The University of Saskatchewan is committed to be a major presence in graduate education in Canada and to adhere to international standards in all that we do. Therefore, we expect our graduate programs to meet or exceed the quality standards demonstrated in similar programs at medical-doctoral and research-intensive universities across Canada and around the world.
The academic review of graduate programs is one of the priorities for assessment at the University of Saskatchewan. The university’s Framework for Assessment (2008) established the Graduate Program Review process as the primary instrument to assess the quality of our graduate program activities and outcomes. A graduate program review is not an end in itself but a means by which information, data and analyses are used to improve all aspects of the program.
The quality of University of Saskatchewan graduate programs will be assessed in the domains of teaching and learning, research, and scholarly accomplishments.
Graduate Program Expectations
A graduate program consists of a defined set of graduate level courses and other related requirements which a student must successfully complete to obtain a specific graduate degree, e.g. a Masters degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
All graduate programs and their constituent graduate degrees must include a component in which research and analytical or interpretive skills are developed. This can be realized in a variety of ways:
- a thesis
- a major research paper
- short research papers
- a comprehensive examination
- an original production of art, music or writing
- another specified activity appropriate for the discipline
The Ministerial Statement on Quality Assurance of Degree Education in Canada, issued by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada outlines the general expectations of graduate degree programs in Canada. The statement identifies several attributes of graduate programs related to:
- program design and outcome emphasis
- preparation for employment and further study
- length of program
- admission requirements
The graduate program review utilizes the following six quality assessment categories as guidance for the review. The categories are derived from the detailed degree level standards for graduate programs, articulated by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.
1. Program Objectives and Curriculum – A quality program has clearly stated objectives that are appropriate to the level of degree offered, the academic context of the discipline and/or the expectations of the profession.
The program curriculum meets the program objectives at the level of degree offered, is current and includes opportunities for specialization, cultivating further conceptual depth or breadth. Student learning success is assessed through written and oral examinations of knowledge and skills in all aspects of the discipline. Interdisciplinary collaborations provide opportunities for the acquisition, synthesis, application and integration of knowledge, cultivating the intellectual development of graduate students.
2. Program Enrolment and Student Funding– A quality graduate program has the profile and reputation to attract a viable number of high caliber students, who will have local, national and/or international backgrounds. The students entering the program have the capacity and preparation necessary to meet the challenges of the program and to successfully complete their degree.
Graduate students research grants, scholarships and awards provide the students with the financial resources necessary to complete the program.
3. Student Outcomes - Graduate students acquire a systematic knowledge of the discipline and are being suitably prepared for professional practice and for research and inquiry. Masters students engage in independent research or practice in a supervised context and demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills. Doctoral students show a high degree of intellectual autonomy, an ability to conceptualize, design and complete projects, and generate knowledge through original research or creative activity.
Students participate in seminars and conferences; they present their research findings through posters and published papers; and have opportunities to develop professional skills through experiences as teaching assistants and research assistants. Graduate students are credited with a suitable number and quality achievement awards and conference invitations.
A quality graduate program demonstrates that its graduate students successfully complete their degree requirements on time, and that students can access a variety of career paths post graduation. Students express a high level of satisfaction with their program.
4. Learning Environment – A quality student experience at the graduate level is built on strong interactions with faculty. Students are regularly advised, informed and guided by meetings with their graduate supervisor. The learning environment provides a range of opportunities for students to participate in intellectually and professionally challenging activities. Graduate course instruction uses state of the art modalities and processes that enhance the student learning experience.
Students have access to appropriate learning and information resources (such as library, databases, computers, classroom equipment, and laboratory facilities) and to an appropriate range of academic support services.
5. Faculty Profile – The quality of a graduate program is defined by the extent of the scholarly activities of its program faculty, as well as by a high degree of faculty involvement in the graduate program as supervisors and teachers.
In doctoral and research-oriented masters programs, faculty members are credited with a suitable number and quality of discipline-specific publications, awards, research grants and conference invitations, all indicative of the breadth and level of their engagement in scholarly work.
6. Administration – A quality graduate program incorporates effective systems and procedures in the areas of recruitment and admissions, program management, and in the allocation of awards and scholarships to graduate students.
Program leadership anticipates the ongoing evolution of their discipline, which is reflected in evolving program delivery and program planning activities. There is an anticipation and analysis of how future trends in the discipline may impact on the recruitment and selection of students, on the content and quality of program delivery, and ultimately, on the student experience.
The strategic vision of the program is aligned with the broader integrated planning environment at the university.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Dean of the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS) is responsible for ensuring and maintaining the quality of the graduate programs and has been assigned the authority and responsibility for Graduate Program Review.
- Program Self-Study - A self-study document will be prepared and submitted by the graduate program chair or designates from the program under review.
- Review Panel - A graduate program panel comprised of three senior academics will provide a peer assessment of the program under review.
- Reviewer Site Visit - The review panel will typically conduct a two-day site visit of the program between February 1 and April 30.
- Review Outcomes - The review panel will prepare a joint review report indicating whether, in the opinion of the reviewers, the program meets or does not meet the standards of quality for each of the six assessment categories
Schedule of Reviews
Graduate programs will be scheduled for an academic program review on a seven-year cycle. Programs in the same academic areas will be scheduled together, thus providing the opportunity for a comparative perspective. Typically, graduate programs for review will be clustered by college or by school; however, graduate programs in the College of Arts and Science will be reviewed by division.
By July of each year, the dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research will confirm the schedule of reviews for the upcoming year, and send formal notification to unit heads and deans or directors.
Nathan Risling, M.P.A.
Coordinator, Graduate Program Review