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Work to incorporate graduate-level programs into the Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS) continues. A PCAS system update is nearing completion, and the first graduate program data entry is expected to begin by the end of July.

Since April, more than 500 program worksheets have been completed and returned through the college catalog coordinators. Data entry is scheduled for August and September, followed by an opportunity for programs to review their entered data in October. The target go-live date for the PCAS-generated online graduate catalog is late November.

Data entry is a collaborative effort of Academic Support Resources and the Graduate School. The data from the worksheets will be entered centrally by 2-3 student workers supervised by Jon Poppele. Jon brings experience from working on two previous issues of the Graduate School catalog. Data quality review is being coordinated by Joe Shultz in the Provost's Office and Vicki Field in the Graduate School. Once the entered data has been reviewed in PCAS by programs, it will be exported to the PDF version of the catalog by Kristin Cleveland in University Relations.

Until the new online catalog and PDF version are available, the current 2009-11 Graduate School Catalog will be extended with a short supplement containing a summary of key changes, to be posted online on or around August 15. This will constitute the interim, transitional catalog. The new PDF version of the catalog is expected to be completed in late December or early January and will incorporate many of the new and revised graduate education policies that are currently under review.

Thanks to all the program and college staff who are contributing to this project.

For more information about this project, see the March 31 post about PCAS. If you have questions, contact Kristin Cleveland at cleve064@umn.edu or 624-1682 or Jon Poppele at poppele@umn.edu.

Registration exceptions: Workflow project update

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As reported in this update from February, a Workflow project team was created to meet with representatives from the colleges, draft a new process for handling exceptions to certain registration deadlines and policies for graduate students, and create an online form that will automate this process.

The new, online registration exceptions process is scheduled to launch this fall. It will replace the paper-based process through which Graduate School students petition to add courses or change grade basis after the second week, and to drop courses after the eighth week.

Project status

The project team has completed six meetings with various college representatives and drafted a revised process. ASR technical staff are now designing the online form that students will use to submit their requests, and mapping the online workflow through which these requests will be approved or denied by: instructors; the student's department/program; and/or the student's college. (The approval steps may vary based on the specific exception the student requests.) The team will consult with college and department stakeholders as the new process takes shape.

The main challenge the team currently faces is determining how the contact data for the approval roles at the department/program and the college will be stored and maintained. In order for the automation of this process to be successful and create real efficiencies, this contact data must be stored in a central location and be relatively easy to keep up-to-date. These approver roles may also be utilized for other processes as they are moved from paper to an online format.

Next steps

The development of the online form and workflow will proceed through several cycles, and feedback will be solicited from departments and colleges beginning in May, 2011. As the final version of the form is completed, training and communication will commence, followed by the launch in fall 2011.

Questions about this project can be addressed to John Vollum.

"Building a Better Graduate Program - Rethinking Program Evaluation" will be the theme of the second Graduate and Professional Education Assembly on Monday, April 18.

Evaluation experts Chris Golde and George Walker, collaborators involved in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate, will be the keynote speakers and facilitators for an interactive assembly. Faculty and students will work together to generate and develop ideas toward students-outcomes-based program assessment.

The Graduate and Professional Education Assembly brings together faculty, staff, and students from both graduate and professional programs across the University. It was established based on recommendations of the work group on graduate education, whose report was accepted by the Provost in May 2010. The first assembly was held in November.

In-person registration for the spring 2011 assembly is already full, but participation is encouraged by live webcast. See the event page.

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.

Registration exceptions: Workflow Gen progress report

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Near the end of fall 2010, a transition team made up of staff from colleges, academic programs, ASR, and the Graduate School reviewed the current procedures for approving or denying certain registration exceptions for Graduate School students. That group determined that this process should be transitioned to an online format, using the software product Workflow Gen.

In January, a Workflow Gen project team was created. This core team, made of up ASR and Graduate School staff, is meeting with groups of staff from colleges and academic programs to review and revise a streamlined process draft. The first meeting with stakeholders from three colleges (held on February 2) generated significant useful feedback. That feedback will be incorporated into the next process draft, which will be reviewed by all colleges over the next few weeks.

Once the revised process has been finalized, development in Workflow Gen will begin. The project will be complete before fall 2011. To review documents as they are completed, visit the Registration Exceptions page on the project website.

Some programs may remain in the Graduate School

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Some interdisciplinary programs with homes in more than one college may remain in the Graduate School. Ownership, administration, funding, and oversight will be in the colleges, similar to all other graduate programs. The Graduate School will appear on the transcript as the degree-granting unit.

For each interdisciplinary program, a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) among all collegiate owners must be in place. The MOU must address all issues relating to ownership, administration, program support, funding, policy, curriculum, degree requirements, and oversight.

A group of representatives from each college are meeting to address the procedures for creating these MOUs, as well as other issues. You can find updates from their meetings here


Corrections were made to this post on February 7, 2011, to reflect that interdisciplinary programs may remain in the Graduate School. This will be determined by the collegiate partners on a program-by-program basis. The process will also involve memoranda of understanding, not memoranda of agreement.

8xxx-Level Course Approval in ECAS: Fall 2010 in review

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Graduate School staff members are working closely with Academic Support Resources (ASR) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to modify ECAS (Electronic Course Authorization System). We anticipate that the modifications will require 12 to 18 months to complete.

Effective July 1, 2010, responsibility for reviewing and approving 8xxx-level courses--and select 5xxx-level courses in several interdisciplinary graduate programs--was assigned to the colleges. Exempt from this immediate change are the pre-thesis credit (8666), thesis credit (8777 and 8888), and "full-time equivalent" (8333 and 8444) registrations, which will remain unchanged until a revised policy is approved by the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.

Until ECAS can be modified, we are asking the colleges to notify the Graduate School at gsdmgmt@umn.edu of new and changed courses you have approved; Graduate School staff will then submit the courses in ECAS without further review. This change should not affect the majority of colleges, as most colleges already approve 8xxx-level courses in ECAS before they are reviewed at the Graduate School level. For these colleges, the change will speed the course-approval process. For colleges that do not currently review 8xxx-level courses, we will assist you, as appropriate, in developing review processes and criteria to accommodate this change.

Catalog of graduate programs for 2011-13

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An interim process for updating the 2011-2013 academic catalog for graduate programs is currently in development. The goal of the process is to collect current and accurate academic program information, and to do so in a way that the data can be used to populate the Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS) later in the spring.

The catalog Business Process Review team--made up of staff from University Relations, the Graduate School, and ASR--hosted meetings on November 30 and December 14 for catalog coordinators from all colleges. At the meetings, catalog coordinators:

  • reviewed the past process for producing the Graduate School catalog
  • reviewed the new degree approval process announced by the Provost's Office last May
  • previewed a draft of an interim process, including roles
  • previewed a draft form that individuals from academic programs will need to update

With the information gathered from these meetings, the catalog team is creating materials that will facilitate the updating of catalog information by the college catalog coordinators and the academic programs. The update process is expected to begin in January.

When the development of PCAS for graduate programs is complete and accurate program data has been collected, ASR staff will complete the first round of academic program data into PCAS.

If you have questions about the 2011-2013 graduate catalog, please contact Gayla Marty in the Graduate School.

July 1, 2010

As part of graduate education restructuring, the six graduate faculty appointment categories recognized by the Graduate School were discontinued effective July 1, 2010. See Recommendation 5 in summary update on implementation of work-group recommendations sent by vice provost and dean Henning Schroeder on May 28.

The elimination of graduate faculty appointment categories results in a change to the Graduate School's role in the review and approval of milestone forms and faculty requests. Effective July 1, the Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) office no longer includes verification of graduate faculty appointment levels (e.g., Senior Member, or Member/Advising) as part of the Graduate School review and approval process. The GSSP office now accepts the proposed adviser, chairperson, and/or committee members based on approval at the collegiate level.

While the Graduate School's role in these processes will change, no concomitant changes to the processes themselves are being made at this time. All currently enrolled and newly admitted graduate students will continue to follow existing processes and procedures until the new student-records infrastructure is created (see Recommendation #3 in the May summary update cited above).

For more detailed information, see "Implications for the Elimination of Graduate Faculty Categories on Degree Progress Processes," which describes changes to Graduate School and graduate program responsibilities related to the review and approval of milestone forms. This handout was distributed to college representatives in meetings June 29-30 and emailed to directors of graduate studies and DGS assistants on June 30.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact dean Henning Schroeder at gsdean@umn.edu or Karen Starry at starry@umn.edu.

July 1, 2010

Responsibility for reviewing and approving 8xxx-level courses, as well as certain 5xxx-level courses in several interdisciplinary graduate programs, has been relocated to the colleges effective July 1. See Recommendation 10 in the summary update on implementation of work-group recommendations sent by vice provost and dean Henning Schroeder on May 28.

Exempt from this immediate change are the pre-thesis credit (8666), thesis credit (8777 and 8888), and "full-time equivalent" (8333 and 8444) courses, which will remain unchanged until a revised policy is approved by the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.

Staff from the Graduate School, Academic Support Resources (ASR), and the Office of Information Technology will work to modify the Electronic Course Authorization System (ECAS) over the next 12 to 18 months, in concert with pending adjustments to PeopleSoft and the Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS). Until changes are made to ECAS, the Graduate School will approve all courses without review, taking the college-level approval as final.

A project team has begun early planning and analysis to modify PCAS to include all graduate, professional, and regent-approved certificate programs. Additional updates will be provided as work progresses.

Questions about 8xxx-level courses pending in ECAS can be directed to Vicki Field in the Graduate School. Questions about ECAS and PCAS modifications for graduate education can be directed to Frank Blalark in ASR.

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