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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Graduate Education

Policy Number: 212


Graduate education


Faculty and students in Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), M.P.H., Dr. P.H., D.H.I., M.S.N. and D.N.P. degree programs

Date Reviewed:
June 2020
Responsible Office:
Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
Responsible Executive:
Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university”) operates graduate programs that award master's and doctoral degrees. This policy, in accordance with Rule 40311 of The University of Texas System Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, sets forth the procedures for staffing and administering graduate programs, including the qualifications of faculty members assigned to teach graduate courses, supervise graduate programs, and advise graduate students including thesis and dissertation research.  This policy applies to the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees as well as the M.P.H, Dr. P.H., M.S.N., D.H.I. and D.N.P. degrees.  It does not apply to programs that lead to the M.D., D.D.S., M.S.D., or other degrees that may be excluded upon the recommendation by the President and concurrence by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and the Chancellor.


Thesis: The document describing research performed by a candidate for a master’s degree.

Dissertation: The document describing the research performed by a candidate for a doctoral degree.

Milestone agreement form: A form in electronic format consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that informs students of the milestones they are expected to reach to earn a doctoral or master’s degree and the specific time periods to make satisfactory progress through the program.  


     A.  Faculty Qualifications

Faculty members should have an advanced academic degree in the relevant field to direct a graduate program, serve as the course director of a graduate course, provide academic advice to graduate students and/or supervise thesis and dissertation research.  A Ph.D., Dr. P.H., or D.N.P. in the discipline is an appropriate degree for a faculty member to participate in these activities for master's and doctoral programs.  A Ph.D. in a related field or another terminal doctorate may satisfy this qualification if the faculty member has evidence of scholarly achievement in the particular discipline and meets standards established by the school.

Faculty members who hold an M.S., M.P.H., M.S.N. or other master’s degree without a doctorate may participate in graduate education activities that are directed or overseen by a faculty member with an appropriate doctorate. Such faculty members must also have evidence of scholarly achievement in the particular discipline and of meeting the standards established by the relevant school.

Requirements for participating in master's and doctoral programs must meet the standards of regional accrediting bodies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and any appropriate professional accrediting bodies.

In cases where an M.S. or other master’s degree is the terminal degree in a field, a faculty member holding such a terminal degree may direct a master’s program, serve as the course director in master’s level courses, and supervise thesis research as required for the degree.

Each school shall develop specific guidelines for faculty members’ qualifications to participate in graduate education.  Guidelines shall be developed by each school’s Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure Committee or other appropriate faculty group appointed by the Dean.  After approval by the Dean, guidelines shall be forwarded to the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer ("EVP/CAO") for final approval.  

Guidelines shall be maintained in the Office of the EVP/CAO and the relevant Dean’s Office and shall be provided by the Dean’s Office to faculty members upon request.

The guidelines shall include the process by which the school evaluates a faculty member for participation in graduate education, including the individual(s) responsible for final approval of participation. 

     B.  Milestone Agreements for the Ph.D.

Each school shall develop a milestone agreement form that contains, at a minimum, the elements of information required by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs.  Schools or programs may add additional elements to meet unique program requirements or needs.

Milestone agreements are required only for Ph.D. programs.  Schools are strongly encouraged, but not required, to develop milestone agreements and guidelines for other masters and doctoral degree programs. 

Form agreements for doctoral programs must be approved by the EVP/CAO and shall be distributed to all students enrolled in Ph.D. programs no later than one year after their matriculation and annually thereafter.  Form agreements for any master’s programs require the approval of only the relevant Dean. 


    • Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
    • 713-500-3596