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Content Requirements for Certain Types of Programs

Certificates of Graduate Study

A Rackham certificate of graduate study is a non-degree credential for study and participation in a scholarly community around a focused topic of academic interest that provides a specialized set of courses to supplement a primary field of study. A certificate may include a non-credit experiential activity, such as an internship, practicum, or professional project or experience, equivalent to at least a three-credit hour course. The scope, duration, requirements and costs associated with certificate programs are not comparable to those for degrees. Certificate proposals accordingly require less detail, but must address each section required for all proposals.

Certificate proposals must include a clear statement of purpose and need, particularly how students will benefit from the certificate and where these students will come from. The proposal should stipulate whether the certificate will only admit students already enrolled in Rackham or other U-M degree programs, or whether it will admit persons who are not otherwise U-M students.

Dual Degree Programs

Dual degree programs lead to two different degree citations on the transcript and two separate diplomas. A dual degree program allows students to undertake complementary programs of graduate study simultaneously through streamlined curricular arrangements with limited double-counting of courses. Rackham policy for double-counting double-counting is outlined in the Graduate School Academic Policies. Proposals should adhere to this policy. Exceptions will be considered only for unusual circumstances, and a proposal to exceed the one-sixth double counting rule must give a clear and convincing educational justification. Such exception, for instance, may be considered when two programs require identical or highly similar methodological coursework, but the dual degree otherwise maintains the distinctive integrity of each program. In no case may double-counting exceed one quarter of the total credits for the two degrees, and triple-counting is not allowed. Alternatively, proposals may reduce the required credit hours for each degree rather than use double-counting.

Rackham Interdepartmental Degree Programs

Rackham Interdepartmental Degree Programs (IDPs) are interdisciplinary in their academic focus and, by bridging the schools and colleges, connective in their structure. Rackham IDPs bring faculty from different academic units to work together with graduate students to study emergent fields of knowledge that cut across the disciplinary and structural organization of the University.

The Rackham Executive Board gives close attention to enrollment projections for a proposed program to determine if these indicate a likely level of sustainable activity. New Rackham IDPs will be approved for a three to five year pilot period. Enrollment will be assessed each year to see if the program is meeting its anticipated level of activity. Rackham Interdepartmental Programs that do not reach a level of activity appropriate for a degree program during the pilot phase may be converted to a certificate program or discontinued.

In addition to the requirements for all degree proposals, proposals for Rackham IDPs should discuss:

  • The criteria and plan for the formal designation of faculty affiliates and a process for periodic review of their engagement and contributions.
  • How the program director is to be appointed and reviewed.
  • Which school or college will be the primary site of activity and provide oversight and responsibility for the administrative and programmatic budget.
  • How the enrollment portion of tuition will be attributed to the academic units where most activity is located and most student and administrative/programmatic costs are incurred.
  • How the director will discuss academic operations and planning annually with the Dean’s Office of the academic unit where the primary activity of the IDP is located.

Accelerated, Sequential or Concurrent Undergraduate/Graduate Programs

Through special arrangements in certain fields of study, undergraduates with an exceptional academic record may apply in their junior or senior year to work toward a master’s degree while fulfilling the remainder of their requirements for a bachelor’s degree. Students admitted to these programs are considered Rackham students, and master’s degree policies apply.

Such programs are not available to undergraduates pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree. Proposals may allow double-counting and/or transfer of up to half the credit hours of the master’s degree, not to exceed 15 credit hours, but no courses used to meet the requirements of the undergraduate major or concentration may be double-counted to meet the master’s degree. Proposals follow either of two models.

In the Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Studies model (SUGS), or the Accelerated Master’s Degree Program (AMDP) in LSA, undergraduate students begin graduate-level coursework and double-count and/or transfer credits to their graduate record. Students do not enroll in Rackham until they have completed their undergraduate degree requirements or are within 6 hours of completing. Students must enroll in Rackham for two full terms (9 or more credits each term) within 12 months of completing the undergraduate degree.

In the Concurrent Undergraduate/Graduate Studies model (CUGS), students have an undergraduate and graduate registration in the same term for the specific courses that count towards both the undergraduate and master’s degrees. CUGS programs must require a minimum of 15 graduate credit hours and at least one full term of Rackham-only registration, with a term defined as 9 credit hours.

In addition to the requirements for all degree proposals, proposals for Rackham combined undergraduate/graduate programs should also discuss:

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA and other requirements for students to be admitted to combined program.
  • Administrative coordination with the undergraduate program to facilitate recruitment, admission and successful transition to the master’s program.
  • For a CUGS program, arrangements for managing student financial aid since students admitted to the program will pay graduate tuition and will be ineligible for undergraduate-only aid.

Distributed (Online or Distance) Degree Programs

Degree programs may use online or a combination of mechanisms to deliver half or more of required coursework through distributed learning—that is, by means that allow instruction and learning to occur independent of time and place. Proposals for these programs must provide assurance that the quality of education and access to student services maintains the high standards of all Rackham programs.

Proposals for new programs or revisions to existing programs that plan to offer half or more of required coursework through distributed learning must provide additional information that assures the maintenance of quality. Tenured and tenure-track faculty must participate actively in distributed degree programs; these programs may not rely solely on the distribution of recorded material that allow no or limited direct interaction with faculty.

Distributed degree programs must verify that all program and course materials are accessible to students with visual or other disabilities. Information and guidelines are available at the Office for Institutional Equity’s Web Accessibility website. Programs must also comply with the University’s copyright policy and federal export control restrictions on access by foreign nationals to certain regulated information or software.

In addition to information required for all new program proposals, distributed delivery proposals must also discuss:

  • Faculty participation in design and delivery of instruction and provisions for assuring frequent and effective student interaction with instructors, including the opportunity for asking questions, and with other students.
  • The qualifications of any adjunct faculty that may be used for teaching, and the extent of their contributions.
  • Assessment mechanisms to be used to monitor curriculum and instruction and to assure that faculty are trained in the use of equipment and teaching techniques used in distributed learning, along with a description of refresher training to be made available as new distributed learning technologies emerge.
  • Arrangements for students to have access to learning and research resources, including library, computing, laboratory and other facilities, necessary for successful completion of the program.
  • Arrangements for the provision of student services.
  • The organization of any proposed on-campus component of instruction.
  • Mechanisms to ensure academic integrity, including authentication to assure that enrolled students do all required work themselves.
  • The adequacy of technical and infrastructural resources for program delivery and student support, including providing students with technical support for hardware, software and the delivery system required in the program.
  • Arrangements to ensure access for students with disabilities, to comply with University policies and legal and regulatory requirements for copyright, and to assure that federal export control regulations are observed.

Dual Degree Programs with Other Institutions

A dual degree program with another institution, sometimes called a sandwich or split program, is one in which the student completes the requirements for two separate degrees in different fields and earns two separate diplomas, one from the University of Michigan and the other from another degree-granting institution with which a formal collaborative agreement has been established.

Such dual degree programs entail residency and coursework at each institution, usually in alternating terms or years, and may include distributed delivery of learning. A dual degree program allows students to undertake distinct but complementary programs of graduate study simultaneously through streamlined curricular arrangements with limited double-counting of courses. See the Graduate School Academic Policies for rules regarding double-counting of credits. Proposals should adhere to this policy. Exceptions will be considered only for unusual circumstances, and a proposal to exceed the one-sixth double counting rule must give a clear and convincing educational justification. Such exception, for instance, may be considered when both programs require identical or highly similar methodological coursework, but the dual degree otherwise maintains the distinctive integrity of each program. In no case may double-counting exceed one quarter of the total credits for the two degrees.

In addition to information required for all new degree programs, proposals for dual degrees must include a draft of the proposed agreement with the partner institution which discusses:

  • Arrangements for joint governance and oversight, including specific provisions for ongoing monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of the program.
  • Standards and arrangements for admitting students and evaluating their progress.
  • The commitment to diversity, including the participation of students traditionally underrepresented in the programs or fields of study.
  • Financial commitments for student support, including tuition, stipend, and health insurance.
  • The availability to students of library, computing, laboratory and other research facilities.
  • Interaction with program faculty and the provision of student services, including academic advising, mentoring, career development and job placement.
  • Provisions for managing the resolution of disputes involving students and faculty.
  • Plans for addressing the responsible conduct of research and scholarship.
  • For Ph.D. students, arrangements for supervision of research for both degrees and the composition of dissertation committees.
  • Administrative responsibilities and arrangements to meet associated costs.
  • Arrangements for all other operational costs, including travel and housing for faculty and students visiting partner institutions.
  • The duration of the agreement and arrangements for regular formal evaluation, extension, or termination.

After the Rackham Executive Board has approved the dual degree, the draft agreement should be brought to the Office of the General Counsel for final institutional review and authorization by the Provost or other designated University officer.

Final approval of both the new dual degree and the institutional agreement are required before the new program can recruit or admit students.

Partnership-Based Accelerated Master’s Programs with Other Institutions

An accelerated master’s degree program (AMD) is one which allows undergraduates with an exceptional academic record to apply in their junior or senior year to work toward a master’s degree while fulfilling their remaining requirements for the bachelor’s degree. In general, these programs allow a student who is close to completing undergraduate requirements in 3 or 3.5 years to apply to start the graduate program while concurrently finishing the undergraduate degree. At the U-M, these programs are also variously called Concurrent Undergraduate/Graduate Study (CUGS) and Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Study (SUGS). Rackham currently has 18 AMD programs for U-M students only (see list at end of document).

These guidelines are for proposals to create partnerships with another institution so that students outside the U-M can take advantage of AMD programs.

These guidelines describe the elements that are required for the development of proposals to allow students from other institutions to apply for admission to an existing AMD program, as well as for proposals for new 3+2 AMD programs. Such students would complete the bachelor’s degree requirements of their undergraduate institution and earn a master’s from the University of Michigan, receiving two separate diplomas. This document will refer to these partnership-based master’s programs as 3+2 AMDs, indicating that 3 years of study are at the undergraduate institution and 2 years are at the U-M.

Arrangements under which undergraduates from outside the U-M may apply for admission to a 3+2 AMD program are governed by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the school or college in which the AMD program is located and the student’s home institution. The MOU sets out the terms and conditions for these arrangements, describing the policies and procedures that both institutions will follow, and incorporates the elements prescribed in these guidelines. MOUs with international partners are coordinated and approved by the Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education.

The Rackham Executive Board reviews and approves proposals for these programs on behalf of the University. Existing AMD programs requesting a modification to admissions requirements to establish a 3+2 program must provide a rationale and information outlined below. Proposals for new 3+2 AMD programs must provide this information in addition to the content required for all new degree proposals as described in these guidelines.

General Structure of a 3+2 AMD Program with a Partner Institution

AMD programs with external partner institutions have the following general model:

  • During year 3 of undergraduate study at their home institution, students apply to U-M for undergraduate departmental Non-Candidate for Degree (NCFD) admission. Admissions decisions are made by the program graduate admissions committee, with regard to indicators of academic quality and promise for admission to the graduate program in year 5.
  • Courses that may be counted towards the U-M graduate degree must be approved graduate-level courses taken during year 4 or year 5. Courses required for the undergraduate degree may not be double-counted.
  • During year 4 at U-M, students:
    • Enroll for 2 terms of full-time study with undergraduate NCFD status, with a minimum of 12 credits per term, taking courses that can be transferred to their home institution to meet the requirements for the bachelor’s degree as well as graduate courses required for the master’s.
    • Apply for admission to the master’s program.
    • At the end of the winter term, return to their home institution with transcript of NCFD courses and credits, complete any other requirements, and receive the bachelor’s degree.
  • No more than half the credit hours of graduate-level coursework taken during year 4 and approved by the AMD program may be transferred to the master’s.
  • During year 5 at U-M, students:
    • Enroll in the graduate program with Rackham registration (or registration in another academic unit with non-Rackham graduate term) for a minimum of 2 full terms with a minimum of 9 credits per term, paying full tuition.
    • Complete the requirements for and receive the master’s degree.
  • No courses may be triple-counted with any other degree.
  • No transfer credits from any third institution are allowed.
  • The Registrar will assign a program code so students in the 3+2 AMD can be tracked.

Contents of 3+2 AMD proposals

  1. Rationale and objectives. These programs create particular opportunities and benefits for partner institutions and their students to pursue an accelerated master’s degree at the U-M. Proposals should provide:
    • A detailed and compelling rationale that explains the objectives of the partnership, the anticipated benefits for the program and its U-M students, and how these align with the strategic goals of the graduate program as well as the goals of the University more broadly. Examples of the latter, for instance, might include partnerships with minority-serving institutions or institutions in world regions where U-M has fewer collaborative engagements.
    • Justification of the need for the program, including an explanation of the anticipated demand and academic and non-academic career paths for graduates.
  2. Curriculum and requirements. Since students admitted to NCFD status in year 4 are not permitted to register for classes until the first day of the term, the admitting program should confirm that class space is available for these students. The curriculum and degree requirements should be the same for students from partner institutions as for U-M students in AMD programs. Proposals should provide:
    • A model term-by-term program of study, listing required courses, cognates and electives and credit hours, for students from partner institutions and expected time for degree completion.
    • Availability of space in required and elective courses.
    • Arrangements for instruction in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship
    • An explanation of how students will meet other requirements such as theses, capstone projects, internships, fieldwork, or practicums.
  3. Admissions and enrollment planning. Undergraduate Admissions will be the clearinghouse for admissions to NCFD status in year 4. Programs should contact Sally Lindsley, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, about arrangements for admissions to undergraduate NCFD status. For admission to undergraduate NCFD status in year 4, proposals should discuss:
    • Enrollment targets, anticipated application and admissions activity, and desired steady-state cohort size both in absolute numbers and relative to the existing master’s cohort.
    • Eligibility criteria such as GPA and other requirements.
    • Application requirements, including academic statement of purpose, personal statement, TOEFL scores if required,[1] or other credentials as determined by the program.
    • The criteria and process that the partner institution will use to endorse applicants, and a description of the consultation with the U-M program to assure that the process is open and transparent.
    • The program’s admissions review and decision-making process.
    • Measures to actively support the recruitment of a diverse pool of students, including students underrepresented in the program or field.
    • For admission to the graduate program in year 5, proposals should discuss:
      • The criteria and evaluation process to assess whether students have made sufficient progress for regular admission to the graduate program.
      • Arrangements with the partner institution for students who exit the program after year 4 or who are not admitted to the graduate program to complete the requirements for the undergraduate degree.
  4. Program implementation. Proposals should discuss:
    • Arrangements for joint oversight and governance with the partner institution, including the designation of U-M faculty who will be responsible for oversight, and management of responsibilities for recruitment, admissions and student advising.
    • How administrative support will be provided, including support for student services.
    • The measures to be used to assess the outcomes and quality of the program, how faculty will conduct this assessment, and how this will be shared with the partner institution.
  5. Faculty resources. Proposals must provide evidence of sufficient faculty resources to support the additional enrollments and to devote time to mentoring and advising, including working collaboratively with advisors and mentors at the students’ home institutions. This includes names, rank and tenure status of faculty who have agreed to participate.
  6. Advising, mentoring, student community and climate. Proposals should discuss how the program will support a climate for student success, including:
    • Plans for academic advising, mentoring, progress reviews and other steps to support successful transition to regular graduate enrollment from NCFD status in year 4 and degree completion.
    • Steps to ensure that students are incorporated in an inclusive academic community of graduate students and faculty.
    • Specific steps for ensuring successful degree completion of underrepresented students.
  7. Finances and space. Proposals should discuss:
    • Anticipated costs for the student—including tuition, support costs, health insurance, travel, and costs for books and other supplies—and how these will be met.
    • Additional administrative costs for administering and operating the program and how these will be met.
    • Any additional specialized resources for teaching or research.
  8. Academic dispute resolution. Proposals should discuss the procedures that will be followed if student has a dispute or disagreement with faculty or staff about the equity and fairness of decisions or procedures that affect their academic standing, the conduct of their research, and progress toward the degree.
  9. Draft MOU. Proposals for a 3+2 AMD program must include a draft of the proposed agreement with the partner institution which stipulates arrangements for:
    • Joint governance and oversight, including specific provisions for ongoing monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of the program.
    • Standards and arrangements for admitting students and evaluating their progress.
    • The commitment to diversity, including the participation of students traditionally underrepresented in the programs or fields of study.
    • Financial commitments for student support, including tuition, stipend, travel and health insurance.
    • The availability to students of library, computing, laboratory and other research facilities.
    • Interaction with program faculty and the provision of student services, including academic advising, mentoring, career development and job placement.
    • Plans for training in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship and how infractions will be handled.
    • Provisions for managing the resolution of disputes involving students and faculty.
    • Administrative responsibilities and arrangements to meet associated costs.
    • Arrangements for all other operational costs.
    • The duration of the agreement and arrangements for regular formal evaluation, extension, or termination that includes termination by the Graduate School if it determines that the partners are not meeting their agreed commitment to the program or the students, or that the quality is falling short of standards expected of University of Michigan graduate programs. Note that U-M limits agreements to a maximum term of 5 years (with renewal possible but not automatic).

    Stages of proposal development and activation

    Proposals for an existing AMD program to establish 3+2 AMD in partnership with another institution may be received at any time, but it is the responsibility of the proposers to allow sufficient time for all stages of review, revision and approval before such an arrangement may be activated. An MOU with a partner institution may not be signed without prior approval by the Graduate School, and such an arrangement cannot be advertised or used to admit students until final approvals are obtained.

    1. Development of the draft proposal. Rackham provides consultation to faculty as they prepare a draft proposal.
    2. Rackham Deans Group review. Rackham Deans Group reviews the draft proposal, providing feedback to help refine the proposal for submission to the Executive Board.
    3. Unit review and approval. Dean(s) of the academic unit(s) where the 3+2 AMD partnership will be administratively located—or which will contribute courses, faculty, or other resources—review the proposal and provide written approval that specifies any commitment of resources and confirms that the proposal has been reviewed and approved by faculty under the procedures of the school or college. Directors or chairs of other units or graduate programs that contribute to the proposed program also review and provide written approval.
      • In the College of Engineering, the Curriculum Committee reviews these proposals. Contact Jennifer Linderman for assistance.
      • In LSA, the Dean’s Cabinet and Executive Committee review these proposals. Contact Paula Hathaway for assistance.
    4. Rackham Executive Board review. The Rackham Executive Board provides final review and approval for the AMD. After a first review, the Board may have questions or comments that require additional information and revision before final approval is granted.
    5. Provost’s Office. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, provides the final review of the MOU partnership agreement with the partner institution and signs the agreement on behalf of the Regents.

    Rackham Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs, Fall 2015

    Aerospace Engineering
    Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
    Biomedical Engineering
    Chemical Engineering
    Chemistry
    Civil Engineering
    Computer Science and Engineering
    Construction Engineering and Management
    Educational Studies
    Electrical Engineering
    Electrical Engineering Systems
    Environmental Engineering
    Industrial and Operations Engineering
    Industrial and Operations Engineering – Engineering Global Leadership
    Macromolecular Science and Engineering
    Mechanical Engineering
    Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
    Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Science
    Psychology
    Quantitative Finance and Risk Management


    [1] Applicants whose native language is not English and who do not meet the Graduate School’s criteria for exemption, must submit TOEFL or other English language test scores as required to meet Rackham English proficiency requirements.

Last updated: September 25, 2017 - 4:26pm