Part 3 - Comprehensive Standards

3.6.2  The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. (Graduate curriculum)

Partial Compliance
Not Applicable


The graduate programs at the University of New Orleans are classified by the Carnegie Foundation as “Doc/Prof: Doctoral, professional dominant,” indicating that the majority of doctoral degrees are awarded in professional fields such as Education and Engineering. The Carnegie Foundation also categorizes UNO’s research profile as “Research Universities (high research activity).”

Both of these categories reflect the emphasis placed on excellence within the context of pure and applied research and creative scholarship. The mission of the Graduate School is to “provide leadership and direction for graduate education that reflects the University’s urban mission and to ensure that graduate instruction fosters independent learning, enabling the graduate to contribute to a profession or field of study."

New Programs

When new programs are reviewed by the Graduate Council, they are reviewed against a set of seven criteria/characteristics (Characteristics of Graduate Education) including the following that are specific to literature, research and or practical engagement:

Core Knowledge Identifies where the core literature of field is encountered and what knowledge and skills all students should know and where these are present in the curriculum.
Immersion in the discipline Students immerse themselves in the literature of the discipline and have opportunity to explore various topics in depth.
Application of Knowledge Students have opportunities to practice what they learn either in research, case studies, field experience, or whatever is appropriate to the discipline.
Culminating Experience Through thesis, dissertation, comps, or other meaningful activity where students can demonstrate research, writing, practice, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors appropriate to advanced study in the discipline.


The literature of the discipline and the integration of research and/or practice are the centerpieces of the graduate curriculum. At the master’s level, study focuses on expanding the student’s knowledge base in the discipline with emphasis on the knowledge base of the discipline, theory of the discipline and research methodologies appropriate to the discipline. At the doctoral level, focus is more on the theory of the discipline, engagement in research for the production of new knowledge, and communicating research findings via scholarly avenues. 

Student Engagement

UNO offers many opportunities for graduate students to contribute to their professional fields of study through research and/or professional engagement. These opportunities include research assistantships, internships, co-authoring papers with major professors, presenting papers or posters at conferences, and participating in practica, internships, and performances. Students assume the major responsibility for producing the work and demonstrating their capacity for independent research, scholarship, and creative activity.

The university supports many research centers and institutes such as the Advanced Materials Research Institute, Center for Hazards Assessment Response and Technology, Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance, UNO Transportation Institute, and the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Science.  These centers provide opportunities for graduate students to work with research teams and contribute to new research in their fields. For example, Jonathan Davis, a Ph.D. student in environmental sciences, holds a research assistantship with Nekton Research Lab, an environmental research center at UNO. Mr. Davis’s work with bull shark invasion of fresh water lakes was featured on Discovery Channel.

UNO also has several multi-purpose centers where students can gain practical experience in a community-centered environment. Graduate students can intern at the World War II Museum, the Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Jazz Institute, the Eisenhower Center for American Studies, and the Robert E. Nims Center for Entertainment Arts, Amusement and Multimedia Industries (film production and studios).

Culminating Experiences

All master’s programs require some type of culminating experience(s) that demonstrates the knowledge and skills learned in the program. Typical of such experiences are internships, comprehensive examinations, thesis, thesis project, and in-depth case analysis.

The attached spreadsheet shows that most master’s programs require students to pass a comprehensive examination at the end of their coursework before writing their thesis.  The purpose of the exam is to demonstrate understanding of the literature and, in many cases, the research methodologies appropriate to the discipline. For example, the MFA in Creative Writing requires students to complete a two-part comprehensive exam that includes a take-home portion and a timed seated test. The take-home requires students—many of whom intend to teach at the college-level—to prepare a syllabus for a sophomore-level course in their writing genre. This part of the test is a practical exercise for a future writing teacher.  The timed test, according to the catalog, “will concern itself with the literature of the student’s genre area.”

In addition to the comprehensive examination, most master’s students are required to write a thesis, which demonstrates a knowledge of the literature, research methodology, and scholarly writing skills in reporting research results.

As an alternative to the thesis, professional programs may require an internship or capstone course where knowledge gained in the program is “tested” through real or simulated experiences. For example, the M.A. in Arts Administration requires all students to participate in an internship at an approved arts management company, and write a detailed critical report on the organization’s operations. The M.F.A. in Film requires students to demonstrate their knowledge of all aspects of filmmaking by writing, producing and editing a short film.  The M.P.A. (Public Administration) degree requires either a thesis or completion of 6 hours of capstone experience. The capstone courses require students to apply their knowledge to a practical problem and present a final project.

All doctoral students are required to present a dissertation as their culminating experience. The dissertation must represent a significant scholarly effort that results in an original contribution to the field of inquiry. The dissertation should reflect the candidate’s understanding of the literature of the specific topic, ability to conduct independent research, and skills in interpreting and presenting the findings of the research in a logical manner. The oral defense of the dissertation further challenges the student to defend the research and findings.

Learning Outcomes

All graduate programs at UNO have documented learning outcomes that require students to understand the literature (theoretical and methodological) of the discipline. The learning outcomes also show that every graduate program requires students to engage in research, professional practice, and/or training experiences. A sample of learning outcomes are presented in the chart below, with a complete list of all graduate program learning outcomes attached.

Engineering and Applied Science, Ph.D.
1.  Ability to apply basic engineering and scientific concepts from the literature as demonstrated by the results of the Qualifying Procedures.
2.  Ability to apply advanced concepts, both Colleges to develop Ph.D. Research.
3.  The candidate will have the approval of the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee for the scope of the Ph.D. Dissertation.
4.  Ability to perform advanced engineering and/or science research.
5.  Ability to publish research.
6.  Final approval of the Ph.D.
English, M.A.
1.  Students will have advanced, comprehensive knowledge -- mastery of the field of English Studies.
2.  Students will develop advanced research skills.
3.  Students will develop advanced analytical skills.
4.  Students will develop advanced writing skills.
Financial Economics, Ph.D.
1.  All students should demonstrate core knowledge of the literature of Financial Economics.
2.  All students should demonstrate advanced knowledge of Financial Economics.
3.  All students should demonstrate the ability to do original research in Financial Economics.
History, M.A.
1.  Graduate students will demonstrate an advanced understanding of historical knowledge and scholastic skills.
2.  Graduate students will be active participants within the historical & academic community, thereby building scholastic skills and preparing them for further history-related graduate training and careers in history-related fields.
3.  Graduate students will produce scholarly material that incorporates their advanced understanding of historical knowledge and scholastic skills.

Supporting Documents

Document Description
Document IconCarnegie_ClassCarnegie Foundation, Institutional Classifications and Profiles
Document IconChar_Grad_EdGraduate Council Document "Characteristics of a Graduate Education"
Document IconDiscovery_ChannelUniversity of New Orleans Researchers to be Featured on Discovery's Shark Week
Document IconGrad_Learning_OutcomesGraduate Learning Outcomes
Document IconMA_Arts_Admin_ReqUniversity of New Orleans MA in Arts Administration Internship Guidelines and Requirements
Document IconMFA_Creative_Writing_ReqUniversity of New Orleans MFA in Creative Writing Comprehensive Examination
Document IconMFA_Film_ThesisUniversity of New Orleans MFA in Film & Theatre Thesis Requirement
Document IconMPA_ReqUniversity of New Orleans Master of Public Administration Capstone Course Requirement
Document IconUNO_Graduate_Program_Requirements---