Criteria for the promotion and tenure of faculty in the College of Medicine are specified in AC-23 and the section of this document titled “College of Medicine Promotion and Tenure Criteria.”
Jump to topic
Promotion and Tenure Statement
The College of Medicine’s mission is to educate medical, graduate and physician assistant students, postdoctoral scholars and residents to develop research programs for the advancement of medical and scientific knowledge, and to provide a range of fully integrated patient care. In the discussion of promotion and tenure, it is important to identify these missions and to distinguish the differing roles which faculty members are required to fulfill.
To be considered for tenure and/or promotion, a faculty member of the College of Medicine should have demonstrated accomplishments in:
- the scholarship of teaching and learning;
- the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments;
- service, and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession; and
- patient care, and the scholarship of patient care, when applicable.
The essential element in these accomplishments must be scholarship, which is defined as the thoughtful discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge1. The College of Medicine encourages and supports collaborative and interdisciplinary research, consistent with the University Strategic Plan2. Therefore, collaborative research performed by faculty members while serving a critical role in team research will be valued in a manner similar to comparable accomplishments in independent research. The proportion of accomplishments in each of the four missions, and the emphasis in their evaluation for any individual faculty member, should be in accordance with the agreed upon allocation of effort.
While faculty members are expected to perform well in all categories, clearly demonstrated professional excellence and/or sustained contribution in at least two areas must be achieved. In general, primary emphasis and assessment will be placed on contributions to the scholarship of teaching, research, and/or patient care, as outlined in the Departmental and College criteria for Promotion and Tenure.
The tenure track will be available to both basic science and clinical faculty.
Criteria for Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure
- Assistant Professor: A new faculty member will be placed on the tenure track by agreement between the individual, the departmental chair, and the Dean. Appointment to this rank will be based on the following criteria:
- Completion of doctoral and postdoctoral training.
- Satisfactory recommendations from individuals who know the candidate’s work. At least one letter must come from a senior mentor at the previous place of training or employment, whether that employment was as a resident or postdoctoral trainee.
- For all clinicians, appointment as an Assistant Professor requires meeting American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or equivalent requirements to enter the process for the appropriate specialty board certification or the equivalent.
- The faculty member must have demonstrated the potential to teach medical students, physician assistant students, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or residents and the willingness to participate in service capacities in the University.
- Associate Professor: Appointment or promotion to this rank will be based on the following criteria:
- Demonstration of the ability to teach medical students, physician assistant students, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or residents, as well as participation in the administrative duties and the intellectual life of the University.
- Performance of scholarly activity and the dissemination of the results of that activity.
- Establishing mastery and independence in their field as demonstrated by acknowledgement of their work by their peers. For the clinician this shall also include appropriate ABMS or equivalent board certification.
- Establishing a regional reputation in their discipline as manifested by membership in regional and national professional specialty societies, and presentation at local, regional and national meetings. This reputation should also be reflected in letters of evaluation from internal and external evaluators.
- Professor: Such appointment or promotion will be based on the following criteria:
- Demonstration of excellence and creativity in the teaching of medical students, physician assistant students, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or residents.
- Showing evidence of recognized leadership in their discipline and evidence of continuing productivity manifest by additional dissemination of scholarly activity.
- Showing evidence of a national reputation as demonstrated by membership in study sections, advisory groups, prestigious professional societies, as well as the receipt of awards, prizes, and other notable scholarly achievements including national recognition for leadership in the College of Medicine or the hospital. A clinician can also be recognized for superior scholarly accomplishments in their clinical specialty.
- Tenure: Tenure requires evidence of sustained scholarship sufficient to predict that productivity will continue during the remainder of the individual’s career. In addition to the record of scholarship, this typically requires written evaluations by both internal and external senior scholars in the candidate’s field.
This section applies to faculty members of the College of Medicine who hold fixed-term appointments with professorial titles or their equivalents.
To be considered for promotion, a fixed-term faculty member in the College of Medicine should perform well in all categories in which they participate (teaching, research, service, patient care) and must achieve clearly demonstrated professional excellence and/or sustained contribution in a least one or two areas, depending upon the department’s policy. The criteria for performance in these areas are the same as for tenure-track faculty.
Fixed-term faculty members in both basic science and clinical departments should be reviewed for promotion eligibility at least every five years at the departmental level. Promotion typically is recommended after a minimum of five years in rank; evaluation of candidates for promotion should be based primarily upon performance and not solely on meeting a time-in-rank guideline. The promotion process for fixed-term faculty members is initiated by the Department Chair. Consideration for promotion requires review of a full Dossier in the same manner as tenure-track faculty. There is no University-level review.
This section applies to faculty members of the College of Medicine who hold “clinical” or “adjunct” appointments and are not employed by The Pennsylvania State University or by Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Clinical” appointments are for physicians who perform educational or research services for the College of Medicine without remuneration; “adjunct” appointments are for basic scientists who perform educational or research services without remuneration.
When an individual is appointed as a “clinical” or “adjunct” faculty member, the determination of rank is based on prior academic experience and credentials in the academic areas of teaching, research, service, and patient care as described above in Section II. If the individual has held no prior academic appointment, the initial appointment typically will be at the rank of Clinical (or Adjunct) Assistant Professor. The nominating Department Chair may wish to provide information to supplement the CV in cases where the CV does not fully reflect prior teaching or other academic experience or scholarship. Documentation of board certification is required for physicians.
Volunteer faculty members should be reviewed for promotion eligibility at least every five to 10 years at the department level. A recommendation for promotion should be based on evidence of ongoing excellence in teaching or research; expansion of teaching responsibilities, such as assuming leadership for training activities or program development; scholarly contributions to teaching, patient care, or research; or other evidence of leadership in the profession.
The promotion process is initiated by the Department Chair and should involve the departmental promotion committee. A nomination letter addressed to the Dean should summarize accomplishments in teaching or research and any other relevant mission area(s) since the initial appointment or last promotion. This letter and a current CV should be submitted to the Office of Faculty Affairs no later than April 1. If approved by the Dean, the promotion takes effect on July 1.
1 UniSCOPE 2000: A Multidimensional Model of Scholarship for the 21st Century. Penn State, 2000. P.2.
2 Our Commitment to Impact: The Pennsylvania State University’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2025.
College of Medicine Promotion and Tenure Criteria adopted January 2000
Revised and accepted July 2003
Revised and accepted January 2010
Revised and accepted June 2012
Formatting revised August 2016
Revised November 2016
Revised March 2017
Revised April 2017
Revised December 2017
Revised March 2018
Revised July 2021