Graduate Faculty Designation

The Graduate Faculty consists of those members of the University's General Faculty who are charged with carrying out graduate student teaching, supervision and advising. All tenured and tenure track faculty at the ranks of assistant, associate and full professor are automatically designated Regular Graduate Faculty. Other qualified persons may be appointed by the Dean of The Graduate School on the recommendation of the relevant academic program (see Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty section below).

Nominees for membership on the Graduate Faculty can be either for Regular Membership or for a Fixed Term Graduate Faculty appointment. The Deans of The Graduate School, using a framework approved by the Administrative Board of The Graduate School, make decisions regarding these recommendations.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Faculty Status and Committee Membership.

Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty Nominations

UNC non-tenure-track faculty with the necessary research experience to mentor graduate students and who hold a terminal degree appropriate to the discipline can be nominated for Regular membership on the Graduate Faculty. In cases of highly interdisciplinary work, it is also possible to have Regular Graduate Faculty from one unit nominated as Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty in another unit.

When Special Appointed members of the Regular Graduate Faculty serve on committees of students, their membership fulfills The Graduate School requirement that a majority of the persons approving a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation, a majority of the members and chair of a master's or doctoral committee, and a majority of the people passing the student on an examination must be Regular members of the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate Faculty in the student's major academic program.

Nominations for Special Appointed Regular status on the Graduate Faculty must be submitted to the Dean of The Graduate School. A letter of support from the program director/chair must be submitted with the nominee's current C.V. The Dean of The Graduate School will inform the program once a final decision has been made. Note that nominations to the Regular Graduate Faculty undergo more scrutiny than fixed term graduate faculty appointments.

Fixed Term Graduate Faculty Nominations

Other persons may be appointed to the Graduate Faculty for fixed term membership. Fixed term appointees to The Graduate Faculty may serve on committees of students and, at the request of the program and approval of The Graduate School, may chair a committee. These appointees may include: faculty emeriti, clinical or research professors, scholars from other institutions, independent scholars, and practitioners. They will be appointed for terms not greater than five years in length, though such terms may be renewed for subsequent five-year terms.

Nominations for Fixed Term Graduate Faculty status are forwarded by program directors/chairs and must include an indication that the prospective appointee has been reviewed by the academic program and found to have appropriately high qualifications. Any restrictions the nominating unit wishes to place on the appointee's service should be specified by the program to the appointee at the time of the nomination.

Please note that holding Fixed Term Graduate Faculty status confers no other rights or responsibilities other than the ability to serve on student committees. This is NOT the same as a fixed term appointment for teaching at the University.

All Fixed Term Graduate Faculty nominations should be submitted electronically through the Recommendation for Fixed Term Appointment system.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Graduate Faculty Status and Committee Membership

How many committee members are required?
For doctoral committees, at least 5 members are required. For Master's committees, at least 3 members are required.
Can a committee have more members?
Yes, although the same guidelines apply, including how the majority is comprised. Odd-numbered committees are advisable. Students can have as many informal supporters and readers as they wish.
What are the requirements for committee members in terms of faculty status and inside/outside the graduate program?
All committee members must have faculty status. A majority of the committee must be Regular members of the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate Faculty from the program offering the degree (i.e., 3 of 5 or 2 of 3 members must be Regular Graduate Faculty from the student's major academic program). If the student is completing a minor, at least one committee member must be from the minor field.
Who counts as a Regular member of the Graduate Faculty? What is Special Appointed status?
All tenured and tenure-track faculty are automatically designated Regular Graduate Faculty. It is possible to have UNC non-tenure track faculty, such as Clinical or Research track faculty, as Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty. In cases of highly interdisciplinary work, it is also possible to have Regular Graduate Faculty from one unit nominated as Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty in another unit.
UNC non-tenure-track faculty and Regular Graduate Faculty from other programs must be nominated by the Chair and appointed by The Graduate School to receive Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty status. Program Student Services Managers, DGSs, and Chairs may follow the instructions for Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty nominations and contact The Graduate School with any questions.
What about adjuncts, faculty emeriti, and committee members from other institutions, industry, or the field?
These committee members must be appointed to the Graduate Faculty and are Fixed Term Graduate Faculty for the purpose of serving on student committees. These committee members are NOT Regular members of the Graduate Faculty and they do NOT count toward the committee majority from the student's major academic program. Program Student Services Managers, DGSs, and Chairs may follow the instructions for Fixed Term Graduate Faculty nominations and contact The Graduate School with any questions.
What about faculty with joint appointments?
Official joint appointments on record with the University's Office of Human Resources are included in the Regular Graduate Faculty membership for each of their affiliated departments/units. Courtesy joint appointments not officially on record through HR will not be included.
Who can chair a committee? Why do forms require approval from an Advisor and a Committee Chair?
The Graduate School requires students to have a faculty research advisor and a committee chair. Often, one faculty member fills both roles. If the roles are separate, the advisor oversees the research progress and serves as the primary mentor and the chair oversees committee meetings and the associated documentation. Regardless of whether they are filled by one or two faculty members, the roles should be filled by Regular members of the Graduate Faculty from the student's major academic program.
How can I check the faculty status of potential committee members from my program, others within UNC, or from outside institutions?
The Graduate School website lists faculty members under all three faculty designations (Regular Graduate Faculty, Special Appointed Regular Graduate Faculty, and Fixed Term Graduate Faculty). Lists are updated monthly.
What should I do if a committee member does not have faculty status and is not on any list?
Most likely, the committee member must be nominated for Fixed Term Graduate Faculty status. Please follow the instructions above and contact The Graduate School with any questions.
What about exceptions to these guidelines?
At the request of the program and approval of The Graduate School, exceptions to the majority and chair guidelines can be accommodated. Requests must have appropriate academic justification and have the support of the faculty. The DGS should contact the Associate Dean for Academics and their Admissions and Enrolled Students Specialist in The Graduate School.
Why does The Graduate School maintain these policies?
The Faculty Code designates members of the University's General Faculty who are charged with carrying out graduate student teaching, supervision, and advising. The University's accreditation requires us to monitor and track who is teaching and advising our students.
Where can I go for more information?
Graduate School Handbook
Graduate Faculty Designation
Dissertation Committee Composition
Master's Committee Composition