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3.6 Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Professional Programs

Comprehensive Standard:

3.6.1 The institution's post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, master's and doctoral degree programs, are progressively more advanced in academic content than its undergraduate programs. (Post-baccalaureate program rigor)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia offers post-baccalaureate programs at the master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels, each being more rigorous than the program that precedes it [1].  Courses at the post-baccalaureate level are numbered from 5000 and above, whereas undergraduate courses are numbered  0001 through 4999.  Courses numbered from 6000 and above are open only to students admitted for graduate study.

Post-baccalaureate programs are structured according to the policies and procedures of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (Board of Regents Policy Manual, Section 3.8, [2]) and of the University of West Georgia.  Program rigor is evaluated through a multi-level approval process that includes review of all new programs or program changes by the University of West Georgia faculty within and outside the program. Further, graduate programs must be formally approved by the Faculty Senate Graduate Programs Committee [3]. Collectively, these factors ensure that post-baccalaureate programs are more advanced than undergraduate programs, and that each post-baccalaureate program is more advanced than the preceding post-baccalaureate program. For example, any doctoral degree program is guaranteed to be more advanced than any master’s degree program.

University Policies and Procedures document clearly indicate "… the General Faculty has primary authority and responsibility in formulating policy and rules and regulations in all matters concerning curriculum" (Article IV, Section 1, B. Role and Function of the General Faculty, p.18) [4].

 In addition,

"The Graduate Faculty may consider any question related to the organization, conduct or policies of graduate programs provided that before final action is taken such question shall be referred to the Graduate Programs Committee for its recommendation.  Through the Graduate Programs Committee, the Graduate Faculty shall formulate and recommend policies pertaining to graduate studies and shall consider all proposals, reports, and other matters germane to the graduate program" (UWG Policies and Procedures, Section 1, C. Role and function of the Graduate Faculty, p. 19) [4].

Section 211 of the University of West Georgia Faculty Handbook further describes this process: 

"Proposals for curriculum changes are normally initiated by an approved advisory group or a department and require approval by the departmental faculty and the appropriate college dean … Graduate curriculum changes require the approval of the graduate faculty of a college (or the advisory board authorized in the by-laws of the college) and the appropriate college dean before being sent to the Committee on Graduate Studies. Cross-listed undergraduate/graduate courses need the approval of both the undergraduate and graduate committees"  (UWG Faculty Handbook, Section 211, [5]).

Comprehensive Standard 3.4.10 narrative provides additional detail regarding faculty responsibility for curriculum.

The University of West Georgia Graduate Programs Committee reviews and approves additions, deletions, or modifications of course offerings, degree programs, certificate programs, or majors.  Approved course or program changes are forwarded to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA).  Minutes from Graduate Programs Committee meetings are provided on the VPAA website [6].

Progressively more advanced program rigor is also reflected in the differential admission standards that are applied to the various post-baccalaureate programs offerings [7].  These include but are not limited to successful completion of prior coursework and relevant degrees. For example, the Master of Business Administration program requires that students have completed 27 hours of coursework in specific undergraduate fields in order to qualify for admission [8]. The Education Specialist program in Educational Leadership requires the completion of a master’s degree prior to admission. Table 3.6.1 [1] was developed specifically to address Comprehensive Standards 3.6.1 and 3.6.2.

Of greatest relevance to the Comprehensive Standard 3.6.1, the Table 3.6.1 illustrates the increasing rigor of programs.  The table includes each degree area and degree offered by the University of West Georgia.  For each academic program area, the table lists learning outcomes for both undergraduate programs and graduate programs, summarizes the content of each program, and explains the differences in rigor between academic programs of different levels.  The following discourse presents a few examples drawn from the table.

The examination of established learning outcomes provides clear evidence of the distinctiveness and increasing rigor as degree levels move from undergraduate to each successive graduate degree level (link to annotated learning outcome comparisons below).  For example, the University of West Georgia offers undergraduate (B.S.) and graduate (M.A.) degrees in Criminology and has established the following learning outcomes:

Bachelor of Arts

  • Knowledge of the main theories in criminology that offer various ways of understanding why people commit crimes. 
  • Knowledge of the basic research methods in the social sciences. 
  • Knowledge of career options and job preparedness in criminology/criminal justice, including pursuit of advanced degrees. 

Master of Arts

  • Acquire an understanding of the methods and statistical techniques of social science research, and to be able to apply these skills in the context of criminology. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of criminology and be able to apply principles to the development, monitoring, and evaluation of criminological policies. 
  • Possess a broad range of knowledge about criminology and justice and be able to apply this knowledge, humanely and competently, in criminological agencies or other contexts. 

 

 

As reflected in the learning outcomes, graduate core courses in Criminology require students to demonstrate the ability to conduct research, apply and modify theories, and utilize content in policy and practice. Undergraduates are minimally required to demonstrate knowledge of these areas.  In addition, graduate courses are more writing intensive, involving little multiple choice testing.  In this way, the Criminology program reflects a progressively more advanced content between undergraduate and graduate programs.

Although there is no undergraduate program in Professional Counseling at the University of West Georgia, graduate programs reflect increasing rigor and more advanced content across graduate degree levels within a particular field.  The following learning outcomes have been established for students seeking Professional Counseling degrees at the masters (M.Ed.), specialist (Ed.S.), and doctoral (Ed.D.) levels:

Master of Education

  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with assessment 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with group work 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with helping relationships 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with human growth and development 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with social and cultural diversity 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with career development 
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with professional orientation and ethical practice
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions consistent with research and program evaluation

Specialist in Education

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply advanced theories of individual and group counseling in practice 
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply research methods to counseling interventions and/or program evaluation and use the information to improve programming 
  • Demonstrate the ability to provide quality clinical supervision 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of current issues in counseling and supervision 
  • Demonstrate advanced skills in specialty area of interest
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions relevant to practice in a multicultural society 

Doctor of Education

  • Candidates will evaluate an intervention delivered in their work settings to respond to specific client or student needs identified through the use of local data. 
  • Candidates will develop a well- integrated, comprehensive review of the literature sufficient to support the evaluation of a program implemented in their respective work setting. 
  • Candidates will establish the evaluability of a program, develop an evaluation study design, conduct an evaluation study, report results and make appropriate recommendations for program improvement. 
  • Candidates will make appropriate recommendations for improvement of interventions or programs based on outcomes evaluation data. 
  • Candidates will identify and propose data driven program improvements indicated by the results of their dissertation evaluation projects
  • Candidates will complete and submit a professional association program proposal or manuscript addressing professional development needs of peers in the context of a current trend in counseling. 

 

In this graduate program area, increasingly advanced content can be seen across different levels of graduate education.  The Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree is the entry-level degree for the field and is focused on critical thinking, the development of knowledge, skills, and awareness. Also required for degree completion are two professional counseling related field experiences.  The Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)  degree builds on the core requirements of the Master of Education degree such that all curriculum, research, and field experience requirements are developed to be consistent with the skills required of "advanced practitioners" within the candidates' respective specialty areas. Consequently, the Doctor in Education degree (Ed.D.) emphasizes more advanced theory and the practice of clinical supervision, developing competence in administrative supervision, and applied research and program evaluation than the Education Specialist degree.   

The University of West Georgia Graduate Studies website [9] provides descriptions of the programs, the curriculum (with class descriptions), the admission process, and the learning objectives for each of the programs.  All these provide additional evidence that students are engaged with more advanced content as they move from undergraduate to graduate programs and as they move into graduate programs of higher levels.

Supporting Documentation: