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|
|3.6.4 Post-baccalaureate Program Requirements
The institution defines and publishes requirements for its graduate and post-baccalaureate professional programs. These requirements conform to commonly accepted standards and practices for degree programs. (Post-baccalaureate program requirements)
Reinhardt University offers graduate degrees at the master's level only. The university identifies and publishes graduate degree requirements, which conform to commonly accepted standards. In addition, there are processes to ensure that programs stay current with commonly accepted standards.
Requirements Defined and Published
Reinhardt clearly defines and publishes requirements for graduate programs in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017 and on the web pages for the graduate programs of the official Reinhardt University website.   The program websites include current admissions information as well as an outline of the curriculum to present the coherence of each program. The Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, which is available in print and online, includes information about admissions and the curricula as well as policy information about such topics as academic performance and degree completion requirements.
Each graduate program begins with an orientation class at which the program coordinator or director distributes print copies of the Graduate Academic Catalog to the new students, and identifies and discusses the overall graduate policies, individual program policies, and university services as listed in the Graduate Services Brochure.  Because the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing cohort begins in May, three months before a new catalog is ready, the Office of Graduate Studies prepares an MFA Handbook for the orientation class.  The MFA Handbook includes degree requirements and professionalism standards, among other policies. Then MFA students receive a print Graduate Academic Catalog in August. In the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, the first class in August includes a power point presentation that is tied to the policies in the Graduate Academic Catalog.   The first course in the Master of Arts (MAT) in Elementary Education program is EDU 510.  The syllabus for the course presents an orientation to the MAT program. It includes a description of the Price School of Education (PSOE) Conceptual Framework, PSOE Learning Outcomes, Policies for Professionalism and a signature page to be signed by each candidate to acknowledge that the candidate understands the program policies. The professor keeps the signed documents as Live Text, which can be used to store documents.
Commonly Accepted Standards and Practices for Degree Programs
In compliance with SACSCOC Principle 2.7.1,  each graduate program includes at least 30 hours of rigorous, graduate-level only coursework (numbered 500 and above). In addition, each program has a capstone graduate project that demonstrates mastery of, and independent thinking about the subject area beyond the coursework. The following chart is published in the Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017.
Table 3.6.4-1 – Reinhardt Graduate Academic Program Lengths 
Some programs require more than 30 semester credit hours to align with standards of the discipline or professional certification requirements. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education requires 48 semester credit hours to align with curriculum standards for K-5 and to provide an embedded Reading Endorsement. The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing requires a total of 60 semester credit hours. There are three reasons that the low-residency MFA in creative writing requires 60 credit hours: 1) The MFA is a studio art degree that requires multiple hours of writing practice; 2) it is standard practice among higher education institutions to consider the MFA a terminal degree in the arts; and 3) sixty-credit hours is standard practice among peer programs to which Reinhardt’s MFA compares itself. 
Reinhardt has two additional graduate programs, the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Education and the Master of Education in Special Education (M.Ed.). These programs did not accept applicants in 2016-2017 because they are under revision to conform to certification changes made by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). As currently formed, each of these programs requires a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of graduate course work. 
Admission and degree-completion requirements
Each graduate program has commonly accepted standards for admission and degree completion. A student applying to a Reinhardt University graduate program must submit an application, official transcripts from all previously attempted academic work, with one transcript showing a completed bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited academic institution. 
There are other requirements as well, depending on the program, which are all commonly accepted requirements, like state and national test scores. The MBA and MPA, for example, require GMAT or GRE scores, or evidence to apply for a GMAT/GRE waiver.    The MAT program requires passing scores from the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) admissions test.  MAT applicants must sign a consent form for a criminal background check, to screen applicants for the same requirement by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). The MFA requires extensive writing samples.  Program-specific admission requirements are also defined and published on the official Reinhardt websites for the MBA , MPA, , MAT,  and MFA.  Applicants submit all admissions materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions, but an applicant’s complete file is reviewed and approved by the faculty in the academic program which is being sought.
All programs also have common degree completion requirements, which include an overall 3.0 GPA for all graduate course work. 
Individual programs have additional degree completion requirements which align with accepted professional and academic standards. These are published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017 in the sections for the MBA , MPA , MAT , and MFA. 
Commonly accepted standards – coherent curricula
Reinhardt University does not have a School of Graduate Studies. The Office of Graduate Studies (OGS), managed by the Associate Vice President for Academic Services and Graduate Studies, was established in January 2011 to provide administrative functions including coordinating the development of graduate policies, preparing documents like the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, and updating the websites.  However, academic decisions are made by the faculty and the program coordinator or director in the academic school that houses a graduate program.
All graduate curricula are guided by “The Purposes of Graduate Study” which are published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017.  They are as follows:
The graduate programs at Reinhardt University prepare students to become confident leaders in their chosen disciplines with the following attributes:
Each program has a set of discipline-specific learning outcomes, published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, and a curriculum which is published in the Catalog and on the Reinhardt University website. Each curriculum includes a capstone project that requires students to apply the knowledge learned throughout the program.
For example, the McCamish School of Business houses the Master of Business Administration (MBA). MBA learning outcomes  are tied to the MBA curriculum, which is published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017  and on the MBA website.  As a cohort program, the MBA has a sequence of courses that supports its academic coherence. After each two courses, the candidate prepares a research paper and presentation about an assigned topic from the previous course work. This project is presented to a panel of business faculty and experts. The final course, BUS 690 – Strategic Management, is a capstone course that requires degree candidates to integrate concepts from the prior course work for the production of an organization’s strategic plan.  Finally, each degree candidate must prepare a professional portfolio of work from the program with additional commentary about achievement of program learning outcomes and must give a final oral presentation to a panel of faculty and business professionals, as illustrated by a sample MBA portfolio. 
Another cohort program, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education, is housed in the Price School of Education. The program learning outcomes are published in the Reinhardt University Graduate Catalog 2016-2017.  The Reinhardt MAT achieves coherence with a “scaffolded” structure that has “admission points” along the way when a candidate is reviewed and assessed before proceeding from one point to the next, leading finally to clinical residency in a classroom.  The culminating project for degree completion is submission of the Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a nationally available performance-based assessment to measure candidate teachers’ readiness to teach literacy and mathematics. The MAT publishes its curriculum in the Catalog  as well as on the Reinhardt University website. 
The Master of Public Administration (MPA), housed in the School of Mathematics and Sciences, presents its program learning outcomes in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017.  The curriculum is published in the Catalog  as well as on the MPA web pages.  The MPA program includes a Comprehensive Examination, with four essay questions, requiring candidates to demonstrate knowledge of core theories, ideas, and research learned from the course work.  In addition, MPA candidates prepare a final, capstone portfolio, which 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 with evaluations 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 learning outcomes published Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017  as well as on the MFA website.  The curriculum, which is also published in the Catalog  and on the MFA website,  requires several capstone projects, including a book-length, publishable-quality collection of the candidate’s creative work (minimum 40 pp.) in “ENG 650 - Thesis Part II: The Creative Thesis.” 
Commonly Accepted Standards Appropriate to Higher Education
Reinhardt’s graduate programs are under regular review to keep current with academic and professional standards.
The “Guidelines” for a new course or new program proposal include a rationale and a discussion of “programs at similar schools that have the proposed course and/or a list of similar schools that have the same or similar program.”  Then the proposals must gain several levels of approval: the program coordinator/director, the school dean, faculty Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee (APCC), the faculty senate, the provost, the university president, and for new programs or substantive changes, the Board of Trustees as well as SACSCOC. (In Spring 2017, “Curriculum Change Cover Sheet” and “Guidelines” were revised to better align with the newly revised SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy that now has only two submission deadlines for a prospectus that requires approval: January 1 and July 1. The revised forms go into effect in August 2017.) 
For example, in 2015, the director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) proposed a second methods course for the curriculum, “MPA 611 – Applied Statistics for Public Decision Making.” The course proposal noted that “competitive programs in Georgia (the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and the University of North Georgia) all require MPA graduates to complete two methodological courses, and some require a third course in program evaluation.”  After the proposal was reviewed through the appropriate levels and approved by the president, the new requirement was added to Graduate Academic Catalog 2015-2016  and to the website.  For a similar reason, in 2016-2017, the director of the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing proposed a new Internship course so that students will apply what they have learned with practical skills for jobs in the world of writing and publishing.  Since it has been reviewed and approved by the appropriate levels, “ENG 590-Internship” has been added to the 2017 MFA Handbook  and will be added to the Graduate Academic Catalog 2017-2018.
The MAT program has been approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) as a teacher preparation program for initial certification.  The MAT program regularly updates the requirements to adhere to standards from the GaPSC. These include adding a degree completion requirement to the Graduate Academic Catalog 2015-2016: the successful completion of the Education Teachers Performance Assessment (edTPA), an external, professional assessment of candidates seeking certification. 
Through its academic catalogs and its official website, Reinhardt University identifies and publishes requirements for its master’s degrees, and these requirements conform to commonly accepted standards. In addition, there are processes in place for regular review and updating of policies and requirements to stay current with commonly accepted academic and professional standards.