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Compliance Certification Report
Comprehensive Standards 3.6.1

Last Updated Aug 17, 2004
(static edition)

Comprehensive Standards 3.6.1:

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

The Institution Certifies Compliance: Yes

Compliance report completed by: Audit Team 27

Statement of Rationale for Judgment of Compliance:

The University of Memphis makes clear the distinctions between undergraduate course work and course work for master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees. All of the programs under the auspices of the Graduate School as well as the J.D. in Law provide progressively advanced course work and experiences. The UofM Graduate Bulletin (individual degree program descriptions) details the minimum requirements for all degrees including a planned program of study, residency requirements, formal admission to candidacy, supervision by an advisory committee, and a culminating experience that includes a comprehensive examination, project, thesis, and dissertation, depending on the degree program. [1] Protocols for the administration and evaluation of all comprehensive examination are articulated for each program.

The university’s course numbering system identifies graduate courses at each level and distinguishes them from undergraduate courses. Only non-degree and fully admitted graduate students may enroll in and receive graduate credit for courses numbered according to the following system:

6000-6999 - Courses equivalent to 4000 level senior courses for which a limited amount of graduate credit may be earned. Students are expected to do more work and to perform at a higher level to receive graduate credit. Courses are taught by members of the graduate faculty.

7000-7999 - Courses open primarily to master’s students and taught by members of the graduate faculty

8000-8999 - Courses open primarily to post-master’s students and taught by members of the graduate faculty

9000 - Dissertation, directed by a full member of the graduate faculty

Other policies ensuring that graduate coursework is progressively more advanced in content include:

  • A master’s degree requires 30-36 semester hours of course work, although some programs require substantially more. A minimum of 70% of the total required hours must be provided by 7000 level courses. No more than 12 hours of workshop courses and independent study courses may be applied to the master’s degree. [2]  
  • A Specialist in Education degree, the EdS, requires 33 post-master’s credits. [3]
  • Requirements for the doctoral degree vary according to the specific doctoral degree program. A minimum of 54 credits beyond the master’s is required for the EdD and a minimum of 100 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s is required for the AuD. The PhD requires at least 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. [4]
  • When undergraduate and graduate coursework are combined (4000-6000 courses), additional work is required, and a higher standard expected, for graduate students enrolled at the 6000 level. These expectations are clearly articulated in course syllabi.
  • When master’s and doctoral coursework (7000-8000) are combined, additional coursework is required, and a higher standard expected, for students enrolled at the 8000 level. These expectations are clearly articulated in the course syllabi.

Required theses, dissertations, and comprehensive examinations are further evidence of the advanced nature of graduate study at the UofM. The doctoral comprehensive examination contains both oral and written components, covering the major and collateral fields of study. Performance must be acceptable to the candidate's advisory committee, and may not include more than one dissenting vote. A student may register for dissertation hours only after passing the comprehensive examination. The dissertation proposal (or prospectus) is developed under the guidance of the dissertation committee. An acceptable dissertation is a requirement for all doctoral degrees. The dissertation must represent a significant scholarly effort that culminates in an original contribution to the field of inquiry. [4]

Processes that monitor curriculum development, instruction, and course content assure the progressively advanced content of master’s, specialist, professional, and doctoral degree programs. The University Council for Graduate Studies and Research (UCGSR) rigorously monitors all curricular proposals to insure that program content is substantially beyond the undergraduate level. New or revised graduate courses are reviewed each December so that the advanced level of requirements is appropriate to graduate education. [5] This review includes consideration of the following:

  • Courses meet high academic standards for quality graduate education;
  • Requirements are consistent with the level of instruction; and
  • Content, structure, and means of student assessment are substantially different from those of undergraduate courses.

Additionally, regular and systematic evaluations of graduate curricula in the program review process assure that graduate-level quality standards are met. [6] Other external review processes include self-studies and reviews by professional accreditation associations such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business, and the National Association of Schools of Music.

All professional and post-baccalaureate programs rest on the foundation of qualified faculty in the disciplines. [7] The UofM maintains several levels of graduate faculty. Applications for membership in the graduate faculty are reviewed and approved by the appropriate departmental and college level committees and finally by the UCGSR. Criteria ensure that graduate faculty are current in their disciplines and qualified to teach and direct research at substantially higher levels than those required for undergraduate instruction. [8]

The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the UofM confers the degree of Juris Doctor (JD). This degree program is more advanced in academic content than undergraduate programs. The law school does not offer undergraduate courses or allow enrollment in its courses by undergraduate students. Although undergraduate programs at the university offer some courses on aspects of the law, the curriculum of the law school presents more advanced content and a more rigorous course of study necessary to master legal concepts, doctrine, and an understanding of legal practice.  

The law school’s Curriculum Committee, a standing committee, monitors the curricular offerings and responds to proposals for additional courses. It recommends approval by the faculty as a whole when the committee deems the proposed courses appropriate for the Law School’s substantive and clinical offerings. The curricular and pedagogical orientation of the program at the School of Law are consistent with other law schools in the United States. The two associations that approve and accredit law schools, the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), review the curriculum of the School of Law as part of their periodic reviews of the law school’s operations. The School of Law of the University of Memphis is approved by the ABA and is a member of AALS. [9]

Relevant Organizational Unit(s):

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Programs

Supporting Documentation and Evidence:

[1] UofM Graduate Bulletin, Degree Programs
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[2] UofM Graduate Bulletin, Master's Degree Requirements
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[3] UofM Graduate Bulletin, Education Specialist Degree Requirements
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[4] UofM Graduate Bulletin, Doctoral Degree Requirements
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[5] University Council for Graduate Studies and Research, Minutes
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[6] Graduate Program Review
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[7] UofM Responses to Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1
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[8] Guidelines and Procedures for Graduate Faculty Status
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[9] Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
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