Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification
Part 3: Comprehensive Standards - Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Professional Programs
|3.6||Graduate and Post-Baccalaurate Programs|
|3.6.1||Post-Baccalaureate Program Rigor|
|3.6.3||Institutional Credits for a Degree|
|3.6.4||Post-Baccalaureate Program Requirements|
|Part 1||Signature Attesting Integrity|
|Part 2||Substantive Changes|
|Part 4||Inst. Summary Form|
|3.6.2 Graduate Curriculum
The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. (Graduate curriculum)
All Reinhardt University graduate programs are guided by “The Purposes of Graduate Study,”  which are published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017. These include principles for knowledge of the literature of the discipline and ongoing research:
The graduate programs at Reinhardt University prepare students to become confident leaders in their chosen disciplines with the following attributes:
Each graduate program defines its own learning outcomes. For example, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) maintains that graduates will demonstrate knowledge of the literature of the discipline with the ability to “apply best practices, established theories, and managerial skills to business situations and problems.”  Similarly, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) has two relevant learning outcomes: the “ability to evaluate and analyze critical questions or problems currently facing the field of public administration and policy” and the “ability to analyze and interpret data and policy information, using various research methodologies and statistical techniques, to provide effective reasoning and make recommendations for decision making and policy creation.”  The Master of Arts (MAT) in Early Childhood Education has the following learning outcomes: The degree candidate uses “knowledge of curriculum, learner differences, and ongoing assessment data” and “systematic formal/informal assessment as an ongoing diagnostic activity to measure student growth and to guide, differentiate, and adjust instruction.”  The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) has a learning outcome stated as “the ability to conduct and document scholarly research.”  The Program Coordinator or Director of each degree program regularly assesses the learning outcomes in each program (discussed below under Assessment).
Throughout the graduate programs and within each program, students engage with literature of the discipline and learn to identify and implement authoritative research practices. To this end, the Reinhardt University Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center has created a “Graduate Student Resources” portal on its homepage. 
Examples of Knowledge of the Literature of the Discipline and Ongoing Engagement in Research or Professional Practice
Reinhardt’s master’s-level courses require students to demonstrate advanced skills and knowledge. The following shortened course descriptions for eight classes represent a range of disciplines within the University as well as a range of positions of the courses throughout the programs: some courses are from the first semester; some from the middle semesters of a program; and some from the last semesters. Therefore the engagement with research is ongoing.
Table 3.6.2-1 Sample Reinhardt University Graduate Courses Exemplifying Knowledge of Disciplinary Literature, Engagement in Research, Professional Practice
Comprehensive Knowledge of the Discipline and Demonstrated Professional Practice
Each of Reinhardt’s master’s degree programs has a capstone requirement to demonstrate mastery of, and independent thought about literature of the discipline as well as appropriate professional practice.
In the MBA program, after each two courses, the student must prepare an oral presentation (Practicum) with a practical application of the advanced principles just learned to demonstrate independent thought about these principles. These presentations are evaluated by business faculty and community professionals using a standardized evaluation form.  Each student must also give a final professional presentation about a project in the portfolio to a panel of business professionals , as illustrated by a sample MBA portfolio. 
Teacher candidates complete the MAT program with EDU 595 – Clinical Residency and Seminar. The student’s work in the classroom is evaluated by a professional teacher as well as the university professor, , and the student must prepare an Induction Growth Plan. 
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) curriculum includes a Comprehensive MPA Examination.  The examination consists of four essay questions which require students to demonstrate knowledge of core theories, ideas, and research within the Public Administration field. In addition, MPA candidates have an internship or professional practice requirement, which they have to address in a final, capstone portfolio. The professional portfolio, due in the last course of the program, consists of 1) the best MPA research paper, 2) a 15-page paper analyzing the candidate’s internship or professional experience including an application of course work to the practical experience, and 3) an assessment of how the MPA program components have addressed the MPA learning outcomes.  The portfolio is graded on the written contents as well as an oral presentation,  as illustrated by a sample MPA portfolio and evaluation of the written as well as oral presentations.
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing degree is a 60 credit-hour master’s degree with several capstone projects. The first cohort began in summer of 2016. Near the end of the program in 2018, each of these candidates must compose a critical analysis (minimum 50 pp.) of a selected published author for ENG 600 - Thesis Part I: The Critical Essay on Craft.  In addition, the MFA requires a book-length, publishable-quality collection of the candidate’s creative work (minimum 40 pp.) in ENG 650 - Thesis Part II: The Creative Thesis.  Finally, the MFA candidate must present a public reading of creative work along with a 1-hour lecture on the craft to demonstrate professional practice. 
Assessment of knowledge of current literature and engagement with research
All graduate programs annually assess their student learning outcomes and make improvements based on the findings. The MAT program also has the external approval of the Georgia Professional Standards as a teacher preparation program for Level-5 (graduate) certification. 
Starting with fall semester 2016, the University implemented an external review cycle for the programs that do not have specialized accreditation, including graduate programs beginning with the MBA in summer of 2017. 
The annual reports assess program learning outcomes with micro-analysis of specific assignments. These assessments can then be linked with “The Purposes of Graduate Study”:
2016-2017 MBA Academic Program Assessment Report 
Knowledge of the discipline
The principle of knowledge of the discipline appears in “The Purposes of Graduate Study” as “I.-Master of the current literature, prevailing knowledge and/or skill set of a specific discipline.” 
MAT students address this principle when they prepare a portfolio of work for edTPA, a nationally available performance-based assessment to measure candidate teachers’ readiness to teach literacy and mathematics. The score necessary for Georgia Teacher Certification, as determined by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), is 42. The faculty in Reinhardt’s Price School of Education (PSOE) determined that the expected mean score for each graduate cohort is 58. Reinhardt MAT candidates have a 100% pass rate and have exceeded these expectations.
Table 3.6.2-2 MAT edTPA Expectations and Scores
From the annual assessments, the MPA Academic Program Assessments for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 recommended that degree candidates strengthen their skills with writing public policy memos. As a result, the MPA faculty developed a set of guidelines for public policy analyses. In addition, the MPA Director contacted several regional officials to ask their input on current public policy challenges and problems, and these suggestions were incorporated in the guidelines documents. In 2015-2016, the MPA Director also asked if these officials would serve as “mentors” to the MPA students as they develop their public policy memos. Several officials agreed to help mentor/advise, and particularly, they agreed to serve as panelists for the students’ professional portfolio presentations.  The 2016-2017 MPA Academic Program Assessment records an increase in scores for projects involving policy memos, noting that students could offer “significantly stronger, well-researched, and more profound solutions to the policy topics” as a result of the improved guidelines and the interactions with officials in the discipline. 
Engagement with research and professional practice
Engagement with research is addressed in "The Purposes of Graduate Study" as “III - Mastery of skills to research a topic thoroughly.” 
The MBA program assesses this principle through its program student learning outcome, “M6-Research Methodologies” stating that candidates will “Derive business decision-making applications based upon sound research practices and procedures.” The 2015-2016 MBA Program Assessment included a curriculum map  for each learning outcome (pp. 19-21): as a result, “M6-Research Methodologies” should be introduced in BUS 601 (Management), reinforced in BUS 621 (Human Resources), and mastered in BUS 641 (Quantitative Decision Making). The 2016-2017 MBA Program Assessment  indicates that the target was partially met in BUS 601, but in BUS 641 the target for M6 was satisfactorily met. The curriculum mapping strengthened instruction of research methodologies throughout the MBA program sequence.
The MAT program coordinator monitors research competencies through the student learning outcome, “3 - The teacher candidate uses systematic formal/informal assessment as an ongoing diagnostic activity to measure student growth and to guide, differentiate, and adjust instruction.” Although Reinhardt MAT students have a 100% pass rate on edTPA, the 2016-2017 MAT Program Assessment  recommends actions to strengthen even further results on edTPA rubrics 11-15 which involve understanding and analyzing assessment data.
The Master of Public Administration program addresses the principle of advanced research through its program learning outcome, “2- Critical Thinking, Analysis, and Synthesis to solve problems and make decisions: ability analyze and interpret data and policy formation, using various research methodologies and statistical techniques to demonstrative effective critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities to make recommendations for decision making and public policy creation.”  In the 2014-2015 Program Assessment, the assessment target was satisfactorily met in “MPA 610: Research Methods.” However, the MPA program director determined that a second course in research methods was warranted to improve research skills even further. The rationale for the second course explains that comparable programs in the state of Georgia (University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and University of North Georgia) require two research methods courses as part of their MPA degree programs.  A second course, “MPA 611 – Applied Statistics for Public Decision Making,” was approved by the Faculty Senate and incorporated into the curriculum. In the 2016-2017 MPA Program Assessment, the director continued to monitor this learning outcome for ways to strengthen it even further.
As the examples above demonstrate, Reinhardt graduate programs structure their curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. The annual, internal assessments of program learning outcomes, which align with “The Purposes of Graduate Study,” and external reviews for certification, ensure that Reinhardt graduate academic program coordinators and directors regularly monitor these principles.