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3.6.1 Post-baccalaureate program rigor

The institution’s post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, master’s and doctoral degree programs, are progressively more advanced in academic content than its undergraduate programs. (Post-baccalaureate program rigor)

Judgment of Compliance

The post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, master’s and doctoral degree programs at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) are progressively more advanced in academic content than undergraduate programs. SHSU ensures progressively more advanced curriculum content with the appropriate rigor and academic quality through the combination of the program approval process, the pursuit and attainment of college and/or disciplinary accreditation, and the qualifications of the graduate faculty. The progressively more advanced curriculum is evident when comparing syllabi for undergraduate and graduate courses with similar course names and/or descriptions, viewing courses requirements, and viewing degree requirements. Program and course prerequisites are further evidence of the progressive nature of the post-baccalaureate and graduate programs. All graduate courses at SHSU require either post-baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral classification. The respective academic dean may allow an undergraduate student with recognized abilities to enroll in a graduate course.

Approval Process for Graduate Programs
The progression of academic content from the baccalaureate level to the graduate level is initially addressed during the development of any new graduate program. As detailed in Comprehensive Standards 3.4.1 and 3.4.10, the content of a proposed program is created by the departmental faculty and subsequently reviewed by the departmental curriculum committee, college curriculum committee and dean, and university curriculum committee prior to submission to the Academic Affairs Council, the Provost, the President, the Board of Regents of The Texas State University System (TSUS), and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Any proposal for a new program is submitted using the THECB’s “New Program Request Form for Bachelor and Master’s Degrees” or following the format detailed in THECB rule 5.46 for doctoral programs [1] [2]. The proposals for new programs require a description of the program, curriculum, and faculty credentials.

Any new course included in a proposed program must have an accompanying Form B [3]. This process requires that the intended audience (student classification) and prerequisites be identified and set for each new course. Any course designed to be an upper level course must have greater rigor than a lower level course. Similarly, post-baccalaureate and graduate courses demand a higher level of sophistication than do undergraduate level courses, and as such require an undergraduate degree prior to admission. The Course Content section of Form B requires the completion of the proposed 15-week course content, allowing the respective committees to ensure the course meets the rigor expected of post-baccalaureate and graduate courses. Examples of recent Form Bs are provided in the support documentation [4] [5] [6].

Upon approval from The Texas State University System Board of Regents, program proposals are forwarded to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. All academic degree programs offered by public institutions of higher education in Texas must be approved by the THECB. Coordinating Board rules 5.45 and 5.46 govern the review of new master’s and doctoral programs [7] [2]. For both master’s and doctoral programs, the THECB review ensures that the proposed curriculum is “up-to-date and consistent with current educational theory.” Furthermore, “[P]rofessional programs and those resulting in licensure must also be designed to meet the standards of appropriate regulatory bodies.” The THECB requires that doctoral program proposals face an additional review and site visit from an external team of peers. As with all public institutions of higher education in Texas, the degree programs at SHSU have been approved by the THECB and can be found on the THECB’s website in its list of approved programs [8].

Admission/Program Requirements, Course Numbering, Descriptions, and Content
The progressive nature of post-baccalaureate and graduate programs is evident in the basic admission requirement that the applicant “hold a baccalaureate degree from a college or university of recognized standing and show promise of ability to satisfactorily pursue advanced study and research, and have adequate preparation to enter graduate study in the chosen field” [9]. Furthermore, many graduate programs require that qualified applicants have a baccalaureate degree from a specific discipline or a minimum number of specific undergraduate coursework hours to prepare the student for the progressive nature of the post-baccalaureate or graduate program. If a qualified applicant does not possess the necessary baccalaureate background to be sufficiently prepared for the advanced academic rigor, stem or preparatory coursework is required of the student. Examples of programs in the arts, business, sciences and social sciences that require baccalaureate work in a specific discipline to prepare graduate students for the progressive nature of the program can be found in the support documents [10] [11] [12] [13] [14].

Sam Houston State University utilizes a course numbering sequence that is indicative of progressive academic content. Undergraduate courses are identified using a course number in the 111 to 499 range while graduate course numbers range from 511 to 899. As stated in the Graduate Catalog, “A graduate course is an advanced course requiring critical analysis and study. Typically, courses with numbers of 500- or 600-level are master’s-level courses and 700-level or higher are doctoral-level courses” [15].

Comparing the course descriptions and content between baccalaureate and graduate courses with similar titles provides further evidence that the academic content progresses from baccalaureate to graduate programs.

For example, the Department of Management and Marketing offers a course in Operations Management at both the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The progression in academic content is evident when comparing the general course objectives. The baccalaureate course provides basic coverage while the graduate course demands greater depth and analytical and critical thinking. The baccalaureate course, MGT 475, is designed to “provide coverage of current factors,” “identify current issues,” and “provide opportunity for application of course material in realistic case situations.” The graduate course, MGT 560, is designed to “provide broad understanding,” “provide opportunity to apply . . . through case analysis and field research,” and “understand the role of operations in organization strategic planning.” The Specific Course Objectives provide more evidence that the graduate course is more advanced. The baccalaureate course has as specific course objectives: “acquire factual knowledge,” “learn fundamental principles,” “how to apply course material to improve thinking . . ,” and “provide opportunity for application.” The graduate course has more analytic objectives such as “how to analyze and critically evaluate. . ,” “how to find and use resources” “develop specific skills, competencies and points of views needed by professionals,” and “acquiring skills in working with others.” [16] [17].

The Department of Biological Sciences offers a course in genetics at both the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The baccalaureate course, BIO 345 Introductory Genetics serves as a prerequisite for the graduate course, BIO 591 Advanced Genetics. The course description and objectives for BIO 591 reveals that the graduate course demands greater analytical skills, technical expertise and research capabilities [18] [19].

BIO 345 Introductory Genetics. Study is made of the physical bases of inheritance and principles of heredity and variation. Topics include Mendelian genetics, cytogenetics, molecular basis of genetics, gene expression and regulation, and DNA technologies. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in BIO 161/111, 162/112, 244, CHM 138/118, 139/119. Two-hour laboratory. Writing enhanced. Fall, Spring. Credit 4.

BIO 591 Advanced Genetics. This is an advanced study of the principles of heredity and the nature and function of the gene. Emphasis will be on molecular genetics with special attention to recent advances in DNA technologies. Laboratory studies include completion of a mini-research project and preparation of a scientific paper. Two-hour laboratory. Prerequisite: introductory genetics with grade of C or better and organic chemistry. Credit 3.

Comparison of the course objectives for the undergraduate and graduate courses in Restoration and 18th Century British Literature, ENG 477 and 575, provide another example of the progression from providing a broad understanding of the subject matter at the undergraduate level to developing independent readers, scholars and teachers who will contribute significantly to the profession of literature and language at the graduate level [20] [21].

The undergraduate and graduate courses on International Relations, POL 380 and 567, illustrate that the undergraduate course is introductory in nature while the graduate course is designed to analyze foreign policy options and challenges. In the undergraduate course the students will be introduced to theories and have the “opportunity to consider contemporary issues,” while in the graduate course student will “write a publishable scholarly article . . . formulate policy for think tanks, . . . and formulate policy options for various governmental institutions” [22] [23].

In some graduate programs, a limited number of 400-level courses at SHSU may be taken for graduate credit to provide students with a greater array of electives. Students taking such a course are assigned additional work to elevate the content and rigor to what is expected in a graduate course [24]. The number of 400-level courses taken for graduate credit that are allowed to count toward a graduate degree is limited, typically to six hours [25] [26]. The Council of Academic Deans have approved a new requirement that only members of the Graduate Faculty be allowed to teach 400-level courses that are eligible to be taken for graduate credit, even if no graduate students are enrolled in the course. Furthermore, freshmen and sophomores will not be allowed to enroll in such courses. The programming to enforce the new requirement will be in place for a fall 2009 implementation.

An external confirmation of the progressive nature of the academic content in the graduate programs at SHSU is the recognition as being an accredited program. While not all academic disciplines have the opportunity to seek a discipline-specific accreditation, SHSU has sought and obtained accreditation in most disciplines with an accrediting body. The following departments have sought and successfully obtained accreditation:

• The College of Business Administration’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs are accredited by AACSB International, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
• The College of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). As one of only eleven universities in Texas with accreditation from NCATE, the educator preparation programs meet the accreditation standards necessary to ensure high quality graduates.
• The American Chemical Society recognizes the Department of Chemistry as having adequate faculty, facilities, library, curriculum, and research for training professional chemists.
• The Masters Program for Licensed Professional Counselors is accredited by the Council of Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for the period July 2006 through July 2014.
• The Dietetic Internship (DI) Program at the graduate level in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences is currently granted Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association.
• The Doctoral Program degree in Clinical Psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
• The Graduate Program in School Psychology is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists to ensure high quality school psychology training and services.

All graduate programs are encouraged to seek accreditation when available. Currently, the graduate program in Forensic Science is starting the process of seeking accreditation.

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] New Program Request Form for Bachelor and Master's Degrees, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
[2] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Section 5.46(1) (3) (10) (13)
[3] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course
[4] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course - Example - ACC 582
[5] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course - Example - CS 585
[6] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course - Example - CJ 565
[7] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Section 5.45
[8] Program Inventory for SHSU, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
[9] Application Process - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[10] Admission Requirements - Dance Program, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[11] Admission Requirements - Biology Program, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[12] Admission Requirements - Music Program, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[13] Admission Requirements - Business Program, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[14] Admission Requirements - Psychology Program, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[15] Course Numbering, Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[16] Syllabus - MGT 475 - Fall 2007
[17] Syllabus - MGT 560 - Fall 2007
[18] Syllabus - BIO 345 - Spring 2008
[19] Syllabus - BIO 591 - Spring 2008
[20] Syllabus - ENG 477 - Fall 2007
[21] Syllabus - ENG 575 - Fall 2007
[22] Syllabus - POL 380 - Fall 2007
[23] Syllabus - POL 567 - Fall 2007
[24] Graduate Credit for 400-Level Courses - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[25] Graduate Credit Limit for 400-Level Courses - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[26] Graduate Credit for 400-Level Business Courses - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009


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