Departments asked for feedback on adding another master degree

At the final Faculty Senate meeting of the fall semester Dec. 13, senators were asked to seek input from their departments about the potential impact of another type of master's degree. ISU graduate council chair Monica Haddad, community and regional planning, said some departments have expressed interest in a master of science requiring only coursework.

Currently, the university offers three types of master's degrees:

  • Master of arts or science with a thesis
  • Master of arts or science without a thesis but involving a creative component
  • Professional master degree with coursework only. The name of the degree is distinguishable from a master of science or arts by being named master of the disciple pursued, for example, master of computer science.

"I am asking if the council should revise the policy, or if programs wanting to offer a coursework-only master be required to name it a master of the discipline?" Haddad said.

She said there is not a trend among universities nationwide for this kind of master's program. Some departments believe more applicants would consider it if there was an online, coursework-only master of science option.

Some senators voiced opposition, believing it would lessen the prestige of a master of science degree by not requiring a thesis or creative component. Another concern was the possibility of graduates implying their master of science degree included a thesis or creative component when it did not. Other senators asked if it could be a department-level, rather than universitywide decision.

Haddad asked senators to have their department's faculty respond by Feb. 1 by emailing feedback to Natalie Robinson, Graduate College student services assistant director.

Degree planning

Senators will vote at the January meeting on numerous changes to the degree planning policy for majors, minors and certificates. Academic affairs council chair Rahul Parsa said the intent is to provide more opportunities to students. Generally, changes within the proposal would:

  • Clarify language about multiple (formerly "double") degrees and majors, and which combinations are permitted within colleges and across colleges.
  • For students completing multiple degrees or majors, eliminate the requirement for 30 additional credits above the degree or major requiring the most credits, with exceptions noted in the colleges of Business and Engineering.
  • Add clarification language about secondary majors (which are different from multiple majors), including a standard of 24 credits, the makeup of those credits and where they're earned.
  • Keep the requirement for minors at 15 credits, but modify the makeup of those credits and where they're earned.
  • Keep the requirement for certificates at 20 credits, but remove some restrictions on eligible credits and where they're earned.
  • Add language to encourage students to complete multiple degrees or majors concurrently so they're not adversely affected by eligibility rules for federal financial aid.

Peer institutions

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert shared updates coming to two lists of ISU peer institutions.

The first list of 10 is established and approved by the state Board of Regents. An Iowa State advisory committee will offer suggested changes to it at the regents' February meeting, the first major changes to the list since 1986.

"Of the 10 [current] schools, only one lists Iowa State as a peer," Wickert said. "Seven of the universities on the list have medical schools, and that provides them different funding opportunities."

A second list, prepared by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, includes 97 peer institutions for Iowa State. Wickert said the goal is to make that list shorter but still offer a broader comparison than the regents-approved list.


Denise Vrchota

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert (left) and Faculty Senate president Jon Perkins present Denise Vrchota an engraved clock to recognize her leadership on the task force that updated the Faculty Handbook. Contributed photo.

Former Faculty Senate president Denise Vrchota was recognized by Wickert and the senate for leading a task force of former senate presidents that updated the Faculty Handbook for consistency in reference, style and completeness, a process that lasted 16 months. Vrchota led the senate during the 1998-99 academic year.

Other business

Senators will vote next month on:

  • A proposed bachelor's degree in agricultural communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Currently, ag communication is an option within the ag education major. The 128-credit major would prepare graduates to communicate science, policy and technology in ag production to numerous audiences.
  • A proposed professional master of business administration in the Ivy College of Business. A part-time graduate program aimed at working adults, it would feature a hybrid format and weekly in-person classes at the Capital Square Des Moines campus. Electives could be taken in Ames, Des Moines or online for the 42-credit master's program. 
  • A proposed asynchronous online master of accounting analytics in the Ivy College of Business. It would prepare students for professional certification or licensure. This first-of-its-kind master in the state is a 30-credit program that would take two semesters for full-time students and four for part time.

Senators approved:

  • A policy revision in the Faculty Handbook for nondisciplinary corrective action related to faculty misconduct. Corrective action includes a clarification meeting, letter of expectation and written warning. It includes a timeline for all responses.
  • A revision to the last 32 credit policy that exempts students who earned credits from an ISU study abroad or national student exchange program.
  • As part of the consent agenda, a change in the annual faculty review period, from the calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) to the academic/fiscal year (July 1-June 30).