2007 Reaffirmation Teams
2.7.2 - 2007 Reaffirmation Teams
The institution offers degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated purpose and is based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education.
The degree programs of The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) embody a coherent course of study that aligns with the university’s mission and are based on fields of study appropriate to postsecondary education. In Texas, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) uses the United States Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) taxonomy  for postsecondary disciplines as the basis for the Texas CIP . All degree programs at UT Dallas have designated CIP codes in accordance with THECB policies ; therefore, UT Dallas’ programs are aligned with postsecondary programs throughout Texas and the United States. As well, all current programs have been found to meet the standards on quality and appropriateness of The University of Texas System (UT System) set forth in Series 40307 of the Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations . These programs also meet similar standards outlined by the THECB in Sections 5.45  and 5.46  of its Rules.Coherence with the Mission Statement
Every degree program at UT Dallas is dedicated to achieving the university’s mission: (1) “producing engaged graduates, prepared for life, work, and leadership in a constantly changing world” and (2) “advancing excellent educational and research programs in the natural and social sciences, in engineering and technology, in management, and in the liberal, creative, and practical arts .” In accordance with Series 40307 of the Rules and Regulations of the UT System’s Board of Regents, new academic programs must establish their relevance to the university’s overall mission . Similarly, in Section 5.45 of its Rules , the THECB requires that new baccalaureate and master’s degree programs demonstrate direct connection with the university’s mission (doctoral programs are deemed to be mission-connected by virtue of their emergence from the bachelor’s- and master’s-level programs). Every four years the THECB, in accordance with the Texas Education Code (TEC), reviews the mission statement of the university and the table of programs . THECB reviewed the missions and table of programs for all institutions in The University of Texas System in 2003 and has scheduled the next review in 2007 with institutional reports justifying low-producing degree programs due November 1, 2007  .Program Approval
The relevance and cohesiveness of each program is initially assured in the proposal process leading to new programs. After being vetted by faculty in individual schools and approved by both the Committee on Educational Policy  and the Academic Senate , new degree proposals are sent to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs who reviews the proposals to ensure that the new programs meet the UT System’s Board of Regents Academic Program Approval Standards . After UT System approval, the proposals are sent to the THECB where the proposals are reviewed in accordance with THECB standards, including the “Carefully Planned Program of Study” for new baccalaureate and master’s degree programs  and doctoral programs . In addition, new undergraduate programs must demonstrate their compliance with the THECB’s requirements for the state-mandated core curriculum and field of study guidelines . All degree programs at UT Dallas have been approved by the THECB and can be found on the THECB’s website in its list of approved programs .Internal Program Reviews
UT Dallas has a rigorous process of program review and assessment which ensures that expected outcomes are clearly defined and measurable and are used for improving education. Each academic degree program at UT Dallas is assessed annually using UT Dallas’ on-line Assessment Tool (AT6). AT6 is a web-based solution to capture, manage, archive, and track academic and administrative assessment information for regional and disciplinary accreditation, program reviews, annual reporting, curriculum alignment, and program improvement. Deans, program heads, department heads, assessment officers, and other designated faculty work with the instructors to determine program objectives generated from program mission statements and to enter them, along with an assessment plan, into AT6. These plans are reviewed annually by the faculty and updated in light of the findings in the annual assessment report. This report not only includes measurements and analyses but also evidence of improvement in student learning. Sample reports from each of UT Dallas’ seven schools are included in the supporting documents to show how UT Dallas evaluates programs for program equivalency and appropriate coherence       .External Program Reviews
UT Dallas’ Policy Memorandum 94-III.24-63, Academic Program Review, states that “Academic Programs (‘units’) shall be reviewed at approximately 5-year intervals, or more frequently if the Provost, in consultation with the appropriate Dean, finds that the circumstances of a particular program suggest an earlier date .” Although this process begins with an internal self-study, a Review Team incorporating both internal and external members is appointed and charged by the provost. Typically, it includes at least three individuals from other institutions that have programs similar to those of the unit under review, and at least two members of the UT Dallas faculty and a member of the university’s Program Review Committee who are not affiliated with the program to be reviewed. One member of the Review Team, usually not affiliated with UT Dallas, is designated team chair by the provost at the time the team is constituted. The Review Team evaluates the unit as requested by a written charge prepared by the provost after consultation with the university’s Program Review Committee. In order to ensure program equivalency and a coherent field of study, the team’s report is specifically asked to address “the undergraduate and graduate curricula and programs of instruction (including student learning outcomes)…” as well as the success of the students in the programs and afterwards . More details about the program review process and sample program reviews are available in the response to Principle 126.96.36.199 . Program reviews are also discussed in the responses to Principles 2.5  and 3.4.1 .
In addition to external program reviews, UT Dallas works with specialized accrediting agencies. UT Dallas has four engineering and computer science undergraduate programs that have been accredited by The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET): Electrical Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering, Software Engineering, and Computer Science. The UT Dallas School of Management (SOM) has been granted full accreditation for all its programs by the board of directors of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Two programs in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), the professional doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) and the M.S. in Communication Disorders, are accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The Master of Public Affairs degree in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration  in 2004 . The accreditation is valid for six years, after which EPPS will apply for reaccreditation . Finally, in 2001 the UT Dallas undergraduate (B.S.) chemistry program was authorized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) to certify its graduates; this authorization was reaffirmed in 2007. Examples of the self studies and authorization documentation are available in the discussion of Principle 188.8.131.52 .Undergraduate Degrees
All undergraduate academic degree programs share a similar conceptual structure in their degree plans. Each program’s requirements for majoring in a discipline are divided into several components. At the most basic level is a set of major preparatory courses considered prerequisite to entering the disciplinary curriculum. Next are the major core courses which provide the foundation within a discipline. Finally there are options under major related courses which allow the student to choose pathways for further study within the discipline. In addition, there are a variable number of hours of free electives that students may use to explore other interests or create academic minor areas of study. The degree programs, course descriptions, and degree requirements are published in the paper and on-line versions of the undergraduate catalog . The integrity and coherence of the degree program is assessed by the faculty, Committee on Educational Policy , Council on Undergraduate Education , and the Academic Senate  during each catalog cycle as discussed below with regard to graduate education. The Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience degree plan and the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology degree plan illustrate the framework upon which all degree programs base their requirements  .
Approximately one-third of every undergraduate degree program (42 semester credit hours) is dedicated to general education, or what is referred to as core curriculum. Section 61.822 of Subchapter S of Chapter 61 of the Texas Education Code requires the THECB to “develop a recommended core curriculum of at least 42 semester credit hours .” THECB Rules 4.21-4.35 outline the implementation of the core curriculum . Accordingly, UT Dallas requires that all students complete a core curriculum of 42 semester credit hours that aligns with the state requirement and serves as the foundation of the university’s undergraduate education program . These requirements must be met by every student pursuing a baccalaureate degree at UT Dallas, regardless of his or her major. A specific course may be used to satisfy only one core requirement. Individual academic programs may require courses contained in parts of the university core curriculum to satisfy particular degree requirements. Students are expected to master the techniques of English composition and rhetoric and complete a requirement in advanced writing. Students receive instruction in the foundations of mathematical reasoning, an orientation to the natural sciences, an exploration of the methods of inquiry and the ways of knowing and expression in the arts and humanities, and an introduction to the history, government, and politics of the United States and Texas. The core curriculum also provides students the opportunity to choose an elective from a range of courses offered by the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences. AT6 is used to assess each and every core curriculum course; the process of assessment permits analysis of program coherence and knowledge integration. A discussion of the assessment process and improvements that have resulted because of those processes can be found in the responses to Principles 184.108.40.206  and 3.5.1 . As a result of these assessments, the Core Curriculum Committee , in consultation with the faculty, has added and subtracted courses to ensure that the core curriculum represents coherent fields of study     .Graduate Degrees
Graduate education addresses multiple audiences-professional (in the case of the doctorate in audiology and master’s programs in management, public administration, and math and science education), preparatory for doctoral work, and doctoral work. Therefore, graduate education and graduate programs must maximize flexibility in order to provide maximum benefits to graduate students. Nonetheless, the coherence of the curriculum is important and is safeguarded via the annual catalog review process. The faculty members in each degree program are responsible for the graduate curriculum       . The Graduate Council, consisting of a representative from each school , and the Committee on Educational Policy  closely oversee the catalog process and approve the graduate catalog copy. The Academic Senate is also responsible for approving graduate catalog copy  which contains all graduate degree programs, course descriptions, and degree requirements. The graduate catalog is published in both paper and online versions .
UT Dallas’ Policy Memorandum 87-III.25-48, Policy on Procedures for Completing a Graduate Degree, contains complete details on the structure of graduate degree requirements . In accordance with the policy, each student admitted to a graduate program must have a specific program of studies agreed upon in consultation with and approved by the appropriate committee or administrator for that degree program. To ensure that this requirement is met and that the student has a coherent field of study, a completed program of studies form  must be filed in and approved by the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies prior to the student’s registration for his or her:
- 19th semester credit hour to be counted toward a master’s degree, or
- 50th semester credit hour taken beyond the bachelor’s degree to be counted toward a doctoral degree.
The form is completed and revised, if necessary, under the guidance of the student’s graduate advisor.
Three exceptions to the aforementioned process exist. In the case of a graduate program where a common program of studies is prescribed for all master’s students, differing only in elective courses comprising less than one-third of the total required degree semester credit hours, the graduate program can file a model “program of studies” with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies . Any student wishing to deviate from that approved model program of studies must file an individual program of studies developed and approved by the appropriate committee or administrator for that program prior to the student’s registration for his or her 19th degree semester hour taken at UT Dallas .
The second exception occurs in those graduate programs where a common doctoral core is prescribed for all students, differing only by the area of specialization chosen. In these cases, the graduate student can file a model program of studies with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies . Any student wishing to deviate from that approved model program of studies must file an individual program of studies developed and approved by the appropriate committee or administrator for that program prior to the student’s registration for his or her 50th degree semester hour taken at UT Dallas .
Finally, students wishing to earn additional master’s degrees at UT Dallas must develop an approved program of studies through the program offering that degree prior to enrolling in additional courses. The program can allow up to 15 semester credit hours earned in a previous degree program toward the additional degree. Additional credits may be accepted from the previous degree upon the approval of the dean of graduate studies. In no case will credits counted for a previous degree be allowed to exceed one-half the total hours required for the additional master’s degree program.
Faculty members ensure graduate program coherence through progression by using AT6. The course catalog distinguishes between different levels of courses, but the assessment process reported in the discussion of Principle 3.6.1  allows faculty members to track where progression occurs. Moreover, the assessments in AT6 demonstrate whether students are gaining and integrating knowledge of a discipline ; the assessment process and its results provide the faculty with the opportunity to improve curriculum and its coherence within a program.