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Terminal Master's Degrees

Terminal Master’s Degree Programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences initiated a review of its terminal Master’s degree (M.A. and M.S.) programs in Spring 2012, under Tom Pollard, following its 2011 review of doctoral programs. Our objective was to understand the academic purpose and organization of Master’s programs and to evaluate how they meet the needs of students. We planned to use the information gathered during the review to determine how to support Master’s programs most effectively.
Overview of Master’s Programs

The Graduate School currently administers twenty terminal Master’s programs (cf. sixty-one Ph.D. programs) offering the M.A. or M.S. degree (see Table A, p. A2, Appendix). In addition, eleven of Yale’s twelve professional schools administer separate Master’s programs (e.g., M.B.A., M.F.A., M.Div.), which are not the subject of this review. English and History appear to be the oldest of the Graduate School’s Master’s programs, as the M.A. requirements in these subjects described in the 1919- 20 Graduate School Bulletin are the earliest such requirements recorded in that publication. (Earlier Bulletins, beginning with the first in 1906-07, indicate that the Graduate School awarded unspecified M.A. and M.S. degrees, and that the first of these were awarded in 1874 and 1897, respectively.) A number of Master’s programs of this and later vintages are no longer in existence, including Germanic Languages and Literatures, Mathematics, and Urban Education Studies. The two youngest Master’s programs, Applied Physics and Computational Biology & Bioinformatics, were formed only within the last decade.

The Review Process

Data Collection: The Graduate School collected admissions and registration data over the past ten years for information about program size and student outcomes. We gathered basic information about curriculum and requirements from program websites and the Graduate School Bulletin. We also collected tuition income and financial aid figures.
Meetings with DGSs: Graduate School deans met individually with a number of DGSs to learn about the purpose, curriculum, and current challenges of their individual programs. We sought feedback from DGSs about a planned survey of Master’s students.

Master’s Student Survey

The Graduate School composed a survey to evaluate the collective experience of Master’s students in their programs and at Yale generally. We refined the survey in consultation with the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), after integrating feedback from DGSs. OIR conducted the survey in May 2012.
Sharing Data: OIR provided the survey results to the Graduate School, which in turn shared the data with Master’s programs. The Graduate School also provided Master’s programs with admissions statistics for the past decade, including applicants’ accept and decline reasons for the 2012-2013 year, along with information about student outcomes.

Report Review

After obtaining comments about program data and survey results from Master’s programs, the Graduate School deans prepared a draft report. They finalized the report after integrating feedback from DGSs and the Graduate School’s Faculty Advisory Committee.