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Requirements for Certain Types of Programs

Certificates of Graduate Study

A certificate of graduate study is a 12-19 credit non-degree credential that focuses on a topic of academic interest by providing a specialized set of courses and related activities (section 7, Academic Policies). Certificate proposals should address content areas required for all proposals, and identify the programs whose students are expected to be interested. The proposal should stipulate whether the certificate only be open to students enrolled in graduate programs, or if persons who are not otherwise U-M graduate students may apply.

Dual Degree Programs

Dual degree programs lead to two different degree citations on the transcript and two separate diplomas. Students undertake complementary programs of study that allow limited double-counting of course credits (section 6.2, Academic Policies). Exceptions to the limit on double-counted credits are allowed only with a clear and convincing educational justification such as, for instance, when two programs require identical or highly similar methodological coursework, but the dual degree otherwise maintains the distinctive integrity of each program. In no case may double-counting exceed one quarter of the total credits for the two degrees. Triple-counting credits for a third certificate or degree is not allowed. Alternatively, proposals may reduce the required credit hours for each degree rather than use double-counting.

Dual Degree Programs with Other Institutions

A dual degree program with another institution, sometimes called a sandwich or split program, is one in which the student completes the requirements for two separate degrees in different fields and earns two separate diplomas, one from U-M and the other from another institution with which a formal collaborative agreement has been established. Such programs may include online learning but entail residency and coursework at each institution while observing the Graduate School’s policy on double-counting credits (section 6.2, Academic Policies).

In addition to information required for all new degree programs, proposals for dual degrees must include a draft of the MOU with the partner institution which discusses arrangements for:

  • Joint governance and oversight, including provisions for ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the program.
  • Standards and arrangements for admitting students and evaluating their progress.
  • A commitment to participation of students with backgrounds underrepresented in the fields of study.
  • Student financial support, including tuition, stipend, and health insurance.
  • Access to library, computing, laboratory, and other research facilities, as well as to grants for support of academic work.
  • Provision of student services, including access to faculty advising and mentoring, professional development opportunities, and career services.
  • Provisions for resolving disputes involving students and faculty.
  • Plans for training in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship.
  • For Ph.D. students, arrangements for research supervision for both degrees and the composition of dissertation committees.
  • Arrangements for handling administrative responsibilities and associated operational costs, including travel and housing for faculty and students visiting partner institutions.
  • The duration of the agreement and arrangements for regular formal evaluation, extension, or termination. Note that U-M limits agreements to a maximum term of 5 years (with renewal possible but not automatic).

For dual degree programs with international partner institutions, after Rackham approval the draft agreement should be sent to the office of the Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Interdisciplinary Academic Affairs for final institutional review and authorization. Final approval of both the new dual degree and the institutional agreement are required before the new program can recruit or admit students.

Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs

Through arrangements in certain fields of study, undergraduates with an exceptional academic record may apply in their junior or senior year to work toward an accelerated master’s degree (AMD) while fulfilling the remainder of their bachelor’s requirements (section 5.2, Academic Policies). AMDs allow a student who is close to completing undergraduate requirements in 3 or 3.5 years to apply to start earning credits toward the graduate program while finishing the undergraduate degree. Rackham policies apply to students admitted to these programs.

Proposals should also discuss:

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA and other requirements.
  • Arrangements to coordinate with the undergraduate program to facilitate recruitment, admission and successful transition to the master’s.

Accelerated Master’s: Partnerships with Other Institutions

These guidelines describe arrangements required for proposals that establish partnership agreements that allow undergraduates from another institution to participate in an AMD program. Under these arrangements, students complete nearly all requirements for the bachelor’s degree in three years. Students come to U-M as undergraduate departmental non-candidates for degree (NCFD) in the fourth year, during which they finish remaining requirements for the bachelor’s from their home institution while also taking graduate courses and applying for admission to the Rackham master’s program in the fifth year, when they complete the graduate degree.

An MOU between the U-M academic unit(s) and the partner institution governs the terms, conditions, and procedures for these 3+2 AMD programs. The MOU should incorporate the elements prescribed in these guidelines. MOUs with international partners are coordinated and approved by the Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education. The Graduate School reviews and approves proposals for these programs.

General Structure

3+2 AMDs have the following general model:

  • In year 3 of undergraduate study at the home institution, students apply to U-M for undergraduate departmental NCFD admission, with decisions made by the graduate admissions committee with regard to promise for successful admission to the Rackham program in year 5.
  • In year 4, students:
    • Enroll for 2 terms of full-time study with undergraduate NCFD status, earning a minimum of 12 credits per term for courses that can either be transferred to the bachelor’s degree at the home institution or to meet requirements for the master’s. No more than half the credits of graduate-level coursework taken as an undergraduate NCFD in year 4 and approved by the AMD program may be transferred to the master’s (section 2.3, Academic Policies). Courses that may be counted towards the U-M graduate degree must be approved graduate-level courses taken during year 4 or year 5. Courses required for the undergraduate degree may not be double-counted. No courses may be triple-counted with any other degree and no transfer credits from a third institution are allowed.
    • Apply for admission to the master’s program.
    • Complete the bachelor’s degree by the spring/summer term.
  • In year 5, students:
    • Enroll in the master’s program with Rackham registration (or registration in another academic unit with non-Rackham graduate term) for a minimum of 2 full terms with a minimum of 9 credits per term, paying full tuition.
    • Complete the requirements for and receive the master’s degree.
  • The Registrar will assign a program code so students in the 3+2 AMD can be tracked.

Additional Content Requirements

In addition to content required for all proposals, 3+2 AMD proposals must include the following.

1. Rationale and objectives. Proposals should provide a detailed and compelling rationale that explains the objectives of the partnership, the anticipated benefits for the program and all students, and how these objectives align with the goals of the graduate program and the goals of the university more broadly. Examples of the latter, for instance, would include partnerships with minority-serving institutions or institutions in world regions where U-M has few collaborative engagements.

2. Curriculum and requirements. Proposals should confirm that requirements will be identical for all students in the program. Students with NCFD status are not permitted to register for classes until the first day of the term, so the program should confirm that class space is available for students. Proposals should provide:

  • A model term-by-term program of study for years 4 and 5, listing required courses, cognates and electives and credit hours, that show how students will complete both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Arrangements for instruction in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship.

3. NCFD Admission. Undergraduate Admissions is the clearinghouse for admissions to NCFD status in year 4. Programs should contact Sally Lindsley, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, for information. Proposals should discuss:

  • Enrollment targets and intended steady-state cohort size both in absolute numbers and relative to the current enrollment.
  • Eligibility criteria such as GPA and other requirements.
  • Application requirements, including academic statement of purpose, personal statement, TOEFL scores [2]
  • if required, or other credentials.

  • The criteria and process used by the partner institution to endorse applicants, including how the U-M program will be consulted to assure a transparent process.
  • The admissions process and measures to actively support the recruitment of a diverse pool of students, including students underrepresented in the program or field.

4. Admission to the Master’s. Proposals Should Discuss:

  • The criteria and evaluation process to assess whether students have made sufficient progress for regular admission to the graduate program.
  • Arrangements for students who exit the program after year 4 or who are not admitted to the master’s.

5. Program implementation. Proposals should discuss:

  • Arrangements for joint oversight and governance with the partner institution, including the designation of U-M faculty who will be responsible for oversight, and management of responsibilities for recruitment, admissions and student advising.
  • How administrative support will be provided, including support for student services.
  • How the program will be assessed in collaboration with the partner institution.

6. Faculty resources. Proposals must provide names, rank, and tenure status of faculty who have agreed to advise and mentor students in year 4 in collaboration with advisors at the partner institution.

7. Advising, mentoring, student community, and climate. Proposals should discuss advising, mentoring, progress reviews, and other steps to support the transition from the home institution and from NCFD status in year 4, and to the master’s in year 5.

8. Finances and space. Proposals should discuss how student costs will be met, including tuition, support costs, health insurance, travel, and costs for books and other supplies.

9. Draft MOU. Proposals must provide a draft MOU (see section 3.2) which specifies that the Graduate School may terminate the agreement if it determines that the partners are not meeting their commitment to the program or the students, or that the quality is falling short of standards expected for Rackham graduate programs. An MOU may not be signed without prior approval by the Graduate School, and such an arrangement cannot be advertised or used to admit students before final approval. After the Graduate School approves the program, the draft MOU must be sent to the office of the Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Interdisciplinary Academic Affairs for final institutional review and authorization.

Rackham Interdepartmental Degree Programs

Rackham Interdepartmental Degree Programs (IDPs) bridge schools and colleges, with faculty from different academic units participating in degree programs that cut across the disciplinary and structural organization of the University.

New Rackham IDPs will have a 3-5 year pilot period, during which admissions activity will be assessed each year to see if the program is meeting its anticipated levels.

In addition to the requirements for all degree proposals, Rackham IDP proposals should discuss:

  • A plan with criteria for the formal designation of faculty affiliates and a process for periodic review of their engagement and contributions.
  • How the enrollment portion of tuition will be attributed to the academic units where most activity is located and most student and administrative/programmatic costs are incurred.
  • Arrangements for the director to annually discuss academic operations and planning with the dean’s office of the unit where the primary activity is located.

Online Degree Programs

Degree programs may deliver half or more of required courses online. New online programs, or revisions to existing programs that move half or more of required courses online, must be approved by the Graduate School. Proposals for online programs must provide assurance that the quality of education and access to student services maintains the high standards expected of all Rackham programs. Tenured and tenure-track faculty must participate actively in online degree programs; these programs must allow direct interaction with faculty and may not rely solely on the distribution of recorded material.

Distributed degree programs must verify that course materials are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessible to students with visual or other disabilities. Information and guidelines are available at the Office for Institutional Equity’s Web Accessibility website. Programs must also comply with the University’s copyright policy and U.S. export control restrictions on access by foreign nationals to certain regulated information or software.

In addition to information required for all new program proposals, distributed delivery proposals must also discuss:

  • Participation by regular instructional faculty in design and delivery of instruction and provisions for assuring frequent and effective interaction with such faculty, including the opportunity for asking questions, and for interaction with other students.
  • The qualifications of any adjunct faculty that may be used for teaching and the extent of their contributions.
  • Assessment mechanisms to monitor curriculum and instruction and to train faculty in effective distance-teaching techniques.
  • Arrangements for student access to learning and research resources, including library, computing, laboratory, and other facilities necessary for completion of the degree.
  • Advising, professional development, and other student services.
  • Any on-campus component of instruction.
  • Mechanisms to ensure academic integrity, including authentication to assure that enrolled students do all required work themselves.
  • The adequacy of technical and infrastructural resources for program delivery and student support, including providing students with technical support for hardware, software and the delivery system required in the program.
  • Arrangements to ensure access for students with disabilities, to comply with University policies and legal and regulatory requirements for copyright, and to assure that U.S. export control regulations are observed.

[2] Applicants whose native language is not English and who do not meet the Graduate School’s criteria for exemption, must submit TOEFL or other English language test scores as required to meet Rackham English proficiency requirements.