Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs
Definition and Policy:
A dual-title graduate degree program is more than the addition of valuable coursework (minimally consisting of 15 credits for doctoral programs and 6 credits for master’s programs) not currently prescribed in an existing graduate degree program, as occurs with an option or a minor, but rather is a fully integrated program of study that begins with defining a research problem (or culminating experience, as appropriate to the degree) that integrates both the graduate major and dual-title fields early in the program, and in the case of doctoral students, examining the students’ ability to conduct research in both fields at the first doctoral benchmark: the candidacy examination.
Students must apply and may be admitted to an existing dual-title graduate degree program only after being enrolled in an existing graduate program and, in the case of doctoral students, prior to having taken the candidacy examination in the graduate major program.
Consequently, doctoral students who have already taken their candidacy examination in a graduate major program generally are not eligible for admission to a dual-title graduate degree program.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should students be encouraged to take coursework related to or recruited for admission to a dual-title graduate degree program that has not yet been approved by Graduate Council and adopted by the student’s graduate major program by means of a program change proposal submitted to and approved through the Graduate Council curricular review process.
The dual-title area of study cannot exist as a separate (stand-alone) graduate degree program at Penn State, and the student's diploma (for the master's degree and/or for the doctorate) will carry the name of both the graduate major and the dual-title offering. Students may complete only one dual-title in addition to a graduate major program of study within a single degree program.
In order for a dual-title graduate degree program to be established, an existing graduate program must have previously agreed to the desirability of adding such a course of study, and will have detailed in writing the rationale and requirements of this course of study via a graduate program change proposal submitted centrally. Graduate Council must approve any newly constituted dual-title graduate degree program and the addition of the dual-title offering to each graduate program that wishes to offer it.
The new dual-title area of study must be described in a new graduate program proposal, outlining the nature of the dual-title degree, including the array of courses typically taken; expectations for participation by dual-title students (for example, dual-title students may be expected to regularly attend weekly seminars scheduled by the dual-title area of study); and detailing other structural and practical requirements of a dual-title degree. Proposals for new dual-title graduate degree programs also must address the rationale for the creation of the dual-title degree. The proposal must show the advantages to be conferred by the dual-title graduate degree beyond those in existing alternative paths (e.g., graduate minors). A proposal might address such issues as the existence of current and sufficient demand by graduate students for such a program, and the enhanced employment opportunities for dual-title degree graduates. Graduate programs seeking to add (adopt) a new dual-title graduate degree program similarly must show the advantages to be conferred. Proposals for new dual-title graduate degree programs must be accompanied by at least one graduate program change proposal by a graduate major program to adopt the dual-title degree.
Graduate programs participating in a dual-title degree must develop sections in their graduate student handbooks that outline the nature of the dual-title degree; stipulate the array of courses typically taken; and detail other structural and practical requirements of a dual-title degree.
A graduate program wishing to adopt an existing dual-title program must submit a program change proposal to adopt the dual-title degree as described above, and must describe in its graduate student handbook the dual-title offering requirements. The various formal requirements for achieving a dual-title degree should be stated in the graduate program’s student handbook, and care be taken to outline how satisfying these requirements can be rationally connected with satisfying the requirements in the graduate program.
Typically, a provision is made whereby a dual-title degree student at the master's level is relieved of some of the requirements of the graduate degree program, so that a different and substituted set of courses can be pursued. Any such course substitutions must be specified in the graduate program’s student handbook. Since Graduate Council does not specify a minimum number of credits for a doctoral degree program, programs must include language in the proposal and in the student handbook that specifies any courses from the dual-title area of study that are approved as substitutions in the graduate program for post-master's students.
A graduate program change proposal to adopt a dual-title graduate degree program must address the following:
- A listing of typical courses available (approved course title and course abbreviation/number) that are appropriate for the dual-title area of study should be provided.
- A statement should be made regarding the minimum number of 500- or 800-level (or maximum number, in the case of 400-level) credits that must be taken in the dual-title area of study.
- A dual-title doctoral degree student (like single-title doctoral degree students) will take a candidacy examination that is administered by the graduate major program, but that also examines the student’s suitability for doctoral research in the dual-title field. Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable. The normal period requires that “the examination may be given after at least 18 credits have been earned in graduate courses beyond the baccalaureate and must be taken within three semesters (summer sessions do not count) of entry into the doctoral program.”
- A dual-title graduate degree student's candidacy examination committee will be composed of faculty from the graduate program, as well as at least one faculty member from the dual-title area of study. In cases of programs with many overlapping interests, the designated dual-title faculty member may be appointed in the student's graduate program, but he or she also may hold a formal appointment with the dual-title area of study. Typically, the dual-title member will participate in constructing and grading candidacy examination questions in the dual-title area of study.
- Similarly, a student who pursues a dual-title doctoral degree program will need to enlist faculty from the graduate major program as well as faculty from the dual-title area of study to serve on the doctoral committee. Faculty members who hold appointments in both the graduate program and dual-title area of study may serve in a combined role. The dual-title representative will participate in constructing and grading comprehensive examination questions that cover the dual-title area of study as part of a unified comprehensive examination with the major program administered to the student.
- Administrative processes by which students will be admitted to and matriculate in the dual-title degree program in a coordinated manner with the graduate program must be delineated.
Approved by Graduate Council Nov. 20, 2002
Revised by Graduate Council, May 13, 2009
Revised by Graduate Council, Sept. 17, 2014