Graduate Studies

Graduate programs at Chico have earned a distinguished reputation since the first was organized more than 70 years ago. Master's degrees were authorized in 1949, and the first degree was awarded in 1950. Currently, about 1,200 students are enrolled at the postbaccalaureate level, and more than 300 students complete a master's degree each year in any one of many degrees and options.

These programs are diverse—ranging from those in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts to those in the natural sciences, engineering, and computer science. Professional degrees are also awarded in business, education, nursing, psychology, public administration, communication sciences and disorders, and social work. Many graduates have gone on to complete doctoral studies and other terminal degrees and have established themselves in academia, law, and medicine; others now enjoy successful careers in industry, education, business, and public service.

A professor stands next to a graduate student as she holds up a vial next to a microscope inside a science lab.

Organization of the Graduate Programs

The Dean of Graduate Studies is responsible for graduate education. Faculty and students serve on two bodies to assist with this responsibility.

The Graduate Council

The Graduate Council is the University's policy-making and curriculum review body for graduate programs. It ensures that faculty participate in the formulation of graduate policies.

The Council of Graduate Students

The Council of Graduate Students is a forum in which graduate students can learn about graduate policies and procedures, express their ideas and needs related to graduate studies, and formulate recommendations to the Graduate Council.

Nature of Graduate Education

Graduate education is advanced study in a specific program that goes substantially beyond upper-division coursework in that area. Graduate study requires greater independence on the part of the student, is intended to develop in-depth knowledge in the subject area, and further acquaints the student with research techniques so that the student can later make significant contributions to their chosen field.

The master's degree consists of a coherent, carefully planned, and approved pattern of courses. These courses may be conducted as

  • advanced lectures,
  • seminars in which faculty and students are actively involved in the study of critical issues,
  • independent studies, and
  • research conducted under faculty supervision.

The graduate student is expected to master advanced coursework as well as independent study and research or creative scholarly activity.

The 600-level course series is open only to graduate students and requires the identification and examination of new theories or principles and the application of these theories or principles to new concepts, problems, issues, or materials. These courses demand extensive use of bibliographic and other resources (with an emphasis on both original and secondary sources available in the Meriam Library and through Interlibrary Loan), the conduct of laboratory studies, and research or professional practice in the field. The successful completion of a graduate course demands creative thinking at a level substantially beyond what is normally expected in undergraduate classes. While some coursework for the master's degree may be in upper-division 400/500-level classes, graduate students should expect requirements and responsibilities beyond those expected of the undergraduates in the same class.

The intellectual interaction among graduate students and their faculty is the most significant factor in postbaccalaureate study. At least 60 percent of the coursework for the master's degree will be in small classes intended for graduate students only. The professors provide exceptional attention to the intellectual needs of each student. Working with student peers in small groups also provides intellectual challenges, support, and camaraderie.

The principal mission of Graduate Studies is to work with the graduate programs to achieve and maintain quality and to produce graduates who have begun to develop a genuine mastery of a discipline and who give promise of developing further because they are intellectually and professionally curious and independent. Graduate study is an opportunity, as well as a significant challenge, and requires a commitment to careful planning and dedicated, persistent scholarship.