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Guidance for Dual-Listed Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

Purpose of Dual-Listed Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

Dual-listed undergraduate and graduate courses enhance the educational experience of both undergraduate and graduate students. While academic programs are generally encouraged to offer distinct undergraduate and graduate courses, there are circumstances in which academic programs may wish to teach certain graduate and undergraduate courses together as one course. Explicit guidelines are provided here for dual-listed undergraduate/graduate courses, which refers to offering two courses, one undergraduate and one graduate, for which the class experience is shared; the graduate course is expected to have learning outcomes consistent with the relevant graduate program outcomes that must be clearly identified in the CIM system and on the syllabus.

Policy on Undergraduate Enrollment in 500-level courses

Students may not take a dual-listed course at the undergraduate level and later apply it toward requirements for a graduate program (i.e., students may not take FSW 415 and later count it as FSW 515). Students may not complete any additional/distinct work for the 500-level course after the fact in order to receive graduate credit/or count the course toward a graduate program. In these cases, undergraduate students should request permission from the graduate school to take the 500-level course as an undergraduate by using the Undergraduate Permission Form. This form must be received by the Graduate School (with the approval of the instructor and the department chair) by 5 p.m. on the fifth day of class for a full-term fall, spring, or summer course. For sprint courses and winter term courses, the form must be submitted by the "Last Day for Departments to Add Students to a Course" date listed in the Academic Calendar. 

Policy on Graduate Student Learning Outcomes

In order to have quality graduate education, individual courses must have learning outcomes that are appropriate for graduate students. Learning outcomes should emphasize the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels of cognitive learning (see Bloom, 1956 for additional information on levels of learning). Graduate education “involves a greater depth of learning, increased specialization, and a more advanced level of instruction than undergraduate education” (CCGS Guidelines, p. 3). Furthermore, CCGS guidelines state that, “In the event that a graduate course is co-listed with an advanced undergraduate course, the approval process should require clearly defined expectations of graduate students that go well beyond the expectations of the undergraduates in the course.”

Higher levels of originality and independence are expected in graduate work compared to undergraduate work (c.f., Lumina Foundation Degree Qualifications Profile). In combined courses, the content of learning outcomes will most often be the same for undergraduates and graduate students, but graduate students should be expected to achieve higher levels of learning for the content. The level of learning is most often communicated through the verbs used in assessing learning outcomes. Examples of terms that reflect different levels of learning are presented in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Measurable Verbs and are articulated in the following distinctions, which may be modified as needed in different disciplines.

Students will demonstrate:

  • At the 400 level: Familiarity with content in subject area; development of independent thought; and knowledge of the research literature;
  • At the 500 level: Development of competency in subject area; advanced level of independent thought; understanding of research literature, and ability to synthesize and apply it;
  • At the 600 level: Development of content mastery; independent thought in subjects of increased complexity; critical understanding of research, and ability to contribute to the creation of new knowledge.

Learning Outcomes in Online Courses

Online courses should follow the same guidelines as traditional courses with regard to student learning outcomes. In addition, online courses should minimally receive a Quality Matters review or evaluation.

Guidelines for Developing/Revising Dual-listed Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

  • Only 400-level undergraduate courses may be dual-listed with graduate courses.
  • Course titles must be identical.
  • Courses not approved as dual-listed courses through the curriculum approval process must be taught separately.
  • Specific, unique expectations must be provided for each course (i.e., the 400-level and the 500-level course). Different requirements and expectations should be clearly outlined on a combined syllabus or separate syllabi for each course. Students must complete graduate-level work and achieve graduate-level learning outcomes to receive credit at the 500 level (see Policy on Graduate Student Learning Outcome above). 
    • Additional Guidance for 500-level courses: These expectations and outcomes must include more advanced learning through distinct activities, assignments, and/or assessments. These expectations must be clearly differentiated from the expectations of undergraduate students and must be clearly documented in the syllabus.
    • Below are guidelines for what is expected of graduate-level work in these dual-listed courses:
      • Graduate students are expected to complete more advanced work, not just more by quantity (e.g., longer paper/presentation) than undergraduate students.
      • Assessment measures such as exams, written assignments, computational exercises, creative projects, etc. should delve more deeply into the content area and be more sophisticated at the graduate level. Graduate students should be held to a higher standard with regard to how their work is evaluated on exams and assignments.
      • Graduate students enrolled in a dual-listed course should not be used as teaching assistants for that course. For example, graduate students should not conduct substantial lecture components or grade undergraduate work in that course. Graduate students may lead portions of class discussion but should not be responsible for creating and delivering entire lectures or supervising/facilitating entire class meetings.
      • Some suggested activities, assignments, and/or assessments that may be appropriate for graduate students in a dual-listed course:
        • Distinct reading assignments that are evaluated via written critical reviews and/or oral presentations.
        • Distinct writing assignments that demonstrate students’ ability to synthesize research and integrate course material (e.g., comprehensive scholarly reviews, applications of course content, research grant proposals, applications of course material to thesis or research project).
        • Separate exams for graduate students that assess comprehension and ability to integrate and apply course material at more advanced levels. One option is to assign extra ‘take-home’ exam portions for graduate students. Graduate student exams could include additional questions based on the distinct readings they were assigned that were not assigned to undergraduate students. 
        • Leading discussion groups or presenting the analysis of their own primary research or other activities that demonstrate graduate students’ more advanced knowledge.
  • Prerequisites should be appropriate for both courses. Required knowledge should be the same or comparable for both courses or more advanced for the graduate course.
    • A graduate course could require the same prerequisite as an undergraduate course, or, depending on the circumstances, a prerequisite might be required for only one level (e.g., either undergraduate or graduate). 
    • A graduate student, by virtue of having been admitted to a specific graduate program, may meet the prerequisite requirement automatically and be eligible to enroll.
    • Use of the “permission of the instructor” restriction allows for individual instructor discretion regarding a student’s preparation for the course content and may facilitate the verification of prerequisite knowledge and efficient enrollment.

NOTE: Portions used with permission from the Graduate School at Western Washington University.

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