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Guidelines for Assessment Criteria

The following are guidelines for assessment plans and criteria that might be used by individual doctoral programs.

General Criteria

  • Does the overall plan specify how the program will conduct the assessment at each of the program’s assessment points and how the data will be gathered and used?
  • Are the program’s assessment points sufficient in number and at the appropriate moments for measuring overall student success?
  • Has the program developed an appropriate rubric for each assessment point? Are the rubrics clear, well developed, and designed to generate useful data?
  • Has the program appropriately distinguished between direct and indirect measures for each assessment point?
  • Are direct measures clearly articulated and in sufficient number?
  • Are indirect measures clearly articulated, and do they address quality of work, as opposed to simply quantity?
  • Does the program make and use assessments of students who did not succeed as part of its overall assessment process?

Criteria Specific to Stages of Graduate Career

Early Stage

  • Student demonstrates ability to grasp and synthesize core concepts and theories of the discipline
  • Student demonstrates ability to think critically and understand texts/problems within the context of the discipline and the assessment point.
  • Student demonstrates ability/potential to communicate at a graduate level in writing and in oral performance.

Middle Stages

  • Student authors/co-authors articles in refereed and/or well respected journals.
  • Student attends/presents research at top tier conferences.

Qualifying/Comprehensive Exam 

  • Student demonstrates knowledge of key principles, methodologies, and subject areas within discipline.
  • Student performs well on written and/or oral exams as appropriate.

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

  • Student persuasively demonstrates significance, originality, and plausibility of the research/dissertation project.
  • Student writes the proposal well and presents it succinctly and clearly.

Dissertation and Defense

  • Student writes a solid dissertation that not only confirms mastery of the field but also creates new knowledge within the field.
  • Student writes dissertation well and successfully defends it to committee.

Post Graduation

  • Graduate provides feedback to program on its strengths/weaknesses in preparing student for next career stage.
  • Graduate gives accounting of his or her success since graduation.
  • Student who fails to graduate also provides feedback to program on its strengths and weakness.

Contact Information

The Graduate School, University of Maryland

2123 Lee Building
7809 Regents Drive
College Park, MD 20742