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.