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Federal Requirement 4.4

Program length is appropriate for each of the institutionís educational programs. (Program length)

√ CompliantNon-Compliant


The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) engages in an ongoing process of internal and external program review to ensure the appropriateness of the length of its programs and curricular design and to assure consistency with the policies of the University of Texas System (UT), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and with appropriate accrediting bodies. With the exception of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) and a masterís degree program in the School of Health Professions (SHP), all degree granting programs at UTMB are independently accredited by national organizations. The GSBS programs have regularly scheduled internal and external reviews as specified by UTMB policy and THECB administrative rules.

School of Medicine
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the national accrediting body for allopathic medical schools, requires a minimum of 130 weeks of instruction for the M.D. degree (1). The UTMB School of Medicine (SOM) curriculum is 164 weeks in length over 3.75 years (2). The 163 full-time weeks of credit is equivalent to 163 semester credit hours. The SOM underwent its every-eight-year accreditation visit by the LCME in December 2006, and received notice of continued accreditation for another eight years in June 2007 (3). In addition, internal review of the appropriateness of the curriculum at the medical school is performed by the SOM Curriculum Committee, with each course or clerkship being reviewed every two to three years. That Committee utilizes both internal and external assessments of studentsí knowledge and skills as evidence of the appropriateness of the program, including program length. External measures include the United States Medical Licensing Examinations: Step 1 (administered at the end of the second year), Step 2-Clinical Knowledge, and Step 2-Clinical Skills (the latter two are administered during the fourth year).

School of Nursing
Baccalaureate. The Texas Board of Nursing (TBN) requires ďdidactic and clinical learning experiences [to be] at least the equivalent of two academic yearsĒ and not more than four calendar years for the professional nursing degree (4). The UTMB School of Nursing (SON) pre-licensure baccalaureate degree program, which has been approved by the Board of Nursing (5), requires 60 upper-division credits and is four semesters in length. In total, 120 credit hours are required for the baccalaureate degree (6), a number consistent with credit hours required.

UTMB SON also offers an accelerated pre-licensure program that requires 60 upper-division credits covered within a 12 month (3 semesters) time frame (7). The intensity of this program is designed to allow students with undergraduate or graduate degrees in other fields to gain the knowledge and skills of the professional nurse in an abbreviated time and to allow them to move quickly on to higher degrees.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the national accrediting body for baccalaureate programs in nursing. The UTMB B.S.N. programs were reaccredited for 10 years (until 2015) in April 2005 (8).

Masterís. The masterís programs in nursing are guided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials of Masters Education for Advanced Practice Nursing and the specialty track certifying body (9). Further, all specialty tracks are approved by the THECB. Most students are part-time and it takes on average seven semesters to complete the program. In general, a full-time program of study in the masterís program is 39-49 credits, depending on the program, and is four to five semesters in length. Graduates of these programs are eligible to sit for specialty board certification.

Credit Hours for SON Accredited Master Programs and Degrees

SON Master Programs Family Nurse Practitioner
Adult/Gero Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Clinical Nurse Leader
Executive Nurse Leader
Nursing Education
Semester Hours Required494945433940

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the national accrediting body for masterís programs in nursing. The UTMB MSN programs were reaccredited for 10 years (until 2015) in April 2005 (16).

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The D.N.P. program is also guided by the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (17). The THECB approved the program as a part-time postmasterís program. The CCNE site visit for the program is scheduled for October 2013 (18). The part-time program of study is 42 credits in length (19).

The SON also offers a Ph.D. in Nursing, but that degree is awarded through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

School of Health Professions
The School of Health Professionís (SHP) six programs are reviewed regularly by their respective national accreditation agencies. The length of the programs Ė Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Physician Assistant, Respiratory Care, and Nutrition and Metabolism --meets the essentials of the different accrediting bodies and each is approved by the THECB.

Semester and Credit Hours for SHP Accredited Programs and Degrees
SHP Programs Occupational Therapy
Physical Therapy
Clinical Lab Sciences
Physician Assistant
Respiratory Care
Nutrition & Metabolism
Baccalaureate Length and Credit Hours* Six semesters and 75 credit hrs. Six semesters and 87 credit hrs.
Masters Length and Credit Hours Six semesters and 82 credit hrs. Six to seven semesters and 33-87 credit hrs.** Six semesters and 104 credit hrs. Four semesters and 44 credit hrs.
Doctoral Length and Credit Hours Nine semesters & 100 credit hrs.
* The baccalaureate programs in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Respiratory Care require that students complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of preparatory coursework before entering SHP bachelorís degree programs.
** The Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) program offers three masterís programs: M.S. in CLS for CLS graduates is six semesters (part time) and 33 credit hours; M.S. in Transfusion Medicine is six semesters and 33 credit hours; and M.S. in CLS for Science Majors is seven semesters and 87 credit hours.

In addition to the programs in the table above, the SHP offers a Masterís in Health Professions that is five semesters long and 35 credit hours. This program is offered to physician assistants and respiratory therapists and offers students both a core curriculum and a specialty in their field. The program is not accredited by a national accreditation agency but was approved by the THECB in January 2012.

A new SHP masterís program in metabolism and dietetics is scheduled to open in 2014.

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
A Master of Science or Master of Arts degree in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) requires a minimum of 36 semester credit hours and the Master of Medical Science degree requires a minimum of 30 semester credit hours. The masterís degree programs are structured to be completed in two years. The Master of Public Health requires a minimum of 42 semester credit hours (26). Absolute time limit for completion of the masterís is four years from time of admission.

No minimum number of semester credit hours has been set by the GSBS for attainment of the Ph.D. degree (27). The maximum time for progression through all degree programs in GSBS is set forth in the schoolís by-laws, which are enforced by the faculty, the University President, and the Dean of the Graduate School. The Ph.D. programs typically consist of one to one and a half years of formal course work and three to four years of research and completion of the final dissertation. Absolute time limit for completion of the Ph.D. is five years from admission to candidacy (28a) (28b). The average time-to-degree (time from matriculation to graduation) for doctoral students in the GSBS is 5.4 years. This average time compares favorably to the national average of 6.9 years in the life sciences (29).

1 Liaison Committee on Medical Education, Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the M.D. Degree, CME Structure and Functions of a Medical School, June 2013 (page 8; ED-4)
2 UTMB Handbook of Operating Procedures, Section 10, Subject 10.1, Policy 10.1.x, Credit Hours (draft)
3 Liaison Committee on Medical Education, 2007 Report
4 Texas Board of Nursing: Texas Administrative Code, Title 22, Part 11; Chapter 215, ß 215.9, Program of Study
5 Professional Nursing Education: Programs Approved by the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas
6 Program Length at UTMB-SON BSN Pre-Licensure Graduation Requirements
7 BSN Accelerated Curriculum
8 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation: Baccalaureate Programs
9 American Association of Colleges of Nursing - Masterís Essentials
10 School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program Plan
11 School of Nursing Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program Plan
12 School of Nursing Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program Plan
13 School of Nursing Clinical Nurse Leadership Program Plan
14 School of Nursing Executive Nurse Leader Program
15 School of Nursing Nurse Educator Program Plan
16 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation: Graduate School Programs
17 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice
18 Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Site Visit October 2013
19 School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice
20 Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education Standards used in determining program length.
21 Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), Directory of Accredited Programs
22 National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Accredited and Approved Program Search
23 Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant
24 Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
25 The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND),
26 Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Bulletin, 2010-2012, Course Requirements for Masterís Degrees, p. 22.
27 Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Bulletin, 2010-2012, Course Requirements for Ph.D, p. 19.
28a Time for Progression through All Degree Programs: By-Laws and Academic Policies, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Galveston, 4.6, Requirements for Degrees, 4.61, Doctoral Degree, 4.6113, Time Limits, p. 35
28b Time for Progression through All Degree Programs: By-Laws and Academic Policies, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Galveston, 4.6, Requirements for Degrees, 4.62, Masterís Degree, 4.6213, Time Limits, p. 39
29 Comparison to National Average Time to Graduation in Life Sciences: Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2011, Years in Graduate School, Table 31

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