Course Release Policy

Associate Dean for Natural, Mathematical, and Social Sciences; Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities; Director, Business & Financial Administration
Amended Date

Effective Date


Key Contacts

If you have questions, please contact your areas Associate Dean or the CLAS Budget Officer.


To any DEO that needs to release faculty to meet critical needs in a flexible and equitable manner.

Policy Purpose and Description

Course release is to help departments meet critical service needs at levels above the service portfolio level of 20% (8 hours per week). The DEO is responsible for ensuring that teaching and service loads are distributed across faculty in a fair and equitable manner. Course releases should be used to address critical service responsibilities, such as:

  • Director of Graduate Studies
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Program Director
  • Program Coordinator
  • Director of Research Operations
  • Editor of Major Journal

They should not be used to reward research activity nor be given to faculty who are research-inactive.

There are some service needs where an administrative supplement may be more appropriate and/or desirable than a course release. The decision as to when to use a course release or an administrative supplement will depend on several factors.

  • For tenure-track faculty who are research active in a department with a high teaching load, the time opened up by a course release may be more valuable than a supplement.
  • Instructional-track faculty should have a modified portfolio (and an MOU) that details service and teaching obligations to ensure an appropriate annual performance evaluation.
  • DEOs should be provided with sufficient flexibility to meet departmental needs given available resources.

Course releases should be granted on an annual basis (i.e., the promise of a course release should not extend over more than one academic year).




Course Release Budgets

Departments will be provided with an annual course release budget that the DEO can spend to meet critical needs in a flexible and equitable manner. Departments are assigned to a “4-Tier System” based on their complexity, in which a course release budget ranging from 0 to 3 is associated with each tier, that takes into account such factors as:

  • Faculty size;
  • Size of undergraduate and graduate programs;
  • Number of semester credit hours taught;
  • Number of staff.

The criteria used to set a department’s course release budget will be determined and applied in a transparent manner. As circumstances change, a department may request that their course release budget be reassessed. Requests for special-need course releases should be made by the DEO to the Dean.

Responsibility of the Dean

In addition to the course release budget described above, the Dean has two additional course release budgets. The first budget is used to compensate and incentivize DEOs. The second budget provides the Dean with the flexibility to use course release to meet special needs, such as those associated with achieving CLAS strategic initiatives.

Releases may also be necessary to incentivize or reward interdisciplinary service, such as directing centers that are affiliated with, and contribute to, more than one department. The Dean may also opt not to use this budget on course releases in one or more years to save money or address other priorities. They may also choose to use course releases to help with faculty retention and recruitment efforts, for example.

Responsibility of the DEO

DEOs should not be given the authority to grant themselves course release as it is a conflict of interest. Therefore, the course release budget for departments does not include course release for individual DEOs.

DEOs cannot provide more than one course release to any individual faculty member in any given academic year. Departments are financially responsible for hiring Adjuncts or Visitors to cover essential courses affected by a course release:

  • The College must approve Visitor and Adjunct appointments.
  • The College is not obligated to meet the teaching needs of departments that are created through the use of course releases.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a course release?

Course releases should be used to help departments meet critical service needs at levels above standard service portfolio levels of 20%, which is equivalent to 8 hours per week. Course releases should not be used to reward research activity. It is the DEOs responsibility to assign an equitable service level to all faculty members in the department.

How many course releases does my department get?

The number of course releases varies by department and is between 0 and 3. Several different criteria were considered in determination of the department classification for purposes of the course release allocation. The classifications and departmental course release allocations will be reviewed every three years.

Does this number include the course release for the DEO?

No, DEO course releases come from the Dean’s allocation. It would be considered a conflict of interest for DEOs to allocate course releases for their own use.

Does this number include course releases offered to new faculty or in retention offers?

No, these course releases will come from the Dean’s allocation. In these cases, the DEO should request a course release from the CLAS Dean.

Does this number include course buyouts?

No, the purpose of course buyouts is to enable faculty with appropriate funding to reduce their teaching load at a cost scaled to salary. Departments should not use course releases to compensate faculty for high research activity.

Our department does not have any course releases, but a faculty member was just offered to be the chief editor of the best journal in the field. What can we do?

Course releases are intended to be used to help departments meet critical service needs at levels above the service portfolio requirements of 20%. They should not be used to reward research activity.

Can a faculty member receive multiple course releases if they do a lot of service?

Faculty members who exceed 20% of service are entitled to one course release per academic year. Course releases will be granted on an annual basis.

Can instructional-track faculty members receive course releases?

This is permissible in very rare circumstances and only if there is a fair division of service amount to all faculty in the department. For example, if an instructional-track faculty member is performing a critical service responsibility such as serving as DUS.

May I change a faculty member’s PTEAP rather than give them a course release?

No, this is not considered an appropriate solution. Research-inactive faculty should not be given course releases for service. Course releases are intended to compensate faculty who are doing more service than the standard 20% (8 hours per week).

If a certain task could be performed by a staff member, may the DEO assign the task to a P&S employee rather than assigning it to a TT faculty member and giving them a course release?

Yes, DEOs should allocate service tasks to staff when appropriate.

Related Information


Revision History