the past 50 years in its 124-year history, the University of Northern Iowa
has offered selected graduate programs. In which ways does UNI attempt to
assure the quality of its graduate programs? Following an overview of UNI
graduate program history, as well as faculty involvement in and commitment
to these programs, issues are discussed and evidence offered for five indicators
of graduate program quality: (1) graduate programs are clearly distinguished
from undergraduate programs; (2) graduate faculty and students are expected
to engage in research and/or creative activity; (3) accepted professional
practices are used in awarding graduate academic credit for prior learning;
(4) graduate faculty possess appropriate credentials and experience; and,
(5) as with undergraduate academic programs, graduate programs use the results
of internal and external peer review to ensure quality.
of the need to provide a curriculum of selected programs leading to graduate
degrees has been an integral part of the University of Northern Iowa's history.
The University initiated graduate degree programs in 1951, when the Board
of Regents authorized the Master of Arts in Education. Building on its historic
excellence in undergraduate education, the University has developed outstanding
graduate programs in business, education, the natural sciences, humanities
and fine arts, and the social and behavioral sciences. We pride ourselves
in offering graduate students the individualized attention found on small
college campuses, with the resources and opportunities of a large university.
Today, UNI offers more than 50 graduate programs leading to the following
Arts in Education
also may pursue non-degree study at the graduate level in a variety of
graduate majors. In addition, programs leading to teacher licensure/endorsement
and the advanced studies certificate are offered.
staff of the Graduate College includes the dean, two associate deans (Associate
Dean for Faculty Scholarship and an Associate Dean for Student Services),
a Grants and Contracts administrator, a Grants and Contracts accountant,
a Thesis and Dissertation reader, two secretaries, and an account specialist.
in the Graduate College continues to grow and develop as an integral part
of UNI as the University strengthens its commitment to provide intellectually
challenging experiences and support rigorous scholarship. Accomplishments
of the past ten years, many of which are listed below, are evidence of
Graduate College moved to newly renovated Seerley Hall.
2.Graduate student enrollment increased from 1,078
in 1989 to 1,569 in 1999.
3.There have been regular increases in tuition scholarship
funds necessary to offset increases in graduate student tuition.
4.Recruitment of minority graduate students includes
a recent contractual agreement with Florida A & M. This supplements other
productive minority recruitment programs with the State University of
New Orleans, Dillard, Xavier, and other Louisiana universities. In total,
these efforts have resulted in 96 student recruitments and the awarding
of 59 graduate degrees from 1989-1999.
5.Minority student enrollment in graduate programs
increased from 41 (1989) to 109 (2000).
6.A significant increase in the University's involvement
in distance education occurred at the graduate level.
7.International student enrollment in graduate programs
increased from 44 (1989) to 155 (2000). A program for the recruitment
of Russian students, along with other existing international recruitment
initiatives, has served since 1989 to bring the percentage of international
students in UNI graduate programs to 10 percent of total graduate enrollment.
8.There also have been increases in financial support
available for graduate student research and creative activity.
9.The number of graduate degrees and majors available
to students increased.
10.Faculty participation in grant activity increased.
The total amount awarded increased from $3.5 million in 1989 to $18.1
million in 1999.
11.University support for faculty engaged in grant
writing increased, and two new positions were created (Federal Liaison
for Basic and Applied Research Grants, and a Grant Writer/Grant Facilitator-UNI
12.University financial non-salary support for faculty
research and creative activity rose from $82,000 eight years ago to more
than $170,000 in 1999.
13.New awards were created to recognize the achievement
of graduate students and faculty. Among the new awards are Outstanding
Doctoral Dissertation, Outstanding Master's Thesis, Outstanding Master's
Paper/Project, Outstanding Graduate Faculty Teaching, and the Donald McKay
Faculty Research Award.
As articulated in the 1996-1997 Graduate College Strategic Plan, the Graduate
College has a strong commitment to the following actions:
1.Expansion of the Grants and Contracts office to
facilitate the securing of extramural funds and to provide more effective
services to faculty (consistent with the 1996-2001 University Strategic
Plan, Goals 1B1, 1B3, 1C, 1C2, 3, 3A, 3B, 3B1)
2.Continuation of its emphasis on the recruitment
and retention of under-represented minority students (consistent with
University Strategic Plan, Goal 2B1a)
3.Assistance to academic departments to develop
active recruitment programs, the goal of which is to increase quality
by enlarging the selection pool of outstanding students (consistent with
University Strategic Plan, Goal 1A3a), and the maintenance of graduate
enrollment at a level of at least 10 percent of the total enrollment (consistent
with University Strategic Plan, Goal 1A3a)
4.Integration of Outcomes Assessment, Program Review
and Strategic Planning within each graduate program (consistent with University
Strategic Plan, Goal 1A5)
5.Innovation and change at the master's level to
meet the changing external environment and to offer master's programs
consistent with student demand, societal needs, and faculty expertise
(consistent with University Strategic Plan, Goal 1A3b)
6.Offering doctoral programs with a primary emphasis
upon applied, practitioner, and professionally-oriented studies (consistent
with University Strategic Plan, Goal 1A3c)
7.Development and implementation of strategies needed
for the creation and maintenance of an intellectually stimulating environment
for all members of the University community (consistent with University
Strategic Plan, Goals 1 and 1A1)
8.Continued support of the professional development
of high-quality graduate faculty (consistent with the University Strategic
Plan, Goal 1B1d).
C1: The University clearly distinguishes graduate from undergraduate offerings
The course numbering system used at UNI is explained in
the current (2000-2002) UNI Catalog on page 174. There is a clear delineation
in the course numbering system that designates lower-level undergraduate
(000), upper-level undergraduate (100), upper-level undergraduate courses
suitable for some graduate programs (100g), and graduate-level offerings
(200 for masters level and 300 for doctoral level).
Courses at the 100-level whose numbers are followed by a "g" are the only
undergraduate courses that provide graduate credit. In all courses of
the 100g series, greater academic achievement, both in quality and quantity,
is expected of those receiving graduate credit than of those receiving
undergraduate credit. Faculty are required to distinguish between course
expectations for undergraduate and graduate students taking 100(g) classes
on the syllabi they distribute at the beginning of the semester. For example,
one professor in a Public Organizations course has separate syllabi for
the undergraduates and graduate students. The undergraduate students have
two tests, a final, and a case study. The graduate students in the class
are graded on a multi-assignment case study, thought papers, two essay
tests, and class participation.
Courses numbered 200-299 are primarily designed for graduate students.
Undergraduates seeking admission to graduate courses must secure the permission
of the head of the department offering the course. Courses numbered 200-299,
taken as part of an undergraduate program, cannot later be used for an
advanced degree unless the student is eligible to earn graduate credit.
Courses numbered 300-399 are primarily designed for doctoral students.
The area of study, research demands, the amount and rigor of required
work, and the level of sophistication expected distinguish graduate from
undergraduate offerings. Other criteria are specified in the UNI Catalog,
the UNI Curriculum Guide, and in departmental program syllabi.
The graduate curriculum process includes review and recommendation by
a Graduate Curriculum Committee and approval by the Graduate Council.
Graduate faculty members initiate curriculum matters in their academic
Indicator C2: Faculty and students are expected
to value and engage in research, scholarship, and creative activity
The Graduate College expects that
graduate students at the University will acquire an advanced level of
knowledge and skills from coursework, research, practica/internships,
and from the varied experiences and perspectives shared by graduate students
and faculty. The specific research and artistic performance requirements
for individual students vary depending on whether students are in a doctoral
program or pursuing a graduate program that requires a thesis or research
Research papers, theses, and dissertations
are required of graduate students, and research requirements of each program
are clearly spelled out in the University Catalog. Specifically, students
writing a research paper are required to enroll in one to three hours
of research credit (XXX:299); students writing a thesis are required to
enroll in six to nine hours of research credit (XXX:299). The requirement
for the Doctor of Education is six hours of research and continuous enrollment
after a comprehensive examination; the Doctor of Industrial Technology
requirement is 12 hours of research and continuous enrollment. It is expected
that the level and quality of research and scholarly accomplishment will
be sufficient for publication in refereed journals and for presentation
at professional meetings.
Principles of scholarly rigor and research productivity
are reflected in the requirements for tenure and promotion of faculty.
As outlined in the Master Agreement, the departmental Professional Assessment
Committees (PACs) evaluate the teaching, research, and service of faculty
for the purpose of tenure and promotion. The University requires as part
of the PAC file that individual faculty include lists of presentations
and copies of publications. Tenure and promotion are, in part, based on
research. Merit money is also awarded on the basis of scholarship and
creative activity as well as on teaching.
The Graduate Research Awards program through which graduate students may
apply for and receive up to $500 evidences support for student research.
An excellent example of research support for faculty is the Dean's Challenge
Grant program, which offers summer support to tenured, probationary, and
continuing term faculty in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Proposals are evaluated according to the following priorities: (1) projects
that lead to the development of proposals to external funding agencies;
(2) projects that develop innovative teaching techniques or employ innovative
teaching technology; (3) projects that support research (with particular
attention paid to proposals that involve multidisciplinary research endeavors);
and (4) projects that support a cross-disciplinary or interdepartmental
approach to teaching.
III.2: Sponsored Project Proposals and Awards as Reported to the Board
of Regents (Excluding Student Financial Aid)
Three summary observations are made regarding Table III.2: (1) while the
number of external research proposals in 1998-1999 was about the same
as 12 years earlier, a greater percent of proposals were funded in 1998-1999
compared to 1986-1987; (2) the total amount of funding was nearly three
times greater in 1998-1999 compared to 1986-1987; and (3) in each of the
past 14 years, over one-half of the proposals submitted were funded.
Internal support for research conducted by faculty and students is demonstrated
through improved technological, financial, and physical resources. Good
examples of support in terms of program-specific technologies include
the Department of Geography's acquisition of a Global Positioning System
and the Department of Design, Family, and Consumer Sciences' new abrasion
and pilling tester.
Through its colleges the University provides a variety of programs to
support faculty research, scholarship, and creative activity throughout
the year. The University is committed to increasing opportunities for
enhancing the quality and quantity of faculty scholarship in support of
Indicator C3: Accepted professional practice
is used in awarding graduate academic credit for prior learning
The Office of the Registrar completes initial evaluation of graduate credit
earned prior to enrollment. In doing so, the Registrar is empowered to
certify the accreditation of institutions and of each applicant's degree(s),
determine the authenticity of academic work, and assure that an official
transcript is on file, that coursework is indeed at graduate level and
taught by graduate faculty, and that the credit is in compliance with
our recency requirement. The Registrar also evaluates and assigns UNI
course equivalencies to post-baccalaureate credit earned at other institutions.
Departmental graduate program coordinators, graduate admission committees,
and appropriate department heads all review graduate admission applications,
as well. Departmental faculty ultimately determine whether courses will
apply toward credit in a specific program.
C4: Graduate programs are approved, taught, and evaluated by a graduate
faculty that possesses appropriate credentials and experience
or regular members of the Graduate Faculty teach graduate courses. Associate
members can teach specified graduate courses, assist in advising graduate
students, and serve on, but not chair, master's thesis committees under
specified circumstances. Regular members of the graduate faculty, with
the appropriate terminal degree at the assistant professor level or above,
can teach courses designed only for the graduate level, advise graduate
students in their programs, and serve on and chair master's thesis committees;
they may serve on, but not chair, dissertation committees.
as chairs of doctoral committees must have demonstrated substantial involvement
in graduate education, including chairing master's theses and serving
on both master's thesis and doctoral dissertation committees, and must
show evidence of continued scholarly productivity after completion of
their terminal degrees.
recruit faculty with a terminal degree in their discipline and a documented
record of research and publication. These individuals are appointed to
the Graduate Faculty through the Graduate Dean's Office and the Graduate
Council, and only then are they assigned to teach graduate-level courses.
In addition, there
are procedures for the temporary appointment of someone who is not a regular
member of the Graduate Faculty to teach a graduate course, but these are
rare instances and occur under only very limited and controlled circumstances.
C5: Graduate programs use results of regular internal and external peer
review processes to ensure quality
The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, mandates Academic Program Reviews,
the purpose of which is to create a regularly scheduled, structured opportunity
for programs at the University of Northern Iowa to assess their role with
respect to the missions of the University, their college, and their department;
to examine and/or assert their place within appropriate strategic plans;
to address program quality, effectiveness, and viability; and to stimulate
program planning and improvement. Program review also enables academic
programs to obtain external peer opinion for assessing programs. External
reviewers are invited to visit UNI to assess programs conducting Academic
Program Review (APR) and to report their assessments in a written external
Academic Program Reviews are scheduled so that each University program
is evaluated at least once every seven years. It is assumed that all of
a department's programs, both undergraduate and graduate, will conduct
academic program reviews in the same academic year, but the focus of individual
reports is on programs. Copies of the updated master schedule are distributed
to the Academic Deans and the Dean of the Graduate College at the beginning
of each fiscal year.
Since 1999, Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA) has been an integral part
of the graduate Academic Program Review process. An initiative by the
Graduate Dean to institute program-specific Student Outcomes Assessments
in the Graduate College was begun in 1995. While not under the same State
mandate as undergraduate programs to engage in SOA, the Graduate SOA Committee
represents a proactive response to findings regarding the benefits of
such mechanisms in achieving overall institutional effectiveness. The
original charge to the Graduate SOA Committee was to oversee the development
and review of SOA plans from each graduate program. The SOA plans were
to reflect the discipline-specific nature of the assessment task. The
Graduate College SOA Committee charged reviewers with the evaluation of
the SOA plans from each graduate program. Reviewers determined the appropriateness
of the evaluation measures and procedures and recommended revisions, where
needed. Subsequently, the SOA Committee notified departments of the results
from this review and recommended further action. To strengthen the SOA
program and its process, the UNI Graduate Council reviewed current practices
in the SOA programs and recommended actions at its meeting on January
27, 2000, Graduate Council Minutes No. 892. The ongoing process, which
ultimately includes notification of departments and reciprocal assurance
of implementation for approved plans, demonstrates a commitment to item
number four in the Graduate College's Strategic Plan, as well as with
Objective 1.5 in the University's 2001-2006 Strategic Plan: build on
excellence in graduate programs.
occur on a regularly scheduled basis. The MBA program, for example, was
successfully reviewed as part of the two AACSB accreditation efforts in
1993 and 2000. The School of Music and the Departments of Communicative
Disorders and Art were reviewed, and subsequently reaccredited, in 1991,
1994 and 1997, respectively. The Master of Social Work is currently under
accreditation review. External reviews take on other forms as well. In
the Study Abroad Programs of the Department of Modern Languages, an external
review was conducted of the UNISSIST program in Spain in the summer of
1999, the results of which are being used to make improvements in that
measurements of UNI's graduate programs, while not part of a formal review
process, provide compelling evidence for evaluating accomplishments. For
example, in a sample of 1998-1999 graduates from UNI's graduate degree
programs, over 96% either were employed or went on to further education.
In addition to highly ranked programs in the Department of Communicative
Disorders cited earlier, U.S. News and World Report most recently ranked
our music program among the top 75 in the country. Building on such accomplishments
in graduate programs is part of the institution's effort to expand
and maintain programs that distinguish the University, serve as magnets
and attract students to the University of Northern Iowa (see 2001-2006
Strategic Plan, Objective 1.4.).