Chapter 1.D

Chapter 1D: Governance of Graduate Programs

1. Graduate Program Bylaws

All graduate programs are required to have approved bylaws on file with the Graduate School. A graduate program is considered a program of study toward a specific degree. Master’s and doctoral programs within the same discipline may share common bylaws only if there is substantial overlap in program goals and requirements. Certificate programs do not require bylaws. Graduate programs may not operate under bylaws that have not been reviewed and approved by the WSU Faculty Senate Graduate Studies Committee and forwarded to the Faculty Senate as an information item.

For a program to offer a degree and advertise that degree as being offered at a specific campus (or campuses, including Global Campus), the degree must be officially approved through the Faculty Senate and the Board of Regents process, and by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), WSU’s accrediting body. In addition, the Department of Education needs to approve the degree if students in the program are to be awarded financial aid. Some programs may also require approval from their specific national accreditors. Graduate faculty within the program may be physically located at other campuses and function as major advisors at those sites if authorized by the program bylaws. The program is responsible for maintaining academic rigor, which will be evaluated during program review.Campuses and research extension centers that participate in delivering a program (e.g., offering courses, faculty functioning as major advisors, sites for research) but are not officially approved to offer the degree are called supporting sites. The role of faculty at these sites must be defined by the program bylaws (see Chapter 3.B for more details).

2. Approval of Graduate Program Bylaws

Review and approval of the bylaws for a new or existing graduate program requires four sequential processes:

  • Bylaws Preparation: A template of such bylaws is available from the Graduate School. Using the template, draft bylaws should be prepared by designated members of the graduate program. Note: A program is encouraged to request an informal review of their bylaws before submitting them to the graduate program faculty for vote.This review will be conducted by representatives of the Graduate School, and feedback will be provided. This is not a formal review; after the bylaws have been formally submitted to Graduate Studies Committee, the Committee will provide additional comments.
  • Graduate Program Review: The draft bylaws must be approved by the faculty members of the graduate program.
  • Graduate School Review: After approval by the appropriate faculty, bylaws will be reviewed by an associate dean of the Graduate School for general compliance with the guidelines. If major inconsistencies, omissions, or errors are found, the document will be returned to the graduate program for further revision.
  • Faculty Senate Graduate Studies Committee Review: The GSC reviews bylaws in the order received.The GSC may approve the document as submitted or may request additional editing or clarification. If edits or clarifications are required, a GSC representative will communicate with the graduate program director or designated representative. Once the GSC has approved the bylaws, the document will be forwarded to the Faculty Senateas an information item. The program’s bylaws will be posted on the Graduate School’s webpage and the program is notified to maintain a copy of the bylaws in its files.


The mechanisms for graduate faculty to change program bylaws will be specified in the bylaws of that program. All changes must go through the process described above and be updated to be consistent with the bylaws template.

3. Graduate Program Participants

Designation of program director, graduate coordinator, and academic coordinator.

4. Expectations of Faculty Advisors and Mentors

Successful graduate programs are those with dedicated faculty and systems for advising and mentoring graduate students who need sound advice throughout their graduate career. These students deserve guidance from faculty whose interests go beyond the advisor-director role to one of teacher and mentor. Departments and programs are responsible for encouraging and ensuring effective mentorship for graduate students during the course of their studies.

A mentor assists scholarly development, contributes to intellectual stimulation, and fosters professionally enriching relationships with graduate students. A faculty mentor is a peer-to-be, one who encourages and supports independent development; one who, through insightful guidance, trust, and mutual respect, nurtures a transition from graduate student to colleague. Students should expect that mentors will interact with them on a regular basis, providing the guidance, advice, and intellectual challenge necessary to help students complete their degree programs.

Graduate students should expect that advisors and mentors will do the following:

  • interact in a professional and civil manner consistent with University policies governing nondiscrimination and sexual harassment;
  • create an ethos of collegiality in classroom, laboratory, or studio supervisory relations that stimulates and encourages students to learn creatively and independently;
  • develop clear understandings about specific research expectations and responsibilities, including timelines for completion of theses or dissertations;
  • provide verbal or written comments and evaluation of students’ work and progress toward degree in a timely manner;
  • discuss laboratory, studio, or departmental authorship policy with graduate students in advance of entering into collaborative projects; and
  • acknowledge student contributions to research presented at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for copyrights and patents.


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