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Joint Programs - Definitions and Policies


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Definitions and Policies

Joint programs consist of officially approved degree programs whereby the student receives two separate degrees but is allowed to apply a certain percentage of shared course hours to both degrees so that the resulting total hours for the joint program are less than if the student obtained the degrees separately. In addition, there may be other incentives beneficial to the student. The degrees awarded in the joint program must be approved, established degree programs. The number and percentage of shared course hours are detailed in each program proposal.

The following policies apply to joint programs:

1. Joint programs which combine bachelor's and master's degrees require a minimum total of 143 earned semester hours. A maximum of nine semester hours of coursework may be shared (applied toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees). Other joint programs should have no more than 25% of the total hours for both degrees as shared coursework. More than 25% indicates that there may be inherent overlap in the content of the two degrees, thus making the establishment of a joint degree inappropriate.

2. There should be a specific timeframe in which joint program students be allowed to matriculate into a joint program. Students should not be allowed or encouraged to apply to a joint program toward the end of their program of study.

3. Except in rare circumstances, receipt of both degrees should occur during the same term. This is keeping with the spirit of admission and completion of a joint program. Should one degree be awarded before completion of the joint program and the student decides to withdraw from the joint program, the student will have completed a program that is different in content (and, perhaps, hours) from the parent degree.

4. Each proposed joint degree program proposal must include a Joint Degree Articulation Agreement regarding the administrative procedures for operating the joint program. The agreement should be updated whenever any terms of the original memorandum of understanding require revision.

The Format for Academic Program Changes document at should be used to create proposals for joint programs. The description of the joint degree program should address the specific admission requirements and degree requirements (with shared courses clearly identified, usually in narrative form and in table format). The justification should articulate the usefulness of the joint degree as well as sufficient rationale for the specific shared coursework.

Approval of the joint program follows the procedures for a degree program proposal, with the departments and colleges working through the Office of Programs and Academic Assessment (OPAA), and review and approval obtained from the Graduate College (when necessary), the Senate Committee on Educational Policy, and the Senate. Joint programs are reported to the Board of Trustees and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Sample joint program proposals are available from the Office of Programs and Academic Assessment.

SCEP approved on 1/13/2006; revised on 3/3/2011