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ODA Home > Institutional Research > Degrees > Memo (July, 2003): Reporting for graduate interdisiplinary majors


TO:    Russel Monson, Chair, EE Biology
         Roger Enoka, Chair, Integrative Physiology
         Leslie Leinwand, Chair, MCD Biology
         Liz Bradley, Chair, Computer Science
         Lorrie Shepard, Dean, Education
         Barbara Fox, Chair, Linguistics
         Michael Tooley, Chair, Philosophy
         Jerry Rudy, Chair, Psychology
         Lynn Snyder, Chair, Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

         James Martin, Director, Cognitive Science Program
         Linda Watkins, Director, Neuroscience Program

FROM:   Adrian Del Caro, Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education, Associate Dean

SUBJECT:   Reporting for approved interdisciplinary major combinations

DATE:   July 24, 2003

Questions and concerns have arisen in some units participating in the new degree programs for neuroscience and cognitive science. Although these concerns were addressed during the proposal stage of the programs, their resurfacing suggests a need for clarification by the Graduate School, in order to state for the record certain procedures and agreements governing these interdisciplinary majors and their allied units. In some cases unanticipated requests from students have also arisen; this document may serve both to clarify and update procedures.

The nature of these concerns is basically two-fold. Faculty and departmental administrators desire reassurances that the home unit will not be negatively impacted by a migration of students from the home unit to the interdisciplinary degree program - these concerns normally surface during uncertain budget times, but in fact issues of impact were discussed and agreed upon at the proposal stage, and ultimately the consent of all participating units was required. The attached document "Procedures for interdisciplinary graduate degree programs: SIS, degrees, internal counts, and reporting to CCHE, the federal government, and external agencies," by Lou McClelland (of Office of Data Analytics, ODA) in consultation with Linda Watkins and the Graduate School, provides detailed information that should be studied closely by the participating units. Concerns e.g. that a home department, say KAPH (major code KINE), would not be credited with enrollment or completion in KAPH after a student opts for the neuroscience degree should be dispelled, inasmuch as the student is counted in two majors, KINE and Neuroscience, with KINE serving as the first major and Neuroscience as the second major, both in what SIS calls the "primary program." Once the mechanisms for counting and crediting double majors are understood, as these measures are represented by both CU and CCHE, home departments should feel assured that their enrollment and their record of completion are indeed fully counted and credited to the home department. The related concern that a home unit might suffer losses to its operational budget etc. is similarly dispelled when we consider that the interdisciplinary degree does not represent a department and an infrastructure in its own right, but consists instead of the faculty, resources, etc. of KAPH and other participating units.

A second kind of concern is expressed by students who desire a variety of combinations in stating their degree. See Lou McClelland's "Procedures" document, section on "Internal CU-Boulder procedures for Neuroscience and Cognitive science PhD programs," for the procedures to be followed and the options available. Again, students are listed as carrying both majors, their diplomas will list both majors in alphabetical order, and their transcripts will list both in SIS order. A student may in unusual circumstances even opt to have only one major reflected on the diploma, with the second major appearing only on the transcript as "with neuroscience emphasis."

Lou McClelland's "Procedures" document should be made available immediately to faculty and staff of the participating units, to ensure consistency in advising and processing of majors, first and foremost, and to allay any lingering anxiety about how the home units retain their identity and record their achievements. It is available on the web through the ODA site. Individuals in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience responsible for setting up students on SIS should also read the "Start Up Actions" document, which outlines immediate SIS changes needed to bring continuing students into conformance. It also outlines some enabling changes needed in Graduate School policies. Links to the web documents referred to herein are available at under the heading "Procedures for interdisciplinary graduate degrees."

The Graduate School acknowledges that uncertainties arise whenever interdisciplinary degree programs are implemented, and we remain committed to fostering an atmosphere in which enhancements of graduation education can occur. In this spirit, we express our gratitude to the faculty in the participating units of NRSC and COGS, and to the program directors, for their innovation and patience.

Cc: Phil DiStefano, Todd Gleeson, Carol Lynch, Lou McClelland


Last revision 05/02/16

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