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Graduate Education

Assessment of PhD Learning Outcomes

Because the PhD degree is granted by the University rather than by the individual schools, end-of-program PhD learning outcomes that apply to all disciplines are identified and assessed at the University level. Learning outcomes for other types of graduate programs (masters degrees and MD, EdD, DMA, DNP degrees), and for PhD students prior to completion of the dissertation and final oral defense, are determined and assessed by the individual schools.

Before the PhD candidate is permitted to progress to the oral defense, the office of University Graduate Studies confirms that the candidate has met all program requirements and the membership of the final oral defense committee meets the specifications in the Regulations and University Policies Concerning Graduate Studies. The dissertation document is reviewed at the program, School, and University levels.

After the oral defense, each faculty member of each final oral defense committee completes an evaluation of the rigor of the defense process and of the candidate’s degree of achievement of the University’s PhD Learning Outcomes:

The UR PhD graduate will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Select and defend important problem or topic for study
  2. Demonstrate mastery of relevant knowledge in the field
  3. Apply rigorous methods of the discipline
  4. Produce a valuable product and accurately appraise its importance
  5. Communicate effectively in academic writing
  6. Effectively defend the work when questioned.

In addition, after the defense, the candidate completes an exit survey on satisfaction with a number of aspects of the PhD program just completed. The ratings and related comments from both students and faculty are analyzed by University Graduate Studies at least annually, in aggregated and de-identified form. Results are reported to the University Council on Graduate Studies and leaders of graduate programs to inform program improvements.