The MA student and his/her advisor prepare a plan of studies of a minimum of 36 credits, including 15 credits of program specialization coursework; six credits of a supporting field in one or more academic disciplines, departments or professional schools (outside of education); three credits in Psychological Perspectives on Education; six credits in Research Methodology; and six credits associated with the developing an overview for and completing an MA thesis. The SCAE area faculty must approve the plan of studies. To graduate, the student must successfully complete the coursework indicated in the plan of studies, pass the comprehensive exam, and defend the overview and thesis.
The SCAE area of concentration provides two specialization options, Social Context of Education and Comparative and International Education Policy. Students select their specialization option when they submit their plan of studies for SCAE faculty approval. Students design a curriculum that suits their professional and academic goals using the curriculum framework associated with their chosen specialization option.
Plans of Study by Specialization
Preferably during the first semester of study and before completion of 15 credits, the master’s degree student confers with his/her advisor to develop a comprehensive plan of studies that conforms to program requirements. The plan of studies, approved by the academic advisor, one other SCAE faculty member, and the SCAE coordinator, is filed in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services.
The plan of studies for the master’s degree consists of a completed SCAE Master’s Degree Plan of Studies Form, which details the specialization option the student has selected, all coursework planned for the degree (including grades received in courses already completed), and a narrative that describes the student’s academic and professional goals and how the courses and experiences selected for the degree program will enable the student to reach those goals. If transfer credits are requested, a Transfer of Credits form must accompany the plan of studies. A plan of studies should also conform to University and School of Education regulations outlined in the Graduate Bulletin.
Any changes in the Plan of Studies must be approved by the academic advisor and the program coordinator, conform to program requirements, and be filed in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services. At the time of graduation, completed courses must comply with the approved Plan of Studies.
Purpose and Design: According to University of Pittsburgh policy, the comprehensive examination should be designed to assess the student’s mastery of the general field of his/her master’s study. In the Social and Comparative Analysis of Education (SCAE) area, the exam experience is designed individually for each student and is intended support the development of the master's paper or thesis.
Timing in the Program: The comprehensive exam experience normally is undertaken in the semester prior to completion of the master’s paper or thesis.
Initiating the Experience: The student and advisor meet and agree upon the focus of the comprehensive exercise. Typically the student then prepares a brief proposal containing the following:
- statement (including issues or questions to be addressed) of the specialized area of interest on which the exam experience will focus;
- explanation of how the examination experience relates to the student's plans for the master’s paper or thesis; and,
- specification of the anticipated time frame for the examination experience to occur.
Advisor and SCAE Faculty Approval: Approval of the proposal by the advisor, one other faculty member, and the SCAE coordinator is required before the student may begin the masters comprehensive exam. A copy of the proposal signed by the advisor and one other SCAE faculty member must be submitted to the SCAE coordinator for approval. A copy of the proposal with all three signatures is to be placed in the student's departmental file.
Examination Experience: After approval of the proposal for the student's examination experience, the student's advisor takes responsibility for guiding the student's preparation either for developing the comprehensive examination paper that addresses a set of issues representative of the specialized area of interest identified in the plan of studies. Normally the student is expected to submit a draft of the comprehensive paper to the advisor within one term after the proposal is approved.
Evaluation Procedures: A student's performance on the comprehensive exam is evaluated as either pass or fail by the advisor and one other SCAE faculty member. Particularly if the evaluation is fail, more extensive and in-depth feedback should also be provided to the student by the advisor.
Notification of Results: After the comprehensive exam paper has been evaluated, the student and the School of Education Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services must be notified.