Policies & Practices

HSU Graduate Student Handbook

Be sure to read the University procedures and policies that can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook. There you will also find recommendations for facilitating timely progress and completion of the degree program. You are responsible for knowing and following these regulations.

 

Policies & Practices of the Natural Resources Graduate Program

(Last Revised May 2016)

Table of Contents

1. Authority

2. Program Overview

3. Procedures for Application

4. Program Requirements

5. Faculty Roles and Responsibilities

6. Graduate Coordinator

7. The Graduate Advisory Council

8. Program Assessment

 

1. Authority

All practices and procedures described in this document are based on Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations and the general practices outlined in the current edition of the Graduate Student Handbook (available at the Graduate Studies website: http://www.humboldt.edu/gradprograms/handbook). Exceptions to these policies are granted only by petition to the Graduate Advisory Council.

 

 

2. Program Overview

2.1 Program Mission

The mission of the M.S. Program in Natural Resources (NRMS) is to provide our students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation required to conserve our natural resources in the face of increasing societal demands.

2.2 Program Goals
  • 2.2.1 To contribute to academic excellence by engaging faculty and students in the exploration and advancement of knowledge.
  • 2.2.2 To enhance effective verbal and written communication skills in all students.
  • 2.2.3 To enhance in all students the quantitative and/or analytical skills necessary for problem-solving in a complex society.
  • 2.2.4 To provide students with the knowledge and experience necessary to address natural resource problems and carry out scientific investigations, including design, implementation and evaluation of research in their specific area of study.
  • 2.2.5 To provide students with an in-depth understanding of their specific area of study as well as an appreciation for the interdisciplinary character of natural resource problems.
  • 2.2.6 To nurture open mindedness, professional ethics, and life-long learning in all students.
2.3 Program Options
  • 2.1.1 Environmental Science and Management (Department of Environmental Science and Management)
  • 2.1.2 Fisheries (Department of Fisheries Biology)
  • 2.1.3 Forest, Watershed and Wildland Sciences (Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources)
  • 2.1.4 Wildlife (Department of Wildlife)

 

 

3. Procedures for Application

3.1 Qualifications for Prospective Graduate Students
  • 3.1.1 Applicants to any of the four options must possess undergraduate course preparation equivalent to the baccalaureate degree. Adequate academic preparation can best be demonstrated by a baccalaureate degree in the chosen option or in a closely related field. Applicants who lack adequate preparation may be required to make up academic deficiencies through additional course work; such course work may not be used toward the graduate degree.
  • 3.1.2 Normally, applicants must have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 for the last 60 undergraduate units. 
3.2 Application and Selection Procedure
  • 3.2.1 Students in the NRMS program may only be admitted as classified graduate students. Unclassified baccalaureate students who are interested in the NRMSProgram must go through the application and screening process described below.
  • 3.2.2 In general, applicants submit completed files by February 1 for fall matriculation, and by September 30 for spring matriculation. Under special circumstances and when there is strong justification, a faculty member may request through the Department that applications for prospective students be accepted outside the normal fall or spring application cycles. See the Graduate Studies website for current deadlines.
  • 3.2.3 It is recommended that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 15 to be eligible for financial aid.
  • 3.2.4 The student application file must include:
    • 3.2.4.1 A completed application.
    • 3.2.4.2 A statement of research interests.
    • 3.2.4.3 Official transcripts of all college work undertaken, and test scores from the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE.
    • 3.2.4.4 Three letters of recommendation.
  • 3.2.5 Completed files are reviewed by the tenured and tenure-track faculty (to include individuals who, by written agreement, with the University have full faculty status (e.g., California Cooperative Fish Research Unit)) in the particular option. Each applicant is compared against the applicant pool to ensure that the best applicants are accepted. In general, a student may be accepted if:
    • 3.2.5.1 (S)He meets the minimum grade point average.
    • 3.2.5.2 (S)He has appropriate undergraduate preparation.
    • 3.2.5.3 (S)He is acceptable by consensus to the faculty (as defined above) within the option, and a tenured or tenure-track faculty member within the option (or other person as specified in paragraph 5.1) is willing to direct the student’s graduate program (i.e., chair the graduate committee).

 

 

4. Program Requirements

  • 4.1.1 Recommended Timeline. Masters students of the NRMS Programs should use the following timeline as a guide for completing their degree in a timely manner:
    • 4.1.1.1 First semester benchmarks: 1) Form graduate committee, 2) Develop a tentative graduate course list with advisor, 3) Develop a graduate research proposal, and 4) Complete protocol forms if research will involve vertebrate animals or human subjects.
    • 4.1.1.2 Second semester benchmarks: 1) Set a date for graduate committee meeting, 2) Send research proposal to graduate committee at least 2-3 weeks prior to committee meeting, 3) Meet with graduate committee to review proposal, and 4) Advance to Candidacy and Apply for Graduation.
    • 4.1.1.3 Third semester benchmarks: 1) Continue/complete thesis research, 2) Meet regularly with advisor and graduate committee members as needed, and 3) Create a working outline of written thesis.
    • 4.1.1.4 Fourth semester benchmarks: 1) Submit thesis draft early in the semester to thesis advisor for review, 2) Submit thesis draft to graduate committee 2-3 weeks prior to defense, 3) Submit defense flyer to CNRS Dean’s office and post defense flyers on campus at least one week prior to defense, 4) Defend thesis (via a public oral presentation and a closed formal defense), 5) Submit final thesis to Graduate Studies.
4.2 Continuous Enrollment
  • 4.2.1 By University policy (Graduate Student Handbook), students are required to enroll for at least one unit per term for at least two terms (fall or spring) each academic year until their degree requirements have been completed. Master’s degree students who do not maintain continuous enrollment (two terms each academic year), and who have not been granted a leave of absence are required to reapply for admission to the university and to the graduate program. If readmitted, the student will be subject to any new admission or degree requirements that have been approved since their first admission to the program.
  • 4.2.2 If a student has “substantial work” to do to complete the thesis, the student must register as a regularly matriculated student.
  • 4.2.3 Extended Education. Graduate students are allowed to meet the continuous enrollment requirement by enrolling in Extended Education in lieu of normal state-supported matriculation if and only if the thesis advisor declares the thesis to be substantially completed. ‘Substantially completed’ implies that the thesis normally should be completed within the semester that the student enrolls in Extended Education. It also requires that the student has completed all coursework and has advanced to candidacy. A request by the graduate student to enroll in Extended Education must be made by the end of the first week of the academic semester. This means that students intending to enroll in Extended Education must submit the thesis draft to the thesis advisor at least three weeks prior to the first week of class. Students may enroll in Extended Education for a maximum of two semesters. If the student needs additional time to complete the thesis after two semesters of Extended Education enrollment, they must enroll as a full- time graduate student until they complete the degree.
  • 4.2.4 Educational Leave. By university policy, an educational leave of absence may be requested if the student will not be attending HSU in a given semester. The student must have attended at least one semester to be eligible for an educational leave of absence. The maximum duration of a single leave is one academic year; the total duration of combined leaves may not exceed 2 years. A leave of absence does not extend the seven-year time limit. Although university policy does not require any specific justification for granting of an educational leave of absence, a leave of absence will be granted for students in the NRMS program only under extenuating circumstances such as serious illness or injury.
4.3 Seven-year Time Limit
  • 4.3.1 Master’s students are allowed seven years to complete their graduate program (Title 5, California Code of Regulations). As such, graduate students in the NRMSprogram are expected to complete their degree program within the seven-year time limit.
  • 4.3.2 Students who are beyond the seven-year limit at the effective date of this policy may petition the Graduate Advisory Council for an extension. Petitions for extensions will be granted only under the following conditions.
    • 4.3.2.1 A petition to extend the time limit must be made to the Graduate Coordinator prior to the end of the seven-year limit. No petitions for extension will be granted ex post facto.
    • 4.3.2.2 Petitions for extension will be granted only for serious and compelling reasons and will be judged on an individual basis. The petition for extension must be unanimously approved by the thesis advisor, the graduate committee, and the Graduate Advisory Council.
    • 4.3.2.3 A petition for extension will be granted only after the candidate has demonstrated current knowledge in the subject matter of all courses listed on the advancement to candidacy form that will be more than seven years old at the declared date of graduation. Currency can best be demonstrated by completing a comprehensive written examination provided by the instructor of record (or a designee approved by the department chair). A complete record of the examination (questions, the student’s answers, and a signed evaluation of the examination) must be filed in the program office for a minimum of five years after the student has completed the degree (Title 5, California Code of Regulations). The instructor of record may request that the course be repeated in lieu of offering the student an exam.
    • 4.3.2.4 Petitions for extension will be granted if the data supporting the thesis are sufficiently current such that the research remains a contribution to the discipline. This criterion shall also be used to assess the currency of 690, 695, and 699 courses.
    • 4.3.2.5 If granted, petitions for extension will be for one calendar year from the date of approval. Only one such petition will be granted.
4.4 Coursework Requirements Common to All Options
  • 4.4.1 A minimum of 30 units of academic work, at least half of which must be at the 500 or 600 level (Title 5, California Code of Regulations).
  • 4.4.2 A minimum of 21 units must be taken in residence at HSU (Title 5, California Code of Regulations).
  • 4.4.3 No more than 9 extension or transfer units may be accepted (Title 5, California Code of Regulations).
  • 4.4.4 No more than 6 units of Thesis (690) may count toward the degree total of 30 units (Title 5, California Code of Regulations).
  • 4.4.5 No more than 9 units of any combination of Thesis (690), Professional paper (692), Field Research/Problems (695), or Directed Study (699) may count towards the degree minimum total of 30 units.
  • 4.4.6 A grade point average of 3.0 or better in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements for the degree (Title 5, California Code of Regulations).
  • 4.4.7 A research proposal must be reviewed and approved by each student’s graduate committee. The proposal consists of a statement of purpose or problem, a thorough review of the literature, and an explanation of the research methods. A summary of the proposed methods must be included in the Advancement to Candidacy form.
  • 4.4.8 Completion of a written thesis. A thesis is the written product of a systematic study of a significant problem. It identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation (Title 5, California Code of Regulations). In the NRMS program, the thesis must be an original scientific investigation of a natural resources problem that includes: a) formulation and statement of scientific hypotheses, b) design and implementation of study containing experimental, observational, and/or modeling components to test these hypotheses, and c) evaluation of the results in the context of published literature.
  • 4.4.9 Completion of a public oral presentation and a closed formal defense is required for all thesis research.
4.5 Option-specific coursework requirements
  • 4.5.1 See course catalog for option-specific coursework requirements.

 

5. Faculty Roles and Responsibilities

5.1 The Graduate (Thesis) Committee
  • 5.1.1 Committee Chair. In the NRMS Program, the graduate committee chair (i.e. thesis advisor) shall either be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the graduate student’s option, or a person who is recognized by written agreement with the University as having full faculty status (e.g., California Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit scientists). Other persons, such as those participating in the Faculty Early Retirement Program or those having emeritus status or adjunct faculty appointments, may serve as chair of the graduate committee with the consent of all of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the selected option and the CNRS Dean. When the faculty agree to allow retired or adjunct faculty serve as chair of the graduate committee, it is the responsibility of the regular faculty to ensure that the policies described in this document, as well as any University or State policies, are followed. The regular faculty are also responsible for students if the retired or adjunct faculty do not complete obligations as chair of a student’s graduate committee. If a committee chair leaves the university (e.g., for retirement, resignation, extended sabbaticals and other leaves) prior to completion of a student’s degree, it is the responsibility of the departing chair and the program faculty to identify a new chair in collaboration with the student.
  • 5.1.2 Other Committee Members. In addition to the committee chair, the graduate committee shall consist of two additional members who must have a terminal degree equivalent to the Ph.D. (Graduate Student Handbook). In the NRMS program, a minimum of one committee member must be a tenured or tenure-track HSU faculty member in the option. Individuals holding a Master’s as the terminal degree may serve as additional members to the committee (Graduate Student Handbook).
5.2 Faculty Obligations to Graduate Students
  • 5.2.1 Faculty who agree to serve as thesis advisors or who agree to serve on graduate committees assume a responsibility to facilitate the student’s progress to successful completion. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to providing:
  • 5.2.2 Physical and intellectual resources.
  • 5.2.3 Guidance for the pursuit of internal and external funding (Financial support for graduate students is not assumed a priori, is dependent upon availability and may be obtained through a variety of sources).
  • 5.2.4 Administrative guidance and interpretation of the NRMS Program policies and procedures.
  • 5.2.5 Guidance on the graduate curriculum.
  • 5.2.6 Guidance on research design and feasibility.
  • 5.2.7 Timely input on drafts of the thesis proposal and the thesis. Timely is defined as within 15 working days during the Fall and Spring semesters.
5.3 Faculty Summer Work Policy
  • 5.3.1 Because faculty are on academic-year appointments and summer obligations vary among faculty, students must make specific arrangements in advance with graduate committee members if the student would like to work with faculty during the summer.
  • 5.3.2 Defense of the graduate thesis should be held during the academic year. A defense may be held during the summer if and only if all members of the graduate committee agree to and are able to attend and participate. Attendance and participation may include electronic attendance and participation, provided that it is in real time.

 

6. Graduate Coordinator

6.1 General Policies
  • 6.1.1 The Graduate Coordinator serves a renewable term of three years and is selected by the CNRS Dean, in consultation with the Chairs of the departments of Environmental Science and Management, Fisheries Biology, Forestry and Wildland Resources, and Wildlife.
  • 6.1.2 Decisions or actions by the Graduate Coordinator may be appealed, in writing only, to the Graduate Advisory Council.
6.2 Responsibilities

The primary role of the Graduate Coordinator is to ensure compliance with State, University, and College policies, as they apply to the NRMS program. Responsibilities of the Graduate Coordinator include:

  • 6.2.1 Sending admission letters to new graduate students.
  • 6.2.2 Supervising the fee waiver program within the NRMS program.
  • 6.2.3 Maintaining currency of the Policies and Procedures and Thesis Template.
  • 6.2.4 Representing the NRMS program on the HSU Graduate Council.
  • 6.2.5 Ensuring that Title 5, CSUHSU, and CNRS guidelines are followed for aspects of the graduate experience, including but not limited to, the student’s graduate curriculum, graduate committee, and advancement to candidacy.
  • 6.2.6 The Graduate Coordinator will not serve as a peer-review editor of the thesis (i.e., content, scientific merit and design as well as composition). This role is the responsibility of the thesis advisor and graduate committee.
  • 6.2.7 Serving as NRMS program liaison to the Western Regional Graduate Program.
  • 6.2.8 Conducting annual program assessment (see Section 8) and participating in periodic program reviews.
  • 6.2.9 Assisting the Graduate Administrative Support Coordinator in maintaining student files and records, including:
    • 6.2.9.1 Application and supporting documentation.
    • 6.2.9.2 Letter of acceptance to the program.
    • 6.2.9.3 Formation of the graduate committee.
    • 6.2.9.4 Advancement to candidacy.
    • 6.2.9.5 Eligibility to enroll through extended education.
    • 6.2.9.6 Grades and grade reports.
    • 6.2.9.7 Degree check.
    • 6.2.9.8 Official program correspondence with the student.

 

 

7. The Graduate Advisory Council

7.1 Membership
  • 7.1.1 The Graduate Advisory Council (GAC) shall consist of four voting members, one each from the departments of Environmental Science and Management, Fisheries Biology, Forestry and Wildland Resources, and Wildlife.
  • 7.1.2 The Graduate Coordinator convenes the GAC but serves as a non-voting ex offico member.
7.2 Roles and Responsibilities
  • 7.2.1 The GAC reviews all petitions for extension to the seven-year time limit to complete the graduate program.
  • 7.2.2 The GAC serves as an appellate body for:
    • 7.2.2.1 Decisions/actions taken by the graduate committee or by the Graduate Coordinator.
    • 7.2.2.2 Exceptions to policies in this document.
    • 7.2.2.3 Conflicts between graduate students, faculty, and/or the Graduate Coordinator.

 

8. Program Assessment

8.1 Learning Outcomes
  • 8.1.1 Scientific Investigation. Student carries out a scientific investigation of phenomena in a natural system that includes: a) Formulation and statement of a research question based on literature review, b) Design and implementation of study using appropriate quantitative or qualitative methodology, c) Presentation of research results, and d) Discussion of the relationship of the research results to the field of study and their broader relevance. [Goals 4,5]
  • 8.1.2 Written Communication. Student communicates scientific investigation in writing, using accepted structure, style, and format for scientific reports and papers in the discipline. [Goal 2]
  • 8.1.3 Oral Communication. Student communicates scientific investigation in oral presentation, using accepted structure, format, and visual aids for scientific presentations in the discipline. [Goal 2].
  • 8.1.4 Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. Student applies appropriate mathematical, computer simulation, statistical models and/or qualitative methods in their research. [Goal 3]
  • 8.1.5 Link to Natural Resources. Student articulates the relationship of his/her scientific investigation to the physical, ecological, and/or socioeconomic aspects of a problem in the natural environment. [Goals 4,5]
8.2 Methodology for Assessing Student Learning Outcomes
  • 8.2.1 Each student’s written thesis shall be evaluated by every member of the graduate committee (including the major adviser).
  • 8.2.2 Each student’s oral presentation and defense of the thesis shall be evaluated by every member of the graduate committee (including the major adviser).
  • 8.2.3 Student-level evaluations shall be conducted using and assessment rubric (http://www2.humboldt.edu/cnrs/grad-programs/current/forms/), which allows rating on a three-point scale (“not demonstrated”, “demonstrated”, “mastered”) of each of the learning outcomes. Note that the ratings do not need to be consistent across all evaluators and that approval of the thesis does not automatically indicate that all outcomes are “mastered”. In rare cases, an evaluator may rate one of the learning outcomes as “not demonstrated”, even though the overall performance of the student in preparing, presenting and defending the thesis merits approval of the thesis by the committee and program coordinator.
  • 8.2.4 These student-level evaluations are to be submitted to the CNRS Dean’s office or the NR Graduate Coordinator, who will summarize, report, and interpret aggregated statistics. This program-level assessment will occur once each year and be submitted and archived through the Program Review, Evaluation, and Planning (PREP) system.
8.3 Learning Outcome Evaluation Rubric

The Natural Resources Thesis and Oral Presentation assessment rubric is available here.