HLC FAQ: 3. Minimum Graduate Course Work (50%) Requirement FAQ's
c. For courses in the 300-699 range that we want to deem as graduate-level, what do we need to prepare or have in place to be in compliance? For example, should the pre-requisite be "graduate standing only"?
a. Can programs meet the “50% graduate level course work” rule by changing their existing courses to higher numbers (above 700)?
We recommend that, as a first pass, departments and programs focus on those courses that they need to create to provide credit for practicum experiences such as internships and field work, required research currently not bearing credit, and required seminar attendance, or revisions to existing courses that bring the number of credits assigned into alignment with expectations of the course.
In many cases, programs have specifically designed courses for their master's program and have numbered them at the 500 or 600 level. We do not expect that these courses be renumbered to the 700 level. It is an option to change course numbering, however programs may find that this will be a large-scale project that may take years to plan and complete given that some programs may find that they would want to renumber a significant fraction of their courses. No batch process is currently available to streamline this. Large scale course renumbering should only be done after consultation with the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research.
New course approvals and course changes must go through the appropriate school/college Academic Planning Council(s) or Curriculum Committee and then through the University Curriculum Committee coordinated by the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. Please note that the on July 1, 2013, administration of the course proposal process moved from the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty to the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. For further details on the course approval process, please go to http://apir.wisc.edu/courses.htm
b. What does “courses designed for graduate work” mean?
The GFEC has interpreted “courses” here to signify credits, which includes both course work and independent/research credits. Several attributes have been defined to identify courses designed for “graduate work.” Graduate course work can include UW-Madison courses:
• numbered 700 and above;
• numbered 300-699 that are specifically designed for graduate students in a graduate program; or
• numbered 300-699 that assess graduate students separately from undergraduate students.
Additionally, on a semester by semester basis, an individual student may count credits from courses numbered 300-699 that have a graduate student enrollment >50% in that given semester. This must be assessed on a semester by semester basis and cannot be applied as a universal standard if true for one or multiple semesters. To be universally identified as a course designed for graduate work the course must meet one of the criterion bullets listed above.
Courses taken as a University Special or a UW-Madison undergraduate student are not allowed to count toward the 50% graduate course work minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. Please note that there are credit maximums for each of these categories of prior course work.
Some course numbering changes may be appropriate, which will require governance action through the course approval process. For further details on the course approval process, please go to http://apir.wisc.edu/courses.htm Further details on institutional policy regarding course numbering can be found here: https://kb.wisc.edu/vesta/page.php?id=24556 In the short term, programs identified and documented their decisions in the Graduate Catalog. However, in the long term, via the Graduate Course Attribute Implementation Project and new course proposals, subject owners will determine which courses are allowed to count toward the 50% graduate work policy using the above criteria. Since subject owners have authority over courses, please note that the graduate course attribute lists provided by subject owners will override any lists previously provided by graduate programs.Further details on institutional policy regarding the graduate course attribute can be found here: https://kb.wisc.edu/vesta/page.php?id=39841
c. For courses in the 300-699 range that we want to deem as graduate-level, what do we need to prepare or consider to be in compliance? For example, should the pre-requisite be "graduate standing only"?
Currently, there is no need to restrict 300-699 courses to only graduate students for them to be considered to be "designed for graduate course work." Some programs have existing pre-requisites on these courses and others do not. This may or may not be advisable depending the wishes of the program, but it is not an explicit requirement (pre-requisite changes must go through the course approval process; for further details on the course approval process, please go to http://apir.wisc.edu/courses.htm).
Generally, the GFEC felt that determining which 300-699 courses are specifically designed for graduate work is a program faculty decision. Graduate programs know the content of their courses and whether they meet the bar of graduate-level work. The important point is that graduate programs and subject owners have discussions about which courses should be included on the "courses designed for graduate work" (50% graduate course work) list. The agreed upon list needs to be officially documented in the program's Graduate Catalog page and by subject owners via the Graduate Course Attribute Implementation Project. In addition, it should be included in the program’s handbook/website and known to staff/faculty for advising purposes.
d. Obviously, all courses 700 or above are graduate-level. Is there an easier way for programs to track and identify which courses numbered 300-699 are graduate-level?
In Spring 2014, the University Curriculum Committee approved a request from the Graduate School to create an official graduate course attribute/flag for courses “designed for graduate course work.” The Graduate School and the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) in partnership with the Registrar’s Office are taking steps to make this available beginning Spring 2016. The plan is that APIR and the Graduate School will initiate the Graduate Course Attribute Implementation Project by contacting subject owners to identify/approve eligible courses, these courses would be reviewed/approved both at the school/college and the University Curriculum Committee (each governance body reserves the right to request a syllabus from any course that requests the attribute). These approved courses would then be codified accordingly by the Registrar’s Office.
The presence of this graduate course attribute is what students, programs, and the Graduate School will use to determine whether a course may be counted toward the minimum graduate course work (50%) requirement. Beyond that, the quality and integrity of the graduate-level work of graduate programs continues to be a point of evaluation within institutional program review (required every 10 years).
Graduate students may fulfill the graduate level coursework (50%) requirement with courses that are document as graduate-level coursework during the term which they took the course.
For students taking coursework through the fall 2015 term, the official University record which identifies programs' documented "graduate level" coursework is each program's Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progess chart in the 2014-2016 Graduate School Catalog.
For coursework taken in the spring 2016 term and beyond, the official University documentation of "graduate level" coursework will be identified with the graduate course attribute ("G50%") in the University's Course Guide and Class Guide.
f. Where can I learn more about the Graduate Course Attribute Implementation Project?
A website has been created that explains this project in detail: http://apir.wisc.edu/grad_attribute.htm
Further details on institutional policy regarding the graduate course attribute can be found here: https://kb.wisc.edu/vesta/page.php?id=39841
g. What credit number should the 50% be applied to?
Because the HLC wording states that “at least 50% of courses applied to a graduate program are courses designed for graduate work,” the GFEC has interpreted this to be 50% of the credits designed by the program for the degree. For instance, if a program determines that students must complete a minimum of 40 credits for their M.S. degree, then 20 of those credits must be graduate work as defined above. For a program designed at the 30 credit minimum, 15 of those credits must be graduate work.
h. Subject owners are identifying courses eligible for the graduate course attribute. Where can I find a list of all the subject owners on campus?