Guidelines for Faculty Load

This document is designed to guide departments and faculty in the negotiation and allocation of faculty load. The goal has been to develop a set of guidelines that are perceived as equitable and fair across the college, that accommodate the differences among the individual departments, and that reflect the value of the tripartite mission of the college and university including outreach activities that bridge the areas of teaching, research, and service.

The guidelines are based on the division of faculty load into units across an academic year. However, this distribution does not preclude an individual, in agreement with the department, choosing to spread the units that are associated with instruction across a 12 month period. In this way, part of the instructional load can be assigned to summer school.

A full load is calculated at eight units which are generally distributed as one unit credits although credit of .5 units may be considered for certain assignments.


The general expectation is for four units to be assigned to teaching. Teaching load expectations may be altered according to other load responsibilities, e.g., research, service, advising, outreach, or other pre-approved assignments. The minimal teaching load is one unit, that is, at least one course a year.

For each 3-4 credit course taught, one unit of credit is earned according to the following guidelines: a minimum enrollment expectation of 9 students at doctoral level, 15 students at master’s level, and 25 students at undergraduate level per faculty member, with the understanding that there may be exceptions for courses that have extra heavy load requirements, for new courses, for experimental formats, or for other appropriate but unusual conditions.


The general expectation is that a minimum of one unit is assigned to research. With this load assignment comes the expectation for evidence of scholarly productivity.

For non-tenured faculty members, load credit (first course buy-out) may be obtained with externally-funded salary support at the rate of 12.5% for the academic year. The second course buy-out, pending the size of grant or other external funding, requires an additional 25% salary support.   Load credit from externally funded sources beyond the 37.5% rate must be negotiated with the department chair and approved by the dean of the college.  

For tenured faculty members, load credit (e.g. first course buy-out) may be obtained with externally funded salary support at the rate of 25% for the academic year. The second course buy-out requires an additional 12.5% externally funded salary support.   Load credit from externally funded sources beyond the 37.5% rate must be negotiated with the department chair and approved by the dean of the college.  


Load credit may be earned for assignments that bridge two or more areas of research, teaching, and/or service (e.g. Professional Development School assignments). With these assignments comes an expectation for evidence of scholarship. These load assignments must be pre-approved at the department level.


Load credit of one unit may be earned for advising. Advising credit can only be earned for students currently enrolled in course work or actively preparing thesis or dissertation. Each department will submit the criteria that will be used to assign one unit of advising load credit (to be added to this document). These criteria need to address quantity as well as quality of advising.

Administrative Assignments

Load credit may be earned for administrative assignments at the department, college or university level. These assignments may involve program coordination, course coordination, or more formal appointments (e.g. Assistant Chair, Director, Assistant Dean). Although load assignments in this category can be considered service, it is important to keep a separate accounting of this work since we need to maintain a separate record of formal and informal administrative loads.

Service and Special Assignments

Although faculty participation on committees within the university is expected as part of one’s citizenship in the academic community, load credit may be obtained for roles and responsibilities at the department, college, university, state and national level that involve a significant commitment of time across the academic year. Credit for these assignments should be decided in advance at the department level. Departments should distribute committee assignments among faculty so that these responsibilities are shared broadly over time.