not the candidate is qualified in lieu of having the appropriate credential.

Process for Documenting Faculty Credentials or Equivalent Tested Experience

Once the Department has made an assessment on the faculty members credential or equivalent tested experience that information is submitted by the Department Chair or Program Manager to the CCS Human Resources Department.  Departments, in conjunction with Human Resources, will ensure that written documentation is maintained for each current or future faculty member hired through tested experience verifying that s/he meets the minimum expectations for tested experience established by the department. This applies to all faculty, including adjunct, part-time, and dual enrollment instructors. Additionally, all new faculty should be provided with an electronic copy of the CCS policy and procedure for reviewing and approving tested experience minimum standards.

These requirements are not a mandate from our accreditor to terminate or withhold contract renewals for current faculty members. HLC expects that the College for Creative Studies will work with faculty who are otherwise performing well to ensure that they meet HLC’s requirements.

November 19, 2020

May 5, 2023

Academic Affairs