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Policy - Course Attribute for Graduate Level

Policy on graduate-level course attributes, including the minimum graduate coursework requirement and standards for graduate coursework.

This is a summary of the policy detailing the Course Attribute for Graduate Level. Click here to view the official policy in its entirety in the UW-Madison Policy Library. 

The Minimum Graduate Course Work (50%) Requirement 

This requirement states that at least 50% of credits applied toward the program’s graduate degree credit requirement must be with courses designed for graduate work. This policy is one of the many ways in which our campus ensures the integrity of its degrees and the quality of the student experience.

Consistent with Graduate School policy, the graduate course work can include UW-Madison courses (including but not limited to online, thesis/research, independent study, and practicum/internship credits) that satisfy one of the following guidelines:

  • numbered 700 and above
  • numbered 300-699 that are specifically designed for graduate students in a graduate program
  • numbered 300-699 that hold graduate students to higher standards of learning than undergraduate students in the same course

Graduate Course Attribute

A course attribute is used to provide programs and students alike a way to identify the courses eligible to meet this requirement (not only with courses in one’s unit, but with any course on campus) and to facilitate the advising of enrolled students as well as degree audits at the time of graduation.

Standards for Graduate Course Work

To develop and safeguard standards of graduate course work, below is a checklist of criteria for designation of a graduate course work attribute. The checklist is minimal and not intended to be exhaustive. The diversity of programs and courses may necessitate judgments outside of listed criteria due to the unique standards of a specific discipline. However, course proposers are encouraged to offer explanations where their courses deviate from general criteria.

I. Graduate Course Work Rigor

Graduate course work content should be intellectually challenging to graduate students. Course work which establishes a high standard of learning may be evidenced by:

  • requiring students to demonstrate advanced methodology/application of new skills and information to significant tasks or issues in the discipline;
  • requiring students to demonstrate an increased depth of knowledge beyond that normally attained by a typical bachelor degree holder in the discipline; 
  • requiring students to demonstrate higher-order synthesis and analysis in the discipline; 
  • a strong emphasis on the literature of the discipline and/or active engagement with the latest research and scholarly activity of the discipline.
Graduate course work content should generally build on knowledge or experience previously gained and is mindful of program admission prerequisites. The higher standards set for graduate students are generally reflective of the advanced level of instruction in a graduate course. 

II. Graduate Course Work Instructors

Graduate course work instructors must possess an academic degree relevant to what they are teaching and at least one level above the level at which they teach, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established. 
Graduate course work instructors teaching at the doctoral level must have a record of recognized scholarship, creative endeavor, or achievement in practice commensurate with doctoral expectations.

III. Graduate Course Work Requirements and Assessment

Graduate course work numbered 300-699 may show evidence of meeting the above criteria by assessing graduate students through examinations, assignments, and the use of grading rubrics and the like which clearly establish a higher standard of performance for graduate students versus undergraduates for the same grade. The additional graduate student work will generally occur outside the common class time. These courses must also have at least one graduate learning outcome that is linked to this higher standard. 

For courses numbered 300-699, grading graduate students using a narrower scale and/or requiring graduate students to produce lengthier assignments without requiring advanced synthesis or demonstration of knowledge, would not be considered adequate for assignment of the graduate attribute. 

A course that has the graduate attribute must have requisites that would allow a graduate student to enroll without special permission. For example, the requisite can not require undergraduate courses without adding a provision such as "or graduate/professional standing" as a graduate student's undergraduate work is not part of their UW-Madison student record.

Keywords:Grad attribute, graduate course   Doc ID:116398
Owner:Karen M.Group:Academic Planning and Institutional Research
Created:2022-02-01 10:24 CDTUpdated:2022-02-03 12:05 CDT
Sites:Academic Planning and Institutional Research
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