Online Programs

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In addition to the general standards which apply to all institutions, the following standards apply specifically to online master’s degree programs.

 

NATURE OF GRADUATE EDUCATION

The awarding of a master’s degree signifies that, in the judgment of the faculty, the student has attained specialized competence which qualifies the recipient for opportunities and additional responsibilities not ordinarily available to the baccalaureate degree recipient. To make a graduate program distinctive, a component designed to teach research skills should be included.

ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION

Committee Oversight. The responsibility for developing, modifying, and maintaining the graduate program shall be performed by a qualified designated committee to include, but not restricted to, students, faculty, administrators, and employers.

Program Administration. The administration of the graduate program shall be performed by a qualified individual with appropriate administrative and educational background and experience for the direction of a graduate program. The duties of this individual may be full- or part-time with adequate staff support.

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Objectives. The objectives of a master’s degree program reflect the application of an institution’s mission to its constituencies. An institution applying for the inclusion of a master’s degree program shall demonstrate that its programs, courses, and services are appropriate to its mission and to its specific goals and objectives. Master’s degree programs should emphasize both mastery of subject matter and an understanding of related research and research methodology. This emphasis implies development of the student’s ability to integrate and apply the subject matter.

Program Development. Graduate faculty must be directly involved in the development and modification of master’s degree program policies, procedures, and curricula. Flexible instructional approaches and scheduling patterns are encouraged in developing innovative graduate programs in order to serve varying student groups and their special needs.

Education Requirements. The minimum number of credits required for the master’s degree shall be 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or their equivalent, of course work plus a thesis at the graduate level; or 36 semester hours, 54 quarter hours, or their equivalent, of course work at the graduate level if a thesis is not required. The master’s degree normally is earned over three semesters, five quarters, or the equivalent. The catalog must provide an explanation of the course numbering system.

Curriculum. The curriculum shall quantitatively and qualitatively approximate the standards at other institutions offering master’s degrees. Instructional procedures, texts, materials, and technology shall be appropriate to the purposes, curriculums, and standards of collegiate institutions. Evidence shall be provided that curricular offerings require the appropriate use of library resources.

Enrollment. Enrollment in graduate-level courses must be sufficient to support regularly scheduled and conducted classes and self-study work. Graduate-level courses shall be offered and shall be based on appropriate prerequisites.

FACULTY

Preparation. The institution shall have an adequate and competent faculty working under conditions that encourage the best efforts of each individual. In judging competence of faculty, consideration shall be given to the academic preparation and experience of each instructor.

Assignments. Instructors shall be assigned in terms of their major and minor areas of academic preparation and related experience. The size of the faculty shall be appropriate for the graduate enrollment. All master’s program faculty should have appropriate graduate degrees. The institution should encourage graduate faculty members to engage in scholarly research and to publish in professional journals.

Faculty who do not possess appropriate graduate degrees may be assigned to teach in master’s degree programs if they have exceptional practical or professional experience in the assigned field or if the assigned field is one in which graduate degrees are not widely available. In either case, the burden is on the institution to demonstrate and justify the qualifications of the faculty to teach their assigned courses.

Teaching Load. Teaching loads shall be reasonable and shall be justified by factors such as

  • the number of different preparations required
  • the type and method of instruction
  • the size of classes
  • the level of instruction
  • the qualifications of the instructor
  • community relations responsibilities of the instructor

Stability. There shall be an adequate core of full- and part-time faculty to ensure sound direction and continuity of development for the educational programs. The institution shall demonstrate through outcomes, length of service, reasonable retention of faculty, and other measures that the core faculty ensures that the institution will meet its stated mission and objectives. The institution shall promote stability in the faculty through compensation, fringe benefits, professional growth opportunities, and other incentives.

ADMISSIONS

Enrollment Prerequisites. The threshold admission requirement to a master’s degree program is a baccalaureate degree. If admission to a professional program is granted without a baccalaureate degree, the burden is on the institution to demonstrate and justify that the alternate admission requirement is accepted by a recognized licensing or specialized accrediting agency and is common practice among accredited institutions of higher education.

In instances where a baccalaureate degree is not used as the threshold for admission, the following conditions must be met:

  1. admission to the program may be granted only to eligible students who have completed at a minimum an associate degree or equivalent
  2. the program must ensure that a baccalaureate degree, which meets MEMAAC standards, is awarded upon completion of baccalaureate degree requirements or concurrently with the award of the master’s degree
  3. the baccalaureate degree program must include in its curricular requirements sufficient and appropriate bridge to master’s-level courses in the field of study and must be approved by MEMAAC.

Evaluation of Applicants. Institutions should use appropriate techniques to evaluate applicants and to determine whether they have the academic qualifications to benefit from graduate study.

Transfer of Credit. Transfer of credit for appropriate master’s-level course work from another institution may be granted according to the policy established by the institution. No more than one-half of the credits required for the master’s degree may be transferred from another institution.

Conformance to Institutional Objectives. Admissions procedures, transfer policies, and requirements for graduation shall be consistent with the overall philosophy and objectives of the institution.

LIBRARY, INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES, AND TECHNOLOGY

Staff. A professionally trained individual shall supervise and manage online library and instructional resources, facilitate their integration into all phases of the institution’s curricular and educational offerings, and assist students in their use. The professionally trained individual must participate in documented professional growth activities.

There shall be a professionally trained individual available for sufficient hours, as published by the institution, to support the programs and to assist students with online library functions and research. This individual shall be competent both to use and to aid in the use of the online library technologies and resources.

Function. The online library function is shaped by the educational programs of the institution.

These resources shall include links to bibliographic and monographic references, major professional journals and reference services, research and methodology materials, and, as appropriate, information technologies. The depth and breadth of the accessible online library holdings shall be such as to exceed the requirements of the average student in order to encourage the intellectual development of superior students and to enrich the professional development of the faculty.

Appropriate links to reference, research, and information resources must be made available to enhance, augment, and support the curricular and educational offerings and to enhance student learning.

PUBLICATIONS

There shall be a separate section in the institution’s catalog describing the online master’s degree objectives, program requirements, admissions procedures, transfer policies, graduation requirements, regulations, and course descriptions.