The institution defines and publishes requirements for its graduate and post-baccalaureate professional programs. These requirements conform to commonly accepted standards and practices for degree programs. (Post-baccalaureate program requirements)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University has been offering graduate coursework since 1974, and today about 10% of the total student body is enrolled in graduate programs. Graduate degree programs are offered in Business, Education, Nursing, Physician Assistant Studies, and Psychology. Each of these programs is accredited by specialized accrediting agencies within each discipline. Evidence of the requirements for these programs is found in the annual catalog. Additionally, proof that Francis Marion conforms to these standards is found in several brochures, study sheets, and the faculty handbook.

Francis Marion has eight graduate programs leading to the master’s degree and one leading to a Specialist Degree. Additionally, as of May 2017, Francis Marion has been approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to offer degrees at the doctoral level [1]. Although no doctorate programs are currently offered at Francis Marion, a DNP program is currently in the approval process. Our current, published mission statement supports these efforts in graduate studies whereby it states: “The University offers professional degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and specialist levels, and a professional doctorate” [2].

Defining and Publishing Post-Baccalaureate Program Requirements

Like the requirements for undergraduate programs, requirements for each post-baccalaureate program are defined and published annually in the university catalog under the section entitled “Graduate Academic Programs” [3]. The University annually publishes its catalog both in-print and on the university website, which includes all of the latest and most current information pertaining to our graduate course offerings and programs of study.

Additionally each graduate program makes available in print detailed requirements for each program, outlining the course of study and their sequences within each program that lead to a graduate degree. These can be found in published brochures and course of study sheets for their respective programs:

  • MBA [4]
  • MAT Learning Disabilities [5]
  • MEd Instructional Accommodation [6]
  • MEd Learning Disabilities [7]
  • MSN Family Nurse Practitioner [8]
  • MSN Nurse Educator [9]
  • MS Physician Assistant Studies [10]
  • MS Applied Psychology [11]
  • SSP [12]

Table 1 below provides the page numbers for each graduate degree program in the Catalog 2016-2017.

FMU Catalog Page Numbers for Graduate Degree Requirements
Graduate Business Program (M.B.A.)
Graduate Education Program (M.A.T. Learning Disabilities / M.Ed. Instructional Accommodation / M.Ed. Learning Disabilities)
Graduate Nursing Program (M.S.N. Family Nurse Practitioner / M.S.N. Nurse Educator)
Graduate Physician Assistant Program (M.S. Physician Assistant Studies)
Graduate Psychology Program (M.S. Applied Psychology / Specialist in School Psychology)

Table 1. Page Numbers from Catalog for Graduate Degree Requirements

An indication that our graduate programs conform to accepted standards and practices is the accreditation status they have earned and maintained from established accrediting organizations, for instance, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business [13], Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing [14], and National Association of School Psychologists [15]. Our School of Education has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [16, 17], which subsequently has transitioned into the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation [18]. Table 2 below provides the Francis Marion Graduate Programs and the name of the outside accrediting bodies.

FMU Graduate Programs and Accrediting Organizations
ProgramAccrediting Organization
Graduate Business ProgramAACSBThe Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – International
Graduate Education ProgramNCATE / CAEPNational Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
Graduate Nursing ProgramACEN Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Graduate Physician Assistant ProgramARC-PAAccreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.
Graduate Psychology ProgramNASPNational Association of School Psychologists
Graduate Psychology ProgramMPACMaster’s in Psychology Accreditation Council

Table 2. Graduate Programs and Accrediting Organizations

Ensuring the Quality of Graduate Curriculum

In addition to the various outside entities and accreditation bodies ensuring that our graduate courses and programs conform to accepted standards, the guiding principles of the university’s shared governance, as well as the university’s systems of institutional effectiveness, clearly assign the primary responsibility for curriculum to the faculty in the faculty handbook. Faculty members maintain broad-based input on the content, quality, and effectiveness of all courses and programs as indicated in the Faculty Handbook 2016 [19]. Requirements for graduate programs are determined by the faculty in the discipline and are subject to the approval of the Graduate Council, the Faculty Senate, and the overall faculty in a General Faculty meeting. In addition, new graduate programs must be approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. These review and approval processes help the University ensure its programs are consistent with comparable programs in the field. Significantly, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approval process examines the similarities and differences of the proposed program with others in the state, thus assuring that programs are thoroughly vetted and consistent with other programs in the field.

As to the faculty making these decisions on best course practices and standards, there too is the requirement stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016 that “all full-time and part-time faculty teaching graduate courses normally hold the highest earned degree in their disciplines and must have exhibited excellence in instruction and in scholarly and professional activities” [20]. In addition it is a requirement that two-thirds of the Graduate Council’s membership will come from the departments that offer graduate degrees, and all elected members of the Council must be eligible for membership in the graduate faculty.  One key function of the Graduate Council as stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016 is to:

“advise the Faculty Senate on all graduate curriculum matters, including proposed graduate courses, graduate course changes, or new graduate programs, being responsible in particular for checking all such proposed courses, changes, or new programs for accuracy, numbering courses, prerequisites, issues of redundancy or overlap with existing courses, and related matters taking in account the impact of curricular proposals on other disciplines and the university as a whole” [21].

Thus, the checks and balances in the course and program approval process help to ensure the quality of the graduate curriculum.


  1. CHE Approval of Doctorate Degree
  2. Catalog 2017-2018, Purpose – Mission Statement, p. 7
  3. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Academic Programs, p. 171-199
  4. FMU School of Business M.B.A. Brochure with Courses of Study
  5. M.A.T. Learning Disabilities Program Sheet
  6. M.Ed. Instructional Accommodation Program Sheet
  7. M.Ed. Learning Disabilities Program Sheet
  8. FMU Family Nurse Practitioner Advertisement with Program of Study
  9. FMU Nurse Educator Advertisement with Program of Study
  10. M.S. Physician Assistant Studies Advertisement with Program of Study
  11. M.S. Applied Psychology Program Sheet
  12. S.S.P. Program Sheet
  13. FMU School of Business Accreditation Certificate
  14. FMU Nursing Program Letter of Approval from ACEN
  15. FMU School Psychology Program Accreditation Letter from NASP
  16. FMU Accreditation Action Report with NCATE
  17. FMU National Recognition Report from NCATE
  18. FMU Accreditation Review Information Sheet for CAEP
  19. Faculty Handbook 2016, Constitution of the Faculty of Francis Marion University, p. 88
  20. Faculty Handbook 2016, Graduate School Faculty, p. 3
  21. Faculty Handbook 2016, Responsibilities, p. 101