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Graduate director's blog for the Technical Communication and Rhetoric Program at Texas Tech University

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CPTSC Proposal 2012

Posted by Joyce on May 1, 2012

Having heard grumblings from friends and colleagues at other schools, I felt the time was right to address questions of size and grad program macro-strategy at this fall’s CPTSC meeting in Houghton, Michigan.  If I get accepted, here’s what I propose to discuss. 

“What’s the Right Size? Graduate Program Growth Strategy in the Context of Academic and Workplace Communities”

Joyce Carter, Director of Graduate Studies at Texas Tech University

When we look at graduate programs, regardless of our roles as faculty, colleagues, deans, or advisory boards, one of the questions we always take up involves the size of the program. Most of the discussion centers on internal factors, such as faculty-to-student ratios, number of semester credit hours generated by the program, the ratio of PhD to masters to bachelors to certificate students, and so on.

Harder to calculate, but equally important, are external factors. Being an entrepreneur and having been trained in business (as well as rhetoric), I see the internal program questions as being akin to cost accounting and operations questions one would encounter in a business, and the external questions being more akin to strategy and macroeconomic factors, and I will spend the bulk of my time looking at those external factors as major part of the way programs may think about size and ratios.

The topic is relevant to the conference theme in the macro sense of viewing graduate programs as integral parts of larger webs of rhetoric and scientific communication programs around the country and globe, employers and internship providers, and the community at large, which interacts with graduate programs in service-oriented projects, among other things.

Questions we may consider include the following:

  • What does the market for rhetors look like? Who are major stakeholders? Competitors? Complementors?
  • What is the role of distance-education graduate programs in this market?
  • How does one gauge concepts like “flooding the market,” bigness, or boutiqueness in general?
  • What does having graduate students who don’t pursue traditional (i.e. MLA) career paths do to our concept of placement?
  • Is it necessary or important to adhere to MLA job listing guidelines and timelines?
  • What is the role of consortiums in discussing program size, discipline size, discipline specialties, certification, among others? Should these questions be “regulated” in a centralized fashion, or should individual programs proceed in a decentralized fashion?

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