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Managing Course Offering Resource Constraints In Newer Graduate Programs Through Special Topics Courses

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Methods and Techniques in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.858.1 - 14.858.11



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Paper Authors

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Bimal Nepal Texas A&M University

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Paul Lin Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Managing course offering resource constraints in newer graduate programs through special topics courses

Introduction Most new graduate programs face many challenges including lower initial enrollments, limited educational resources such as laboratory equipment, faculty lines, and under developed or “work-in-process” curriculum. While the institution has its resource constraints, the students may have totally different perspectives of the expectation. Since they have to compete with all the other graduates from the established programs, they seek more unique and competitive varieties in the curriculum. Furthermore, when the institution has diverse student population such as international and full time students, they desire to have frequently offered courses to be able to graduate on time because of their financial circumstances. This causes a tremendous pressure on the academic program to manage the course offering cycle with limited faculty lines. This paper presents a case study of special topics courses developed for its “newly born” M.S. in Technology Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). In the MS Tech. program at IPFW, the students are from diverse educational and professional backgrounds with wide research interests. They are interested in courses that are related to their background that could help them towards the Directed Project research. While on one hand, due to resources constraint, it is not practical to offer several courses that cover all of student interest areas. On the other hand, because of the newly launched programs, often times the enrollment number is not enough to run a full course. The proposed special topic courses aim to narrow this gap by allowing students to work on a semester long course which will help them to understand the state-of the-art in their fields of technology. These courses are designed to prepare students for their Master’s Project. In other words, they will provide them with the opportunity to explore their potential research areas for their MS Project. Furthermore, having an additional course in the same area as their field of interest will provide them with sufficient time to accomplish a scholarly work. Consequently, such courses will better equip them for post graduation career in the today’s competitive world.

MS Tech Program at IPFW The Master of Science in Technology at the Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) was formally launched in the Spring Semester of 2007 with an enrollment of six full times students. The enrollment since then has increased almost four fold but the actual active student number is slightly less because of transfers (of current) and deferral of admission by some international students. The program has two tracks- information technology/advanced computer applications (ITAC) and industrial/ manufacturing technology (ITM) each with roughly 10 active students. Of these students, their background is very diverse such as government services, military, manufacturing, engineering design, supplier, software, machine tool, electrical, economics, and computer engineering. Furthermore, the very wide levels of work experience among students have created even greater heterogeneity in terms of their research interest.

MS Tech Program Objective The program objectives are to provide the knowledge and skills to students with both technical

Nepal, B., & Lin, P. (2009, June), Managing Course Offering Resource Constraints In Newer Graduate Programs Through Special Topics Courses Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5369

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