Overview of Academic Promotions at Johns Hopkins: The Scholarship and the Clinical Excellence Tracks

Faculty members in conversation around a conference table.

All faculty members carry the same title (Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor); i.e. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has a single promotion “track”. The common elements required for faculty advancement are excellence in scholarship and impact upon one’s field. Recognition for scholarship and leadership can be achieved through a variety of career pathways (such as, Researcher/Educator, Clinician/Researcher/Educator, Clinician/Educator, and Program Builder/Educator, or other combinations). Education is an important component of all career pathways. All faculty members must meet the same fundamental criteria for appointment or promotion at each rank. However, the specific accomplishments for meeting those criteria differ for each academic career.

The suggestions provide guidance for faculty members regarding how to document achievements, rather than requirements for promotion. A faculty member’s entire career is considered in decisions regarding academic promotion. Widely recognized impact on one’s field is considered the ultimate measure of successful academic career.

Scholarship, the primary basis for academic advancement, encompasses the generation of new knowledge and/or the dissemination of knowledge to others, as long as these activities are accessible to critical assessment and accessible for future use by members of the academic community. Reputation beyond the School of Medicine and the following important elements of scholarship are considered in the promotion process:


Generation of new knowledge can take many forms, including basic research, clinical research, translational research, and important clinical observations. Dissemination of such new knowledge, through publication in peer-reviewed journals and books, and through presentations at national and international meetings, is also an essential element of scholarship in research. For this reason, a candidate’s publications, invited presentations of research findings, and support for research are important in assessing scholarly achievements in research.

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Excellence in education requires not only an objective, up-to date, accurate, and balanced command of the field being taught, but also effective communication and mentorship skills. Documenting the scholarship of education also requires demonstration of accomplishments that are public, subject to critical review and analysis of outcomes, and useful to others in the community beyond the School of Medicine. This documentation may take the form of an Educator’s Portfolio, as described in a later section of this book. Course or program design and leadership; the judgment of students, trainees, and peers; the success and accomplishments of trainees; and meritorious publications may also be considered when a faculty member’s educational scholarship is assessed.

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Clinical Distinction

For faculty members who are clinicians, clinical distinction comprises professional excellence, integrity, and empathy in treating patients. Recognition as one of the leading clinicians in one’s field, or as the leading physician for a particular condition, is an important consideration in assessing scholarly clinical achievements. Other elements of clinical distinction that are considered for a faculty member’s promotion include election to and leadership of distinguished medical societies relevant to one’s field, the application of new knowledge, and meritorious publications.

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Program Building

Leadership and scholarship in program building is reflected in development of a clinical, educational, or scientific program that is widely recognized as an outstanding model of its kind and/or that has had a substantial impact on the field.

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