March 2011 Archives

Work is under way to incorporate graduate-level programs into the Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS). PCAS automates the approval of new and changed academic programs and dynamically populates the online academic catalog.

Two concurrent parts of the PCAS project are currently in progress:

  • Technical development of the user interface to enter graduate-level program data into PCAS. The target completion date for this part of the project is May 23, 2011.
  • The collection of critical program information for graduate-level academic programs. To facilitate the collection of this academic program information, the PCAS team distributed a toolkit to college catalog coordinators on Friday, March 25.

As a part of the information-gathering process, college catalog coordinators will distribute formatted worksheets--one for each graduate-level degree, minor, and certificate--to their contacts in each academic program. Where information exists in current catalogs, these worksheets have been pre-populated with some basic program information. However, the expertise of the Directors of Graduate Studies (DGSs) and DGS-assistants will be critical to the completion of these worksheets with accurate, currently-approved academic program details.

Colleges have been asked to review and submit their completed worksheets to the PCAS team for provost-level review by May 4, 2011. After final review, data entry will begin by the end of May; this first round of PCAS data entry will be performed centrally, as a service to colleges and departments.

The collective effort to implement PCAS for graduate-level programs will result in many substantial benefits:

  • Collegiate units will have simpler and improved access to and control of the information about their academic programs.
  • The process for updating existing academic programs, and advancing new program proposals through required approval levels will be faster and more transparent, as well as parallel to and consistent with the undergraduate process.
  • PCAS will feed a current, online and searchable catalog displaying graduate-level programs and requirements to current and prospective students.
  • The University will have a comprehensive inventory of all graduate-level programs.
An overview of the program worksheets will be presented during the graduate portion of the RAC meeting on April 4. Please contact Kristin Cleveland at cleve064@umn.edu if you have questions.

Degree progress: The approach to creating new processes

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An initial strategy has been determined for analyzing and then implementing new processes related to degree progress and degree clearance. The ultimate goal is to create an online system to track graduate student degree progress and perform degree clearance functions. The target implementation date is June 2013. The Graduate School will continue its current degree progress tracking and clearance activities until new solutions are in place.

Beginning at the end

The ultimate goal of degree progress is, of course, degree completion. In student records terms, degree completion is certified through the degree clearance process--the series of steps that verify the completion of all the required milestones for the student's degree.

So, in order to determine what degree progress milestones need to be tracked throughout a graduate student's career at the University, ASR and the Graduate School are beginning by mapping the degree clearance process and defining the required milestones.

ASR analysts are working with Graduate School staff to document the current steps and requirements for graduate student degree clearance. That set of items can vary depending on the degree, but may include:

  • Final oral examination scheduling and reporting 
  • Verifying the completion of a student's particular degree requirements from the degree program form
  • Application for Degree Form
  • Reviewers Report Form
  • Submission of a correctly formatted thesis/dissertation that meets the University's requirement 
  • Certifying students for degree clearance

In documenting the existing processes, analysts will pay particular attention to recording the reasons for certain tasks (e.g., University policy, systems constraints, and the student's best interest), as well as other interdependent processes that relate to degree clearance and degree completion.

This initial stage of documentation is currently in progress, with a target completion date of April 1.

Then, retracing the steps

Once we better understand what must be certified to allow a student to graduate, we can turn our attention to the steps that happen along the way. This phase of documentation and analysis will occur between now and the end of June 2011. It will include (but will not be limited to): 

  • Understanding general degree requirements, like a thesis or dissertation, preliminary exams, and final exams
  • Tracking the completion of degree requirements
  • Handling transfer credit evaluations
  • Managing visa extensions or changes
  • Advising students on degree progress and providing feedback
  • Issuing warnings to students when degree progress may be compromised
  • Monitoring satisfactory academic progress for purposes of financial aid
  • Managing the re-admission and/or change of status processes

How colleges and programs can expect to be involved

Degree clearance and degree progress responsibilities are currently shared among academic programs, the Graduate School, and the Office of the Registrar. Any changes to existing roles and responsibilities will be made only after communication and collaboration during the development of new processes.

During these first stages of documentation and discovery, ASR and Graduate School staff will post updates on what we learn and what is coming next on the project website and will hold discussions on related issues at the monthly Registrar's Advisory Committee meetings.

Beginning in April, broad discussions will take place with the colleges about what information must be tracked related to student degree progress, what information should be tracked, and what might be nice to know or have. Through these discussions, we can begin to collaboratively sketch out a new process that is in compliance with relevant policies and systems requirements, and is, to the greatest extent possible, both student- and staff-friendly.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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