Skip to main content

Graduate Assessment


Degrees

The department offers five graduate degrees: PhD in Watershed Science, PhD in Ecology, and MS in each of Watershed Science, Fisheries Biology, and Ecology.

PhD in Watershed Science, PhD In Ecology

This is a traditional research-based degree program. Students are admitted only after they are accepted into, and funded by, the research program of an individual faculty member. Course work follows a plan of study developed in conjunction with their major professor and graduate committee. The plan of study must meet the core requirements of the department and graduate school and will also include courses pertinent to the student’s research project and later career goals. PhD students getting an Ecology degree have additional course requirements, which can be checked here. Students must demonstrate a mastery of course materials by passing a qualifying examination administered by their supervisory committee. Students must also present their work at least twice before a department-wide seminar, generally by presenting their proposed research in the first year, and research updates in subsequent updates every other year. They must also successfully defend their research as a significant original contribution to knowledge conducted in an ethical manner. The defense includes a public presentation of the research results as well as an oral examination conducted with their graduate committee.

MS in Watershed Science, MS in Fisheries Biology, MS in Ecology

This is a traditional research-based degree program. Students are admitted only after they are accepted into, and funded by, the research program of an individual faculty member. Course work follows a plan of study developed in conjunction with their major professor and graduate committee. The plan of study must meet the core requirements of the department and graduate school and will also include courses pertinent to the student’s research project and later career goals. MS students getting an Ecology degree have additional course requirements, which can be checked here. Students must demonstrate a mastery of course materials to their supervisory committee during defense of their research conducted in an ethical manner.

Assessment Plan

Graduate education is characterized by expectations that include mastery of subject material greater than typically associated with undergraduate education. The MS and PhD degrees have additional expectations for original research and scholarly activity conducted in an ethical manner. The learning objectives allied with each degree are described following this outline of our assessment plan.

Mastery of subject material by individual students in the MS and PhD programs is assessed by their supervisory committee following standard procedures required by the graduate school and department. The learning objectives for students in these research-based programs are established through a plan of study for each student and approved by their supervisory committee. Committees meet at least annually to assess student progress in the program and their plan of study. For doctoral students, competencies related to their plan of study and research proposal are assessed during a qualifying examination conducted by the graduate committee. The qualifying examination includes both written and oral portions specifically developed to test achievement and preparation for the graduate degree. Final assessment of student achievement occurs during the defense of their thesis or dissertation.

The department collects outcomes data on the overall performance of our programs to augment the assessments of individual student learning provided by supervisory committees. Outcomes are reviewed by the graduate program committee comprised of the department’s graduate faculty members leading to data-based decisions that ensure overall program objectives are being met. The department faculty assess the graduate program during an in-service day held at the end of spring semester to finalize plans for putting the data-based decisions into practice

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives for students in these research-based programs are established through a plan of study for each student and approved by their graduate committee. The plan of study is unique to each student and combines foundational and advanced courses as needed to obtain the specialized learning required to complete the student’s research. Credit, course and other degree requirements can be accessed here. MS and PhD students in Ecology have additional course requirements described here

As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the PhD degree, students shall:

            Demonstrate mastery of subject material.

            Design, conduct, present, and defend a body of research leading to an original and significant contribution to knowledge.

            Be able to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner.

As a result of successfully completing the requirements toward the MS degree, students shall:

            Demonstrate mastery of subject material.   

            Conduct, present, and defend a body of research conducted during their program.

            Be able to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner.

Outcomes Data

Mastery of subject material by individual students in the MS and PhD programs is assessed by their supervisory committee following standard procedures required by the graduate school and department. The outcomes data evaluated by the supervisory committees includes plans of study, research proposals, qualifying exams, and theses and dissertations.

In addition, the department employs a variety of tools to collect feedback on the overall performance of its graduate programs, including, but not limited to:

Average GPA for entering students
Number of students in each degree
Average time to degree completion
Percentage of students completing degrees in targeted time frames
            2 yrs for MS
            5 yrs for PhD
Number of publications and professional presentations per student
Average stipend for MS and PhD research assistantships
Teaching experience gained while in residence
Career placement and professional advancement

Professional Placement: In addition to alumni and graduate surveys conducted by the university, the department maintains its own database of career placement for our graduate students. We have nearly 100% information on the professional activities of students in the years following graduation.

WATS Enrollment Figures
2021 WATS Self-study for External Review
2012 WATS Self-study for External Review
2012 Graduate Program Review

Data-Based Decisions

2019-2020 Graduate Program Record of Decisions
2018-2019 Graduate Program Record of Decisions
2017-2018 Graduate Program Record of Decisions
2016-2017 Graduate Program Record of Decisions
2015-2016 Graduate Program Record of Decisions