Graduate Studies

General Information (excerpted from 2015-2016 Graduate Catalog)

PDF version of Graduate Catalog

The History and Heritage of Western Illinois University

Founded in 1899, the Western Illinois State Normal School was established to address teacher preparation in the state’s grammar schools. The faculty and students of Western were eager to meet this need, and the institution soon became known for its well-rounded, deeply committed graduates, a tradition that continues.

As the years passed and the name was changed to Western Illinois State Teachers College in 1921, and then to Western Illinois University in 1957, the institution’s mission continually broadened to include academic majors that prepared high school teachers; the state’s earliest and most successful extension program; a multifaceted graduate school; a liberal arts program; and, eventually, distinguished colleges devoted to Arts and Sciences, Business and Technology, Education and Human Services, and Fine Arts and Communication.

Throughout time, and most recently as Western celebrated 50 years as a University during academic year 2007-2008, we have earned and maintained a reputation for expanding public access to affordable, high-quality degree programs and fostering student involvement in University activities.

We are now a leading University with a residential campus in Macomb; a metropolitan, non-residential campus in the Quad Cities; and extension and distance learning programs. With an outstanding, diverse faculty and staff committed to multicultural and international education, Western Illinois University offers undergraduate and graduate programs of study to

The Present and Future of Western Illinois University

With more than a century of growth and development, and more than 100,000 living alumni, Western Illinois University maintains a strong sense of community and historic commitments to student access, affordability, and success. Western has consistently been recognized as a “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review and is one of only 37 public universities recognized as a top-tier “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report.

Western Illinois University is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The University’s teacher licensure programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The University also maintains a strong commitment to discipline-based accreditation and licensure, where appropriate to the discipline. In academic year 2014-2015, Western Illinois University maintained accreditation/licensure with 17 agencies, ranging from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

These external recognitions and peer-based accreditations showcase our high academic standards, quality instruction, proven opportunities for job and graduate school placement, outstanding academic and residential facilities, exciting extracurricular activities, and institutional commitments to sustainability and affordability.

These recognitions also reinforce the unique mission and niche of Western Illinois University in the state’s system of public higher education. Keeping focused on our vision, mission, and values is critical for continued student success and our progress, growth, and contributions to the state and beyond. Western Illinois University, along with the other 11 Illinois public universities, is currently being challenged by a declining number of Illinois high school graduates; decreasing state support (appropriations) for higher education; and increasing costs, maintenance, and technological, infrastructure, and accountability needs.

Through continued successful implementation of Higher Values in Higher Education, the institutional planning, resource allocation, and accountability reporting process established in academic year 2002-2003, we will continue to build upon our strengths and take advantage of opportunities. Western Illinois University will continue to prepare our students and graduates to lead in the global community. We will do so in a manner that is distinctive and nationally recognized for successful implementation of our vision, mission, and values.

Our Vision

Western Illinois University will be the leader in educational quality, opportunity, and affordability among regional public universities.

 Our Mission

Western Illinois University empowers students, faculty, and staff to lead dynamic and diverse communities. We provide student-centered undergraduate and graduate programs characterized by innovative teaching, research, and service, grounded in interdisciplinary, regional and global perspectives. We engage our students in educational opportunities guided by a professional and diverse faculty and staff in collaboration with alumni and community partners.

Our Values

Academic Excellence: Central to our history is the commitment to teaching, to the individual learner, and to active involvement in the teaching-learning process. Western Illinois University's highly qualified and diverse faculty promotes critical thinking, engaged learning, research, and creativity in a challenging, supportive learning community. We are committed to student success in an academic environment that encourages lifelong development as learners, scholars, teachers, and mentors.

Educational Opportunity: Western Illinois University values educational opportunity and welcomes those who show promise and a willingness to work toward achieving shared educational goals. We are committed to providing accessible, high-quality educational programs and financial support for our students.

Personal Growth: Western Illinois University values the development of the whole person. We are committed to providing opportunities for personal growth in an environment that supports the development of wellness, ethical decision making, and personal responsibility in the global community.

Social Responsibility: Western Illinois University is committed to equity, social justice, and diversity, and will maintain the highest standards of integrity in our work with others. We create an environment that fosters and promotes civic engagement. We serve as a resource for and stimulus to educational, cultural, environmental, community, and economic development in our region and well beyond it.

Mission of the Graduate School

It is the primary goal of the School of Graduate Studies to facilitate, encourage, support, and coordinate excellence in graduate education at Western Illinois University. To achieve this goal, the Graduate Council and the Graduate Office, in concert with the provost, deans, department chairs, department graduate committee chairs, and graduate faculty, will oversee issues relating to policies, procedures, and academic standards in graduate education.


Western Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. In addition, many of its departments and schools are accredited by professional agencies, including the following: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications, Inc.; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering; The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International; Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; Commission on English Language Program Accreditation; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs; Council on Social Work Education; Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET; National Association of Schools of Art and Design; National Association of Schools of Music; National Association of Schools of Theatre; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); and National Recreation and Park Association.

Western Illinois University is certified by the State of Iowa to provide educational certificates and degree programs in Museum Studies and distance education in Iowa. In serving students from Iowa, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission maintains a system (form available at to document concerns, questions, and complaints related to post-secondary educational institutions.

 Equal Opportunity and Access

Western Illinois University complies fully with all applicable federal and state nondiscrimination laws, orders, and regulations. The University is committed to providing equal opportunity and an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from discrimination based on sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and any other classes protected by state or federal law.

Further, the University is committed to a comprehensive Affirmative Action program that ensures access and equity in educational programs, activities, and employment.

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Access is responsible for administering and monitoring Western Illinois University’s Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action policies and procedures. Inquiries about or complaints alleging violation of the policies should be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, 203 Sherman Hall, (309) 298-1977. The director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access also serves as the coordinator for Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, and its implementing regulations, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 Religious Observance Policy

Consistent with Illinois Public Act 84-212, an act to prohibit public school districts and institutions of higher education from discriminating against students for observing religious holidays (effective August 26, 1985), Western Illinois University subscribes to the following policy and procedures:

  1. Western Illinois University supports the concept of "Reasonable Accommodation of Religious Observances" in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and other academic work requirements.
  2. A student who is unable because of the observance of a religious holiday to attend classes on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day shall be excused from taking any examination or any study or other academic work assignments on such days or times.
  3. Faculty and administrative personnel may require up to 5 calendar days advance notice of absences to observe religious holidays.
  4. It is the responsibility of the faculty and administrative personnel to make available to such students an equivalent opportunity to make up the examinations, study, or other academic work requirements which they missed due to such absences.
  5. It is the responsibility of all students who also are employees of the University to make arrangements to fulfill their obligations to the University in advance of their absence, and/or to utilize accrued leave (if applicable) during the absence. (See section II.)

No fees or penalties may be imposed against the students who exercise such afforded opportunities. If a student believes she/he has been a victim of discrimination on grounds of religious observances, she/he may seek redress under the existing Discrimination Complaint Procedures.

A student who feels that he or she has been unreasonably denied an educational or employment benefit due to religious beliefs or practices should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.

Western Illinois University’s full Reasonable Accommodation of Students’ and Employees’ Religious Observance Policy is available at

 Student Right-to-Know

Information complying with the Federal Student Right-to-Know legislation, including the Campus Safety and Security Act (Clery Law), is available in the Office of Public Safety, University Housing and Dining Services, the Office of the Vice President for Student Services, and the Office of the Vice President for Administrative Services. The information contains campus crime statistics and graduation rates at Western Illinois University and is on the University website at

 Administrative Organization

Graduate degree programs are administered by academic departments in four colleges. College deans report to the provost and academic vice president, who has responsibility for all academic programs and personnel at the University. The administration of graduate education is centered in the Office of the Provost under the leadership of the associate provost and academic vice president. In addition to the provost, four other vice presidents administer the areas of student services; administrative services; advancement and public services; and Quad Cities campus and planning. The president reports to the Western Illinois University's Board of Trustees for the operation and general welfare of the University.

The School of Graduate Studies is the coordinating agency for the University’s graduate programs. It maintains records related to admission, graduate assistantships, and completion of degree requirements and works closely with members of the graduate faculty, academic departments, and college deans. The School of Graduate Studies is administered by the associate provost and director of graduate studies, who reports to the provost and academic vice president. The School of Graduate Studies is responsible for implementing the policies, procedures, and academic standards established by the Graduate Council, a representative body elected by full members of the graduate faculty. Any deviation from graduate academic regulations must be approved by the Graduate Council. The Council may determine, at any time, a student’s eligibility to continue graduate studies at Western Illinois University.

 Academic Colleges

Graduate programming and coursework is offered in four academic colleges as indicated below:

College of Arts and Sciences

African American Studies,Biology, Chemistry,Community Development and Planning,English,Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems, Foreign Languages and Literatures,Geography,Geology,GIS Analysis,History,Liberal Arts and Sciences,Mathematics,Philosophy and Religious Studies,Physics, Political Science, Psychology,Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Zoo and Aquarium Studies

College of Business and Technology

Accountancy,Agriculture,Business Administration,Business Analytics, Computer Science,Economics,Engineering Technology Leadership, and Supply Chain Management

College of Education and Human Services

College Student Personnel;Counseling;Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising and Hospitality;Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies;Educational Leadership;Elementary Education;Event Planning and Management;Health Sciences;Health Services Administration;Instructional Design and Technology;Kinesiology;Law Enforcement and Justice Administration;Reading; Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration; Police Executive Administration; Special Education; Sport Management; and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

College of Fine Arts and Communication

Art,Broadcasting,Communication, Communication Sciences and Disorders,Museum Studies,Music,Music Performance, and Theatre

 Trustees of the University

Roger D. Clawson, Moline (Chair)
Yvonne S. Savala, Moline (Vice Chair)
Phil G. Hare, Rock Island (Secretary)
Lyneir R. Cole, Chicago
Cathy E. Early, Macomb
Carolyn J. Ehlert Fuller, Milan
William L. Epperly, Chicago
Michael W. Quigley, Macomb (Student Member)

 Officers of the University

President: Dr. Jack Thomas
Interim Provost and Academic Vice President: Dr. Kathleen Neumann

Dean of College of Arts and Sciences: Dr. Susan Martinelli-Fernandez
Interim Dean of College of Business and Technology: Dr. William Bailey
Dean of College of Education and Human Services: Dr. Erskine R. Smith
Dean of College of Fine Arts and Communication: Mr. William “Billy” T. Clow
Dean of University Libraries: Dr. Michael G. Lorenzen

Associate Provost and Director of Graduate Studies: Dr. Nancy P. Parsons
Vice President for Administrative Services: Ms. Julie K. DeWees
Vice President for Advancement and Public Services: Mr. Bradley L. Bainter
Vice President for Quad Cities Campus and Planning: Dr. Joseph A. Rives
Vice President for Student Services: Dr. Gary M. Biller

 Graduate Council, Academic Year 2015-2016

Josh Averbeck, assistant professor, Communication (Vice Chair)
P. K. Babu, assistant professor, Physics
Virginia Diehl, professor, Psychology
Justin Ehrlich, assistant professor, Computer Science
Katharine Pawelko, professor, Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (Chair)
Shane Sanders, associate professor, Economics and Decision Sciences
Melissa Stinnett, associate professor, Curriculum and Instruction
Michael Stryker, associate professor, Music