Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 40. State Council Of Higher Education For Virginia
Chapter 31. Regulations Governing Certification of Certain Institutions to Confer Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates
5/6/2021

8VAC40-31-140. Certification criteria for institutions of higher education.

A. This section shall apply to each institution of higher education for which certification is required.

B. In order to award a degree, the institution's programs must meet the following generally accepted minimum number of semester/quarter credit hours required to complete a standard college degree.

1. An associate degree shall be granted only after the successful completion of at least 60 semester hour or 90 quarter credit hours of collegiate level study.

2. A bachelor's degree shall be granted only after the successful completion of at least 120 semester hours or 180 quarter credit hours of collegiate level study.

3. A master's degree shall be granted only after the successful completion of the requirements for a bachelor's degree and at least 30 semester hours or 45 quarter credit hours of collegiate level study.

4. The doctoral degree shall be granted only after the successful completion of a minimum of three years of full-time graduate study or equivalent (90 semester hours or 135 quarter credit hours) beyond the bachelor's degree, including dissertation credits or research study.

5. Exceptions to these standards must be approved by the council. Proposed programs will be evaluated by the standards of similar programs in public or private postsecondary institutions.

6. A student shall complete a minimum of 30% of course work at the institution in order to be granted a degree from that institution.

7. An institution that awards life or work experience credit shall have its related transfer policy approved by the council. No more than 30% of the credit in a student's degree program may be awarded for life or work experience.

C. The course, program, curriculum and instruction must be of quality, content and length to adequately achieve the stated objective.

1. For terminal occupational/technical programs leading to the Associate of Occupational Science (A.O.S.) degree, general education courses must compose at least 15% of the total credit hours required for the degree.

2. For terminal occupational/technical programs leading to the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, general education courses shall compose at least 25% of the total credit hours required for the degree.

3. For all university parallel associate degree programs, general education courses shall compose at least 25% of the total credit hours required for the degree, and required courses in the major field of study shall compose no more than 50% of the total credit hours required for the degree in a specific discipline.

D. Faculty must be qualified and appropriately credentialed as follows:

1. All instructional faculty teaching in a terminal occupational/technical program leading to the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or Associate of Occupational Science (A.O.S.) degree shall:

a. If teaching general education courses, hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, plus at least 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline being taught.

b. If teaching occupational/technical courses, hold either (i) an associate degree from an accredited college or university in the discipline being taught or (ii) qualify for a faculty appointment by virtue of scholarly or professional achievements.

2. All instructional faculty teaching in a college-transfer program at the associate level shall:

a. If teaching general education courses or in programs in the liberal arts and sciences, hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, plus at least 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline being taught.

b. If teaching occupational/technical courses, hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the discipline being taught or qualify by virtue of professional or scholarly achievement.

3. All instructional faculty members who teach in programs at the baccalaureate level shall:

a. Hold a master's degree in the discipline being taught or hold a master's degree in an area other than that being taught with at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline from an accredited college or university.

b. Exception to academic preparation requirements for instructional faculty may be made in instances where substantial documentation of professional and scholarly achievements and/or demonstrated competences in the discipline can be shown. The institution must document and justify any such exception.

4. All instructional faculty teaching in a program at the master's level or higher shall hold a doctoral or other terminal degree in the discipline being taught from an accredited college or university. Exception to academic preparation requirements for instructional faculty may be made in instances where substantial documentation of professional and scholarly achievements and/or demonstrated competences in the discipline can be shown. The institution must document and justify any such exception.

E. In addition to the instructor qualifications in subsection D of this section, the institution must certify that:

1. All instructional courses for degree credit require a minimum of 15 contact hours for each semester credit hour or a minimum of 10 contact hours for each quarter credit hour, or the equivalent, and an expectation for additional assignments beyond scheduled instructional activities.

2. The elective and required courses for each program are offered on a schedule and in a sequence that enables both full-time and part-time students to complete the program in a reasonable period of time.

3. The institution's instructional faculty at each location holds either full-time, part-time, or adjunct appointments.

4. The institution's academic programs shall ensure that: (i) a properly credentialed and course qualified instructor teaches each course; (ii) a credentialed and course qualified academic advisor is available to meet the concerns of the student, and that a student contact by any method will elicit a response from the advisor within a reasonable timeline; (iii) continual curriculum development and oversight for each major and concentration/track is maintained; and (iv) a program director is named and designated to oversee each program area.

5. A plan is in place that ensures interaction between student and faculty, and among students.

F. All senior administrators must be individually qualified by education, experience, and record of conduct to assure effective management, ethical practice, and the quality of degrees and services offered. The term "senior administrator" generally encompasses individuals who have administrative or managerial authority within an institution. This includes by function, but is not limited to titles of Chief Executive Officer, President, Chancellor, Dean, Provost, or Owner. Boards must collectively demonstrate financial, academic, managerial, and any necessary specialized knowledge, but individual members need not have all of these characteristics. Any controlling organization or owner is subject to this standard.

1. The senior administrators shall hold at least an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and shall have sufficient experience to qualify for the position.

2. Each branch of the institution certified to operate in Virginia must designate one person as the branch/campus director.

a. The director must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with at least one year of experience in administration or institutional management.

b. Exception to academic preparation requirements for director may be made in instances where substantial documentation of professional and scholarly achievements and/or demonstrated competences in administration/institutional management can be shown. The institution must document and justify any such exception.

3. Duties of the director include, but are not limited to:

a. Be available at the school location for at least 50% of the operational time each week the school has students present unless an assistant director is available. If the school operates a site in Virginia, a director must be assigned to manage the site's operation; however, the director may designate a person at the site to handle day-to-day administrative matters in his absence.

b. Be responsible for the institution's program or programs, organization of classes, maintenance of the institutional facilities, maintenance of proper administrative records, signing documents pertaining to certification, and all other administrative matters related to certification.

c. Implicitly accepts knowledge of and responsibility for compliance with the Code of Virginia and its implementing regulations including, but not limited to, advertising, records maintenance, annual deadlines, and fee payments.

4. Senior administrators in the positions described in this section must be of good reputation and character. A person is considered of good reputation and character if:

a. The person has no felony convictions related to the operation of a school;

b. The person has not been convicted or pleaded guilty to a crime of fraud or theft under state or federal law within the previous 10 years and has not had a judgment entered against him in his individual capacity in a civil action based upon any theory of fraudulent activity within the previous 10 years;

c. The person has not controlled or managed a postsecondary educational institution that has ceased operation during the past five years without providing for the completion of programs by its students or without providing tuition refunds; and

d. The person has not knowingly falsified or withheld information from the council.

5. Administrative personnel must be appropriately experienced, and educated in the field for which they are hired, or receive documented, relevant training within the first year of employment. Administrative personnel generally encompasses individuals who oversee areas as outlined in operational and administrative standards. This includes by function, but is not limited to, titles of financial aid administrator; director of admissions; director of education; business officer or manager; director of student services (including counseling and placement), and the registrar.

Statutory Authority

§ 23-276.3 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 23, eff. August 24, 2006; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 8, eff. February 3, 2014.

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