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Guidelines for Collaborative International-Concurrent Graduate Degree Programs (CI-CGDP)

Guidelines for Programs and Curriculum Policy GCAC-214

Policy

GCAC 214 Collaborative Graduate Education Programs with Institutions Outside of the United States

Guidelines

Background and General Model-Specific Information

Concurrent graduate degrees recognize training in two fields of study in the form of two graduate degrees, each with a separate thesis/dissertation/culminating experience, as well as other program specific requirements for each degree. A master’s degree with a concurrent doctorate or second master’s are allowed; however, concurrent doctorates are not allowed. Programs must recognize that concurrent degrees may increase time to degree. Collaborative international concurrent graduate degree programs (CI-CGDP) may allow a student in a master’s degree program at Penn State to begin work for either a master's in a second field or a doctoral degree in their current field or a second field at a collaborating institution outside the U.S., or vice versa, while concurrently completing the first graduate degree. Such programs must meet the guidelines delineated below, and receive curricular approval from Graduate Council.

Admission Process

Students selected to participate in concurrent candidacies must be recommended and endorsed in writing by appropriate faculty of the international institution and must complete Penn State’s graduate application, pay the application fee, meet the Graduate School’s minimum requirements for admission (see GCAC-301 Qualifications for Admission) and the admission requirements of the graduate program to which the student is applying, and be approved for admission at Penn State. Faculty from Penn State should participate in the selection procedure at the point where the students are considered for the cooperative program. Again, concurrent doctoral degrees are not allowed. Any common agreements, such as the required completion of a specific portion/sequence of courses for one program before advancing to begin the other, should be noted in the agreed upon plan of study.

Transfer Credits

Courses accepted from the cooperating institution to satisfy the Penn State graduate degree need to be equivalent in academic rigor and level to Penn State’s graduate courses. Transferred academic work must be equivalent to B quality on Penn State’s grading system; and must appear on an official graduate transcript of an official degree-granting institution, as recognized by the appropriate governmental agency of the country. Students admitted to the concurrent program will be allowed to transfer up to the specified number of course credits identified and approved in the proposal to establish the CI-CGDP. The suitability of courses for transfer credit will be evaluated on an individual basis. For students who are enrolled in the CI-CGDP first at the outside institution, transfer courses from that institution to be double-counted towards the Penn State degree must be completed within the first semester of enrollment at Penn State. Otherwise, additional requests for transfer of credit should occur within the semester immediately following their completion at the outside institution. For students who are enrolled in the CI-CGDP first at Penn State, transfer courses from the outside institution to be double-counted towards the Penn State degree should occur within the semester immediately following their completion at the outside institution. Courses from a collaborating international institution to be consistently transferred into the Penn State graduate degree and double-counted must be specified and pre-approved by completing the “Collaborative International Graduate Degree Program Transfer of Credit Form” and attaching to the CI-CGDP proposal.

Credit/Degree Requirements

The complete plan of study for each degree, including which specific courses will be double-counted (applied to both degrees), should be detailed in full by completing the “Collaborative International- Graduate Degree Program Plan of Study Form” and attaching the form to the proposal.

The sum of required credits for both degrees in the CI-CGDP should not be reduced by more than 20 percent as a result of double-counting courses when the two degrees are taken concurrently, with no more than 1/3 of the credits required for the Penn State degree (up to the limit of 20% of the total credits that may be double-counted for both degrees) transferred in from the collaborating institution. For example, if a Penn State master’s degree requires a minimum of 30 credits, and a degree from a collaborating institution requires a minimum of 45 credits, the total required credits for both degrees taken as part of a CI-CGDP cannot be reduced by more than 15 credits, with no more than 10 credits transferred into the Penn State degree and double-counted. As another example, for a Penn State master’s degree requiring 60 credits and a degree from a collaborating international institution requiring 30 credits, the total required credits for both degrees cannot be reduced by more than 18 credits, with no more than 18 credits transferred into the Penn State degree and double counted. Additional examples are provided in the table below:

  Example Degree Scenarios (Credits)
Penn State Degree: 30 30 60 45
International Collaborator Degree: 60 30 30 45
Total Credits (both degrees): 90 60 90 90
Maximum Total Credits Allowable for Double-Counting (both degrees)1: 18 12 18 18
Maximum Credits Allowable for Transfer to Penn State Degree2: 10 10 18 15

1 Calculated as 20% of the total credits required for both degrees.

2 Calculated as 1/3 of the credits required for the Penn State degree, up to the limit of 20% of the total credits that may be double-counted for both degrees.

There must be a separate culminating experience (e.g., thesis; scholarly paper; project; etc.) for each degree, and credits related to the culminating experience (e.g., SUBJECT 600, THESIS RESEARCH) cannot be double-counted.

A Penn State doctoral student pursuing a concurrent master’s degree at an outside institution must have representation from both programs of study on his/her doctoral committee. Faculty intended to serve on Penn State doctoral committees in a CI-CGDP who are from the collaborating institution must be qualified for Penn State graduate faculty membership and if appointed to the graduate faculty may be identified as adjunct graduate faculty members, or else should be qualified and approved as Special Members of the committee (see GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership).

The curricular review process will verify that degree requirements for the Penn State degree program will be met, and that overlap between the programs (i.e., double-counting of credits) is within the above-stated allowable limits. The program proposal must include a list of courses required for the graduate program at the collaborating international institution, and a list of courses required for the graduate program at Penn State. Courses specified to be used for both degrees must be consistently adhered to if the program is approved. Changes to previously approved CI-CGDPs (e.g., change in courses to be transferred in for double-counting) must be submitted as a program change and approved through the curricular review process.

Course syllabi with detailed information regarding course requirements and content must be shared among institutions in order to coordinate the transfer of credits and the planning of programs of studies for the recommended students in the collaborative program.

Conferral of Degrees

Proposals should state that the expected timing of degree conferral for both degrees is at the completion of the entire CI-CGDP, and articulate a statement to be included in all program materials, including the Graduate Student Handbook, that confirms that if all of the requirements for one degree are satisfied before those of the other degree, and if these meet the requirements for the degree when not offered as a concurrent program, then that degree may be conferred in cases where the student may not be able to complete the second degree.

Periodic Review of the CI-CGDP Agreement

The signed CI-CGDP agreement should be reviewed periodically (e.g., annually) by participating representatives from both institutions. Any changes or modifications (beyond updating course information) must be approved by both institutions.

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