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Standards & Guidelines » CAA Guidelines


Adopted by the CAA Board of Directors on February 21, 1996; revised by the Part-Time Employment Task Force and adopted by the CAA Board of Directors on February 22, 2004. A second revision was drafted by an ad-hoc sub-committee of the Professional Practices Committee and adopted by the CAA Board of Directors on October 27, 2013; revised and approved by the CAA Board of Directors on May 3, 2015. The draft was reviewed again in 2021 by PPC and revisions were approved by the CAA Board of Directors on February 20, 2022. 

College Art Association (CAA) establishes the following guidelines regarding part-time professional employees, employed in academia and other visual arts institutions, such as museums. These guidelines provide a context for best practices rather than address legal issues. These guidelines should be considered in conjunction with other CAA Standards and Guidelines including: 

Standards for Retention and Tenure of Art and Design Faculty 

Guidelines for CAA Interviews 

Statement on Terminal Degree Programs in the Visual Arts and Design 

Works in New Media: Recommendations for the Formatting, Handling, and Screening of Works 
The intent of the guidelines is to encourage the fair and equitable treatment of all part-time employees in the visual arts, and especially advocate for those who may be very modestly compensated for their work. The intent of the guidelines is also to ensure that part-time employees are not utilized to replace and/or diminish the number of full-time employees at an institution. 
These guidelines apply to professionals in art, design, art history, and related disciplines with other than full-time employment. 

With regard to part-time instructors, the reader will be well-served by referring to the American Association of University Professors report, The Status of Part-Time Faculty; and the Modern Language Association’s statements, MLA Statement on the Use of Part-time and Full-time Adjunct Faculty Members and Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members: Recommendations and Evaluative Questions. These comprehensive statements have been influential in the 2013 revision of this guideline and are endorsed by CAA. 

Context for and Definition of Part-Time Professional Employees

Part-time employees play a critical role within the art world, specifically in academia, museums, galleries, and other arts institutions. They help meet curricular demands, offer complementary expertise to their institutions, and/or provide leadership in institutional programming. 
Part-time faculty may be referred to with the following terms: adjunct, temporary, or lecturer. The terminology and its implications may vary from institution to institution, with the designation “part-time” or “temporary” serving as the most general and therefore consistent names. While this guideline is primarily concerned with addressing the conditions of fully credentialed and professionalized part-time or short-term employees who are not simultaneously graduate students, this guideline may be relevant to those employed in conjunction with their graduate studies. 
Part-time/temporary faculty and other part-time/temporary employees may be understood to be of several types: part-time/temporary employees who would prefer full-time positions, part-time/temporary employees with no other employment, part-time employees who teach/work in addition to other full-time employment, and part-time/temporary employees who are retirees. Additionally, some institutions have paid, professional visitors that are not ongoing, full-time employees and are not recurring, part-time employees. With this in mind, it is acknowledged that there is no singular reason one seeks part-time employment, and while each person may have individual reasons and needs, CAA encourages institutions to chart a path of professional development and aspire to provide the best possible working conditions for all part-time/temporary professionals, especially given the increasing reliance on such professionals. 
Among key areas of concern are: equitable compensation; employment stability; clear articulations of responsibilities; adequate lead-time for course preparation and professional planning; access to employee benefits, including health care; access to professional development; possibilities for promotion, where applicable; and safe and adequate working conditions. 
Within academia, these areas of concern may be assessed and addressed by comparing part-time faculty roles in relationship to full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty roles. Where similar work is performed and similar institutional expectations are held, equitable compensation and resources should exist. Where the treatment of employees in full- and part-time categories is dissimilar, the differences in expectations/compensation and the reasons for those differences should be articulated to both groups. 
Institutions that regularly have visiting or guest faculty or curators should define how such roles are similar to and different from other full-time and part-time employee roles. If the visiting appointment has responsibilities most similar to a comparable full-time position, the compensation should resemble such a full-time position. 
Certain rights and responsibilities should be consistent regardless of one’s employment category. For example, academic freedom should provide the same protections for all. So too should workers’ compensation and other applicable laws that offer employee safeguards. 

Working Conditions for Part-Time Employees

Given the great range of mission and expectations in institutions, it is essential that institutions define the roles of part-time employees and provide them with this information as well as information on their workplaces. 

  1. The following written information should be provided by the institution at the time of employment. (Institutions with a significant number of part-time employees may wish to create and use a part-time employee handbook.) 
    1. Statement on the institutional/departmental mission or philosophy 
    2. A full description of the part-time position, including a definition of the role and duties (in the case of faculty, this would include class title, description, size, contact hours, advising responsibilities, and any other responsibilities) 
    3. Description of teaching facilities, office facilities, and support services; if remote teaching is involved, description of technical support 
    4. In the case of art and design faculty, description of and access to studio facilities for teaching and for personal, professional development 
    5. Description of financial support and resources available for performing the work and for personal, professional development 
    6. Information on evaluation and promotion procedures, criteria and clear expectations for promotion opportunities  
    7. Information on employment security 
    8. Information on institutional governance and opportunities to participate in it 
    9. Information on any and all institutional expectations
  2. A written contract for part-time employment should explicitly state the following: 
    1. Compensation including salary, benefits, and any other remuneration 
    2. Duties and responsibilities 
    3. Duration of employment 
    4. Process and timing of evaluation 
    5. Availability and timing of contract renewal

Additional CAA Recommendations  

  1. For part-time/temporary faculty: 
    1. The standards of excellence defined by visual arts programs should be founded upon discipline-accepted best practices. 
    2. In general, part-time/temporary faculty should not have research/creative activity duties; if such expectations exist they should be stated in the contract and the faculty member compensated for them 
    3. Part-time/temporary faculty may or may not have service obligations such as office hours; if service duties are assigned, the faculty member should be compensated for this work. 
    4. Institutional expectations should take into consideration and adjust in an equitable manner to changes in academia, the commercial marketplace, and the discipline. 
    5. Whenever possible, faculty should be included in the design of the course taught and made aware of the larger connection between the courses they teach and the program outcomes. Faculty should be invited to contribute to broader discussions about curriculum when possible.  
    6. If a course is to be canceled due to under-enrollment or another issue, the faculty member should be notified in a timely manner; if it is canceled within two weeks of the start date, the faculty member should be compensated for course preparation. 
    7. Part-time faculty should have access to private (or shared with the expectation of privacy when needed) office space for student/teacher meetings. 
    8. If a part-time faculty member’s institutional contribution is equivalent to that of a full-time faculty member, the part-time faculty member should be equitably compensated in comparison to such a full-time faculty member. If there is no expectation for research or service, differential compensation may be significant. This should be clearly stated in contractual materials. 
    9. There should be clear articulation of opportunities for internal institutional grants and project initiatives funding. 
  2. For all part-time employees: 
    1. Personal and environmental safety should be a major concern with adequate protection provided by the employer. 
    2. OSHA, EPA, and other relevant standards should be followed. 
    3. Institutional practices for ensuring safety should be clearly communicated, with opportunities for training provided. 
    4. Opportunities for advancement in rank, salary, and responsibilities, and the steps for obtaining these, should be provided to recurring, part-time employees in writing. 
    5. Adequate administrative support should be provided: mailbox; office space; telephone and computer access; clerical support; library facilities; and teaching/research support, such as assistants and/or graders, when warranted. 
    6. When additional duties are offered or assigned, and such duties are ones often performed by full-time employees and go beyond the regular scope of part-time employment, the part-time employee should be offered additional and adequate compensation, such as a stipend. 


Recommendations for Part-Time Instructor Qualifications, Position Postings, Hiring, Reappointment, and Evaluation 

The intent of these guidelines is to provide a context where part-time instructors are treated fairly and consistently for their own benefit, for the benefit of the institutions where they teach, and for the benefit of the students they instruct. All three parties share a responsibility for the quality of educational process. 

  1. Qualifications: 
    1. Faculty members (including part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants, as applicable) should be qualified by earned degrees and/or professional experience and/or demonstrated teaching competence for the subjects and levels they are teaching. Institutions should prioritize candidates with earned terminal degrees when appointing or reappointing part-time employees. 
    2. CAA affirms that the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is the terminal degree in studio art practice. The Master of Fine Arts (MFA), the Master of Design (MDes), the Master of Art and Design (MAD), and the Master of Graphic Design (MGraph) are among the terminal masters degrees in design practice. (For additional information see the CAA Statement on Terminal Degree Programs in the Visual Arts and Design) 
    3. Academic degrees are a pertinent indicator of the teacher’s qualifications for instructing in theoretical, historical, and pedagogical subjects; however, in some cases they may not be the most important qualification for a teaching position. In general, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and comparable doctorates are the appropriate terminal degrees in these fields, but creative work, research, publications, and evidence of teaching excellence are additional indicators of a teacher’s qualifications, productivity, professional awareness, and contribution to various aspects of art/design and art/design-related fields. Search committees may want to consider applicants meeting the minimum degree qualifications with evidence of and/or significant potential for teaching excellence above less student-centered candidates who hold terminal degrees.  
    4. Faculty members teaching graduate-level courses should represent the professional standards of MFA or PhD to which graduate students aspire in specific fields and specializations. 
  2. Position Posting:  
    1. Employers should keep posted on their website current information regarding applications for part-time employment consideration. This posting shall include a description for each position available and a listing of materials to be submitted, when they may be submitted, and to whom they must be submitted. 
    2. Employers should notify applicants in a timely manner that application materials have been received, will be kept on file for twelve months, and that the department will contact the applicant as necessary. 
  3. Hiring: 
    1. When part-time faculty are to be hired, the full-time faculty members with related and appropriate expertise (generally in the same academic program or unit) should be consulted and make recommendations to the appropriate administrator through search committees or other appropriate screening protocols.  
    2. Hiring recommendations should consider the professional competence, teaching experience and philosophy, potential to broaden the diversity of the unit, and performance of candidates and their suitability for the open position(s). 
  4. Performance Evaluation: 
    1. Employees should be evaluated, at a minimum, once during their first term teaching and then following established evaluation timelines if receiving a satisfactory evaluation.  This evaluation should be facilitated by the hiring department and adhere to protocols established by the employing department. 
    2. Employees should be evaluated based on evidence of teaching performance, such as course materials and department-identified materials and classroom visitations may also be considered. These criteria should be communicated to the faculty member upon hire. 
    3. Employees should conduct student evaluations, using the employer-approved instrument and process. 
    4. Other evidence of teaching may be provided for evaluation if it is consistent with employer-developed criteria. 
    5. Classroom visitations may occur during each period of employment. Such visitations should be arranged with the department chair and follow department procedures. 
    6. Other professional activities, such as documentation of exhibitions, publications, conference presentations, and public service engagement may be submitted by the employee in the evaluation process. However, since employees are employed to teach, the quality of their teaching is the leading concern in the evaluation process and the absence of other professional activities cannot be used as evidence against the part-time faculty member. 
    7. Employees should be given reasonable advance notice of the date by which they must provide materials or have classroom visitations for the purpose of evaluation and the kinds of materials that are sought.
    8. A copy of each evaluation shall be provided to the employee, with an additional copy placed in the employee’s department personnel file. 
  5. In cases of unsatisfactory employment performance, the matter should be discussed with the employee prior to any action being taken and a written summary of such a discussion should be available at the request of the employee.  
  6. Reappointment: 
    1. When supported by contract language, an employee should be granted continuing status upon completion of teaching at least one semester or session in each of two consecutive contract years in the same academic unit. Upon reaching continuing status, this status would be lost if the employee does not teach in the academic unit for a predetermined number of consecutive semesters/sessions. 
    2. An employee with continuing status has a rebuttable presumption that they will be awarded a future part-time teaching appointment in the succeeding semester/session, dependent on academic unit needs and resources. 
    3. The employer should provide to all employees with continuing status either: (1) written notice of appointment for one or more classes in the upcoming semester/session; or (2) written notice that the instructor will not be offered an appointment in the upcoming semester/session or, if applicable, in the foreseeable future. This written notice should be provided in a timely manner, ideally at least sixty days prior to the upcoming semester/session. 


The 2013 ad-hoc committee for revision was co-chaired by Thomas Berding, Michigan State University and John Richardson, Wayne State University. The committee included Janet Casey, Skidmore College; Zoe Darling, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design; Jim Hopfensperger, Western Michigan University; David LaPalombara, Ohio University; Dennis Nawrocki, Wayne State University; and Kate Wagle, University of Oregon. 

The 2021 ad-hoc committee for revision was co-chaired by Richard Lubben, College of the Sequoias and Michael Grillo, University of Maine. The committee included Paul Jaskot, Duke University.