A brief overview of Korbel course availability and space

Greetings from the Graduate Admissions Office,

Our office, along with the Gradcafé forum, have received a few questions  about class availability and space, so I would like to take a few minutes to address this topic.

The average class size here at Korbel is 20-25 students. There are some methodology/skills classes that have more students (approximately 40-45) being that they are generally conducted in a lecture based format. This year, students experienced some classes that are larger than our average. There have been rumors of Korbel accepting 100+ additional students this past fall and not adding additional courses/sections. Let me clarify that this is not the case, in fact, we only admitted a handful more this year than was forecasted.

There’s no way to sugar coat the fact that first quarter graduate students are at the bottom of the totem pole…welcome back to freshman year. While we would all love to get into each and every one of our preferred classes during your first quarter, this doesn’t always happen. If you think this is an anomaly, unfortunately this is not uncommon throughout most graduate programs.  The good news – the further along in your program, the greater the likelihood of getting the schedule you want as your registration time will be earlier and earlier as you progress through the program.  Let’s look at it from a second year student perspective, which may be your position two years from now, with your last quarter quickly approaching.  Say you are an Int’l development student and you’ve completed all of your electives, core requirements, skills classes and for your final quarter, you need to take our Economic Development and International Development in Cross Cultural Perspective courses to graduate. Let’s say everyone has the same registration time to make it “fair” and both classes fill up with 1/3 first quarter students.  If this was how registration worked, you wouldn’t be able to graduate. Fortunately, thanks to the dedicated staff in the Office of Student Affairs, they work closely with students to make sure this doesn’t happen. They are an amazing team, big up to Susan Rivera, Colleen Ryan and Doug Jones… be nice to them.

Here is what that office does to help students get into the classes they need and/or prefer:

The obvious first step is a waitlist, which is determined by two factors:

(1) A student’s graduation date and
(2) The need for that class for their degree

For example, if students are wait-listed for, say, Introduction to Human Rights, then a Human Rights student graduating in June of this year will get priority in the class over a Development student graduating in March 2011.  Long story short, students will always get the classes they NEED – they may not get the class when they want it, but they will eventually get it.  There is also the rolling waitlist, which allows students to get priority in a class the next time it is offered.

The Office of Student Affairs also contacts professors to see if they are willing to take on additional students from the waitlist.  If, for example, a professor has capped the class at 20, we ask if they are willing to take an additional 5 (or in some cases 10) students.  Most of our faculty members are willing to do this.  In some cases, we will ask the professors to teach more than one section of a course (especially if there are several students on the waitlist).

Additionally, program directors are constantly making changes to degree program requirements to meet student need.  Everyone is aware of the overage of students this year.  So, instead of requiring a set of specific courses, most of our degree programs offer flexibility so that students can take 3 out of 5 recommended courses for a particular requirement.  There were some major changes to two of our degree programs since January of this year (International Studies and International Administration) – both sets of changes are intended to make it easier for students to meet the degree requirements.  There are similar changes underway in the GFTEI, Development and Human Rights programs as well (to be released for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Associate Dean David Levine is also working on creating new courses (that will not only count as electives, but that will also meet degree requirements).  One such example is the new INTS 4057 – Statistics for International Relations, which is a combination of Stats I and Stats II.  This course is designed to give students a more practical view of statistics (with direct applications) for their future careers – this one course also kills two birds with one stone, so to speak, in the fact that it meets the Stats I and Stats II requirement for ALL degree programs.  More such courses are in the works.

So those are a few ways the Josef Korbel School is trying to accommodate for our student’s needs and requests.

I hope this has been informative.


Nicole Vilegi
Associate Director of Graduate Admissions


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