The Alignment Framework for the Master’s Degree

    ​​Project Overview

    In its role as a convening authority on issues that affect graduate education, CGS is advancing the 2016 Project on the Master’s Degree by engaging two groups of graduate deans to advance research based on the current and future status of the degree. Both groups will focus on creating a current conceptual framework and an envisioned future for the master’s degree informed by data. While the project is still in its initial planning stages, CGS ultimately plans to attract financial partners to realize its full scope and impact. The 2004-2014 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees reported that master’s degree candidates comprise 73.1% of the total graduate enrollment and that more than 1.27 million students were pursuing this degree (Allum & Okahana, 2015). These key metrics establish the project’s value to graduate education and verify its importance to our members. These are the leadership groups who are guiding the project.



    The Master’s Committee


    • Maria Green Cowles, Dean of the Graduate School, Hood College

    • Jack DeRochi, Dean of the Graduate School, Winthrop University

    • Cynthia Forehand, Dean of the Graduate College, University of Vermont

    • Paul Gemperline, Dean of the Graduate School, Eastern Carolina University

    • Kent Holsinger, Vice Provost for Graduate Education & Dean, University of Connecticut

    • Jack Kirby, Director of Graduate Studies, Fairmont State University

    • Kathleen Kitto, Vice Provost for Research & Dean, Western Washington University

    • Sheryl Tucker, Associate Provost for Graduate Education & Dean, Oklahoma State University

    • Jerry Weinberg, Associate Provost for Research & Dean, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


    The Research Advisory Group


    • Beth Boehm, Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary & Graduate Studies, University of Louisville
    • Joan Ficke, Dean of the Graduate School, Montclair State University
    • Dennis Grady, Dean of the Graduate School, Radford University
    • John Kiss, Dean of the Graduate School, University of Mississippi
    • James Marshall, Dean of Graduate Studies, California State University, Fresno
    • Mary Owens Southall, Dean of Graduate Studies, Coppin State University
    • Cosmas Nwokeafor, Dean of the Graduate School, Bowie State University
    • Troy Terry, Director of Graduate Studies, Furman State University
    • ​Nan Yancey, Dean of the Graduate School, Lewis University



    ​​Project Initiation

    The Project began with study of three key variables: the definitional components, degree competencies, and standards of excellence that interact to create the degree’s structural framework. An additional variable currently under consideration is the networking element that aligns the degree to its workforce value. The teams and their project assignments are outlined below.


    Definition Team

    The Definition Team will create a current definitional framework for the degree that can be validated with data and that can guide future development of the degree.


    • Jack DeRochi, Master’s Committee Lead
    • Maria Green Cowles
    • Sheryl Tucker
    • Beth Boehm, Research Group Lead
    • Mary Southall
    • Nan Yancey


    Competencies Team

    The Competencies Team will identify measurable competencies that are acquired through completion of the master’s degree that can be validated by data and that have the potential to shape current and future designs for the master’s degree.


    • Jerry Weinberg, Master’s Committee Lead
    • Paul Gemperline
    • Kent Holsinger
    • Dennis Grady, Research Group Lead
    • John Kiss
    • Troy Terry


    Standards Team

    The Standards Team will identify standards of excellence that distinguish master’s programs from baccalaureate or other programs that can be validated with data and adopted by CGS and used by its members to shape the quality of current and future degrees.


    • Kathleen Kitto, Master’s Committee Lead
    • Cynthia Forehand
    • Jack Kirby
    • Joan Ficke, Research Group Lead
    • James Marshall
    • Cosmas Nwokeafor



    ​​Colloquium on the Alignment Framework for the Master’s Degree

    A Colloquium on the Alignment Framework for the Master’s Degree took place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016.  Deans who had been involved in the design of the framework engaged in a rich and robust discussion with a diverse group of stakeholders from outside the university.  The group identified aspects of the framework that will guide our future work to ensure high quality master’s degrees. PowerPoint presentations from the meeting can be found here and here. To access a CGS webinar on the project as well as the slide presentation used, please go here and here. Also see CGS's State Snapshots for more infortmation on Master's Education. 


    Staff Contact: Bob Augustine


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