Understanding Ranks and Tracks


Every faculty member is assigned to an academic track with a title as defined in the Guidelines for Academic Promotion and the Award of Tenure and the Handbook for Faculty and Unclassified Staff (page 33). The principal titles are instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor. Ranks or titles can be "modified" or "unmodified".

  • Modified titles are those in which a descriptor precedes the faculty title. The modifier might be clinical or research -- Clinical Assistant Professor or Research Assistant Professor.
  • An unmodified title means there is no descriptor, therefore, Assistant Professor. The decision regarding track (tenure or non-tenure) and rank (modified or unmodified title) is made by the Chair and requires the approval of the Executive Dean and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Note: Upon hiring, new faculty may remain at a lower level rank other than agreed upon until the department has provided three letters recommending the rank of associate professor or five letters recommending the rank of professor and the recommended ranks are approved by the School of Medicine Promotion and Tenure Committee. This process may take several months.

faculty ranks diagram

Academic Tracks

Faculty tracks describe not only the faculty member's job responsibilities but also the criteria for promotion and, in some instances, tenure. There are two tracks -- tenure track and non-tenure track -- and each has unique, specific professional and academic expectations.

  • Tenure track appointments have a probationary period of seven years (less if prior credit was given) and are renewed annually unless timely non-reappointment notice is issued. The expectations for promotion include achievements in professional (clinical) service, academic service, teaching, and scholarly activities. For promotion to Associate Professor with tenure, tenure track faculty are expected to reach or exceed mid-level productivity by their mandatory tenure date (approximately five years and three months in rank). Failure to achieve tenure status within the probationary timeline can result in dismissal from the university.
  • Non-tenure tracks have no specific timeline for applying for promotion, and since tenure is not an issue, there is no consequence of dismissal if promotion does not occur.
  • The Clinical Scholar Track, which is the only non-tenure track with unmodified titles, is designed to provide a career pathway for full-time clinical faculty (physicians, nurses, or allied health professionals) whose primary responsibilities involve patient care, clinical education and related scholarship. The definition of scholarship is broad. It is understood that scholarship is expected on all tracks for promotion. As clinical scholar faculty members are viewed as key to the governance and other organizational activities in the School of Medicine, academic service is not only expected, but is a criterion for promotion. The Clinical Scholar Track has ladders, or career "paths":  Clinician-Educator and Clinician Investigator. Significant contributions in professional and academic service are required for both paths. For a more in depth explanation, visit the Office of Academic Affairs website.

academic tracks diagram


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Last modified: Nov 24, 2014