Faculty Workload Policy


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Faculty Workloads



This policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") has three main goals:

  1. To meet the needs of our students and other stakeholders,
  2. To facilitate transparency and accountability about our performance to the public, and
  3. To establish clear and equitable expectations and guidelines about the distribution of work among faculty members.

Faculty members play a crucial role in teaching, research, and serving the community at UNC-Chapel Hill. The University wants to support faculty using their talents and skills to do their jobs well while respecting academic freedom.

The University recognizes the importance of creating and applying new knowledge to real-world problems. At the same time, the University's primary focus is always on student learning. This policy is intended to be inclusive and thus allow campus units at UNC-Chapel Hill to adapt to new teaching methods in line with the unit and University mission. This includes supporting students outside the classroom through advising, mentoring, and other academic activities. 

This policy also intends to comply with UNC System Policy 400.3.4 and its implementing regulation 400.3.4[R]. The UNC System requires each UNC System school to create, publish, and monitor academic unit workload requirements. These requirements must be consistent within each UNC System school and across the UNC System. These policies must include criteria and approval processes for adjustment in workload attendant to other faculty responsibilities.

The UNC System also requires each institution to:

  • Use a consistent method for collecting data about academic workloads, and
  • Implement an annual faculty performance evaluation policy that measures and rewards all aspects of faculty workload.


This Policy applies to all faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill, including tenured, tenure-track, and fixed-term faculty. Tenure track faculty members and all faculty members who are appointed for longer than one year and who are full-time must have a workload plan. Faculty members who are appointed for one year or less or who are less than full-time may have a workload plan if directed by the institution. Faculty who also serve in administrative roles should have a workload plan.


Faculty Workload

Consistent with other major research institutions, the overall workload of UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members typically includes teaching; instruction-related activities such as advising, mentoring, course planning, and course development; research, scholarship, and creative activities; clinical duties (in health affairs); service to the University, the community, and the profession; administration; and related activities required by the individual faculty member’s work plan to support the mission of the University. 

Each unit should:

  1. Establish an expected threshold geared to appointment type for teaching, research/creative activity, and service by unit that together constitute the 1.0 FTE in a manner that aligns with the University, school, college, and department missions; and
  2. Identify what distribution of teaching, research/creative activity, and service for each appointment type constitutes an adjustment in the workload.

Faculty Workload Expectations

UNC-Chapel Hill has established teaching workload criteria based on the standard annual faculty teaching load defined in UNC System Policy 400.3.4. This standard teaching load for research universities consists of 24 credit hours (or equivalent contact hours) per academic year, along with routinely expected faculty duties such as advising, committee work, and professional development.

UNC System Policy 400.3.4 indicates that reductions in the standard annual faculty teaching load are justifiable due to administrative responsibilities, research/creative activities, course buyouts, and additional institutional and departmental service obligations.

Teaching overloads may also be justified based on institutional and departmental needs, consistent with UNC System Policy 300.2.13 and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Policy on Supplemental Pay for EHRA Employees. Overload requests must be approved by the Dean and the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost and are to be requested only in unusual circumstances or in the case of a critical University business need that cannot be reasonably met through any other means. The total of a full-time employee’s overload pay in any fiscal year may not exceed 20% of their July 1 base salary if in a 12-month appointment or 25% of base salary in a 9-month appointment unless the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost grants an exception.


Consistent with N.C.G.S. 116-1(b), teaching and instruction are the central responsibilities of the UNC System and form a critical base of workload expectations for faculty. In addition to organized courses, the faculty member’s instructional workload also includes but is not limited to, other instructional efforts such as developing materials for a new course, updating materials for an existing course, weekly course preparation activities, developing courseware or other materials for technology-based instruction, supervising undergraduate research and masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations, directing students in co-curricular activities such as plays, preparing and equipping new laboratories, supervision of teaching assistants, supervision of internships, academic advising, mentoring, and other activities that support student success. 

Research/Creative Activity

Faculty members engage in the work of discovering, disseminating, and applying knowledge and professional expertise. These activities may include (but are not limited to) working in laboratories, studios, clinical or community settings conducting empirical and/or theoretical research, engaging in development or translational work, and/or producing creative works. Toward that end, faculty write articles, books, monographs, and grant proposals, write patents, develop intellectual property, edit scholarly journals, prepare juried art exhibits, direct centers and institutes, or perform in plays, concerts, or musical recitals. These research/creative activities have significant implications for teaching. They enable faculty members to design course materials that reflect their respective fields’ state-of-the-art and cutting-edge knowledge.


As a public university, UNC-Chapel Hill provides substantial benefits to the people and the State of North Carolina. Faculty members engage in service activities that advance the institution’s work and the institution’s role in supporting North Carolina. Faculty service work may include activities that enhance the scholarly life of the university or the discipline, improve the quality of life of society, or promote the general welfare of the institution, professional and academic societies, the state, the nation, the local community, or the global community. Faculty members may also be assigned administrative responsibilities, including but not limited to, Department Chair/head, program director, and center director. Institutional policies must specify the means and extent by which administrative responsibilities count toward a faculty member’s total workload.

In recognition of the diversity of academic disciplines across the university, workload elements of mentoring and clinical service assignments should be categorized based on the nature of the duties and the overall goals of the academic unit. Mentoring or clinical service assignments may be categorized as either service or teaching.

Faculty Workload Criteria

Consistent with UNC System Policy 400.3.4, the University acknowledges that:

  • Faculty work activities are often complex; and
  • Individual faculty workloads are best managed at the department and school levels, not the University, UNC System, or State levels.

Requirements Consistent Across the University

All University faculty workload plans must comply with the following criteria:

  • Account for 1.0 FTE by assigning duties to teaching, research/creative activity, and service on a percentage basis totaling 100%;
  • Include the specific outputs and efforts a faculty member is expected to complete in the next academic year, with a clear linkage towards long-term evaluation (e.g., reappointment, promotion, tenure, post-tenure review); and
  • Offer options for both 9- and 12-month periods to accommodate different employment arrangements.

Each unit must:

  • Create a standardized amount of teaching, research/creative activity, and service work for each appointment type;
  • Align the faculty member’s teaching, research/creative activity, and service work to:
    • The University’s mission and strategic plan, and
    • The specific school/college and department’s goals.

Requirements That May Vary by School or Department

Workload criteria may differ by school or department based on factors that include the following:

  • The unique mission of the unit;
  • The nature of instruction in the discipline;
  • The structure of the curriculum (e.g., measured in terms of contact hours instead of traditional three-credit-hour semester courses);
  • Accreditation requirements for professional education;
  • Faculty responsibility for supervision of practica, internship, and clerkship experiences;
  • Special service obligations to the public;
  • Responsibility for patient care;
  • Clinical practice;
  • Obligations for delivering non-credit continuing education to professionals in the state; and
  • Other factors.

Roles and Responsibilities

UNC-Chapel Hill faculty workload criteria are established and reviewed for compliance with the UNC System's and the University's faculty workload policies.

University Level

The Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost must:

  • Assign responsibility for developing school-level faculty workload policies to the Deans, and
  • Review and approve these school-level policies in the context of the University and UNC System policies.
College/School Level

Deans must:

  • Develop school-level faculty workload policies in consultation with Department Chairs or other school leadership;
  • Submit these school-level policies for review and approval by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost; and
  • Review and approve department-level faculty workload policies and any significant departures from school-level policies.

The school-level policy may apply across the organization in schools without a department structure or at the Dean's discretion.

Department Level

Department Chairs must:

  • Develop unit-level faculty workload policies and criteria for teaching loads that are consistent with University- and school-level policies;
  • Approve assignments that vary significantly from expected department and school teaching loads;
  • Consider unique factors related to the mission of the unit and instructional practices appropriate to the discipline; and
  • Submit unit-level faculty workload policies for review and approval to the Dean or the Dean’s designee.

Department Chairs may consider the following criteria when assigning individual faculty workloads:

  • The needs of the school, department, programs, and students; and
  • The faculty member’s qualifications and appointment conditions.

Creating Faculty Workload Plans

Each faculty member must work with their Department Chair or Dean to develop a mutually agreed upon work plan. For faculty with appointments in more than one department, the Department Chair (or Dean as appropriate) of the department where the faculty member has their primary appointment is responsible for planning the faculty member’s workload in consultation with the heads of the other appointing units.

Each faculty workload plan should be well-organized and provide a clear roadmap to support faculty planning, growth, and assessment.

The faculty member and their Department Chair or Dean should consider the following components when developing the annual faculty work plan:

  • Position description
    • Summary of role,
    • Rank, and
    • Essential duties of the position.
  • Specific Outputs and Efforts for:
    • Teaching,
    • Research/creative expression,
    • Service, and
    • Other (e.g., professional development).
  • Workload Expectations
    • Allocation of time/percentage for:
      • Teaching,
      • Research/creative expression, and
      • Service.
  • Assessment 
    • Determine how goal achievement/success/progress will be measured.
  • Timeline, with specific deliverables.
  • Resources needed to achieve goal(s).

Approving Faculty Workload Plans

Each faculty member’s workload plan must be approved in writing by the following:

  • The faculty member’s department chair (or the dean in schools without separate departments); and
  • The department chair/dean’s supervisor or that person’s designee.

For faculty with appointments in more than one department, each faculty member’s workload plan must be approved in writing by the following:

  • The Department Chair (or Dean in schools without separate departments) of the department where the faculty member has their primary appointment, in consultation with
  • The head(s) of the other appointing unit(s).

Annual Faculty Evaluation Process

The annual evaluation process for faculty involves the assessment of the faculty member’s performance, contributions, and accomplishments for the academic year based on that faculty member’s established work plan. Every school or department must have policies and procedures to assess how well faculty members are doing their jobs.

Deans are responsible for establishing:

  • The significant factors to be used in evaluating faculty performance within the school;
  • Any guidelines concerning weights assigned to teaching, research/creative activity, and service; and
  • The process and schedule for annual evaluations within their school.

Department Chairs may, with the approval of the Dean, modify these evaluation criteria to be consistent with the assigned duties of individual faculty members.

Annual evaluations of faculty must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Be completed at least once per academic year;
  • Apply to every faculty member, regardless of tenure status;
  • Cover all areas of a faculty's duties;
  • Occur before salary increase recommendations; and
  • Not replace the post-tenure review process already set by the University for tenured faculty.

During this review, the Department Chair, Dean, or designated unit officer will evaluate the faculty member's performance based on their approved work plan. Department Chairs or Deans must provide any faculty member rated as "Not Meeting" on one or more of their agreed-upon performance goals with a "Faculty Success Plan" to get them back on track.

Faculty Success Plans

Faculty Success Plans are intended to be a supportive and personalized approach to help individual faculty improve their performance and excel in their role.

Each Faculty Success Plan must be in writing and include the following components:

  • Specific steps designed to lead to improvement;
  • Targeted resources the faculty member can use to help them improve (e.g., Center for Faculty Excellence, etc.);
  • A specific timeline during which the Department Chair expects the faculty member’s performance to improve; and
  • A clear statement of consequences should improvement not occur within the designated timeline.

Approval of Faculty Success Plans

Faculty Success Plans must be approved in writing by the faculty member’s second-level supervisor.

Roles and Responsibilities

Deans or Designees:

  • Must establish the criteria to judge how well faculty are doing in their school; and
  • How much relative weight to give teaching, research/creative activity, and service in these reviews.

Second-Level Supervisors:

  • Must review and approve in writing all Faculty Success Plans issued by any Department Chair who reports to them; and
  • May, as needed, work with Department Chairs to change or clarify requirements included in a Faculty Success Plan before approval. 

Department Chairs (or Deans or designees in schools without departments):

  • Must meet individually with each faculty member in their department for annual performance reviews;
  • May, with their Dean/and or designee’s written approval, change the Dean’s established performance criteria to fit each faculty member's unique job better; 
  • Must develop Faculty Success Plans for each faculty who fails to meet workload expectations for the academic year; and
  • Must conduct periodic check-ins with each faculty to monitor progress for the duration of the Faculty Success Plan and maintain written summaries of the check-in meetings.

Faculty Members: 

  • Must complete an annual review in partnership with their Department Chair or Dean, and
  • Must comply with the expectations of their Faculty Success Plan, if applicable.

Monitoring and Reporting on Faculty Workloads

How the University Monitors Faculty Workloads

Consistent with UNC System Policy 400.3.4, UNC-Chapel Hill will use the University of Delaware’s National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity methodology to collect data annually to monitor faculty workloads and workload policies. This data will be aggregated at the department level.

The Schools of Medicine and Dentistry are not included in the National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity. The University will monitor faculty teaching loads in clinical departments in Medicine and Dentistry using standards defined by the accreditation and professional bodies governing those organizations.

Independent Study

Consistent with UNC System Regulation 700.6.1[R], the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost will monitor the individual teaching loads of all faculty who offer independent study for academic credit to ensure compliance with the University’s policy (University Policy Memorandum #30) that limits to two the number of students a faculty member may supervise during a term.

Annual Timeline for Review, Approval, and Distribution of Report

  1. UNC-Chapel Hill must prepare a written annual report of the previous fiscal year’s activity and submit it to the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees for review and approval.
  2. The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees must approve the report by September 30 each year.
  3. UNC-Chapel Hill must provide a copy of the approved report to the UNC System president by October 15 each year.

Required Components of the Report

All faculty must be included in the annual report. For those faculty that do not have a workload plan, UNC-Chapel Hill must estimate to the nearest 25% what percentage of the faculty member’s time is spent on teaching, research/creative expression, and service.

The annual report must include, at minimum, the following quantitative data elements for monitoring faculty workloads:

  • Organized course sections taught;
  • Student credit hours produced;
  • Faculty contact hours;
  • Metrics related to research/creative activity;
  • Service rendered in the previous academic year; and
  • Analysis of faculty FTE allocations by teaching, research/creative activity, and service at the department, school/college, and University level.

The annual report also must include information describing the University’s process for:

  • Implementing UNC System Policy 400.3.4 and 400.3.4[R], and
  • Evaluating individual faculty workloads relative to UNC System Policy 400.3.4 and 400.3.4[R].


Faculty Success Plans: Supportive and personalized documents designed to help individual faculty improve their performance.

Faculty Teaching Load: The number of semester credit hours or courses an individual faculty member is assigned to teach in a semester or an academic year.

Faculty Workload: The entirety of a faculty member’s responsibilities. This may include teaching, research/creative expression, clinical duties, public service, and other duties as assigned.

Overload: Temporarily added duties that exceed the academic unit’s approved teaching workload criteria.

Standard Annual Faculty Teaching Load: The minimum number of organized class courses faculty are expected to teach in a given academic year as defined in UNC System Policy 400.3.4.

Related Requirements

External Regulations

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Name: Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Telephone: 919-962-4511

Other Contact

Name: Office of Faculty Affairs

Telephone: 919-962-1092

Email: facultyaffairs@unc.edu


Article ID: 148353
Wed 12/6/23 12:16 PM
Fri 4/5/24 1:28 PM
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