This policy was developed for the purpose of providing faculty and staff with the requirements for the approval, modification, and review of sequential and dual degree programs between UW–Madison and a university in another country1. The policy also provides information about curriculum and governance structures; suggests standards for admission, continuation, and completion for each program; and offers possible models for these sequential and dual degree programs. Thus, this policy is designed to reduce barriers to develop such collaborations.
1 This policy was modeled after a similar set of guidelines produced by Texas A&M.
There are many modes of collaboration with international universities. Faculty, staff, and administrators who are planning collaborations should consult the companion document “Modes of International Academic Program and Course Collaborations” for details and information about accessing policies that pertain to those approaches.
Some collaborations with international universities do not require the full approval process. For example, a “Letter of Agreement” may be sufficient in some cases, especially when collaborations revolve around a single student or arrangements between faculty members rather than between programs. See the section below entitled “Is a sequential or dual degree agreement necessary?”
Sequential and dual degrees are defined in Table 1. Sequential and dual degrees are most useful for graduate and professional programs. For undergraduate programs, other mechanisms are typically more appropriate (transfer of credit and undergraduate admission, study abroad, and student exchange programs).
Proposals for sequential or dual degree programs will be considered only for programs in robust academic health. If the UW–Madison program was recently established, it must have passed the joint review stage before being eligible. The program should have been reviewed within the past 10 years, have active processes for curricular and program revision, have an active assessment program, and be in good standing with any specialized accreditation agency if relevant. Programs that have outstanding academic issues or that are low‐ enrollment are not candidates for sequential or dual degree arrangements.
Sequential and dual degree arrangements can be resource-intensive and departments will need to be prepared to provide the additional support for students in the program.
Students in a sequential and dual degree program will apply to, be admitted to, and enroll in a formal, named option associated with the degree program. Thus, a component of the approval process will be to request approval for a formal, named option. Academic program review for sequential/dual degree programs will be conducted on a five‐year cycle.
As described in Table 1, new modes of collaboration will, in general, require approval from groups referred to as “program faculty.” The nature of “program faculty” varies widely among different academic programs, in some instances including all of the faculty members in a department, in other instances the Executive Committee of a department, in yet other instances, a subset of faculty in a department, or faculty from more than one department. Consequently, defining the nature of approvals required to demonstrate agreement of “program faculty” will require exploration and consultation. (Consult Faculty Policies and Procedures for more information about faculty roles and responsibilities.)
Formalized arrangement in which students earn a specified degree at a partner institution and then apply to, enroll in, and complete a second, related program at UW–Madison. Courses from the first program may be used to waive requirements in the UW–Madison program.
Students will still be required to meet all UW– Madison program and degree requirements.
Formalized arrangement in which students complete the requirements for two degrees from two institutions, with efficiencies in course-taking. Each institution is primarily responsible for its own degree.
(Use dual degrees for graduate and professional programs. For undergraduate programs, use Transfer of Credit or Study Away or Student Exchange mechanisms)
Formal agreements for sequential or dual degrees are necessary when a program seeks an arrangement that will result in a regular, predictable flow of students through a program that meets the characteristics of a sequential or dual degree program.
If a faculty member wants to formalize a collaboration with a faculty member at a university in another country for a single student, or if two programs want to formalize a collaboration but expect that there is unlikely to be more than one student at a time involved in the collaboration, then a “letter of agreement” may be sufficient. A letter of agreement would be a letter that describes the details of the arrangement, including the scope and limits of the agreement. The faculty member would work with the department chair and the school/college dean to prepare the letter of agreement. The signatory authority is typically the school/college dean or the department chair. Faculty should consult with their dean’s office, the International Division, and Academic Planning and Institutional Research/Provost’s Office for institutional review of a letter of agreement.
A letter of agreement is not a contract. If a contract is required, consult your dean’s office and the International Division.
A fundamental assumption of dual and sequential degrees is that participating UW–Madison students meet the requirements of the existing UW–Madison degree. If faculty and staff seek to develop a program that is structured in a way that requirements would differ from existing requirements, then the proposal should be developed under guidelines for new academic programs. Consult Academic Planning and Institutional Research/Provost’s Office.
There are three steps in the process to create a sequential or dual degree partnership with a foreign institution: 1. the “letter of cooperation;” 2. the proposal for the sequential or dual degree, including the proposal for a named option to be associated with an existing UW–Madison program; and 3. the memorandum of understanding.
The letter of cooperation signals an informal understanding between the partner programs and universities to develop a sequential or dual degree agreement. A sample letter of cooperation is appended. It is not a binding agreement. The letter of cooperation is optional: if circumstances allow, the program faculty may skip this step and go directly to Step 2, the development of the full proposal. The letter of cooperation is recommended as a useful step to help in planning and is useful if timely action is required.
On occasion, a document may need to be signed quickly or at a signing ceremony, and the letter of cooperation may fill this role.
The letter of cooperation ensures that departments and their deans have discussed the new relationship and are willing to invest the time, energy, and financial resources needed to map out the details of these programs, gain formal approval, and eventually implement the program. The letter of cooperation is established for a defined period of time between one and three years. The duration, not to exceed three years, is specified. A justification statement must be attached to the letter of cooperation. At this early stage in the planning process, the program faculty need to use the justification statement to articulate explicitly the benefits to UW–Madison of such a partnership and how it aligns with strategic priorities and advances the mission of the university. Because sequential and dual degrees require a substantial administrative effort, they should be “worth it” and the onus is on the program faculty to make that case.
The letter of cooperation goes to the program or departmental faculty for a formal vote. After program or departmental approval, the school/college dean will give approval. The dean may choose to consult with the school/college Academic Planning Council. Written concurrence by the dean of the Graduate School, the dean of International Studies, the vice chancellor for administration, and the provost signals that they are aware of plans to develop a full proposal. Final approval is given by the chancellor, who signs the letter of cooperation.
Because of the potential need for timeliness and the non‐binding nature of the letter of cooperation, the letter will be provided to the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) and University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) for information at the earliest opportunity, but approval of the letter by these governance bodies is not required.
A document that describes all of the elements of the proposed program must be prepared by the UW–Madison program faculty and staff. This description of the dual degree program must be formally endorsed by authorities at both institutions. Approvals will be required by all appropriate entities, including those on campus, and if necessary those off campus (UW System Administration, Board of Regents, Higher Learning Commission, parallel agencies associated with the foreign university).
The proposal is approved by the UW–Madison program faculty and the school/college (usually via the Academic Planning Council and dean’s office). The proposal is transmitted to the dean of the Graduate School (graduate programs) and the provost (all programs). After administrative review, the proposal will be considered by the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (for graduate programs) and the University Academic Planning Council (all programs). Final approval is given by the dean of International Studies, the provost, and the chancellor. The sequential or dual degree program is reported to UW System Administration.
At this time, UW System Administration does not have guidelines for sequential or dual degree program approval. The requirements laid out in this procedure are subject to change if UW System Administration establishes overriding requirements.
The proposal for a sequential/dual degree and a formal, named option should include the following information (10-page maximum for the body of the proposal, plus appendices and statements of endorsement):
When steps 1 and 2 are complete, the MOU can be formally signed, usually by the chancellor. The MOU will usually have elements that signal agreements between UW–Madison and the partner institution, and a specific program agreement.
A standard format for the MOU is attached.
After the academic approvals, the program faculty make any final changes needed to the MOU. The full proposal and notice of governance and provost approval is routed widely, including to the International Division; then the MOU is reviewed one last time, revised if needed, and forwarded to the chancellor and other agents for final signature.
2 Academic Planning and Institutional Research, the applicable dean’s office, and the International Division will assist program faculty in preparation and routing of the letter of cooperation, development of the proposal, and the MOU. [return to text]