Part III - Program Administration Policies

This section of The Graduate College Handbook of Policy and Requirements for Students, Faculty and Staff contains the administrative policy for program, units and staff. Unlike the student section of the Handbook this section may be updated at any time during the year, and becomes effective immediately, unless otherwise noted. This section will be archived annually, but faculty and staff should always use the current version when seeking administrative policy.

Chapter 1: Policy for Proposed New and Revised Courses that Carry Graduate Credit

As one mechanism for fulfilling the statutory function of the Graduate College to "develop and safeguard standards of graduate work," the Dean of the Graduate College and the Executive Committee review all proposed new courses and revisions of courses that carry graduate credit. Detailed review of proposals is handled in one of two ways, which are outlined in Section C.2. and Section C.3 of this document.

Criteria by which proposals for graduate courses are judged and procedures by which they are reviewed are described below. Faculty members are encouraged to consult with Graduate College deans to get advice in preparing course proposals. The checklist of criteria is minimal, and is not intended to be exhaustive. The diversity of programs and the wide variety of courses necessitate, in many cases, judgments based in part on the standards of an individual discipline and are usually made by faculty in that discipline. There is no intent to eliminate judgment by reducing the criteria to an inflexible set of rules. However, proposers are encouraged to offer specific explanations whenever their proposals deviate from the general criteria. Assistance for proposing and revising courses is available.

A. Criteria

  1. Course content should be intellectually challenging to graduate students.
     
  2. Course subject matter should have a strong emphasis on the literature of the discipline(s) and/or should draw actively from the latest relevant research and scholarly activity.
     
  3. A course for graduate credit should usually build on knowledge previously gained or, unusually, on equivalent experience. Admission criteria should be carefully specified as to background required (e.g., prior study, courses completed, level of creative accomplishment). The prerequisites will also be evaluated as to appropriateness to the content and rigor of each course.
     
  4. A graduate course must bear a logical relationship to the total offerings of a department or to other courses in an area of specialization within the discipline.
     
  5. Course content should not needlessly duplicate or overlap substantially that of other courses in the department or in other departments. A single cross-listed course may meet the needs of students in several departments. If the course overlaps significantly with a course in another department, it might still be offered independently; however a supporting letter, explaining how the courses differ in purpose and content must be attached. A single cross-listed course may meet the needs of students in several departments, wherein the interdisciplinary review of the subject may benefit both the students and the instructors. Other factors will be considered, such as level of the course, background of the students, and the emphasis of the course in evaluating duplication and overlap of course content.
     
  6. The graduate credit offered should be appropriate to the nature of the course and to the extent of work required of graduate students and how it will be factored into the final grade.

B. Graduate Course Credit and Contact Hour Expectations*

  1. Credit
    1. Course proposals should justify why the course warrants graduate credit in terms of level of content, previous knowledge required, relevance to current research, methodology, etc. (See Criteria, above.)
    2. If credit for graduate students is different than credit for undergraduate students, the extra work required should be of a concrete nature, included in calculation of the final grade, and listed explicitly. For example in a class with 3 hours of undergraduate credit and 4 hours of graduate credit, it is necessary to state, ‘graduate students must lead one class discussion, write weekly summaries that will be graded, and turn in a 25 page paper instead of a 15 page paper,’ than to simply say, ‘graduate students will be held to demonstrating graduate level depth in class discussions and assignments.’ Demonstration of graduate level depth in class discussions and assignments however should be expected of graduate students if credit for graduate and undergraduate students is equal.
    3. If variable credit is to be offered to graduate students, e.g., 3 or 4 hours, the higher credit should be justified by describing the extra work required and how it will be factored into the final grade.
       
  2. Contact hours* 
    The Graduate College has not established rigid ratios between course credit hours and class contact hours*. However, in recognition of desired variability associated with subject matter and modes of teaching, the following issues are relevant for consideration:
    1. The number of class contact hours* in organized instruction between instructor and student is one factor affecting the quality of instruction. It is customary for graduate courses that carry either 3 or 4 hours of credit to meet in organized instruction for 43 to 58 contact hours* per term (3 to 4 contact hours* per week in fall or spring) including examinations. These ratios should be observed for organized instruction, which excludes laboratory, independent study, special problems, and thesis research courses. An additional laboratory that meets for two to three hours per week can justify one additional hour of credit.
    2. Substantial deviation from these ratios should be justified by the department proposing the course. Each case will be judged on its merits as detailed in the course proposal.

* The distinction between a contact hour and a clock hour is as follows:

  • A class contact hour is defined as one 50-minute session, that is, the traditional meeting time within a clock hour, allowing for the mandatory 10-minute passing period beginning at X:50 of the hour.
  • If a class session extends past one clock hour, or meets “off-clock,” the total session minutes divided by 50 determines the contact hours for the session. Thus, three 50-minute or two 75-minute sessions per week constitute three contact hours per week.

C. Review Procedures

  1. Role of the department, school, and college courses and curricula committees.
    Review and approval of all appropriate committees is required before a course proposal will be reviewed by the Graduate College.
    1. The course proposal must be approved and signed by the head of the department. The faculty members who prepared the request and will teach the course should be identified.
    2. A courses and curricula committee in the school (if applicable) and college must have reviewed and approved the course proposal.
    3. The proposal must be reviewed and approved by all cross listed units, as well as their school (if applicable) and academic colleges, if different, prior to review by the Graduate College.
    4. The college courses and curricula committee must provide a report of its evaluation. If the substantive review of courses is conducted by a unit other than the college, (e.g., certain independent schools and institutes), those units should also submit a report of their evaluation.
       
  2. Administrative review in the Graduate College
    If the college-level courses and curriculum committee verifies that a course meets the six Graduate College criteria 1 through 6 (see Section A above), then the course may be approved administratively by a dean within the Graduate College.
     
  3. Review by the Graduate College Executive Committee
    Courses that have not gone through a two-tiered committee approval process will be reviewed by the Graduate College Executive Committee, prior to Graduate College approval.

December 2005

Chapter 2: Graduate College Policy for the Approval of New and Revised Graduate Degree Programs

Review and approval of all proposed new and revised graduate degree programs by the Dean and Executive Committee of the Graduate College are required, as one mechanism for fulfilling the statutory functions of the Graduate College to "develop and safeguard standards of graduate work." Criteria by which proposals for graduate programs are judged by Graduate College committees and the reviews required are described below.

Recognizing the diversity of graduate programs on campus, the criteria are deliberately general to permit flexibility in evaluation of programs by the standards of the discipline.

Procedures to assist you in creating and structuring a proposal and more details regarding the processing of approvals are available online.

A. Graduate Degree Programs

  1. Master's Degrees
    In a university where the emphasis is on the research Ph.D., there is wide variety in the objectives and organization of master's degrees. In general they fall into two categories:
    1. Those leading to the academic degrees of Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) and are an introduction to scholarly activities and research for the Ph.D.
    2. Professional master's programs that prepare graduates for careers outside the academy, such as teachers or practitioners.
       
  2. Doctoral Programs
    1. The traditional Doctor of Philosophy is a rigorous research degree.
    2. In place of or supplementing the research component, professional doctoral programs usually contain more coursework or professional experience in the form of doctoral projects or practica.
       
  3. Certificate of Advanced Study
    A terminal degree beyond the master’s degree for those professionals seeking further course-based education, but not intending to continue for a research doctorate.

B. Master’s Degree Programs

  1. Criteria for Master's Programs
    Because of the variety in master's degrees' objectives, it is difficult to set criteria that are appropriate for all programs. The following are criteria that should guide judgment with recognition of standards of the discipline and objectives of the particular master's program.
    1. A master's program should encompass a well-defined and recognized area of advanced study based on an established body of knowledge.
    2. A master's program should consist of a coherent pattern of courses, which, at the unit's discretion, may be capped by a comprehensive examination, a thesis or project report, or a creative project. The unit has the option of requiring a final evaluation and determining its form if required.
    3. The relation of the master's program to other graduate programs in the unit, particularly to doctoral degree programs, should be clearly defined. There should also be a defined and complementary relation to other master's programs on the campus; unnecessary duplication should be avoided.
    4. A core faculty of demonstrated experience and achievement in teaching and research in the field should be available and committed to conducting the master's program.
    5. Typically, the core faculty should be members of the Graduate Faculty. Evidence of scholarly productivity through publication or of creative achievement through performances and exhibits should be presented.
    6. The core faculty should be sufficient in number to teach the graduate courses and supervise the research connected with a thesis or project if required.
    7. The demand for graduates of the program should be addressed in the proposal, but the demand should not be the primary criterion for measuring the need for a master's program.
    8. There should be evidence of a potential clientele of qualified students for the master's program.
    9. There should be evidence that the proposing unit has the resources, available or committed, to mount a master's program without diluting existing programs. The resources should be sufficient to support the necessary facilities, e.g., library, computer, laboratory, and so forth.
    10. A proposal for a new or substantially revised program should compare the proposed requirements with those of similar programs at peer institutions.
    11. The proposed master's program must meet the minimum requirements for master's programs for admission, credit, residence, and so forth, as stated in the Graduate College Handbook for Students, Faculty and Staff.
       
  2. Requirements for Master’s Programs
    1. A master's degree program must require at least 32 hours. Usually, a professional master's program requires more than 32 hours of credit. The proportion of course work to thesis research credit is determined by the department.
    2. Every master's program must include at least 12 hours of 500-level courses, and at least 8 of these 12 hours must be in the major field. A department may determine the number of hours of thesis (599) that may count toward the 500-level requirement.
       
  3. Criteria for Professional Graduate Programs
    1. A proposal for a professional graduate program should clearly explain whether, and under what circumstances, required courses can be waived for equivalent course work that a student has completed prior to enrollment in the program.
    2. If a professional program admits students who have not received a bachelor's degree in the discipline, then the program should have sufficient graduate-level content to warrant a graduate degree.
       
  4. Requirements for Professional Graduate Programs
    1. If courses can be waived, then the proposal must specify the maximum number of hours that may be waived and the circumstances in which such action would be justified.
    2. Regardless of the number of hours waived, the student must still earn at least 32 hours of credit, including transfer credit, for a master's degree.

C. Doctoral Degree Programs

  1. Criteria for New Doctoral Programs
    1. A doctoral program should contribute to the broad mission of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    2. There should be a defined and complementary relation of the proposed doctoral program to other graduate programs on the campus, and in the case of a new degree, to other degrees in the unit.
    3. A doctoral program should derive from a body of knowledge established over a sufficient period to develop a substantial scholarly discipline of well-defined content, in a field of reasonable depth.
    4. A core faculty of demonstrated experience and achievement in graduate teaching and research should be available and committed to conducting the doctoral program.
      1. Normally, all of the core faculty should be members of the Graduate Faculty and a substantial proportion should have tenure. Evidence of scholarly productivity through publication or creative achievement through performances or exhibits should be presented.
      2. The core faculty should be sufficient in number to teach the graduate courses and conduct and supervise the research.
    5. The need for a doctoral program in the discipline should be demonstrated in terms of the potential contribution of its graduates to education, research, public service, or private enterprise.
    6. The demand for graduates of the program should be addressed in the proposal, but demand should not be the primary criterion for measuring the need for a doctoral program.
    7. There should be evidence of a potential clientele of qualified students for the doctoral program.
    8. There should be evidence that the proposing unit has the resources, available or committed, to mount a doctoral program, without diluting ongoing programs. The resources should be sufficient to support the necessary facilities, e.g., library, computer, laboratory, and so forth.
    9. A proposal for a new program should compare the proposed requirements with those of similar programs at peer institutions.
    10. The proposed doctoral program must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate College for admission, credit, doctoral examinations, dissertation, and so forth, as stated in the Graduate College Handbook for Students, Faculty and Staff.
       
  2. Requirements for Ph.D. Programs
    1. The Ph.D. is a research degree. The unit proposing a Ph.D. should have in place or under development a strong program of research and scholarship. A rigorous research component should be required in the graduate program.
    2. A Ph.D. program requires at least 96 hours of credit, divided into three stages. A doctoral student is considered to be in Stage I from initial enrollment in the Graduate College to completion of the master's degree or its equivalent, namely at least 32 hours of graduate work here or at another university. Stage I ends with an evaluation of the student's progress toward the doctoral degree, by examination or other formal review procedure. A doctoral student is considered to be in Stage II from completion of the master’s degree or equivalent to completion of all departmental requirements (except the defense and deposit of the dissertation), including passing the preliminary examination. Stage III is the time from the completion of Stage II to passing of the final defense and deposit of an approved dissertation, and consists of research and other activities.
       
  3. Requirements for Other Doctoral Programs
    Other doctoral degree programs must be judged by the above criteria, where appropriate, as well as the special criteria of the profession and the discipline.

D. Revised Graduate Programs

The Graduate College Executive Committee should review and approve proposals for all major revisions of graduate degree programs. Minor revisions to programs may not require approval beyond the Graduate College. Substantial revisions will require approval beyond the Graduate College. To determine the degree of changes you are proposing and the approvals that will be needed, review the guidelines below, and consult the Levels of Governance (LOG), maintained by the Office of the Provost. The Review and Approval Process is explained below. At the request of the department, Graduate College staff can give advice on such matters. The following may serve as guidelines:
  1. Major Revisions
    1. A change in the credit required for a degree is the one absolute criterion that marks a revision as substantial and requires approval by the Graduate College and report to the Board of Trustees.
    2. The department has considerable discretion in establishing the curriculum in a particular discipline. The content of graduate courses and graduate programs naturally evolves in response to new directions or emphases in a discipline. A major change in course requirements that substantially changes the content of the degree should be interpreted as a revised program or a new option under an existing degree and requires approval by the Graduate College and subsequent levels of governance. A proposal for a substantially revised program should compare the proposed requirements with those of similar programs at peer institutions.
       
  2. Minor Revisions
    1. Credit changed by adding or deleting a requirement for research hours and adding or deleting a requirement for an equal number of hours of course work would be a minor revision.
    2. The department has discretion to revise the course requirements, the sequencing of courses, the requirements and format for master's and doctoral examinations, and the requirements for master's and doctoral theses. Changes in such requirements are generally regarded as minor. If the changes are deemed substantial, the unit will be notified that a proposal for revision of a program is required.
    3. Editorial revisions to the Programs of Study description of a program
    4. Addition or deletion of a comprehensive examination or a qualifying examination

E. Joint Degree Programs

  1. Definition
    1. A joint degree program enables a student to earn two degrees with fewer total units of credit than pursuing each degree program separately. The two disciplines being combined should enjoy intellectual synergies, so that the joint degree student acquires knowledge and skills substantially equivalent to a student who takes the programs separately. If such synergies are not present, then reductions in total requirements could reduce the quality of one or both degrees, and therefore the joint degree proposal would be unlikely to be approved.
    2. The program requirements below make joint degrees different from a dual degree program, in which a student independently chooses to pursue two individual degrees simultaneously.
       
  2. Proposal Requirements
    Two academic units that wish to offer a joint degree program must submit a formal proposal for review by the Graduate College. The proposal must include the same elements as a proposal for a new degree program, such as the justification for the program, and budgetary and staff implications. The proposal must address the division of tuition revenues and handling of tuition waivers between colleges in which the separate programs are offered. The proposal should explain how students will be advised and evaluated.
     
  3. Program Requirements
    1. A student who wishes to enter a joint degree program must be admitted separately to each program as a joint degree candidate.
    2. Both degrees are awarded simultaneously upon completion of all requirements.
    3. Usually, each degree program counts some courses in the other program - typically up to 12 hours of credit - as electives in meeting its own requirements; however the hours required for the joint program cannot be less than the sum of the minimum hours required for each degree independently (eg. 120 for a bachelor's, 32 for a master's, etc.).
       
  4. Approval
    1. A joint degree program that combines existing degrees does not require approval beyond the Graduate College and the Provost's Office.
    2. However, joint degree programs must be reported to the Board of Trustees and submitted as part of the University's annual listing to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

F. Extramural/Online Programs

  1. If a new degree will be created to be offered extramurally or online, the unit should follow the instructions for new degree programs, and the additional reviews needed for extramural/online program review will be included in the approval process.
     
  2. For existing degrees and courses to be offered off-campus or online, additional approvals are required. See the Policy for the Off-Campus/Online Delivery of Graduate Degree or Certificate Programs.

G. Majors, Concentrations, and Minors

  1. Major refers to the student’s primary program of study. Students in a graduate major leading to the award of a master's degree are required to complete at least 32 hours, and those in graduate majors leading to the award of a doctoral degree must complete at least 96 hours. See above for more information on these requirements. The successful completion of a major is noted on the student's transcript. Only students in joint or dual degree programs may complete more than one major.
     
  2. Concentration refers either to a specialized program of study within a major, or an interdisciplinary program. A graduate concentration consists of at least 12 graduate hours of relevant course work. A formal concentration may be defined as an elaboration or an extension of a graduate major: either content specialization within a particular discipline (for example, a taxation concentration in accountancy, or an interdisciplinary program (for example, an interdisciplinary concentration in cultural studies and interpretive research). A concentration is a coherent set of courses some or all of which count toward the major.  For more informtion, see the Policy for Graduate Concentrations.
     
  3. A minor is a coherent set of at least 12 graduate hours of courses defined by one or more units outside the student's enrolling program. A minor encourages and recognizes expertise gained in a particular area. This expertise could be completely outside the usual degree requirements or it could significantly extend knowledge in an area closely related to a particular degree program. For more information, see Policy for Graduate Minors.

H. Options, Tracks, Cognate Field, and Specializations

The terms "track," "cognate field," and "specialization" may have different meanings or may be used interchangeably. While these may be defined within certain units, they may also be created by individual students based upon their own particular interests. Because their successful completion is not noted on the student's transcript, they are less formal than concentrations, and may vary in terms of the hours required. Students may complete more than one option, track, cognate field, or specialization.

I. Interdisciplinary Programs

The Graduate College encourages the development of innovative graduate programs, especially interdisciplinary programs. New programs that do not involve new degrees can be developed as options or specializations under existing degree programs. New options do not require review beyond the Graduate College. Interdisciplinary program proposals must have the approval of all cooperating departments, schools, and colleges.

 

J. Guidelines for Multi-Institutional Graduate Degrees in Collaboration with a Foreign Institution

 

K. Review and Approval Process

The Levels of Governance (LOG) outlines the levels of approval required, by program proposal type. Depending upon the proposal type, the approval at each level could require review and a vote, or could be as a listing or consent item. However, the number of approvals required is commensurate with the significance and extent of the changes proposed. View the LOG to determine which approvals are required for your proposal.
  1. Approvals Before Arrival at the Graduate College
    All proposals should have been reviewed and approved by the following units before arriving at the Graduate College:
    1. Departmental Courses and Curricula Committee or other committee
    2. Executive Officer
    3. School (if applicable) Courses and Curricula Committee or other committee
    4. Director of School (if applicable)
    5. Disciplinary College Courses and Curricula Committee or other committee
    6. Dean or designee
       
  2. Committee Review at the Graduate College
    1. "Minor revisions"  to a graduate degree programs, as defined above in Sec. D, are considered for administrative approval by the Graduate College and do not require further committee review, and are reported to the Provost’s Office and the Academic Senate in case any further consideration is needed.
    2. A proposal for a new graduate degree program, or “Major Revisions” to an existing graduate degree program as defined above in Sec. D, require approval by the Graduate College Executive Committee and the Dean of the Graduate College.
  3. Proposals that Require Approval or Report Beyond the Graduate College
    See the LOG to determine additional levels of review and approval for your particular proposal. The full list of approvals is as follows:
    1. Provost or designee
    2. Senate Educational Policy Committee
    3. Urbana-Champaign Senate Faculty Senate
    4. Senates Conference
    5. Board of Trustees
    6. Illinois Board of Higher Education
       

August 2006, Administratively revised August 2009, August 2016

Chapter 3: Policy for Graduate Concentrations

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines under which units offering graduate degrees may seek Senate approval of graduate concentrations to be acknowledged on the student's official University transcript.

A. Background:

The University of Illinois graduate transcript lists degrees, majors, and minors at the graduate level, and all have defined requirements and approval routes. This document defines the requirements for formal graduate concentrations, and the approval route in order for it to be noted on a student's official transcript. A formal concentration may be defined as an elaboration or an extension of a graduate major: either content specialization within a particular discipline (for example, a taxation concentration in accountancy, or an interdisciplinary program (for example, an interdisciplinary concentration in cultural studies and interpretive research). A concentration is a coherent set of courses some or all of which count toward the major. In order to be approved and noted on the student's transcript, a graduate concentration requires approval by the disciplinary college, the Graduate College, the Senate and the Board of Trustees.

This proposal seeks to define only those concentrations at the graduate level that would be listed in the Programs of Study and recorded on the student's official transcript. Although most graduate programs require students to specialize in one form or another, not all of these specializations need to be formal concentrations (i.e., represented on the student's transcript). Graduate education nearly always involves some form of specialization or interdisciplinary work, yet the need for transcript recognition varies in importance across the disciplines. Indeed, transcript recognition should be sought only when there is a clear benefit to the student and/or to the department—for example, when transcript notation is required by specialized accrediting bodies, or in response to job market demands.

B. Guidelines:

A graduate concentration must consist of a minimum of 12 graduate hours of coursework at the 400- and 500-level, which gives a student more breadth or depth in their major area of study. Because a concentration is intended to be within the major area of study, the hours required to fulfill the concentration should likewise apply toward completion of the degree.  However that is not to say that completion of a concentration within a degree couldn’t require more hours than the degree itself, in that the student is earning an additional credential.

  1. Any academic department or unit with the approval of the disciplinary college(s) may initiate a proposal for a graduate concentration.
  2. An academic department or unit (or a combination of departments or units, in the case of interdisciplinary programs) intending to propose a concentration should prepare a proposal in accordance with these instructions, including a rationale that indicates why transcript recognition of the concentration is important, and obtain approval(s) from the disciplinary college(s) before sending to the Graduate College. Proposals should be prepared using the standard Senate format for proposals at http://www.senate.illinois.edu/ep/proposals.htm#Forms . Proposals should be sent to the Graduate College for review and approval by the Program Subcommittee and the Executive Committee. The Graduate College will send approved proposals to the Office of the Provost for forwarding to the Senate and Board of Trustees.
  3. The department or unit sponsoring the concentration may set additional prerequisites for eligibility for the concentration (e.g., minimum GPA). Additionally, the sponsoring department or unit may set other requirements for completion, such as a qualifying examination, practicum, etc.
  4. Students must contact the sponsoring department or unit offering the concentration for information about the concentration, and the sponsoring department or unit must make available information and consultation to inform students about requirements for the concentration.
  5. A student's intent to pursue a graduate concentration must be approved by the student's adviser and graduate program director, as well as the unit offering the concentration.  If any credit hours taken toward a concentration will not also count toward the major, that condition must be documented when the student adds the concentration to their academic record so that it can be taken into account at the time of certification of the degree.
  6. A student who completes a graduate concentration should have at least one faculty member in the area of concentration serve on the student's thesis committee. In the case of interdepartmental concentrations, the thesis committee should comprise faculty members from more than one department or area of knowledge.
  7. It is up to the sponsoring department or unit to establish criteria and timelines for completion of the concentration, and to certify its successful completion. When a student indicates an intention to graduate with a concentration, the department(s) will confirm whether the requisite course of study has been completed.

Approved by the Urbana-Champaign Senate April 25, 2005; administratively updated August 2009.  Revised April 2013.

Chapter 4: Policy for Graduate Minors

A. Brief Description

The purpose of this proposal is to establish guidelines under which units may seek Senate approval of a graduate minor to be acknowledged on the student's official University transcript.

B. Background

Graduate programs offer a range of curricular possibilities, including options, tracks, concentrations, specializations, minors, and cognate fields. Graduate minors require approval as described below, and are noted on the student's transcript.

Minors are a coherent set of courses defined by one or more units outside the student's enrolling program. A minor encourages and recognizes expertise gained in a particular area. This expertise could be completely outside the usual degree requirements or it could significantly extend knowledge in an area closely related to, but still outside, a particular degree program. For some students, completing a minor will be both appealing and advisable. The spirit of a minor is the development of additional academic strengths. For this reason, credit used toward the completion of one minor may not be applied toward another minor but it is at the discretion of the major degree department to determine which, if any, of the courses used to fulfill the minor will also be used to fulfill the requirements of the graduate major degree. Some minors may require that a member of the unit(s) offering the minor serve on the student’s master’s or doctoral committee.

C. Guidelines

A minor should constitute a coherent program of study requiring some depth in the subject, but not as extensive a program as the major. The minor should consist of at least 12 graduate hours of course work in the sponsoring department(s). At least 8 to 12 graduate hours of the minor should be courses at the 500-level.

  1. Any academic department or unit with the approval of its disciplinary college may initiate a proposal for a graduate minor. The proposal should comply with the guidelines below and follow the format of the Standard Graduate Minor Approval Form.
     
  2. Minors approved by the Graduate College will be forwarded to the Senate for approval. 
     
  3. All graduate minors must receive disciplinary college, Graduate College, Senate, and Board of Trustees approval in order to be officially recognized by the campus and listed on the transcript.
     
  4. The Banner system displays degree, major, concentration, and minor designations. The University of Illinois at Urbana academic transcript will reflect completion of all Senate-approved graduate minors earned by the student.
     
  5. Students must apply to the sponsoring department for admission to the minor. It is up to the sponsoring department to determine the appropriate enrollment, to establish criteria and timelines for admission to the minor.
     
  6. A student's application to pursue a graduate minor must also be approved by the student's adviser and graduate program director prior to beginning to fulfill the minor requirements.
     
  7. A minor may request that a member of the unit(s) offering the minor serve on the student's master's or doctoral committee.
     
  8. The sponsoring department must identify an adviser for each minor. It is the minor adviser's responsibility to advise students on minor requirements.
     
  9. When a student indicates an intention to graduate with a minor, the sponsoring department will confirm whether the minor course of study has been completed and certify successful completion of the minor.
     
  10. Because of the nature of most graduate programs, master's students generally would not complete more than one minor. Doctoral students generally would not complete more than two minors.

Approved by the Urbana-Champaign Senate December 8, 2003. Revised April 2013. Revised April 2015.

Chapter 5: Policy for the Off-Campus/Online Delivery of Graduate Degree or Certificate Programs

A. Introduction

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has traditionally sought to extend its graduate-level instruction mission to include the continuing education needs of citizens throughout the State of Illinois. In particular, the Urbana campus has placed a high priority upon meeting the continuing education needs of professionals such as teachers, social workers, engineers, and farmers as they strive to improve their skills and broaden their perspectives related to their own professional practice. The national and international role of the campus has also created opportunities where it is appropriate to extend graduate-level instruction beyond Illinois.

The Graduate College seeks to support units in their efforts to expand and improve off-campus/online educational opportunities and to encourage greater participation by academic units in the lifelong education of nontraditional students, particularly as it relates to continuing professional education. Graduate College policy allows students to satisfy their graduate residence requirement either through courses meeting on the Urbana campus, online, or through courses that are offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but meet off-campus. All courses must be approved before they can be offered. See Developing Courses and Programs for the graduate course approval policy and procedure.

While Graduate College policy has expanded access to graduate education at Urbana-Champaign, it is also clear that high quality graduate programs often involve more than required courses. Graduate programs often include an independent experience, whether it be professional or research, that challenges the student to examine a topic in detail and draw a unique conclusion. In addition, programs must also involve such elements as a capable and accessible faculty, motivated students, a strong curriculum, competent academic advisement, appropriate and accessible academic facilities, and skilled program administration. Attention to these elements is particularly important in the case of off-campus/online graduate programs because learners may not have as many synchronous interactions with their classmates or the rest of the campus community during their program, as a student residing on campus.

In this regard, the Graduate College has a particular responsibility to make clear its expectations regarding the design and conduct of off-campus/online graduate degree and certificate programs and to assist academic units to develop programs that meet these expectations.

It is the position of the Graduate College Dean and Executive Committee that the quality of off-campus/online graduate degree and certificate programs could be further enhanced if the Graduate College were to review the plans of academic units to offer such programs prior to program implementation. The process would allow the Graduate College, through its staff and committee resources, to share its experience and insight regarding graduate education in the process of program development.

By upholding these standards, the Graduate College hopes to be an active and involved partner in the design and implementation of off-campus and online graduate degree and certificate programs. By working collaboratively with colleges and academic units, the Graduate College hopes to assist in addressing both the unique problems and opportunities associated with off-campus/online graduate education.

B. Definition

Graduate degree and certificate programs delivered off-campus/online are those in which more than one-half of the graduate hours required for the degree or certificate completion are offered either online to students at a distance or at off-campus sites.

Certificate programs are defined as a series of graduate-level courses designed to further the professional development of specific groups. Completion of a certificate does not lead to a degree nor is it noted on the transcript, with the exception of the Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.). Because of this, credit earned while enrolled in a certificate program (except of a C.A.S.) may be applied toward a degree according to Graduate College transfer policies.  Transcripted certificate programs, such as the C.A.S., follow standard campus policies for creation of a new degree program.

C. Authorizations

Authority is vested in the Graduate College for approval of post-baccalaureate (graduate-level) degree and certificate programs.

Graduate programs determine whether or not on-campus graduate students may enroll in the courses they offer online.

All programs offered online and off-campus must be reported to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. However additional reports, reviews and approvals may be necessary depending upon the type of program and the location/mode of delivery as follows:

  1. Certificates:
    New credit-bearing certificate programs where more than 50% of the coursework is not associated with an existing previously approved degree program will require review and approval by the Higher Learning Commission.
    Certificates offered off-campus/online will require reporting to the Higher Learning Commission.
     
  2. Degree Programs:
    Any off-campus site-based degree program will require review and approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission prior to enrolling any students. The Office of the Provost will oversee the submission of proposals and reporting of approvals at all levels above the Graduate College.
     
  3. Off-site:
    Any new site outside of Illinois where five or more courses are offered must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission.  All new sites outside of Illinois must comply with any local or state regulations for delivery of educational programs.
     
  4. Online:
    All Title IV-eligible degree or certificate programs where 50% or more of the coursework is delivered online or through another means of distance education must be approved in advance by the Higher Learning Commission.

D. Approval of Off-Campus/Online Graduate Certificate and Degree Programs

Graduate degree programs must go through an extensive approval process to be offered on campus. This discussion pertains to the process of approving a certificate program or an existing graduate degree program for delivery off-campus/online.

Graduate degree and certificate programs offered off-campus/online must be approved by the following units:

  • The department, and school, if applicable;
  • the academic college;
  • the Office of International Programs and Studies (if instruction will take place outside the U.S.) to secure needed campus and University approvals, and;
  • the Graduate College

Approval for all program proposals is communicated by signatures on the Clearances sheet, which should be submitted with the proposal. Some proposals may need additional reviews.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission (the organization that accredits the campus) have complex rules controlling the offering of courses, certificate, and degree programs off-campus or online.  In some cases, the approvals required before any students matriculate in the new program may take as much as a year.  Please consult the web site www.provost.illinois.edu/programs/cps/establishcurricula.html to see what type of approvals may be necessary. 

E. Items to be Addressed in Off-Campus/Online Graduate Degree or Certificate Program Proposals

Proposals must provide details addressing each of the following topics. These responses are intended to validate the expectations of the Graduate College concerning the design and implementation of high quality off-campus/online graduate degree or certificate programs. Units must use the Template to Develop a Proposal for Offering a Graduate Degree or Certificate Off-Campus/Online, and an accompanying form is provided.

  1. Program Identification:
    Describe the specifics of the program to be offered off-campus/online.
     
  2. Program Purpose:
    An academic unit proposing off-campus/online delivery of a degree or certificate program must clearly state the purposes it intends to serve and the goals that it hopes to achieve through such a program. In particular, how does the program contribute to the unit's teaching, research, and service missions?

    In addition, the decision to offer an off-campus/online degree or certificate program must be based upon a thorough and systematic assessment of program need. The needs and how they were assessed must be documented. Based on the needs and the unit resources, what are the projected program enrollments for startup and future sustainability?
     

  3. Relationship to Existing Programs:
    How will this new cohort of students be similar to or different from the existing on-campus cohort with regard to the department, the curriculum and the employment sector? How will the new and existing programs benefit or hinder each other?
     
  4. Faculty:
    Faculty members involved in an off-campus/online graduate degree or certificate program should ordinarily be members of the Urbana-Champaign faculty or in the case of multi-institutional programs, faculty at that institution. Exceptions to this rule are often made, including the use of adjunct faculty, but should be allowed only by reason of a person's ability to make a unique contribution to the program because he or she possesses professional skills, experiences, or perspectives that are not represented or not available within the academic unit's own graduate faculty.
     
  5. Student Admission:
    The quality of a graduate degree or certificate program is directly related to the quality of the students. A graduate program should therefore endeavor to select and admit applicants who show the greatest academic or leadership potential.

    Graduate College minimum admission requirements are the same for off-campus/online students as they are for their on-campus counterparts (minimum GPA and an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution). However, departments may require different application materials of on campus, online and off-campus students if they desire, in order to assess each of those groups for admission purposes. Nevertheless, the overall quality required of an applicant to be admitted must be similar across the programs. In the case of programs admitting international students, the Graduate and Professional Admissions unit should be consulted regarding appropriate admission policies and procedures for those applicants prior to promoting the program.

    The program should also consider the maximum number of admissions per year that can be allowed in the online or off-campus cohort and whether students are admitted as non-degree or degree seeking. Whatever the academic unit's admission criteria, they must be well defined and articulated before seeking approval for an off-campus/online degree or certificate program.
     

  6. Curriculum:
    The requirements for the degree must be the same as the approved on-campus program.

    Academic units proposing an off-campus/online degree or certificate program should include a list of courses that may be offered online or off-campus as part of that program. In most cases, the online or off-campus program will not provide the same variety of courses available to students enrolled in the similar program on-campus. However the courses offered must allow the student to be able to complete the program as approved. Thus required courses and adequate electives must be offered using an equivalent mode of distance delivery and in a time period to allow for completion within the Graduate College time limit policies (Master's and Doctoral). 
     

  7. Advising:
    Academic advising is a fundamental dimension of any graduate degree program. Due to the unique nature of these programs, students enrolled in off-campus/online programs must be assigned an adviser at the time of admission and must be provided with the regular opportunity to communicate with their advisers to discuss not only choice of course enrollment and satisfaction of degree requirements, but other intellectual and professional concerns as well. In addition, Graduate College policy describes the requirements of advisers for master’s students completing a thesis. A method must exist to assist students with particular academic or professional interests to be linked with faculty members with similar interests. This opportunity is essential for both on-campus and off-campus/online students. Provisions must also be made for the continuous monitoring of student progress and the maintenance of appropriate academic records for that purpose.

    In addition, Graduate College policy requires annual reviews of the academic progress of all degree-seeking graduate students, including those enrolled in off-campus/online degree programs. See the policy for Graduate Student Annual Academic Progress Reviews for details. 
     

  8. Academic Support:
    Off-campus/online graduate study requires the availability of adequate academic support which might include computer technologies and software, or classrooms or laboratories which are well-equipped and up to the standards required for graduate study. Library resources should contain the necessary books and periodicals and be accessible at times convenient for nontraditional students. Access to needed computer hardware, software and technical assistance should be assured.
     
  9. Program Administration:
    The program must be under the direct and continuous supervision of the academic unit(s) sponsoring the program. The responsibility for the oversight, especially with respect to the academic issues related to an online or off-campus degree or certificate program must be assigned to faculty within the academic unit that is offering the program. The academic unit's program administrator should work cooperatively with other involved administrative and academic units to ensure that the following issues are adequately addressed:
    • That the academic unit ensures, prior to enrollment, that students are fully and accurately informed about the purpose of the program, objectives, admission requirements, program requirements, degree awarded, cost, academic and financial policies, timelines, and the services to be provided or not provided.
    • That adequate communication channels exist between students and faculty, between students and the academic unit.
    • That courses will be scheduled far enough in advance to assure that students have adequate time to plan their schedules.
    • That steps will be taken to ensure that the faculty understands the purpose of the program, the characteristics of the students, and the nature of the off-campus/online teaching/learning setting.
    • That if non-Urbana-Champaign faculty is utilized, the academic units have a mechanism to ensure consistency in course content and academic standards.
    • That program planning involves those academic units who may necessarily have to contribute to the program. (For example: Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and Educational Psychology in the College of Education degrees, because their foundations courses are required.)
    • That the funding is adequate to ensure a quality program.
    • That all necessary approvals from governmental bodies will be obtained prior to offering the program.
    • That if professional accreditation is needed for entry into the field, as specified in the objectives of the program, this need has been addressed.
    • That in the case of discontinuation of the program, all obligations to current students be fulfilled, including the opportunity to fulfill their degree requirements within the regular mode of offering.
    • That in the case of contractual programs, the arrangement is consistent with State of Illinois guidelines for contract credit programs and the contract specifies that the University controls the program, consistent with its academic policies, requirements, and procedures.
    • That in the case of international programs, the program is consistent with the "Principles of Good Practice in Overseas International Education Programs for Non-US Nationals" subscribed to by the regional accrediting associations.
       
  10. Resource Implications:
    The program must have thoroughly investigated the long-term budget and resource implications of starting an online or off-campus program. The program must be sustainable both in terms of unit budget and staffing of faculty and administrators. Account for potential program growth in this section. If special tuition or tuition arrangements are desired, these require additional campus approvals. These approvals must be obtained before a program may be implemented.
     
  11. Program Evaluation:
    Units must describe the process for evaluation of the program in addition to the periodic program review conducted by the Graduate College. The evaluation should include review of the curricula, student satisfaction, faculty and program resources. Departments are encouraged to require evaluation of all their off-campus/online offerings.
  12. Clearances:
    A Clearance sheet documenting the approval date and appropriate signature from each participating academic unit must accompany each proposal.

 

May 6, 1980
Revised October 1984; November 1994
Updated August 2002
Revised December 2012

Revised May 2016

 

Chapter 6: Graduate Student Annual Academic Progress Reviews

Approved April 2011; Effective academic year 2012-13

Units must hold annual academic progress reviews for all graduate students.

Campus policy stipulates that graduate units must conduct annual academic progress reviews for all graduate students enrolled in degree-seeking programs at least once every academic year. A written copy of the review must be given to the student and be placed in the student’s academic file.

Ideally, academic progress reviews should include the following elements:

  1. A student self-report and assessment of academic progress
  2. A review prepared by the adviser and at least one other faculty member to focus on an assessment of degree progress and student strengths and weaknesses. A copy of this written review is given to the student.
  3. An opportunity for the student to discuss this review in person.

Each program shall annually report to the Graduate College their Annual Progress Review activities. The current Graduate College process for reporting is found here.