Minimally Qualified Faculty


Pursuant to policies and practices adopted by the Higher Learning Commission in 2015 and slated for full implementation in Fall 2017, Redlands Community College has examined the minimal requirements for faculty members, including full-time, adjunct, and other classifications. Academic credential requirements and the allowances for the substitution of tested experience are outlined in this document.


Faculty members should have a degree relevant to what they are teaching at one level above the level at which they teach.

While Redlands does not grant baccalaureate degrees, the courses (with very few exceptions) have the potential to contribute to or transfer into said degree. Faculty teaching general education courses, or other non-occupational courses, must hold a master’s degree or higher in the discipline or subfield in which he or she is teaching.

  • HLC distinguishes between “occupational” and “non-occupational” courses to accommodate the vast majority of states in which the vocational-technical/career-technical systems are tied into higher education.

Faculty teaching in career and technical education college-level certificate and occupational associate’s degree programs should hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field and/or a combination of education, training, and tested experience (see next section regarding tested experience).

Scheduling and course availability precludes separate sections of courses being delivered for degree-seeking and certificate-only students, and the vast majority of certificates offered are imbedded. As such, bachelor’s level faculty would be a rare exception. In short, any course which is part of a degree program should be assigned to master’s level faculty.

Faculty members who have a master’s degree or higher in an area other than the discipline taught should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline or subfield in which they are teaching.

This category includes those individuals who have a Master of Education degree but do not have a master’s degree in a stated discipline such as English, Communication, Mathematics, etc. Such faculty members may have the academic preparation necessary to meet HLC standards if the curricula of the obtained degree includes graduate level content in the discipline to be taught and methods/materials courses that are specifically designed for teaching in the targeted discipline.


Tested experience includes a breadth and depth of experience outside the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline in which the faculty member would be teaching.

Years of teaching experience, regardless of level, as a standalone demonstration of tested experience is not sufficient, nor is student achievement.

Tested experience may include types of certifications, alternative non-degree credentials, breadth of professional development, and specialized skillsets obtained in a business or industrial environment.

Tested experience exceptions are most likely to occur in specific areas of athletics in which sport-specific knowledge is critical; areas of the arts (i.e. music, art, photography) in which proficiency can be demonstrated through awards, publications, and performance/shows; foreign language in which native-speech may be an influencing factor; and technical areas such as nursing, artificial insemination, viticulture, and agroecology.

Institutions using tested experience as a means of achieving minimal qualifications should have a process for documenting the experiences to ensure transparency in hiring and human resource policies, and the process should be reviewed through the faculty governance process at the institution.

Faculty members who are granted exception to the degree credential qualification and are deemed to be appropriately qualified based on tested experience will have a letter from the Chief Academic Officer placed into their personnel files outlining the experiential basis for the exception. Department heads have been informed routinely regarding the requirement for faculty and individual hiring decisions reliant on credentialing beyond degree have been reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


HLC acknowledges the institution’s purview to exceed the minimal standard in areas in which it would seem most appropriate to foster student and institutional success, as well as the right to phase in implementation in a manner in alignment with other institutional initiatives related to operations and accreditation.

Redlands began the process of reviewing faculty qualifications in advance of the September 2017 deadline.

  • New hire applications were vetted as a part of the screening process to ensure new faculty would be in alignment with 2017 standards.
  • Department heads have routinely evaluated existing full-time and adjunct faculty with respect to academic credentialing and tested experience, and a heightened focus was conducted in Spring and Summer 2017 in alignment with the upcoming implementation deadline.
  • Department heads were encouraged to work with existing faculty who might lack credit hours or documented tested experience to develop a plan to meet standard or demonstrate ongoing, continual progress by the deadline.

Redlands requires all faculty, including those teaching developmental or zero-level coursework to meet the same standard.

  • Redlands is leveraging a number of strategies to decrease the number of zero-credit hours needed before a student can obtain college credit. The co-requisite model in particular blends remediation and college-level work into one course, and because college credit is awarded, the faculty member must meet standard qualifications.
  • The need for standalone, developmental-only faculty is diminishing and will continue to diminish, and while there may be intermediate staffing concerns, the flexibility of onboard faculty will enhance offering options.

Redlands will be developing a standardized documentation process for professional development and other experiences which support faculty qualifications.