TO: Deans, Directors of Graduate Studies, Graduate Program Coordinators, Department Chairs
FROM: Martin Cadwallader, Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School
DATE: April 22, 2011
RE: REVISED: Policy change re: the minor in doctoral training
Effective Fall 2011, Graduate School policy will increase the flexibility available to doctoral programs to ensure breadth in student training by making completion of a minor optional rather than required. Programs can continue to require their students to complete a minor or they can opt into other types of breadth training (see examples below). The decision was made at the November 12, 2010 meeting of the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee.
This change in no way diminishes the Graduate School’s commitment to breadth as an important component of doctoral training. Rather, this policy change acknowledges that there are now multiple paths to breadth, and the Graduate School feels the individual program is best positioned to choose the correct paths for its students.
All existing Option A minors remain viable, and the Graduate School will continue to both encourage and vet proposals for new minors. Minor requirements for current doctoral programs remain in place. Should a program decide to opt out of a required minor, it must provide the Graduate School with information requested in the doctoral program worksheet. Regardless of whether a program requires a minor or not, any doctoral student who wishes to complete a minor will have the option to do so.
The minor will remain an important component of breadth training for many programs. But as doctoral programs become more responsive to calls for interdisciplinary education, pedagogical training, ethical training, and professional training, we anticipate that individual programs will adopt strategies that fit both their intellectual landscapes and the needs of their students. The Graduate School is revising its criteria for 10-year program review to include explicit questions about breadth training.
Even now, doctoral students can partake in a wide variety of breadth learning experiences in addition to the minor. They include:
• Graduate certificates
• Interdisciplinary requirements within the program that encourage cross-disciplinary coursework
• Cross-disciplinary research opportunities
• Service learning opportunities
• Workshops—both internal and external—that provide professional and other types of skills (for example, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp offered annually by the School of Business)
• Lecture series such as forums focusing on the ethics of animal research or the Graduate School Seminar & Workshop Series, which highlights responsible conduct of research issues.
The Graduate School views breadth components as critical elements in doctoral education and encourages programs to use this increased flexibility to devise the best ways in which to align breadth resources with the needs of their students.