The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Graduate Program Feasibility Planning

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1 The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Graduate Program Feasibility Planning Rationale The fundamental purpose of this planning document is to provide a uniform means by which the University can evaluate the feasibility of potential graduate degree programs as they arise. This consideration will also ensure that when a new degree is implemented, there is a high probability for its long-term success. Planning for new graduate programs will begin with a feasibility study prepared by the academic unit(s) which, when completed, will guide program faculty, College Dean(s), Dean of the Graduate School, and other appropriate administrators in their evaluation of the degree s potential viability, sustainability, and overall quality. Procedure for Graduate Program Development I. Participating Units and Proposal Processing The development of new graduate programs is primarily the responsibility of the faculty. Any academic department or departments wishing to consider a new graduate degree or program concentration would first discuss their ideas with the appropriate College Dean(s). If it is determined that the idea warrants further consideration, the unit(s) making the proposal will prepare a feasibility study that will be reviewed as described below. 1. Academic unit prepares and approves a feasibility study, which is then considered by appropriate College Dean or Deans. 2. If approved at the College level, the feasibility study is submitted to the Graduate Dean, who reviews it in the context of the graduate mission of the University. The Graduate Dean will prepare an overall assessment of the study for the Provost with a recommendation to proceed with planning or return the proposal to the originating unit(s). 3. Provost consults with Chancellor on decision to post a Notification of Intent to Plan a New Master s Degree or prepare a Request for Authorization to Plan a New Doctoral or First Professional Degree Program. 4. Provost informs College Dean(s) and Graduate Dean of the decision. A Notification of Intent to Plan a New Master s Degree may be posted at any time. Deadlines for the submission of A Request for Authorization to Plan a New Doctoral or First Professional Degree Program to the Office of the President are May 1 and October 1 of each year. Guidelines for preparing these documents are available from the Office of the President using Administrative Memorandum Feasibility studies for new master s degrees may be submitted at any time; however, the unit(s) making the proposal should allow at least four to six weeks for review and approval by the Provost. For doctoral proposals, feasibility studies should be available for review by the Graduate Dean not later than July 15 for the October 1 st submission date and February 15 for the May 1 st deadline. Studies will be accepted after these

2 Graduate Program Planning -2 dates but if they require further consultation, they may not be processed in time to meet the off-campus submission date. In general, no study will be considered for a particular deadline if received by the Graduate School within 30 days of that deadline. II. General Principles for Planning While the decision to initiate a new graduate degree program is based on many factors and conditions, those considered among the most important are: 1. Justification for the program which must include a focus and rationale demonstrated through: Clearly articulated mission, goals, and objectives. A well-defined curriculum that meets the program s goals and objectives. While the proposed curriculum does not have to be in final form there should be sufficient detail presented to show how it will be designed to meet programmatic goals and objectives. The contribution of the initiative to the mission of UNC Charlotte as well as to other programs at the college and university level. Potential to achieve a significant regional, national, or international reputation as measured by expert external analyses. 2. Viability of the program demonstrated through: A well-defined program structure and governance. Evidence that participating faculty are already productive in research, scholarship, or other professional activities relevant to the proposed degree and are in full support of the new program. This section must include brief profiles of potential program faculty which include their teaching experience, research experience, scholarship, and if appropriate, experience in directing student research, including the number of theses and dissertations directed for graduate programs. An effective plan for program review to assess program direction and to guide revision. Evidence of faculty commitment to collaborate in the development of the curriculum. Evidence of a commitment to student learning as evidenced by a quality student assessment program, a well-defined system for the support of the professional development of graduate students, and involvement of students in program affairs. 3. Student demand demonstrated through: Data-driven "market" research. It will not be sufficient to claim, "many students have expressed interest" in such a program or that the content of the program is the latest "hot" topic. There should be supported estimates of the current and projected demand for graduates of the proposed new degree program and with documentation about the sources of data used to estimate demand figures. Potential for a high-quality program that could not reasonably be subsumed under a program already in existence in the University or University-system. If appropriate this should include data on other, similar programs within the state or region suggesting the need for the program at UNC Charlotte. Show enrollment trends in similar programs from the past 5 years. Adequate placement opportunities for graduates in positions appropriate to their education and training. As with student interest, it is not sufficient to claim, "there

3 Graduate Program Planning -3 are numerous positions awaiting graduates of the program." Documentation of employment opportunities may include, for example, letters from potential employers or demonstration of local, regional, national or international market growth relevant to the program. This analysis should include not only employment opportunities but also the placement of graduates in other top graduate degree programs when appropriate. 4. Resources required demonstrated through: Realistic estimates for the resources necessary to implement and sustain the academic and research program. This should include support required in terms of faculty lines, space, special facilities (e.g., library, laboratories or comparable facilities) and operating budget. When no new resources are required, there must be assurance from the relevant college(s) that existing resources will continue and are deemed adequate for the proposed program without jeopardizing current programs. An evaluation of the program s ability to generate significant external funding. A consideration of the adequacy of financial resources and opportunities that are available to attract and retain high-quality graduate students. This should include not only the availability of assistantships, fellowships and other stipend sources, but tuition support as well. For professional programs, this may be in the form of assurances from employers that they will pay for their employees' participation. Additional Information: If appropriate, list other institutions visited or consulted in preparing this selfstudy. Also list any consultants reports, committee findings, and simulations (cost, enrollment shift, induced course load matrix, etc.) generated in the feasibility study. If appropriate, indicate the names of all accrediting agencies normally concerned with programs similar to the one proposed. Describe plans to request professional accreditation. III. Interdisciplinary Degree Proposals The development of an interdisciplinary degree presents a new set of challenges for the units proposing such an endeavor, particularly with regard to curriculum development, the use of faculty time, recognition for faculty effort, and the relative priority of interdisciplinary program development compared to departmental program priorities (e.g., faculty recruitment). As such, during the early planning process special attention must be paid to structural considerations to ensure that the resulting degree is truly interdisciplinary and has its own identity. To be successful, interdisciplinary programs, at all levels and no matter what cultural boundaries they cross, must at a minimum have: 1) an identifiable faculty; 2) a single director; 3) a clear reporting line; 4) a common core curriculum; 5) an independent budget, resources, and identifiable space, provided at an administrative level above the participating units or through clear contractual obligations among participating units; and 6) a separate library allocation. These issues should be addressed and agreed upon by all participating units during the very earliest stages of the planning process. In order to assure that these conditions will exist in interdisciplinary programs on this campus, the following principles will be applied during feasibility planning:

4 Graduate Program Planning Proposals to plan new interdisciplinary degrees or concentrations must include specific details for structure and governance. This is particularly important if the initiative crosses college lines. 2. The degree must be focused, substantive, and interdisciplinary (a coherent integration of two or more distinct disciplines), not multidisciplinary (a collection of two or more distinct degrees under a single umbrella). This will require a more detailed description of the proposed curriculum to ensure that the interdisciplinary concept is possible to implement. Questions that must be addressed are for example: What is the nature of the product of this degree? What are the skills, knowledge, and background that the graduate will have and where will this individual likely be placed? This question should be considered in developing the degree objectives and curricula. Who should apply to this degree program? What background is necessary for an applicant to have in order to be successful in completing the degree? How will the core curriculum be constructed to accommodate students with perhaps widely diverse academic backgrounds? How will the curriculum be developed to maintain its interdisciplinary nature after the students complete the core curriculum? That is, what makes this an interdisciplinary and not a multidisciplinary degree? 3. Interdisciplinary programs must have sufficient resources to ensure that disciplinary programs contributing faculty to them will benefit from their participation. Clerical and administrative support must be consistent across disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs. The procedure through which interdisciplinary program proposals are evaluated on campus should be hard-headed when assessing a no new resources required argument; estimates of the financial support required, including requests for library materials and research facilities and equipment, should not err on the side of modesty. 4. The plan should clearly identify the program faculty, and should specify a procedure whereby members of that faculty are nominated and approved. In those instances where an interdisciplinary program is considering the joint appointment of faculty, the planners should refer to the existing Policy Statement on Joint Appointments for Faculty. Units considering an interdisciplinary degree program should review the Report of the Task Force on the Governance of Interdisciplinary Programs (September 30, 1998). A copy of this report may be obtained from the Graduate School. IV. Planning New Graduate Initiatives within Campus Authority UNC Charlotte has the authority to approve and implement certain graduate program initiatives that would enhance the graduate mission of the University. These initiatives include the addition of concentrations within an existing discipline and the establishment of a graduate certificate. 1. Concentrations In general, the principles for planning a new concentration within an existing degree program should be the same as for a new degree program. The unit or units making the proposal should prepare a feasibility study that includes: 1. A justification for the addition of the concentration;

5 Graduate Program Planning A statement of how the concentration will affect the overall viability and structure of the degree; 3. Demonstration of student demand; 4. Consideration of the resources required to implement the concentration. Once approved by the appropriate College Dean or Deans, the study will reviewed by the Graduate Dean. An overall assessment of the study will go to the Provost with a recommendation to proceed with on-campus approval or return the proposal to the originating unit(s). 2. Graduate Certificates A graduate certificate normally consists of a coherent hour program proposed by an academic unit and approved by the Graduate Council. To initiate a new graduate certificate, the academic unit or units making the proposal should discuss the idea with the appropriate College Dean or Deans. If the proposal is endorsed by the College, the unit should follow the procedure for certificate program approval that has been established by the Graduate Council.

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