The program’s scope
“Scope” indicates the breadth of the field covered by the academic program. It identifies the aspects of the discipline, field, or area of knowledge addressed by the academic program.
An excellent example is provided by the Forensics Minor (below). What makes this particular purpose statement excellent is that it:
- Opens by clarifying what students study in the field of “Forensic Science.”
- The second sentence clarifies the area of Forensic Science addressed within the “Social Sciences Forensic Minor” program, clearly describing the sub-set of knowledge covered by the minor. Note that this places clear boundaries about the approach and “type” of Forensic Science explored in the minor. This assists students to understand what they can (and can not) do with a minor in this area.
- The third sentence expounds upon the issues specifically addressed by the minor. Note how this section further clarifies the “Social Science” aspect of the minor and what it means to study Forensics from this Social Science perspective.
(1) “Forensic science” is the application of a wide spectrum of sciences and techniques that aid in detecting and solving crime, identifying individuals (victims and offenders) involved in crime, reconstructing events before, during and after the crime, and service to the courts and legal system. (2) In the Social Sciences Forensic Minor, students develop an understanding of the social, cultural, historical and political differences in the United States and globally, impacting forensic science development and its application in theory and method in criminology, criminal justice and law enforcement systems. (3) These include issues of gender, ethnicity, social inequality, and changing cultural dynamics and values affixed to human life, civil rights and criminal justice.
The Chemistry M.S. degree’s scope clearly identifies that the student will focus their time energy on the development of experimental approaches in a specific field:
The Chemistry M.S. program prepares students for research-focused professions in the chemical sciences, emphasizing the development of a students’ ability to develop experimental approaches that accurately capture information to solve questions and problems in their chemical field of study.
For academic programs having a great deal of breadth in their program, the “scope” can be addressed by the “content studied, skills developed, and learning experiences” of the degree. It is possible, particularly for degrees with great breadth to describe their scope through the “content studied, skills developed, and learning experiences” because it is these three aspects that create the “boundaries” of the degree, separating this program from other programs.
Here is an example from the English B.A. (The bolded section is what we would identify as addressing both the “scope” and the “content studied, skills developed, and/or the learning experience(s) provided.”)
The Bachelor of Arts in English prepares graduates for any future that demands proficiency in literature, language, and writing, as well as general excellence in resourceful, well-informed communication. Our graduates recognize the close weave of logical thought and effective expression, strive for more persuasive or more creative uses of English, possess the sense and insight to appreciate the value and quality of literature, have developed their historical and cultural imaginations by studying the marks of other times and diverse peoples in language and text, and recognize the global contexts of English as well as the social, civic, and environmental responsibilities that come with a liberal education. Our graduates have attained the high-level literacy skills and have practiced the research methods needed to compete in graduate and professional schools and to succeed in the workplace. With our help, they have prepared themselves to become productive, responsible members of the communities in which they live and work.