Faculty Handbook

Receipt of Qualifying Degree as a Condition of Appointment in the Tenure System

Last updated: 9/5/2012


The following policy was issued by the Office of the Provost with an effective date of September 1, 1980 and revised on September 5, 2012.

Attainment of the appropriate terminal qualifying degree (Ph.D. or other) will be required as a condition of appointment in the tenure system (ranked faculty, instructor through professor) at Michigan State University.

This policy is consistent with Michigan State University's on-going quest to improve its status and quality as a major land-grant, AAU University

As such, MSU is an institution which expects that its faculty make significant and on going contributions to scholarship in their respective disciplines. This policy on qualifying degrees advances MSU's attainment of its mission because the receipt of the appropriate terminal qualifying degree is a necessary prerequisite for faculty to make such scholarly achievements. Unit criteria for reappointment, promotion, and tenure must stress the importance of such scholarly achievements. Continuing involvement in scholarly work and research insures the continuing ability to provide highly competent instruction and service which are general requirements of MSU faculty.

The Ph.D. and several other terminal qualifying degrees (Ed.D.; D. Ed.; D.A.; D.B.A.; Doctor of Journalism; J.D.; M.D.; D.0.; M.S.W.; M.F.A.; D.S.W.; D.M.A.; and D.V.M.), as appropriate to specific academic units, are designated appropriate qualifying degrees applicable under this policy. The application of the policy will operate on this assumption unless colleges and separately reporting units identify other degrees that should be accorded "qualifying degree status." Justification will be required in support of each such recommendation, and an agreement that they should be recognized as "appropriate qualifying degree" must be reached with the Office of the Provost.

This policy will not affect the status of individuals currently appointed in the tenure system who have not as yet completed the appropriate qualifying degree. However, the continued expectation for such individuals is that the receipt of such a degree is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the awarding of tenure. The earliest possible completion of the degree is expected.

Individuals currently completing the requirements for the appropriate qualifying degree may be employed at Michigan State University on a temporary basis (appointment with an ending date) and, with a prior agreement with the Office of the Provost, may be shifted to a tenure system position after the qualifying degree has been completed. It is strongly recommended that such individuals be employed on a temporary basis no longer than two years.

Individuals to whom offers for tenure system appointments are made before the appropriate terminal qualifying degree is completed should be informed that a temporary appointment as an instructor will be required if the terminal qualifying degree is not received by a specified date prior to the effective date of appointment. On proof of receipt of the degree and with agreement of the Office of the Provost, the individual's status can be changed to that of an assistant professor in the tenure system.

Exceptions to this policy can be made because of truly exceptional and unique qualifications, market considerations, or other appropriate reasons, but only with the prior written approval of the Office of the Provost.

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