UCAR Review of Master’s Programs

Message to USC Faculty

From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

October 26, 2018

In Spring 2016, the Committee on Graduate Enrollment Management, comprised of faculty across campuses and disciplines, conducted an overall study of the university’s procedures on recruitment, selection, and enrollment of students for PhD and master’s programs, including online programs.  USC has a large graduate student population, and the committee noted that it is critical that we appropriately evaluate and enrich our graduate programs, ensuring the same level of quality and diversity as our undergraduate student body.  In the committee’s report, it expressed concerns, in particular, regarding selectivity and quality control within master’s programs throughout the university.

In order to address these issues, my office is initiating a review of master’s programs under the aegis of the University Committee on Academic Review (UCAR).  This series of reviews will systematically cover a number of programs each semester, eventually extending to each USC master’s program, including on-campus and online programs.  The protocol for these program evaluations was reviewed by both the Graduate Deans Council and UCAR and was submitted to the University Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures during the 2017-2018 academic year.  I thank these faculty committees for their input.

There are two stages of evaluation.  The first stage, which we identify as a “Light Touch Review,” is similar to a check-up of the program; it will include a review of available data on admissions, time to degree, completion, attrition, and student debt load and demographics.  UCAR will consider this information and, if the committee finds no concerns, it will close the review.  If there are any concerns, the review will enter a second stage, a “Comprehensive Master’s Program Review,” to provide a deeper and more nuanced assessment.

I am grateful to the Committee on Graduate Enrollment Management for its recommendations and to UCAR for providing this important oversight.  I appreciate the work of our master’s programs across USC and am pleased that, together, we take these critical steps in ensuring that the university provides the world-class education worthy of our graduate student population.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs Elizabeth Graddy at vpafa@usc.edu or Vice Provost for Graduate Programs Sally Pratt at pratt@usc.edu.


Cc: Wanda Austin
Academic Senate
Academic Deans
President’s Cabinet
Provost’s Cabinet
Elizabeth Graddy
Sally Pratt
Ruth Wood