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Most faculty credentials do not require justification. This is a guide to prepare the few justifications your program must submit from time-to-time. 

General Guidance:

A justification needs to show why a particular instructor is adequately prepared to teach a specific course, not to justify the hiring of the person in general. Thus, you may be able to recycle previously prepared information, but that will not be the case in all circumstances.

 In practice, this means justifications should:

  • be brief and refer to information provided on the CV. At a glance of the justification and CV, the SACSCOC evaluator should be able to determine that the professor is qualified.
  • explain why the professor is qualified to teach the course when the training is in a different area and/or the degree level does not match what is expected.
  • highlight professional experience, academic research (doctoral thesis title perhaps), and/or prior teaching at the higher education level specific to the qualification.
  • specifically address the relationships between the qualifications and the content of the course (i.e., the course's learning objectives).

Sample Justification -- Explaining Degree Level with Professional Experience

Guidance:

SACSCOC expects that instructors hold a master's degree or at least 18 graduate credits in the field to teach baccalaureate classes, and the terminal degree in the field to teach graduate courses. Any instance in which this is not the case requires a justification. (Note: Simply asserting that a person is professionally qualified isn't sufficient. Explaining that she was the CFO at a major company for five years illustrates how she came to hold the advanced knowledge and skills required to teach a graduate course in managerial finance without holding a PhD.)

For example, if Professor Shirley Qualified teaches a Criminology, Law and Society course on crime reporting but her highest degree listed is a BA in psychology, the Provost's Office would request a justification.  The justification could be:

 “Professor Qualified is a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter with more than 25 years' experience as a criminal and investigative reporter for the The Baltimore Sun, The Daily News, and The New York Times. Since 1998, Qualified has worked at the Sun covering federal courts cases. She was lead writer for the Virginia Tech shooting coverage, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Her reporting has covered all varieties of courtroom experience, from traffic court to federal terrorism to capital murder. These professional experiences, taken together, provide expertise that is directly related to the course learning objectives on the intersection of crime and media/reporting.”

The program should submit a current CV as documentation to support the qualifications described in the justification. 

Sample Justification -- Different Degree Field

Guidance:

The definition of "in the field" is subjective and slippery, especially with interdisciplinary areas. Most of these are simply instances where the relationship between the field of the degree and the field of the course needs only a little explanation to become clear. A PhD in education might be perfectly appropriate preparation to teach a graduate course in social work if the instructor's research focus is on keeping troubled teens in school. However, PhDs in education can also focus on learning outcomes assessment or curriculum design. In this circumstance, a single sentence about research focus should suffice.

For example, if Professor John Doe is teaching a History course about race in America, but his conferred degree is in the field of English Literature, a justification is warranted. The following justification lists his published research and previous teaching experience, demonstrating his qualification in the course field.

"Dr. John Doe is the author of Imagining Race and Class in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction (Press, 2005) and is editor of “More Essays on Race in America” (Press, 2008). Doe's thesis for his doctoral degree in English and American literature (University of Virginia, 2003) was entitled "Protrayals of Race Experience in the Works of Early Nineteenth-Century Writers. The expertise he has established via this work pertains to the course learning objectives around race in American history."

 The program could also send a longer version including teaching experience:

"Dr. John Doe is the author of Imagining Race and Class in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction (Press, 2005), and is editor of “More Essays on Race in America” (Press, 2008). Doe's thesis for his doctoral degree in English and American literature (University of Virginia, 2003) was entitled "Protrayals of Race Experience in the Works of Early Nineteenth-Century Writers." Before joining George Mason University, Doe taught english and history courses on race in America at Virginia Commonwealth University and Radford University. The expertise he has established via these prior experiences pertains to the course learning objectives around race in American history."

The program should submit a current CV as documentation to support the qualifications described in the justification. 

Adapted from George Mason University
https://chss.gmu.edu/sacs/justifications

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