3.6.2 Graduate curriculum
The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences.
Judgement of Compliance:
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) demands excellence in its graduate programs. The Graduate Catalog provides the mission of the Graduate School: “to provide rigorous advanced instruction, applied research opportunities, financial support, and other support services for graduate students.”
As partners with academic units, the Graduate School seeks to uphold the highest standards in advanced education. Students complete a rigorous course of study wherein they gain mastery over the extant literature of their respective disciplines and the appropriate, discipline-based modality of intellectual inquiry. In those disciplines which require an applied focus, students are held to high standards in practice and application of their skill sets. Essentially, there are three types of graduate courses:
- Content, literature based courses
- Research based courses
- Practice based courses.
The Graduate Catalog (pp. 43-98) also provides full descriptions of each program’s requirements, including requisite courses and the research and/or experience-based learning expected in each discipline.
It is the role of each graduate faculty, department head, and academic dean to monitor the quality of instruction in program areas. However, there are also roles for the Graduate Council and the Graduate School. As noted in section 3.6.1, the Graduate Council is the body that reviews, assesses, and approves graduate curricula. The standards and processes involved in developing a new program are specified by the University of Tennessee system. Among the requirements are adherence to best practice in curriculum design, adequate research capacity and support, qualified faculty, and sufficient library resources.
Exposure to Literature
All programs require a firm foundation in the literature and reading of the discipline. Courses that would be considered content or literature-based provide graduate students with a full exposure to information and literature in the discipline, both current and historic. The course descriptions below (found in the Graduate Catalog) show how these classes require students to gain familiarity with the research or literature of their disciplines. The attached syllabi further demonstrate the exposure to literature in the graduate school.
ENGM 551 Legal and Ethical Perspectives in Engineering (3)
Course objectives are (I) to introduce the engineering manager to moral reasoning, ethical theories ethical principles, ethical rules, and foundation for ethical decisions as managers, (2) to describe the legal boundaries in which engineering managers must function, and (3) evaluate contemporary cases confronting engineering managers. (Page 122)
HHP 556 Research Methods in Exercise Science and Health (3)
Sports medicine research, including critical analysis of published research in the field and preparation of a research proposal. (Page 132)
Additionally, many programs require a comprehensive exam, wherein students must prove their acquaintance with and knowledge of the literature of their field. This table indicates which graduate programs require a culminating activity, such as a thesis or dissertation.
Research and Professional Experience
All students in the Graduate School have ample opportunity to participate in research and other professional experiences. Every program requires a research element. The Graduate Catalog explains that the doctoral dissertation “represents a high quality scholarly project that allows the student to demonstrate his or her mastery of the research and analytic skills currently applied by scholars in the discipline” (Page 15). The Ph.D. in Computational Engineering requires a dissertation. Similarly, “the thesis represents the culmination of an original research project” (Page 28). These programs allow a thesis as at least one option for the culminating experience: M.S. Criminal Justice, M.A. English, M.M. Music, M.S. Psychology, M.S. Computer Science, M.S. Environmental Science, M.S. Engineering, M.S. Nursing, and M. Ed. Both the dissertation and the thesis are original research projects developed by the student and guided by the graduate faculty. Several programs offer an independent research class, which allows students to pursue an individual research effort for course credit.
Some specialized training programs utilize external relationships to provide their students with regular training and professional growth within the discipline. These programs often require their graduating students to make research presentations to their respective community partners. The Graduate Athletic Training Program (GTAP) requires its 2nd year students to do a formal poster presentation as part of the annual Orthopedic Grand Rounds at Erlanger Hospital.
Finally, there are several programs that require extensive practical training and professional experience, including M.S. Criminal Justice, M.S. Environmental Science, M.S. Engineering, M.S. Health and Human performance, M.Ed., D.P.T., and Ed.S. For example, the M.Ed. in Counseling requires a practicum, as seen in the course description below:
EPSY 555 Counseling Practicum (3)
A site-based supervised experience where students participate in conducting counseling sessions. This course provides students with the opportunity to refine skills learned in Pre-Practicum and apply to actual counseling sessions. These skills include attending skills, therapeutic relationship building skills, and basic counseling skills, as well as skills in self-reflection and self-awareness. Students will recognize the influence of personal biases and values in providing counseling services and will be expected to conduct and participate in case presentations. Students will demonstrate an ability to receive feedback and provide constructive feedback to peers. 100 total on-site hours with 40 hours of direct service. (Page 157)
The M.S.A.T. requires an observational training experience (see description below).
HHP 525 Observation Experience (3)
Supervised off-campus on-the-job learning experience designed to provide students opportunities to observe in a private clinic, educational setting, sports organization involved in athletic health care, emergency room or other related healthcare settings. (Page 131)
In addition to what is required by each discipline, the Graduate School sponsors a Research & Scholarship Day for graduate students. To participate in this event, students must submit a proposal and agree to have their product reviewed by an external audience. In this way, students are exposed to the academic rigor required from a scholarly publication or organization, and they are encouraged to engage in substantial and thoughtful research projects. The Graduate School website offers more information about this program and other examples of research opportunities at UTC.
- 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog, page 5
- New Academic Programs Standards and Policies
- ENGM 551 Legal and Ethical Perspectives in Engineering, syllabus
- HHP 556 Research Methods in Exercise Science and Health, syllabus
- Culminating or Capstone Experience table
- EPSY 555 Counseling Practicum, syllabus
- HHP 525 Observation Experience, syllabus
- Graduate School Website, Research