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2.7.2 Program Content

The institution offers degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated mission and is based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education. (Program Content)

Judgment of Compliance

Sam Houston State University offers degree programs that embody coherent courses of study compatible with the mission and based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education. Based on the United States Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) [1] taxonomy, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) establishes a Texas CIP [2] for post-secondary disciplines to which degree programs at Sam Houston State University adhere. To assure adherence to standard academic expectations, all programs offered by Sam Houston State University are approved according to the rules and regulations of The Texas State University System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board [3] [4].

Consistent with Institutional Mission
Degree programs at Sam Houston State University support the university’s mission [5] to “. . . provide excellence by continually improving quality education . . .” To be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board, all baccalaureate and master’s programs must be shown to be appropriate for the institution’s mission. Specifically, Section 5.45 of the THECB Rules and Regulations requires that new baccalaureate and master’s degree programs demonstrate direct connection with the University mission. The same document, Section 5.46, demands that doctoral programs evolve out of strong bachelor’s- and/or master’s-level programs which have already been deemed appropriate to SHSU’s mission [4]. All programs on Sam Houston State University’s table of programs have been vetted by this process. Every four years the THECB, in accordance with the Texas Education Code (TEC), reviews the mission statement of the university and its table of programs [6].

Internal Review Processes
Each degree program is responsible for an annual review of its curriculum to ensure relevance, timeliness, and coherence to the mission. The University‘s curriculum review process, described in the Faculty Handbook [7] and initiated by a letter from the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs to the academic deans [8], includes an annual review of courses by departmental committees. Each department committee makes recommendations for new courses and degree programs, as well as changes or deletions to existing courses or programs to the respective college curriculum committees. For new programs and substantive changes to degree programs, the University follows the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Policies and Procedures Manual [9]. The colleges submit the new courses and degree programs to the University Curriculum Committee [10] for review. As part of the review process, the proposal must demonstrate that the proposed program is properly sequenced and that the various subcomponents, e.g., core requirements, course prerequisites, are adequately linked together in a coherent fashion. Once the prerequisites are set, the changes are submitted to the Registrar’s Office, which in turn enters the prerequisites in the appropriate registration program to insure that students proceed in an efficient and progressively complex sequence. Using the same process, in conjunction with the Registrar, decisions are made as to the appropriate course number which signifies the intended difficulty of each class. Requests to change course numbers must be accompanied by appropriate justification [11]. All such requests are reviewed by the various curriculum committees at all levels. Finally, all proposed changes are submitted to the Provost and the Academic Affairs Council [12] for endorsement before submission to the President, The Texas State University System’s Board of Regents, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In addition to the curriculum review cycle, the University’s assessment process provides an internal review of each degree program’s learning outcomes. All departments are required to assess the effectiveness of their degree programs. The assessment process includes the creation of goals, objectives, indicators, criteria, findings, and actions. Prior to the fall 2006 semester, the University created an Online Assessment Tracking Database (OATDB) program to assist the departments in data-driven decision making. The OATDB provides a venue to summarize assessment results and accompanying changes as well as allowing departments to share assessment best practices

External Review
Numerous programs at Sam Houston State University are accredited by specialized accrediting agencies which attest to the coherence of the courses of study and the quality of the academic programs [13].

Undergraduate Programs
Undergraduate degree programs are composed of a general education core of 42 hours as required by THECB rules [14], courses for a major, electives, and, if appropriate a minor as described in the Undergraduate Catalog [15]. Effective, fall 2008, pending the completion of appropriate computer programming, the undergraduate degree programs will require that a core of prerequisite courses (two composition classes, one mathematics class, and one laboratory science class) [16] be completed prior to the undertaking of upper-division (300- and 400-level) classes to provide students with certain skills necessary for the successful completion of the upper-division classes.

Graduate Programs
As a result of the diversity and nature of graduate programs in the various disciplines, requirements vary for degrees at the graduate level. The graduate faculty in each of the disciplines is responsible for the graduate curriculum and follows the procedure outlined in the Internal Review Processes section of this narrative. General degree requirements are described in the respective academic program sections of the 2007-2009 Graduate Catalog [17]. The Graduate Council, chaired by the Dean of Graduate Studies, is responsible for providing guidance to the graduate programs in the form of policy and procedure recommendations [18]. The Graduate Council provides the Graduate Dean with advice on graduate faculty status [19] reviews as presented by the deans of the various colleges. The Doctoral Advisory Committee serves as an advisory board for issues specific to doctoral programs [20].

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Codes, National Center for Education Statistics
[2] Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Codes for Texas as listed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
[3] The Texas State University System, Rules and Regulations, Chapter III, Section 5.1(11)
[4] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Sections 5.45 and 5.46
[5] Mission Statement, SHSU - Undergraduate Catalog, 2006 – 2008, Online Version
[6] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Section 5.24
[7] Curriculum Development and Evaluation - Faculty Handbook
[8] Curriculum Review Cycle Memo from Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs to Academic Deans
[9] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Section 5.25
[10] Curriculum Committee, SHSU
[11] Course Renumbering Justification Example, Excerpts from Curriculum Report
[12] Academic Affairs Council, SHSU
[13] Accreditation, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009 - Online
[14] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Section 4.28
[15] Undergraduate Catalog, 2006-2008, SHSU
[16] Council of Academic Deans, SHSU - Meeting Minutes, February 22, 2007
[17] Academic Sections - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[18] Graduate Council, SHSU
[19] Academic Policy Statement 801014 - Graduate Faculty Status, Section 3
[20] Doctoral Advisory Committee, SHSU






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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111