Any faculty member whose duties include graduate level teaching, thesis/dissertation supervision, service on graduate committees, or research supervision of students on this campus must be appointed to the Graduate Faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder.

Regular graduate faculty appointments may be given to full-time tenure/tenure track faculty members of CU Boulder who hold the rank of assistant professor, associate professor, or professor, as well as a research professor title.  A regular appointment may be given for a maximum of seven years for tenured faculty.  For assistant professors or other untenured faculty, the appointment should not extend past the semester of their next required review.  Once approved, an individual with a regular GFA may teach graduate level courses, serve as chair or member on committees, or serve as outside member on graduate committees outside their home unit.

Special graduate faculty appointments are given to those individuals who are not full time members of CU Boulder faculty or do not meet the criteria outlined for regular membership.  Special appointments are given for a maximum of three years.  Requests for special appointments should include the specific duties being requested for an individual, such as teaching courses or a specific course, serving on committees or specific students’ committees, or serving as outside member on committees.  Once approved, an individual with a special GFA may fulfill those duties.

General Qualifications

In accordance with Graduate School rules and the “Assumed Practices” policy of our accrediting body the Higher Learning Commission, the Graduate School assumes that members of the graduate faculty hold a doctoral degree or the terminal degree appropriate to the discipline and have a record of research, scholarship, or achievement appropriate for the graduate program.

“Tested experience” may substitute for the earned credential where the institution has determined that a faculty member is qualified based on experience determined to be equivalent to the terminal degree. Equivalent experience should be tested in that it “includes a breadth and depth of experience outside of the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline,” and is not typically based on years of teaching experience. A unit that intends to use tested experience as a basis for requesting a GFA must have well-defined policies, procedures, and documentation that demonstrate when such experience is equivalent to a terminal degree and sufficient to determine that the faculty member has the expertise necessary to work with graduate students in their discipline.1

When making a request for exception based upon equivalent experience, the unit shall include a letter or memo along with the request, explaining how the individual was evaluated and determined to have equivalent experience.

Examples of experience a unit may consider when evaluating equivalent experience:

  • An awarded master’s degree, plus 5-7  years of relevant experience in the field
  • Education or training in a performance art, plus 5-7 years of performance experience

Reach out to the Graduate School with questions or concerns about about qualifications and tested experience in a specific discipline.

Review Process

  • Requests for appointment and reappointment should be made by a graduate degree granting unit and should be received in the Graduate School prior to the start of the semester.  Appointments are approved by semester or academic year.
  • Requests for new appointments, reappointments, and amendments to current special appointments will be routed through a workflow process for the signature of the graduate department chair/program director and will then be reviewed by the Dean of the Graduate School. 
  • A current vita/resume must be attached to all requests along with any additional information needed. 

A request for new appointment or reappointment should be made using the Graduate Faculty Appointment request form.  For special members, list the responsibilities and duties that will be assigned to that person.

A request to amend the duties of a current special appointment should be made using the request for amendment to a Graduate Faculty Appointment form.  A full list of updated duties should be included. The type and length of the appointment will remain as originally approved- only a change in duties will be considered through the amendment process.

For more detailed information about types of graduate faculty appointments, privileges, criteria etc., please see the Graduate School Rules, Article I, Section 4.

1- Higher Learning Commission Guidelines