The institution’s post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, master’s and doctoral degree programs are progressively more advanced in academic content than undergraduate programs. (Post-baccalaureate program rigor)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University offers undergraduate, master’s, and specialist degrees. In May of 2017, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved Francis Marion to offer doctorate degrees; however, the University currently does not offer any programs at the doctoral level [1].

Francis Marion has established certain processes to confirm that our graduate programs and graduate course offerings are more thorough and demanding than our undergraduate offerings. Each graduate degree curriculum and syllabi undergo extensive internal review through our faculty governance process which has to approve of all graduate programs and courses. Subsequently, those programs are also thoroughly vetted and approved by the State Commission on Higher Education and outside accrediting bodies in each discipline. Additionally, besides the extreme vetting of the courses, programs, and content, the teaching faculty of all of our graduate programs undergo an approval process to ensure that they are able to deliver instruction at the graduate level. Finally, certain admission requirements are maintained to safeguard that all incoming graduate students are well prepared for the academic rigor of these courses and programs.

Overview of Francis Marion Graduate Programs

All of Francis Marion’s post-baccalaureate programs require courses which feature advanced research and scholarship that build upon knowledge attained in a four-year degree. All graduate programs at Francis Marion are approved by our Faculty Senate, General Faculty, university administration, and the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. Each of these groups also approves our undergraduate programs, so they have the opportunity to review the programs for comparative rigor.

The University has been offering graduate coursework since 1974, and today about 10 percent of the total student body is enrolled in graduate programs. Francis Marion offers graduate degrees in business, education, nursing, physician assistant studies, and psychology. Nine programs lead to a graduate-level degree. The institution currently offers no doctoral professional degrees. The nine programs and their respective Fall 2016 enrollments reported by Francis Marion’s Office of Institutional Research are shown in the Tables 1-4 below:

School of Business
General Business Administration (Master of Business Administration [M.B.A.])

Table 1. School of Business Graduate Programs and Enrollment

School of Education
Learning Disabilities (Master of Arts in Teaching [M.A.T.])
Learning Disabilities (Master of Education [M.Ed. L.D.] )
Instructional Accommodation (Master of Education [M.Ed. I.A.])

Table 2. School of Education Graduate Programs and Enrollment

School of Health Sciences
Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N. F.N.P.)
Master of Science in Nursing/Nurse Educator Track (M.S.N. N.E.)
Physician Assistant (Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies [M.S.P.A.S.])

Table 3. School of Health Sciences Graduate Programs and Enrollment

College of Liberal Arts/Department of Psychology
Psychology (Master of Science in Applied Psychology [M.S.])
Psychology (Specialist in School Psychology [S.S.P.])

Table 4. College of Liberal Arts/Department of Psychology Programs and Enrollment

Francis Marion ensures that all of its graduate programs are progressively more advanced than undergraduate programs through extensive internal review of proposed graduate programs, courses and syllabi; external review by outside accrediting agencies; periodic review of graduate faculty, and select admissions criteria for our graduate students.

Internal Review of Graduate Programs

Graduate programs are developed and implemented by Francis Marion’s schools and departments. After feasibility studies to determine the need for specific programs, the University evaluates proposed programs for value to the students, the University, and the community. Following approval from the school or department, proposed graduate programs go through an extensive review process [2] and must be approved in order by the Graduate Council, Faculty Senate, General Faculty, Provost, President, and finally the Board of Trustees.

Oversight of development and operational processes of our graduate programs occurs within the Francis Marion Graduate Council. Established more than 10 years ago, the function of the Graduate Council has been to supervise all graduate programs at the University. Responsibilities of the council include:

  • Approve applicants for admission to graduate study and review candidates for graduate degrees
  • Consider appeals for readmission from graduate students who have been dismissed from the university
  • Advise the Faculty Senate on all graduate curriculum matters, including proposed courses, course changes, or new academic programs [3].

The council’s voting membership includes the Chair/Dean of each graduate program’s department plus his/her designee, one faculty member from each school or department that offers graduate degrees, elected by the general faculty, plus an equal number of faculty members from any other schools or departments, also elected by the general faculty.  All voting members must be eligible for membership in the graduate faculty.  The Director of Graduate Programs, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and Registrar serve as ex officio members without vote [4]. Thus, the Graduate Council’s internal make-up and assurance that all voting members be eligible for membership in the graduate faculty works to provide more credence and strength to the graduate programs that the Council oversees and approves.

At each step of the creation and approval process stated above, the proposed graduate program must demonstrate that the program entrance requirements (i.e. 3.0 U.G. CGPA or 290+ GRE for some of our graduate programs), program completion requirements (i.e. the requirement that a 3.0 average be maintained for graduation and dismissal from the program if a student receives 2 ‘Fs’) are of the appropriate level (depth, breadth, and rigor) demanded of graduate programs.

External Review of Graduate Programs

The first outside review of any Francis Marion graduate program occurs at the South Carolina South Carolina Commission on Higher Education who has to approve all programs of study, both undergraduate and graduate. They, like Francis Marion’s Faculty Senate approve both undergraduate and graduate courses and in that inspection and deliberation they compare our programs with similar programs in the state as to rigor, requirements, curriculum, etc.; while they also compare and note the contradiction between similar graduate and undergraduate programs. In doing this they work to ensure the rigor of the graduate programs.

Francis Marion takes this external review process even further by seeking accreditation from the strongest available accreditation organizations. These organizations periodically review graduate programs at Francis Marion to ensure they meet the high standards appropriate for programs at the graduate level. These reviews are provided in Table 5 below.

Graduate Program Accreditation Status
Accrediting Body
School of BusinessAssociation to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
(AACSB International)
Fully Accredited status

Next accreditation review scheduled for 2019-2020
School of EducationNational Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
Fully Accredited status

Next Accreditation review scheduled for Fall 2019 for NCATE
School of Health SciencesAccreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)Fully Accredited status

Next Accreditation review scheduled for Fall 2019
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)Accreditation Probation Status

Accreditation review scheduled for March 2019
College of Liberal Arts / School of Psychology National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)Fully Accredited status

Next Accreditation review scheduled for September 2023
Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) Fully Accredited status

Next Accreditation review scheduled for February 2018

Table 5. Francis Marion Graduate Programs, their Accreditation Bodies, and Status

Periodic Review of Graduate Faculty

In addition to external reviews of the graduate programs by professional accreditation bodies, the University and individual schools and departments annually review their faculty who teach graduate courses to ensure they “demonstrate scholarship appropriate for graduate instruction, and show evidence of professional characteristics appropriate for graduate instruction” as indicated in the Francis Marion Catalog 2016-2017. Furthermore, it is required that the graduate faculty “hold the terminal degree in their discipline or in unusual cases have demonstrated exceptional scholarly or creative activity or professional experience” appropriate for instruction at the graduate level. And that “the graduate courses which they teach must be in the field of their respective expertise.” [5] Thus, in their, credentials, preparation, and scholarly attainments, we ensure that our graduate programs are staffed by the most qualified individuals to ensure that the classes will be conducted at the appropriate graduate level. Subsequently, programs such as the School of Business have their own practices and processes to further evaluate their graduate faculty. The Francis Marion School of Business Operational Definitions of Faculty Qualifications and Engagements 2014, states the following:

…for the Graduate Scholarly Academic to sustain their qualifications the individual must support the SOB objective in Research: To conduct research appropriate to support the teaching mission of the school and University with

  • At least one research contribution from Category A
  • At least two research contributions from Category B or above [6].

Those Graduate faculty members have an ongoing and active research agenda which they routinely bring into their graduate-level classes.

Continuous Review of Graduate Course Syllabi

Course syllabi, available within the schools and department, are reviewed periodically to ensure graduate courses are current and are progressively more advanced than undergraduate courses. In many graduate courses, research and applied practices such as clinical rotations, etc. are emphasized far more than at the undergraduate level. The graduate courses many times are “applied” courses, whereby those students are asked to use their advanced knowledge in the discipline in active research, analysis, and/or clinical rotations.

Table 6 below has course descriptions from the Francis Marion Catalog 2016-2017 [7] and links to syllabi that cover similar topics and subject matter at both the Undergraduate versus the Graduate level.

Comparison of Academic Content of Graduate Courses with Undergraduate Courses (Similar Content with Different Requirements)
Undergraduate Courses
Graduate Courses
306 Nursing Research in Practice (3) (Prerequisite: 312. Corequisite: NURS 307 or 310 is strongly recommended) [8] The course examines the steps of the research process, and provides the student with the basic skills and knowledge to evaluate research. Emphasis is on the review and critique of published nursing research with consideration of the utilization
of research findings in clinical practice. Ethical considerations in nursing research are addressed.
503 Advanced Research and Evidence-based Practice (3) (Permission of the department) [9] SU. This course explores quantitative and qualitative approaches to research issues in advanced healthcare practice. Theories, methods, designs, measurement, ethical conduct, and skills in critical research appraisal are emphasized, along with the use of research to improve practice and client outcomes.
210 Women’s Health and Society (3) (Prerequisite: Sophomore status or higher) [10] This elective course discusses the historical, physiological, social, cultural, emotional, and spiritual issues affecting women’s health. It integrates current healthcare findings including a maturational perspective with a systems approach. The course will explore empowering and emancipating ways to utilize healthcare services and develop a proactive wellness agenda.703 Primary Care of Women (2:1-3) (45 clinical hours) (Prerequisites: 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 601, 602, 603) [11] S. This course provides the learner with the opportunity for in-depth experience in the management of selected health problems in women. The learner expectations include knowledge acquisition about primary care management and decision making for acute and chronic healthcare needs of women. This course will also discuss health promotion and teaching of women, families, and populations.
305 Nursing Pharmacology (3) (Corequisites: NURS 301, 309, & 312) [12] This course presents a conceptual approach to basic pharmacology
with emphasis on the study of broad groups of drugs and the nursing
implications related to each group. Students have the opportunity to
apply knowledge of pharmacology to the care of individuals in a variety
of clinical situations.
602 Advanced Pharmacology (3) [13] F. This course examines principles of pharmacotherapeutic decision-making with applications to the clinical management of patients with primary care health issues. This course expands the understanding of pharmacological effects, drug-to-drug
interactions, patient teaching, adherence to medication regime, and the use of complementary and alternative medicine.
310 Adult Health I (6: 3-9)(Prerequisites: NURS 301, 305, 309, and 312) (Corequisites: 306, 307) [14] This is the second of four sequential courses to introduce students to the role of critical thinking and the nursing process as a mechanism to synthesize knowledge needed to promote, maintain and restore health in hospitalized patients with alterations in neurosensory, respiratory, acid base imbalances, musculoskeletal, cellular proliferation, immunity, and hematological systems. This course will integrate the nursing process, principles of communication, decision-making, and basic nursing skill necessary for applying pathophysiology concepts, health assessment and nutritional data to the experience of health and illness of patients across the lifespan with diverse ethnic, cultural and geographic backgrounds. Clinical experience includes but is not limited to acute inpatient settings and community based healthcare centers. Learning activities are designed to facilitate transition into the role and
responsibilities of the professional nurse.
701 Primary Care of Adults (5:2-9) (135 clinical hours) (Prerequisites: 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 601, 602, 603) [15] F. This course provides the learner with the opportunity for in-depth experience in the management of selected health problems in adults. The learner expectations include knowledge acquisition about primary care management and decision making for acute and chronic healthcare needs of the adult. This course will also discuss health promotion and teaching of adult patients, families, and populations.
325 Abnormal Psychology (3) (Prerequisite: 206 or permission of department) [16] F, S, or SU. Historical survey of various forms of mental illness and maladjustment, including mental deficiency and anti-social behavior. Specialized methods of therapy, research, and theoretical concerns are emphasized.620 Psychopathology (3) [17] S. Survey of the history and classification of mental disorders with emphasis on models of psychopathology. Includes a review of contemporary diagnostic practices, and development of diagnostic skills using the DSM Classification System.
302 Quantitative and Psychometric Methods (3) (Prerequisite: 206, 216,
completion of General Education Mathematics Requirement, Prerequisite/
corequisite: 220 or permission of the department) [18] F, S, SU. The student will
become familiar with fundamental descriptive and inferential statistics as
used in psychology. Topics will also include reliability, validity, confidence
Intervals, and measures of effect size. In addition, students learn APA-style reporting of statistics and become familiar with SPSS.
632 Quantitative Psychology (3) (Prerequisite: 302 or equivalent) [19] S. Basic course in data presentation and analysis. Includes descriptive statistics, correlation, and regression, as well as inferential statistics. Emphasis on matching appropriate statistics to experimental design and psychometric theory.
310 Using Technology Effectively in the Classroom (3). [20] F, S, SU.
(Prerequisite: Admission to Professional Education Program) Designed
for education majors, this course provides a hands-on approach for using
technology to enhance classroom instruction. Students are introduced to
microcomputer software applications, hardware and web applications. Topics include computer fundamentals, word processing, electronic spreadsheets, databases, and other microcomputer applications. Practical applications include planning instructional and teacher resources for a classroom setting utilizing a variety of software, hardware, and web applications. This course is aligned with International Society for Technology in Education standards – ISTE standards.
611 Solving Instructional Problems Using Technology (3) [21] F, S, SU. This course will enable students to develop skills in using technology in instructional settings, and to determine appropriate technological tools for enhancing and extending learning. Competencies developed in this course will be utilized in other courses in the program, and in particular, the practicum and capstone seminars.
423 Characteristics of Learning Disabilities (3) (Prerequisite:
Admission to Professional Education Program) [22] This course is designed
for prospective teachers with a concentration in learning disabilities. It considers the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral aspects of
learning disabilities, and how curriculum, instruction, and other forms of support might be theorized and organized in ways that are most supportive to students with learning disabilities. This course will also examine how services for students with learning disabilities are implemented in public school settings.
760 Exceptionalities: Characteristics and Legal Foundations (3) [23] F, S. The course introduces the graduate student to the etiologies, theoretical foundations, and characteristics of the spectrum of exceptionalities ranging from giftedness to high incidence disabilities (learning disabilities, intellectual and developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders) to low-incidence disabilities (orthopedic, sensorimotor deficits). Among the topics addressed are: options for delivery of appropriate services, federal and state legislation and accompanying regulations governing service delivery, roles played by members of multidisciplinary teams,
rights and procedural safeguards to insure that parents and individuals with disabilities participate in the decision-making process, financial basis and state regulations regarding distribution of funding.
421 Behavior Management (3) (Prerequisite: Admission to Professional
Education Program) [24] This course is designed for prospective teachers with
a concentration in learning disabilities. The course focuses on preventing
problem behaviors in the classroom by helping teachers structure the learning environment, build positive relationships with students, and provide effective instruction to reduce problem behaviors. Participants will also learn strategies to help students make better behavioral choices. Evidence-based prevention and intervention techniques will be discussed and participants will learn strategies for responding to inappropriate behaviors when they do occur in the classroom.
624 Behavior Management of Students with Disabilities (3) [25] F, S, SU. This course examines research-supported techniques that teachers can
use in working with learners who have exceptional learning needs and whose behavior interferes with their success. These students include children and adolescents with problems related to sustaining attention, hyperactivity, pragmatic language skills, aggression, and oppositional defiance. Participants will learn to: (1) differentiate problem behaviors through understanding potentially contributory factors; (2) develop age-appropriate interventions suitable for use in classroom and small group settings; (3) develop and apply Positive Behavior Intervention Plans and other data-driven decision-making techniques for evaluating the effectiveness of interventions; (4) collaborate with classroom teachers, counselors, school psychologists and parents in developing and implementing improvement plans. An understanding of professional ethical guidelines, relevant state and federal laws and regulations, and the importance of developing students’ self-management skills will also be emphasized.
351 Management of Organizations (3) [26] Principles of management, emphasizing the managerial functions of planning and decision-making, organizing, leading, and controlling. Fundamental organizational principles and organizational theory are presented with emphasis on how they affect the management of organizations, domestic and international.MBA 730 Leadership and Management (3) [27] Examines the philosophy and practice of managing organizations and their people in the context of a rapidly changing environment. Course focus will be upon management and leadership philosophies to managing oneself, others, and groups or organizations. Critical thinking skills will be engaged to determine when to employ different strategies based on common situations and personality types. Emphasis is on application of ideas through case studies, research papers, and in-class or online exercises. International management strategies are reviewed.
201 Financial Accounting
(3) [28] F, S, SU. The conceptual approach to financial accounting. The income statement, retained earnings statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement are studied with emphasis placed on an understanding of the underlying assumptions, theories, and concepts, as well as a thorough understanding of the basic accounting equation.

202 Managerial Accounting
(3) (Prerequisite: 201) [29] F, S, SU. Introduces the planning and control aspects of internal accounting. Topics include cost systems, cost behavior, direct costing, capital budgeting, decentralized operations, relevant costs, operations budgeting, differential cost, and variance analysis.
MBA 700 Accounting Analysis
(3) [30] An integrated approach to the use of
accounting information to support external and internal users’ decision-making activities. Topics include financial statement format and content; the effects of operating, financing, and investing activities on a firm’s income, financial position, and cash flows; and the use of accounting information for planning, control, and evaluation purposes. The focus is on understanding the differences between the needs of external and internal decision makers and determining what accounting information is appropriate in particular decision contexts.
203 Introduction to Microeconomics
(3) [31] F, S, SU. Introduction to the role of individuals in economic decision-making, the determination of relative prices and output, and problems associated with resource allocation,
monopoly, government regulation, and international trade. Freshmen are
allowed to take Economics 203 if they have a minimum SAT score of 800
and a projected grade point average of 2.0.

204 Introduction to Macroeconomics
(3) [32] F, S, SU. Introduction to the
operation and behavior of the economy as a whole. Primary focus is the
determination of the level of gross domestic product, the inflation rate, and
the unemployment rate. Additional topics include interest rates, monetary
and fiscal policy, and an introduction to international economics.
MBA 705 Economic Analysis
(3) [33] This course focuses on market analysis, both microeconomic and macroeconomic, for business decision making. Topics include the theories of demand and supply, perfect competition, monopoly, international trade and the foreign exchange market, the money market and monetary policy, and the theories of public goods and externalities.
305 Applied Statistics for Economics and Business (3) (Prerequisite:
Mathematics 134) [34] F, S, SU. Covers basic probability distributions including
binomial, normal, uniform and exponential confidence intervals, tests of hypothesis, chi-square and simple linear regression.
MBA 710 Business Analytics (3) [35] This course will enable decision makers
to construct models and analyze decisions using data in today’s business environment. Quantitative methods will be used to construct models with emphasis placed on representing real world problems and gaining insight and understanding of the decision making process. Specific models developed may include, but are not limited to, statistical fundamentals and probability for decision making, linear programming applications, multiple regression and forecasting models, and simulation. The course will be spreadsheet-based.
331 Principles of Marketing
(3) [36] F, S, SU. Basic principles of marketing. Emphasis is placed on consumer’s role in marketing and on marketing environment. The basic product, place, price, and promotion decisions are examined.
MBA 725 Applied Marketing
(3) [37] This course examines the marketing
management decision making process. Focus is upon the critical thinking related to the role of marketing within an organization. Topics include customer research, segmentation, target marketing, positioning, the
marketing mix, and marketing metrics.

Table 6. Academic Content of Graduate vs. Undergraduate Courses

Graduate syllabi are collected and housed in each professional school (business, education, health sciences, and psychology). A copy is forwarded to the Provost’s office. Syllabi are aligned to professional standards, as specified by the respective accrediting bodies.

Specific Admissions Criteria for Graduate Students

At Francis Marion, specific admission requirements are maintained to safeguard that all incoming graduate students are well prepared for the academic rigor of these courses and programs.

Our School of Business M.B.A. Admission Committee reviews each graduate applicant “for evidence of preparation for graduate education” and “for promise of success as a graduate student.” This includes reviewing each applicant for evidence of competency in the areas of “foundational accounting, statistics, finance, and business software applications.” [38] Furthermore, if a student is found lacking in some aspect of their preparation the Committee will require the student to take the graduate foundation course, Business 605. This is done because the Admission Committee seeks to ensure that our students “possess the entry-level knowledge and understanding assumed by certain M.B.A. courses.” [39] Thus, our Graduate Business courses build upon undergraduate foundational courses, provide more real-world applications, stress analysis more and ultimately have more academic rigor.

In our Graduate Physician Assistant program rigorous admission requirements are demanded to ensure talented students who will be prepared for the academic demands of that program. Those requirements include:

  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with at least a 3.0 GPA based on a 4.0 scale.
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination taken within the last five years.
  • Combined scores above 290 with a minimum of 140 on each of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are recommended.
  • Provide 3 letters of recommendation from former professors or professional associates/supervisors who can attest to the academic potential of the applicant.
  • Applicants should have at least 250 hours of clinical work. The clinical experience can be voluntary work, shadowing experiences provided through employment, or a combination of these.
  • Have at least an overall 3.0 GPA, on a 4.0 scale, in the prerequisites [40].

Similar requirements are held by our graduate programs in Psychology to ensure that the graduate students are up to the task and will be successful in their graduate programs.


  1. CHE Approval of Doctorate Degree 
  2. Overview of the Faculty Governance Process, Faculty Handbook, p. vi
  3. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Council, p. 171
  4. Voting Membership of the Graduate Council, Faculty Senate Agenda, March 27, 2007, p. 7-8
  5. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Faculty, p. 171
  6. Francis Marion School of Business Operational Definitions of Faculty Qualifications and Engagements 2014, p. 6
  7. Catalog 2016-2017
  8. 306 Nursing Research in Practice Syllabus
  9. 503 Advanced Research and Evidence-based Practice Syllabus
  10. 210 Women’s Health and Society
  11. 703 Primary Care of Women Syllabus
  12. 305 Nursing Pharmacology
  13. 602 Advanced Pharmacology
  14. 310 Adult Health
  15. 701 Primary Care of Adults
  16. 325 Abnormal Psychology
  17. 620 Psychopathology
  18. 302 Quantitative and Psychometric Methods
  19. 632 Quantitative Psychology
  20. 310 Using Technology Effectively in the Classroom
  21. 611 Solving Instructional Problems Using Technology
  22. 423 Characteristics of Learning Disabilities
  23. 760 Exceptionalities: Characteristics and Legal Foundations
  24. 421 Behavior Management
  25. 624 Behavior Management of Students with Disabilities
  26. 351 Management of Organizations
  27. MBA 730 Leadership and Management
  28. 201 Financial Accounting
  29. 202 Managerial Accounting
  30. MBA 700 Accounting Analysis
  31. 203 Introduction to Microeconomics
  32. 204 Introduction to Macroeconomics
  33. MBA 705 Economic Analysis
  34. 305 Applied Statistics for Economics and Business
  35. MBA 710 Business Analytics
  36. 331 Principles of Marketing
  37. MBA 725 Applied Marketing
  38. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Business Programs Admin. Requirements p. 177
  39. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Business Programs Admin. Requirements p. 178
  40. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Phys. Assist. Program Admin. Requirements p. 190