Faculty Teaching Load Guidelines

CAS Teaching/Workload Guidelines

August 2014


These guidelines are intended to establish general principles related to workload distribution in the CAS and thereby to help facilitate greater consistency across departments in the college. The primary purpose of these guidelines is to bring faculty workloads into alignment with University of Memphis policies, while at the same time encouraging and supporting research productivity. They are meant to allow research-active faculty adequate time to pursue substantive research and at the same time assure that each faculty member is contributing in a significant way to the overall mission of the college and the University.

Within these overall guidelines, Chairs of Academic Departments are charged with setting appropriate workloads for the members of their respective departments. Workload distribution should be in accordance with CAS and university policy, departmental instructional needs, and resources. All workload assignments are subject to change depending upon departmental, college, or university needs.

Certain minimal principles do apply. All tenure and tenure track faculty are expected to contribute to departmental and university service and should be provided the opportunity for a workload that supports continued research activity.


Tenured Faculty

  • Tenured faculty who continue to demonstrate research productivity through ongoing publications and sponsored research activity should be assigned a teaching load of no more than 3/3 in any department.
  • Tenured faculty assigned a load of 2/2 should be performing normal departmental service, demonstrating a high or very high level of scholarly contribution, and contributing actively to the graduate program.
  • Any reductions below 2/2 should be reserved for faculty members who meet the criteria for a 2/2 load and additionally have levels of external funding to finance a buy-out or equivalent IDCR contributions, and/or very significant additional service assignments.
  • Tenured faculty who are not or are no longer research active but do perform their appropriate share of departmental service will be assigned teaching loads of 4/4. Loads below that level should be based on ongoing and documented publications and/or sponsored research or very significant additional service assignments (see below for a discussion of "very significant").
  • Every faculty member not on an official PDA or other approved college leave should normally be teaching a course each semester. There may be reasons for exceptions in some cases, which the chair should clear in advance with the dean of the college.
  • Tenure track faculty should initially be assigned teaching loads consistent with the teaching load of highly productive faculty members in that department to provide them the opportunity to develop a research record at that load.


  • Instructors are considered to have a baseline teaching load of 5/5 since they have no research or faculty service responsibilities. Instructors or other full-time non-tenure track faculty who have departmental service and/or professional development obligations in addition to their instructional duties may be eligible for a 5/4 or 4/4 teaching load—such reductions will be made by the chair in consultation with the dean of the CAS.


  • For the sake of these guidelines, a class that counts toward ones' teaching workload is considered to be a traditional 3-credit "organized" course and is enrolled by enough students to meet the minimal expectations negotiated between the departments and the college. This would include having regularly scheduled times for an on-ground course and equivalent requirements for an on-line class but would normally exclude readings and research and independent study courses, for example.
  • Teaching schedules and assignments must be based above all on students' curricular needs. Classes should be scheduled at the standardized times approved by the university, i.e. MW classes should be scheduled only on an exception basis and almost never during the morning.
  • Workload distributions should be done in a good faith effort to distribute workload assignments and expectations equitably among faculty at all levels.
  • Eligible tenured and tenure track faculty members should normally teach at all levels offered within their departments, consistent with student and departmental needs.
  • Some adjustments in load may be made for very large, time-intensive courses in cases where the department can also document significant extra effort involved in grading and managing those courses due to the high enrollments. Only in exceptional cases would this alone justify reductions below the 2/2 level.
  • If a faculty member buys out of a course through sponsored research, the department should use its portion of the IDCR or faculty salary recovery to cover the replacement instructional costs. The buy-out rates should be based on a percentage of the faculty member's annual salary (usually around 12.5%) and not on the cost of replacement faculty. The precise rate that is appropriate in different areas and for different kinds of grants and contracts is a matter that will be negotiated between the faculty member and the department and college.
  • "Significant additional service assignments" in the sense mentioned above that would lead to reductions in the normal service assignment should involve at least as much work as an additional course, i.e. around 150 hours or more during the course of the semester, in addition to normal departmental service assignments.
  • Some involvement in comprehensive exams, capstone requirements, thesis, dissertation, and readings and research supervision is part of the normal expectation of research-active graduate faculty and part of the justification of any teaching loads below 3/3. Additional credit for such activities should be given only for faculty members supervising a much higher number of dissertations than other faculty members in the department and should normally still not go below a 2/2 load based on this additional contribution alone.