Office for Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment

Overview of Academics at Clemson

Colleges, Schools and Departments

Clemson University is composed of six colleges that house the academic faculty and staff, offer undergraduate and graduate courses and grant degrees.  The deans of these units are referred to as “Collegiate Deans.” The libraries are included as a seventh academic “unit” that houses the libraries’ faculty and staff, offers undergraduate courses but does not grant academic degrees.  Collectively, the Dean of the Libraries and the Collegiate Deans are referred to as the “Academic Deans.” The Calhoun Honors College and Emeritus College also use the “college” designation but do not house deans or a separate faculty and do not offer stand-alone academic courses.

College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences AFLS Vice President and Dean George Askew
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities AAH Dean Richard E. Goodstein
College of Business and Behavioral Science BBS Interim Dean Bobby McCormick
College of Engineering and Science E&S Dean Anand Gramopadhye
College of Health and Human Development HHD Interim Dean Brett Wright
Eugene T. Moore School of Education ETMSoE Dean George Petersen
University Libraries Interim Dean Peggy Tyler

In addition to the academic colleges, Honors College and Emeritus College, the division of Academic Affairs is composed of the Graduate School, the Office of Undergraduate Studies, Office of International Affairs, Clemson Computing and Information Technology (CCIT), Office for Institutional Effectiveness, and Office of Institutional Research. 

Centers and Institutes

Groups of faculty with common interests, often collaborative and interdisciplinary, may organize into centers or institutes. Centers are usually composed of faculty from a single college, although from multiples departments, and are overseen by the dean of that college. Institutes are usually developed by faculty from multiple colleges and are overseen by the Mission Vice Presidents. Institutes can offer interdisciplinary degrees at the graduate level, but cannot hire or tenure their own faculty. Faculty must be housed in academic departments.

Not all centers and institutes are named according to the above guidelines. Often, donors prefer a particular name, and some centers or institutes already in existence before the year 2000 have “historic” names.  Also, some buildings and laboratories are referred to as “centers” (e.g., Brooks Center for the Performing Arts).

Degree Programs

An undergraduate program consists of a minimum of 120 credit hours.  Most undergraduate majors consist of 120-126 credit hours, including 33 hours of General Education as required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This total number of hours required for a degree is typical for most Top 20 universities, although the number of General Education hours may vary.

General Education

Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the intellectual and ethical development of students, and the general well-being of society.  Clemson undergraduate students must be broadly educated and technically skilled to be informed and productive citizens who need to be able to think critically about significant issues. Graduates of Clemson should demonstrate a high level of knowledge and skill in the following areas: communication, computer use, mathematics, problem solving, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts.

The purpose of the General Education curriculum (often referred to as core curriculum at other universities) is to provide Clemson undergraduate students with a structured base through which this knowledge and these skills can be learned. SACSCOC requires a minimum of 30 hours of General Education. Nine of these credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one three-credit hour course from each of the following areas:

  • humanities/fine arts
  • social/behavioral sciences
  • natural science/mathematics

The faculty of the University has agreed upon 33 credit hours of General Education coursework to demonstrate proficiency in eight competency areas:

  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Cross-Cultural Awareness
  • Ethical Judgment
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Science and Technology in Society
  • Social Sciences

These General Education competencies may be met by courses within the discipline, or through courses approved by the University Curriculum Committee (as listed in the Undergraduate Announcements). Proficiency can be augmented by out-of class experiences such as (but not limited to) study abroad, internships, co-ops, service learning, undergraduate research, design studios, capstone coursework and Creative Inquiry experiences.

Minors, Concentrations, Emphasis Areas

Students can double or triple major or can elect to have a minor. Minors are composed of 15 or more hours and, unlike major programs of study, do not have to be approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) or SACSCOC.  It is also possible for a student to design a personal cluster minor with the assistance and approval of the student’s academic advisor.

Groups of relevant courses can also form a concentration in the major. Concentrations are composed of more than 18 hours and must be approved by CHE.  In addition, emphasis areas (e.g., Sports Marketing) are often developed by grouping up to 18 hours of existing courses thus avoiding the need to declare a concentration that must be approved by CHE.

Masters, Educational Specialist and Doctoral Degrees

Highly qualified students from around the world come to Clemson to pursue graduate studies and research in more than 100 graduate programs. The University seeks to bring together the world's best students and faculty in an educational environment where a student and a teacher share in research, exploration, and inquiry. We place an emphasis on matching students with our nationally and internationally renowned faculty based on their mutual research and scholarly interests.

Students have opportunities to contribute to disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary knowledge including both basic and applied research, making a contribution to some of the world's most complex problems spanning science, engineering, business, behavioral and social sciences, education, life sciences, agriculture, human services, the arts, architecture, and the humanities.

Graduate course work and research are combined to provide students with a personalized program of study within departmental guidelines.  A master’s degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours.  A doctoral degree requires an additional 30 hours above the master’s or 60 hours above the baccalaureate degree.


Recently, the demand for certificates has increased. A certificate can be composed of any number of hours but is usually nine to twelve hours. (Fewer than 18 hours requires notification to CHE and SACSCOC). While certificates originated as a means to offer graduate coursework to professionals, certificates are now being sought by undergraduates as a means to distinguish their degrees from the norm without the necessity of declaring a minor (e.g., a certificate in languages, Six Sigma, business administration, entrepreneurship, ethics).

Post-baccalaureate certificates can be taken by students who have completed an undergraduate degree and have applied as a non-degree seeking student. Graduate certificates are available for those enrolled in graduate school. Some certificates are only for students who have completed the master's degree, whether or not they are enrolled in doctoral programs.

Program Approval and Assessment

Approval of New Programs, Changes in Curriculum and Academic Organization

For new programs, planning proposals must be approved by both the Board of Trustees and CHE's Advisory Committee of Academic Programs (ACAP). After approval of the planning proposal, full proposals must then be approved by CHE's Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing (CAAL), CHE’s Board of Commissioners, and SACSCOC. Change in delivery site of traditional mode of delivery, program discontinuations, new departments, department mergers or discontinuations, and new centers or institutes must also be approved by the Board of Trustees. 

Academic Program Assessment

Assessment of the quality of degree programs is included as part of Clemson’s overall program assessment process, an online platform for collection of information about student learning outcomes and program quality.  Program review occurs at the department or unit level and requires a five year assessment cycle beginning with program implementation or review and culminating in “closing the loop” by using assessment results and data (both qualitative and quantitative) to improve curricula and programs. In addition, CHE annually evaluates degree completion by major, requiring a 5-year average degree completion rate of five graduates for undergraduate programs (minimum enrollment of 12.5 students), three for masters (minimum enrollment of 6 students) and two for doctoral programs (minimum enrollment of 4.5 students).

As part of our participation in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) sponsored by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), the University is committed to demonstrating that a Clemson University degree adds value.  The ETS Proficiency Profile&#174, NSSE&#174, GRE&#174, specialty field tests, professional / occupational licensing, and other forms of assessment are used to collect quantitative feedback on student learning and engagement.  We also use focus groups, exit interviews, and alumni surveys to seek more qualitative information from students and graduates.  We engage in specialized accreditations, SACSCOC five-year and ten-year reviews, and CHE productivity reviews to ensure continuous improvement of our degree programs.  

Beginning in Fall 2011, the Education Testing Service (ETS) proficiency examination was administered to all entering freshmen and all graduating seniors in an effort to quantitatively measure critical thinking, writing, reading, and mathematical abilities.

Center and Institute Assessment

Centers and institutes are evaluated annually, including the development of an assessment plan and assessment report. In addition, all centers and institutes undergo a comprehensive fifth-year review. Research centers and institutes are to be self-sustaining within a three-year period. Educational centers and institutes that offer courses and support department or university curricula should have substantial external funding but are not required to be entirely self-supporting.

Utility Links


Assistive Options

Top of page

Assistive Options

Open the original version of this page.

Usablenet Assistive is a Usablenet product. Usablenet Assistive Main Page.