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Washington State University Graduate School

Chapter 14: Professionally Oriented Master’s Degree Programs

A. Professionally Oriented Master’s Degree Program Overview

A professionally oriented master’s degree program is an academic graduate degree that prepares the student for a particular profession by emphasizing competency in a set of skills needed to practice in the profession.  These professions are typically licensed or government-regulated and often require academic programs that prepare their professionals to be externally accredited. Professions such as nursing, architecture, engineering, accounting, audiology, speech-language pathology, and education often, but not necessarily, require a degree for licensing.  The professionally oriented master’s degree program relies heavily on curriculum and may include required internships, practicum, fieldwork or clinical hours, and/or a final capstone experience that applies the professional knowledge, skills and training to a problem within the profession.  Unlike the professionally oriented degree, the Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees generally provide experience in research and scholarship and often require a written thesis or research project and often take longer than two years to complete.

B. Program of Study

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C. Faculty Advisory Committee for Professionally Oriented Master’s Program of Study

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D. Academic Evaluation of Students

Some professionally oriented master’s degree programs have a standard curriculum that all students must take and that can be completed within a set timeframe, sometimes in less than two academic years.  An annual evaluation for students in good academic standing (see Chapter 6, Section C) is not required in a program that takes one academic year (fall, spring) or three academic semesters (i.e., fall, spring, and fall) to complete.  However, an annual evaluation should be performed if the student is not making adequate academic progress (i.e., not making progress to complete the program within the expected time-frame, repeating coursework, withdrawing from one or more courses, and/or having more than one incomplete on record).  If the program takes two academic years or longer to complete, the program must do, at a minimum, an academic review of progress toward degree of all graduate students at the mid-point of their program (see Chapter 6, Section B of this policy manual for more information on conducting an academic evaluation of students).

E. Capstone Project and/or Examination Requirements

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