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Faculty Workload Guidance

October 19, 2022

This document is intended to support the University’s interim policy on faculty workload, II.1.25(A) University of Maryland Policy on Full-time Faculty Workload and Responsibilities. Specific activities in the areas of teaching; research, scholarship, or creative activity; and service may differ among schools and colleges, and among units within schools and colleges. This document is not prescriptive, but rather is intended to provide guidance regarding tenure track/tenured faculty workload considerations and allocation. Where appropriate, units may adjust activities within and across categories based on the parameters established in policy II.1.25(A). This document, and the University’s workload policy, apply solely to tenured and tenure track faculty for their contract workload periods (academic year for 9-month faculty and fiscal year for 12-month faculty).

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Unit Faculty Workload Considerations

As academic units form their faculty workload policies, there are a number of core characteristics and associated principles that these policies should reflect. These include:

  • Equitable. Workload assignments should be fair and balanced across faculty members.
  • Appropriate. Workload assignments should reflect faculty member competencies (role expectations) consistent with unit tenure and/or promotion, annual review, post-tenure review guidelines, and other articulated expectations. Workload assignments should also consider whether a faculty member is pre- or post-tenure and other career stage factors.
  • Transparent. Workload policies and procedures should be developed through unit faculty governance processes and posted publicly.
  • Clear. Workload policies should clearly establish, articulate, and communicate unit workload expectations, metrics, “what counts,” and how faculty workload is determined. Units may opt to have their workload policies span specified timeframes (e.g., one year) or to average faculty workload over a given period of time (e.g., three years).
  • Non-evaluative. Workload policies should inform an individual’s performance evaluation, but not replace the evaluation of a faculty member’s performance (e.g., annual, merit, third year, contract renewal, or post-tenure reviews).
  • Flexible. Workload policies should be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of faculty members, academic units, and the University. Accordingly, these policies should allow for faculty member contributions and interests to evolve over their careers; just as the needs of the unit and University evolve over time. Further, workload policies should recognize differing levels of effort as appropriate in instructional effort (e.g., class size, course level, studio courses), service effort (e.g., level of effort, committee leadership), and research, scholarship, and creative activities (e.g., sponsored research, research project/grant management).
  • Accountable. Workload policies should ensure that faculty members engage in their workload assignments appropriately and within acceptable performance parameters. Workload policies should reward excellence and ensure appropriate actions for faculty members who do not meet expectations (as determined by unit review processes).
  • Expansive. Workload policies should recognize faculty members who also perform essential administrative and/or extension roles in addition to the standard roles and expectations for faculty members, if applicable. These multiple roles should be recognized by the unit and University.

Assigning Faculty Workload Expectations

It is expected that over the course of a faculty member’s career, and based on a faculty member’s role, and rank, that the percentage/level of effort in the different workload categories (e.g., research/scholarship/creative activities, teaching and mentoring, and service) will shift. Faculty member assignments are determined by the appropriate unit head (or other designee), following unit procedures. Faculty member workload assignments and adjustments can include, but are not limited to:

Teaching and Mentoring

Creditable faculty course load excludes winter, summer, and entrepreneurial graduate programs. Assigned faculty course load instructional expectations, and activities that can comprise instruction, can vary by unit, discipline, and other factors. Examples of instructional activities (in general, 50% of assigned faculty workload) include:

  1. Regular teaching assignment;
  2. Mentoring and advising;
  3. Supervision of students being trained in clinical activities in practical and/or field sites.
  4. Preparation of innovative teaching materials or instructional techniques or design and development of new curricula;
  5. Development of innovative courses;
  6. Course coordination involving mentoring/teaching of other course instructors;
  7. Contribution to a department's/program's instructional program(s) and responsibilities;
  8. Direction of individual student work (e.g., independent studies, theses or dissertations, special student projects, and informal student seminars);
  9. Administration of teaching (e.g., multiple sections, team taught);
  10. Academic advisement, which is integrally related to the learning process and to course outcomes;
  11. Publication of textbooks or articles that reflect the faculty member's teaching contributions and scholarship;
  12. Presentation of papers on teaching before learned societies;
  13. Selection for special teaching activities outside of the University, especially outside the United States (e.g., Fulbright awards, special lectureships, panel presentations, seminar participations, and international study and development projects);
  14. Membership on special bodies concerned with teaching (e.g., accreditation teams and special commissions);
  15. Receipt of competitive grants/contracts to fund innovative teaching activities or to fund stipends for students;
  16. Membership on panels to judge proposals for teaching grants/contracts; q. Invitation to testify before governmental groups concerned with educational programs.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities

Research, scholarship, and creative activities can vary by unit, discipline, and other factors. Examples of research, scholarship, and creative activities (in general, 40% of assigned faculty workload) include:

  1. Publication of articles, books, monographs, bulletins, reviews, and other scholarly works by reputable journals, scholarly presses, and publishing houses that accept works based on rigorous review and approval by peers in the discipline;
  2. Extension publications, society reports (e.g., national academies, national/international associations);
  3. Publication of policy briefs, white papers, or other forms of publication designed to inform practice and/or affect policy development and implementation;
  4. Receipt of competitive grants and/or contracts to finance the development of ideas;
  5. Refereed presentations (e.g., professional conferences);
  6. Supervision of publishable undergraduate research project(s);
  7. Supervision of graduate research and collaborative, publishable projects;
  8. Patents;
  9. Entrepreneurial activities (e.g., creation of a start-up company, licensing of creative works);
  10. Juried exhibitions of art works;
  11. Appointment as consultant to state, national, and/or international public and private groups engaged in scholarly and/or artistic endeavor;
  12. Selection for tour of duty at special institutes for advanced study;
  13. Presenting testimony before governmental groups concerned with research or other creative scholarly activities.


Public and professional service (inclusive of service at the State, national, or international levels), as well as service to the University (e.g., the faculty member’s academic unit, college, or University levels) is expected of all faculty members. The level of effort required for any given service activity may vary. Service assignments (in general, 10% of assigned faculty workload), and consideration for reductions in teaching and/or research expectations, should consider such factors as:

  1. Particular committees have heavier workload than others (e.g., college or campus level promotion committee membership);
  2. Some committees may have a heavier workload than others in certain years (e.g., Promotion and Tenure);
  3. Leadership in professional organizations or activities (e.g., presidencies, board member activities, committee activities);
  4. Professional advocacy such as testifying at governmental hearings;
  5. Editorships;
  6. Number of chaired committees on which a faculty member serves.

Additional considerations that can contribute to faculty member workload determination and assignment may include:

  • Course Units/Credit Hours. Assigned faculty member teaching loads may be adjusted due to such factors as course “buyouts” needed to support from internal or external funds, service assignments with particularly heavy workloads, course size and level of effort, course modality, and decreased research productivity (as determined through unit and University review processes).
  • Service. Assigned faculty member service workload may be adjusted due to such factors as substantial research load (e.g., the receipt of numerous grants, the receipt of a prestigious fellowship), engagement in professional activities (e.g., professional society leadership, journal/book series editorship), decreased research productivity (as determined through unit and University review processes), and other activities.
  • Joint appointment. Faculty workload assignments for faculty with joint appointments (e.g., in other academic units or centers and institutes) should be proportional to the assigned FTE in the respective units.
  • Unit Administration. Assumption of responsibility for the function of Chair/Director or other designee in a non-departmentalized college/school, or for Program Director or for special departmental projects may require reduction of expectations for teaching, research/scholarship/creative activities, or service. The reduction may be dependent on the size of the unit, the scope of the administrative responsibilities, and other relevant factors.
  • Other Administration. There may be instances in which faculty members will be asked to assume significant administrative roles, for example when a faculty member is assigned to lead a research center or strategic initiative. Assignment of additional time in the areas of administration and the consequent reduction of expectations for teaching and/or research/scholarship and/or service should be directly related to the duration and the extensiveness of the administrative commitment.
  • New/Junior Faculty. Assignments for new and/or junior faculty members should take into consideration their need to develop or teach new courses, to begin or establish a research program, to establish extension programs, or other factors in order to become established in their roles.
  • Faculty with Extension or Experiment Station Appointments. Tenured/tenure-track faculty with Extension or Experiment Station appointments may require different determinations of teaching, research/scholarship/creative activities, and service due to their Extension and Experiment Station roles and assignments.

Elements of Unit Faculty Workload Policies

Academic units are required to develop and implement a faculty workload policy (see Policy II.1.25(A), IV.B.). It is anticipated that unit level policies will differ given the wide range of fields and field norms represented across the University. Nonetheless, unit level policies should address minimally the below elements:

  • Instructional load. Policy II.1.25(A) establishes a baseline University instructional load of 5 course units (1 unit=3 credit hours) for tenured and tenure track faculty. Unit policies should define and articulate instructional load expectations for their tenured and tenure-track faculty.
  • Research expectations. Recognizing that specific indicators of research productivity may vary by discipline and subdiscipline even within the same academic units, unit policies should articulate generally expected research activities for their faculty that focus on indicators of an active research agenda (e.g., grants, fellowships, supervision of graduate students and/or postdoctoral associates, publications).
  • Service expectations. Unit policies should articulate generally expected service requirements for faculty (e.g., participation on unit, college, and/or University committees, service to the profession and/or discipline).
  • Extension/Experiment Station responsibilities. If applicable, unit policies should articulate Extension and/or Experiment Station activities for tenured/tenure track faculty with such responsibilities.
  • General variations. Unit policies should articulate the conditions, parameters, and methods for faculty workload adjustments. Considerations might include course size (enrollment), course level (undergraduate, graduate), required v. elective course, partial credit for team-taught courses, number of students mentored, number of active grants, significant service load, administrative responsibilities, sabbatical leave, and leave without pay. Note that these are examples and not intended to be exhaustive.
  • Time interval. Unit policies should determine the interval considered for faculty workload expectations. For example, some units may assess faculty workload on an annual basis, while others may choose to assess faculty workload over a multi-year period (e.g., 2-3 years).
  • Buyouts. Unit policies should indicate whether course buyouts (e.g., from grant funding, funded fellowships) are possible, and establish rates for such buyouts (e.g., % FTE, fixed dollar amount, dollar amount range).
  • Workload adjustments. Unit policies should address how faculty workload is rebalanced when a faculty member voluntarily expresses a desire to rebalance their workload (e.g., a desire to engage in additional teaching in lieu of some research activity). Similarly, unit policies should address how faculty workload is rebalanced based on review processes (e.g., annual, post-tenure) which determine that a faculty member has not met unit performance expectations in one or more areas (e.g., research productivity, teaching, service).
  • Review and approval. Unit policies should address the process by which their workload policies are created, reviewed, and amended. 
  • Complaint mechanism. Unit policies should include a process for faculty members to file complaints regarding their assigned workload.
    • Faculty members in departmentalized colleges should first seek to resolve the matter with their unit heads. If the matter cannot be resolved, the complaint should be reviewed by the Dean.
    • Faculty members in non-departmentalized colleges should first seek to resolve the matter with their Dean. If the matter cannot be resolved, the complaint should be reviewed by the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Appendix A: Example Faculty Workload Assignments

Provided below are some example faculty workload assignments based on various scenarios (e.g., general, research intensive, early career faculty). These are provided as example faculty workload assignments for illustrative purposes and not intended to be prescriptive.

General Workload Assignment

Teaching (50% of Total Effort)

  • 4 course units
  • Graduate Independent Study supervision
  • Thesis supervision credits

Research & Scholarship (40% of Total Effort)

  • Papers in progress (journal and conference)
  • Peer review journal article published
  • Conference proceeding paper published
  • Book manuscript under development
  • Active grant
  • Grant submission

Service (10% of Total Effort)

  • Membership on 1-2 unit committees
  • Chair 1 committee
  • Faculty mentoring

Research Intensive Assignment

Teaching (30% of Total Effort)

  • 2 course units (2 course buyouts)
  • Graduate Independent Study supervision
  • Thesis supervision credits

Research & Scholarship (60% of Total Effort)

  • Multiple papers in progress (journal and conference)
  • Peer review journal article published
  • Conference proceeding paper published
  • Book manuscript under development
  • Grant submission
  • Active grants

Service (10% of Total Effort)

  • Membership on 1-2 unit committees
  • Chair 1 committee
  • Faculty mentoring

Early Career Assistant Professor Assignment (pre-third year review)

Teaching (30% of Total Effort)

  • 2-3 course units (reduced load to focus on research)
  • May also engage in graduate independent study supervision and thesis supervision credits

Research & Scholarship (60% of Total Effort)

  • Multiple papers in progress (e.g., journal and conference)
  • Expectation for peer review journal articles published
  • Conference proceeding papers published
  • Book manuscript under development
  • Grant submission(s)
  • Active grant

Service (10% of Total Effort)

  • Membership on 1-2 unit committees

Teaching / Service Intensive Assignment

Teaching (60% of Total Effort)

  • 6 course units
  • May also engage in graduate independent study supervision and thesis supervision credits

Research & Scholarship (10% of Total Effort)

  • Minimal research activity
  • May engage in some research activities such as refereed conference/journal paper preparation and book manuscript development
  • May submit a grant application

Service (30% of Total Effort)

  • Membership on 3-4 unit committees
  • Chair 2-3 committees

Resources / References

Culpepper, D., Kilmer, S., O'Meara, K., Misra, J., & Jaeger, A.J. (2020). The Terrapin Time Initiative: A workshop to enhance alignment between faculty work priorities and time-use. Innovative Higher Education. doi:

Gardner, B., and LeMaster, J. (2013). Defining Faculty Workload Expectations. Education Advisory Board.

Joya Misra, Jennifer Lundquist, Elissa Dahlberg Holmes, and Stephanie Agiomavritis. (2011). “The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work.” Academe. 97(1): 22-26. Available at:

O’Meara, K., Culpepper, D., Misra, J. & Jaeger, A. (2022). Equity-minded faculty workloads: What we can and should do now. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. Available at:

O’Meara, K., Beise, E., Culpepper, D., Misra, J. & Jaeger, A. (2020). Faculty Work Activity Dashboards: A Strategy to Increase Transparency. Change magazine. The Magazine of Higher Learning, 52:3, 34-42. Available at:

O’Meara, K., Jaeger, A., Misra, J. Lennartz, C. & Kuvaeva, A. (2018, December 19). Undoing disparities in faculty workloads: A randomized trial experiment. PLOS One 13(12). Available at:

O'Meara, K., Lennartz, C., Kuvaeva, A., Jaeger, A., Misra, J. (2019). Department Conditions and Practices Associated with Faculty Workload Satisfaction and Perceptions of Equity. The Journal of Higher Education, 1-29. Available at:

O’Meara, K., Misra, J., Jaeger, A.J., Culpepper, D. Needed: Allies for equitable faculty workloads. Inside Higher Ed. Available at: