Departments or schools have governance bylaws that may include graduate program bylaws, or these bylaws may be a separate document. Whichever option is used, the Graduate School requires graduate program organization and governance to include sections summarized in "Components of graduate program bylaws" below.
Refer to the Graduate School Policy and Procedure Manual when establishing or revising graduate program bylaws. Note that graduate program bylaws may be more prescriptive than, but not conflict with, the Graduate School policies and procedures.
All programs must update their graduate program bylaws as changes to WSU graduate program policy and other applicable university policies and rules require.
New or revised bylaws do not require external approval by the WSU Faculty Senate's Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). Although the GSC will not review bylaws, the Graduate School will review program bylaws upon request, and it is expected that graduate program directors or coordinators will submit their most current bylaws and program handbook to the Graduate School annually for archival purposes.

Graduate program handbooks must be made publicly available and preferably linked on the department or school website.

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Components of graduate program bylaws

Given the variability of graduate programs at Washington State University, the Graduate School does not expect all program bylaws to follow a single rigid format. Nonetheless, program bylaws are expected to include the following essential sections:

  1. Objectives
    1. List graduate degrees offered within the program. Specify all campuses within the WSU system approved and authorized to offer the degree. Note: all degrees are approved through the Faculty Senate process and are campus specific. If a program intends to extend an existing degree to an additional campus, the director or chair must make the request through their college dean.
  2. Membership criteria for the graduate program faculty
    1. Graduate program faculty are responsible for the graduate curriculum. Graduate School policy concerning membership in the graduate program faculty is detailed in Chapter One, Section D of the Graduate School Policies and Procedures. All tenure track faculty (active and emeritus) in the specified graduate program are automatically included as members of the graduate program faculty for that program. Graduate program faculty also may include research-active career track and short-term track (adjoint or adjunct) faculty, subject to the limitations and definitions within a program's bylaws and if approved to be a member of the Faculty of the Graduate School. Graduate program faculty may include affiliate faculty who are part of the Faculty of the Graduate School but outside a specific academic department or school.
      1. Define how faculty other than tenure track or emeritus may be added or removed from the graduate program faculty.
        1. Include percentage FTE. For example, "Career track faculty on a scholarly sub-track at a 50% or above appointment may serve on Ph.D. and M.S. graduate student advisory committees but may not serve as committee chair or co-chair."
      2. If terms for career and short-term track faculty will be less than specified in Graduate School Policy and Procedures, which is five years and three years, respectively, then describe the length of those terms and the program's procedures for internal review within the program. If a career or short-term track faculty member is removed from the program's graduate faculty before their term expires for the Faculty of the Graduate School, describe procedures to communicate such an action with the faculty member and the Graduate School.
    2. Graduate Student Advisory Committee Membership
      1. The Graduate School will verify that the appointed members of a student's advisory committee include members of the Faculty of the Graduate School and meets the minimum Graduate School requirements for committee composition per current Policy and Procedure
        1. Master's Advisory Committee
        2. Doctoral Committee
      2. The Graduate School will verify committee composition and program-allowed committee roles based on the myWSU Faculty List. Any limitations set forth in these graduate program bylaws will be self-governed by the graduate programs and verified by the Graduate School using the myWSU Faculty List.
    3. All graduate program faculty must have terminal degrees aligned with Washington Administrative Code 250-61-100.2.a-e.
      1. Exceptions to WAC must be approved by the Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education Faculty on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Faculty teaching and directing independent research
    1. Consistent with WAC 250-61-100.2.d-e, faculty teaching at the master's degree level in programs that emphasize advanced study and exploration in a discipline shall have an earned doctorate in a related field from an accredited institution and experience in directing independent study and research. Faculty teaching in master's programs which emphasize professional preparation shall have, as a minimum, a master's degree from an accredited institution and documented achievement in a related field.
    2. Faculty teaching at the doctoral level shall have an earned doctorate in a related field from an accredited institution and experience in teaching and directing independent study and research.
  4. Graduate program voting rights
    1. Other than tenure-track graduate program faculty (both active and emeritus), define eligibility to vote on graduate program matters.
    2. Define quorum based on graduate program faculty membership. If a program's graduate faculty roster is large, minimum quorum must be greater than 50%.
  5. Committee Structure
    1. Provide formal definitions of all standing graduate committees, including committee charges, memberships, and meeting frequency. All graduate program faculty will constitute a committee of the whole, chaired by the graduate program director or designee, and be charged with program oversight.
      1. At a minimum, each graduate program must identify a committee charged with program oversight and designated to coordinate student academic appeals.
      2. Other common program-level committees include graduate curriculum, examination, and recruiting/admissions.
      3. The Graduate School encourages appropriate student representation on committees that help shape graduate program policy.
  6. Administration
    1. The graduate program director is expected to provide overall academic leadership, develop, and implement program policies, represent the interests of the program to the campus and university administrators, and call and preside at meetings of the graduate program faculty. In some cases, the graduate program director will be the department chair or school director.
      1. When the department chair is also the graduate program director, specific responsibilities may be delegated to a faculty member designated as the Graduate Program Coordinator.
    2. Depending on the program's complexity, define the roles and duties of all graduate program administration.
    3. If the graduate program director is not the department chair, describe how this position is filled. Usual methods include:
      1. Appointment by the chair for a specified term, or
      2. Election by the graduate program faculty for a specific term.
  7. Bylaw Amendment
    1. Once established, graduate program bylaws may be amended by a vote of the graduate program faculty.

This guidance covers the minimum components that must be included in a graduate program's bylaws. Each program can include additional components.

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