Office for Institutional Assessment


Overview of Academics

Colleges, Schools and Departments

Clemson University is composed of five 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 sixth 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 Dean George Askew (Interim)
College of Architecture Arts and Humanities AAH Dean Richard E. Goodstein
College of Business and Behavioral Science BBS Dean Bobby McCormick (Interim)
College of Engineering and Science E&S Dean Anand Gramopadhye
College of Health, Education and Human Development HEHD Dean Brett Wright (Interim)
University Libraries Dean Peggy Tyler (Interim)

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 and Clemson Computing and Information Technology (CCIT).

There are 35 academic departments and 6 schools that house multiple faculty groups.  Schools are administered by a single director and multiple chairs of the faculties or divisions within the schools. The School of Humanities, School of the Arts and School of Design and Building are “virtual schools” that represent groupings of departments but lack a formal structure or director.  (TAB A)

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, currently only 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 year 2000 have “historic” names.  Also, some buildings and laboratories are referred to as “centers” (e.g. Brooks Center for the Performing Arts).  (TAB B)


Programs and Degrees

Degree Programs and Majors

Degrees offered by Clemson University are grouped into 74 undergraduate programs and 69 masters, one educational specialist, and 40 doctoral programs. At the undergraduate level there are also 4 pre-professional areas that are “advising” areas that do not lead to a degree, but support a large number of students interested in the health fields. General Engineering and Pre-Business are designed for the first year of those academic undergraduate programs.  (TAB C)

Degree programs are housed in departments or in the office of a dean of a college. Interdisciplinary graduate programs that involve multiple colleges may be housed in the Graduate School. Institutes are also approved to offer graduate degree programs.  (TAB D)

A total of 102 unique majors are offered by the University. These include combinations of Bachelors, Masters, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education and Specialist degrees. ( Note: Masters degrees can be awarded “in process” for students who enroll for doctoral study but complete a thesis along the way or can be “stop-out” degrees for those who enroll in doctoral programs, have made significant progress in courses and research, but choose not to complete the program.)  (TAB E)

An undergraduate program consists of a minimum of 120 hours.  Most undergraduate majors consist of 120-126 hours or study, including 30 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.  (TAB F)

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. As Clemson graduates, they 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. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one 3-credit course from each of the following areas:

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

In addition to the 9 hours required by SACSCOC, the faculty of the university has agreed upon 21 additional hours of General education coursework in order to demonstrate proficiency in eight competency areas:

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

These General Education Competencies may be met by courses within the discipline (sometimes referred to as double-dipping), or through courses approved by the University Curriculum Committee (as listed in the Undergraduate Announcements). Assessment of 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. (TAB P: e-Portfolio Assessment)

Minors, Concentrations, Emphasis Areas

Students can double or triple major or can elect to have a “minor(Tab G). Minors are composed of 15 or more hours and, unlike major programs of study, do not have to be approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) or SACSCOC. (TAB K)  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 (TAB H). Concentrations are composed of more than 18 hours and must be approved by the 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 the 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 seek 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 a special emphasis on matching students with our nationally and internationally renowned faculty on the basis of their mutual research and scholarly interests.

Students have opportunities to contribute to disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge include 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.

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


Recently, the demand for “certificates” has increased. (Tab I). A certificate can be composed of any number of hours but is usually nine to 12 hours (less than 18 hours requires only 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 degree from the norm without the necessity of declaring a minor (for instance, a certificate in languages, Six Sigma, business administration, entrepreneurship, ethics, etc.).

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, post-MS, are only for students who have completed the masters degree, whether or not they are enrolled in doctoral programs.

On-Line Programs

Clemson University has maintained a very conservative approach to on-line education. While some fall and spring semester stand-alone undergraduate courses exist, they are limited to large elective audiences (e.g.: art history) or are paired with a face-to-face course so that students can select the mode of delivery with which they are most comfortable.  Some standard undergraduate fall and spring courses are also taught on-line in the summer. No undergraduate degrees are offered on-line, although several pre-baccalaureate certificates, at the request of our students, are available on-line. An exception to this is the BS in Electrical Engineering that is for working professionals in the power industry and is not offered to Clemson undergraduates.

At the graduate level, on-line courses must be part of a blended or on-line degree program, or certificate program, and are primarily for working professionals. (TAB J)

Please contact Debra B. Jackson for additional information on academic affairs policies, forms or templates.