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Workload Policy



This document identifies and describes general categories of faculty work and provides guidelines for assigning each faculty member's workload among departments in the College of Arts & Letters ("College"). It is intended to provide a means for recognition and documentation of the work that faculty do. Workload assignments are determined by the Department Chair after consultation with the faculty member, and the College Dean is responsible for oversight of the departmental allocation of workload equivalency units within the College. (Note: The term "Department Chair" will be used throughout to denote the appropriate administrator, even if that person has another title such as "Program Director".) Because of the wide variety of instruction, scholarly activity, and service completed by ISU faculty, one Workload Policy cannot provide all-inclusive guidelines to define workload equivalencies. Thus, each Department is responsible for having a separately approved departmental workload policy that best reflects the activities completed by its faculty. To provide advice and guidance to, and to foster collegiality across the College, this document describes standard elements used to calculate workload effort in the College. This document will be subject to periodic reconsideration and revision by the College Dean and faculty to ensure it adequately represents departmental activities and conforms to the University Faculty Workload Policy.

Workload Expectations

In accordance with the University Faculty Workload Policy, and the policies of the State Board of Education, all full-time faculty members have a standard workload of 15 units (100%) per semester. Faculty in the College are expected to meet the workload expectations in all areas required for tenure and promotion in each of their respective departments. Four major types of activities for workload consideration are defined as: Instruction, Research and Creative Activities, Professional Service, and Administration. Regular full-time, tenured and tenure-track academic faculty will complete workload expectations as outlined by departmental workload documents and approved by the College. The Department Chair with the approval of the Dean may assign a different distribution of workload to faculty whose activities do not match the distribution typically described in the departmental workload policy. Workload assignments should not conflict with evaluation standards or promotion and tenure policies.

Workload Reporting

ISU faculty will complete an Annual Faculty Evaluation – Summary of Accomplishments form, based on the previous calendar year's activities, as required by the University Faculty Workload Policy. This form is available from the Academic Affairs website. The summary of each faculty member's workload is to be included as part of their annual and periodic performance evaluations, Chair's Evaluation of Faculty Member's Overall Performance (rating sheet), and recommendation for promotion and/or tenure. In general, workload calculations and reporting present a quantitative measure of faculty work, while annual and periodic evaluations present a qualitative measure.

All full-time faculty members are expected also to complete a Post-Semester Faculty Activity Report at the end of each semester. The workload reported on these semester forms must be consistent with the annual form.


This section of the Workload Policy is intended to document the teaching activities that faculty complete on a regular basis and to establish guidelines for determining equitable teaching workloads. An accurate accounting of all teaching responsibilities should assist faculty in balancing the competing demands of teaching, research, scholarship, creative activities, and service.

Tenure-track faculty members in the College typically have an instructional workload of 9 units (60%) per semester. The most common instructional assignment is three 3-credit courses. Actual workload may vary significantly because of weighting factors; types of courses; additional teaching such as thesis supervision, independent study supervision, advising, and other assigned student contacts; and departmental requirements. Exceptions to this instructional workload require formal approval from both the Department Chair and the Dean.

In order to correlate workload with the reporting form (Annual Faculty Evaluation – Summary of Accomplishments), faculty need to track their instructional workload in the following four categories. Workload for activities other than assigned courses will be calculated according to average hours per week, with approximately 2.67 hours per week equivalent to one workload unit (6.67%).

  • Instruction-Related Activity. Courses taught (e.g., lecture, lab, experiential, independent study, thesis, dissertation, etc.).
  • Out-of-Classroom Activities Related to Instruction. New course development; new teaching modalities; major course revision; development of digital or web-based modules, etc.
  • Other Instruction Activity. Supervision of undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate students; continuing education programs.
  • Student Advising, Recruitment. Formally assigned advisees; informal advising; student recruitment activity, etc.

Faculty in departments with graduate programs may qualify for a standard course load of "2-3." In order to qualify, a faculty member must be regularly involved in supervising graduate students. Departmental workload policies may specify how a faculty member may qualify for a "2-3" course load. A reduced standard course load is not automatic; a faculty member must request the lower course load each year based on expectations of other workload activities in the next academic year. In accordance with the University Faculty Workload Policy, and the policies of the State Board of Education, the total of all instructional activities are expected to average 18 or more units (60% or more) for the academic year. Summer instruction typically is not included in the workload for faculty who have nine-month contracts. Special exceptions must be negotiated with the Dean.

Special Situations

Some faculty positions require a reduction in instructional assignments because of other responsibilities. The amount of release time granted is subject to approval by the Dean. Although the following list is not comprehensive, these are some of the most common categories for special situations:

  • Administrative duties. Faculty members who have significant administrative responsibilities are entitled to a reduction in teaching expectations. These may include, but are not limited to, Chairs and Program Directors.
  • Specialized positions. Faculty members in these regular positions have reduced teaching expectations each semester. The reductions should be contained in the initial letters of hire, along with the corresponding expected increases in other responsibilities. Examples include technical theatre faculty, who must work on every theatre production; the Debate Coach/Director of Debate; an editor in charge of a journal; and research faculty. Details of these reductions are contained in departmental workload policies and/or negotiated with the Office of Research.
  • Funded research. Faculty may receive course releases based on funded research grants they have received. In order to qualify for a course release, grants must include funds for the appropriate percentage of the faculty member's salary in order to provide adequate funds for a replacement instructor.

Full-time, non-tenure-track faculty (e.g., lecturers) will have an instructional workload of 15 units (100%), unless their departmental policies require that some workload units are assigned to the categories of Research and Creative Activities or Professional Service. It is expected that departments will need to rely on lecturers for some departmental service and to teach some courses with higher weighting. These lecturers will typically have a standard course load of "4-5" or "4-4," depending on the level of other required activities. Any deviation from the standard course load must be approved by the Dean.

Research/Scholarship/Creative Activities

All tenure-track faculty are required to be actively engaged in research, scholarship, and/or creative activities ("scholarly activities") in their areas of specialization. Tenure-track faculty members typically have a workload assignment of 3 or more units (20% or more) in scholarly activities. Because these types of activities are so varied across the College, the measurement of workload units is determined by departmental workload policies. However, since workload is a quantitative measure, normally one workload unit (6.67%) will be allocated for approximately 2.67 average weekly hours spent in scholarly activities. Thus, 3 workload units (20%) will equate to approximately 8 average weekly hours spent in scholarly activities. Faculty who are assigned more than 4 units (26.67%) of scholarly activities will have either a reduced instructional workload or fewer service obligations. A faculty member who is granted a research-related course release will be expected to show a corresponding increase in scholarly activities. All course releases must be approved by the Dean.

Scholarly activities are expected to lead to productive results. Departmental workload policies may establish a uniform measure for scholarly products that are standardized for their area of activities. Productive scholarly activities typically fall into the following categories:

  • Publications. These typically consist of articles in peer-reviewed professional journals and other professional media, books or chapters in books, recorded media, etc. Funding agencies may require open-access publications to maximize visibility. The College recognizes that changes in technology and accessibility to the results of funded research may necessitate new ways of thinking about standard publication expectations.
    The effort required to produce a work may be spread over several semesters based on average weekly hours of effort. This category also includes publication-related activities such as editing a journal, textbook, anthology, or other such publications. See the College guidelines for Evaluation, Tenure, and Promotion for lists of primary and secondary evidence of high quality in this area.
  • Presentations. Papers, posters, exhibitions, clinics, performances, and designs presented at professional regional, national, and international meetings.
  • Research Grants. Includes external and internal grant submissions. External grants often require more faculty time and effort both in terms of submission and execution. Competitive externally funded grants are highly valued research activities that bring distinction to the Department, College, and University.
  • Creative Activities. These include the creation of art, participation in or direction of creative performances, creative composition, and alternate media such as museum displays and historical maps.

In general, non-tenure-track faculty members are not allocated any workload units for scholarly activities unless it fulfills a need for the Department and is approved in advance by the College Dean.

Professional Service

All College faculty members are expected to engage in professional, discipline-specific, and institutional service, and up to 2 workload units (13.33%) are allotted to each tenure-track faculty member for these duties in accordance with the University Faculty Workload Policy. Non-tenure-track faculty are not expected to engage in professional service, but may be allotted 1-2 workload units (6.67% - 13.33%) if they are required to perform significant departmental service or fulfill significant administrative duties. Since workload is a quantitative measure, normally one workload unit (6.67%) will be allocated for approximately 2.67 average weekly hours spent in service activities. Thus, 2 workload units (13.33%) will equate to approximately 5.33 average weekly hours spent in service activities.

Departmental service, beyond regular attendance at departmental meetings, is required for all tenure-track faculty members in order for departments to function effectively. The most common activity is service on committees. When determining the weight of committee service, multiple factors must be considered other than just meeting times. Allocations must also be made for work outside of meetings, such as creating and reviewing documents and minutes. The committee chair will usually receive a larger workload weighting.

Faculty members are also expected to contribute to some combination of College/University/professional service, which may vary from year to year. University policy may assign a standard workload to each university council. The only standing College committee is the College Executive Committee, which is allocated at 1.0 workload service unit (6.67%) per semester for members, and 2.0 workload service units (13.33%) for the Chair. Workload units for service to professional organizations and service on ad hoc College/ University committees are allocated based on average weekly hours spent in service activities. Some professional service on a national level (e.g., national boards) may necessitate a workload reduction in other areas, as negotiated with the College Dean.

Some faculty members have university-level service responsibilities that create a need for reduced instructional workloads. The workloads for these positions are negotiated with the College Dean and the Provost, and include University funding for replacement instructors.


Department Chairs and Program Directors must have reduced instructional workloads in order to carry out their administrative duties. These instructional expectations are negotiated between each Chair/Program Director and the College Dean.

Other types of administrative positions, such as a departmental director of graduate studies, may deserve a course release or may count only as departmental service, depending on circumstances. These releases are recommended by Department Chairs and must be approved by the College Dean.

Some faculty members have University-level administrative responsibilities that create a need for reduced instructional workloads. Examples include Faculty Senate Chair and Director of the Honors Program. The workloads for these positions are negotiated with the College Dean and the Provost and include University funding for replacement instructors.

Adopted on April 19, 2012
Approved by Academic Affairs on July 30, 2012

Workload Policy