University of Wisconsin-La Crosse


The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse seeks to provide equity when handling professional advancement and development of its staff, including those who lack degrees at the undergraduate level and above, when opportunities arise. Within the framework of filling an internal vacancy or for reclassifications, there are times when an employee’s education and experience merit advancement, but because of a degree requirement, such opportunities are precluded. Therefore, this policy facilitates retention and advancement of internal incumbents whose education and experience warrant further consideration for eligibility in Non-Instructional Academic Staff (NIAS) and University Staff (US) positions where degrees are considered essential.


This policy provides university guidelines for promotions/reclassifications where an employee’s education and/or experience is comparable to those requiring a college degree and actual experience requirements for a position to be attained. A waiver of degree may be requested due to a departmental reorganization in which a current employee is reclassified based on the needs of the organizational change. This policy also ensures equity, uniformity and consistency of the search and screen process.


A. Ability - The capacity to perform an observable behavior or produce an acceptable product.

B. Experience - Work in a specific field or program generally outlined in the minimum qualifications in a position description of a particular job classification and determined necessary to perform successfully.

C. Equivalent - Actual education and/or experience that may be substituted, in whole or in part, for education and/or experience required in the minimum qualifications and position description of a particular job classification.

D. Knowledge - The organized body of information, facts or principles that a person must possess for successful job performance.

E. Minimum Qualifications - Experience, training, education, licensure, certification, or a combination thereof, that provides appropriate job-related evidence that a person can perform the essential functions needed to be successful in a job classification.

F. Skill - The level of proficiency in certain tasks that a person must possess in order to be successful in a particular job classification.

G. Substitution - Accepting the education and/or experience possessed by a current employee as equivalent to the education and/or experience required in the minimum qualifications and position descriptions of a particular job classification.


A. Request

  1. Requests to submit a waiver of degree for an internal university employee shall be submitted to the Chief Human Resources Officer to determine whether the actual education and/or experience of the employee can be substituted for or is comparable to the required degree and experience for a given position. (See Degree Waiver Request Form, Addendum #1)
  2. Requests for waivers of degree should be submitted in writing accompanied by documentation of the facts pertaining to the situation. At a minimum, this documentation should include:
    1. A memorandum describing the specific circumstances and rationale for the request.
    2. The resume/vita of the employee.
    3. The position description.
    4. Any other pertinent information that should be considered (for instance, whether efforts to recruit a candidate with the requisite degree failed, whether this can impact other similarly situated employees in the unit).
  3. Every determination of equivalency shall be documented and maintained in the employee’s personnel file.

B. Review

Human Resources confirms and verifies that an applicant’s work experience in an appropriate area of specialization is an equivalent or comparable substitute for the required college education on a year-for-year basis.

  1. The amount of work experience used to substitute for the required college education shall be based on the level of specialization required by the minimum qualifications and the amount of time worked in the appropriate area of specialization.
  2. Any relevant work experience paid shall be considered as substitution for required college education.
  3. The job title, rank and pay grade may be used in determining if job experience can substitute for the required college education.
  4. A degree waiver granted for an employee is for a specific job and does not provide an automatic degree waiver for any future reclassifications or job opportunities.

C. Non-Discrimination and Equity

This policy shall not be used to abridge the requirements of equal opportunity and equity in employment accorded by other University regulations, policies, and procedures.

Addendum #1 – Degree Waiver Request Form


New policy, August 2017