The Graduate Program



We are delighted that you have agreed to serve as field faculty advisor to one of our graduate students. We welcome you into The Graduate Program and hope you will enjoy your experience as a mentor.

The Student Handbook describes in detail the requirements of the program from the student's perspective. It is important that you be familiar with this information so that you can help guide the student through The Graduate Program process. This Field Faculty Manual is designed particularly for you, with your academic comfort in mind, to be a quick, comprehensive and user-friendly guide to your role in The Graduate Program.

One of the most important elements of your work as field faculty is the disciplinary knowledge you bring to the academic relationship with your student and the core faculty. Your familiarity with the theory and methodology of your academic field is a most valuable asset to the University.

Although we recognize that adult students are self-motivated and passionate about their studies, we also realize that they may be in need of particular guidance. Face-to-face meetings and correspondence with your advisee will constitute the essence of your mentoring. Your work will be supported by your core faculty colleague who will advise the student on graduate level research and writing, as well as on the requirements and graduation criteria of Norwich University.

Your duties start when our student enrolls. Our enrollment dates are January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. The minimum enrollment is for a 36-credit degree over 18 months, where students plan three 12-credit terms.

Students in counseling psychology, especially if seeking licensure or certification, are asked to fulfill a 48-credit, 24-month format in both Regional and Weekend options. Occasionally students request up to 60 credits, distributed over a 30-month enrollment period. Licensure or certification-based studies are prohibited in our Online option.

A student may petition prior to enrollment to transfer in up to 6 graduate credits in a 36-credit program or 12 graduate credits toward a 48 or 60-credit program, provided the credits meet certain criteria.

In our Regional and Weekend options, we require that field faculty and student meet face-to-face regularly during the enrollment period, possibly once a week. All work between field faculty and our online option students may be done electronically and by teleconference. Sometimes meetings are monthly, but should amount to about four hours every month. Particular circumstances (health reasons, extreme weather conditions) make it occasionally necessary for a conference call to take the place of a face-to-face meeting. During the meeting the field faculty reviews the student's progress, dialogues with the student about questions and problems, discusses academic and research matters, and helps with the direction of the study.

During the student's stay in The Graduate Program, we also recommend that core faculty, field faculty, and student get together in 3-way meetings. The 3-way meetings should happen in person whenever possible, although work schedules and distances often make 3-way conference calls more practical. These meetings allow for frank academic discussion, ironing out of any possible problems, and collegial planning.

February and August are "down time" months for Program faculty, during which time the core faculty members attend to professional development, publications, etc., and are not expected to be on campus to attend to University business. Our core faculty will notify you of their schedule electronically or by newsletter.

The Graduate Program -- because of its design and its philosophy -- relies heavily on the written word. Students are required to produce a significant amount of research writing throughout their study, including a field- and core faculty- approved final study plan and a final document at the end of their work. If you discover that the student with whom you are working has poor writing skills, you may want to suggest that he or she take a writing course or hire a writing tutor or editor.

The final study plan, to be completed by the student with the assistance of field and core faculty, is the blueprint for the entire course of study. We refer you to the Student Handbook for details about its parameters and composition. Your written critique of the final study plan, coupled with the core faculty's comments and the written critique by another core faculty consultant, will initiate the student's course of study.

Your written critique will also be required for a proposal for a culminating paper. This piece, called in our literature a final document, must contain a strong literature review and research component. 135 page in length on average, it testifies to and documents the breadth and depth of the student's research. Your role as field faculty is to ensure the disciplinary quality of the final document, and to advise the student accordingly. As always, the core faculty will be involved in the process from a more generalist academic and administrative perspective.

A final, comprehensive narrative evaluation of the students work in the program becomes part of the transcript. The final evaluation should cover all aspects of the student's work as well as assess the student's readiness for graduation. Graduation follows one of our regionally-based graduation committee meetings, pending acceptance of the final document, completion of all requirements, satisfaction of University criteria for graduation and of all attached forms. Refer to the Student Handbook and Academic Regulations for information on criteria for graduation.

During his or her stay in The Graduate Program, the student will also be required to document his or her learning in an on-going fashion through a variety and choice of thematic papers, bibliographic essays, professional and personal journals and other forms of written (as well as multimedia) documentation. Usually the student shares the thematic paper with the field faculty before sending it on to the core faculty, but make sure to check with your core faculty colleague for his or her professional preferences.

In the Regional Seminar Option, students meet with their core faculty in a given location three or four times a year, usually on weekends. In the Weekend Option, the meetings are on a monthly basis. In either case, check with your core faculty colleague if you wish to participate as speaker or spectator at these meetings.

The Graduate Program faculty and students get together twice a year for our national and international colloquia. At present, the Vermont colloquia are scheduled for April and October, while our West Coast colloquium takes place in July. As you will see from the rest of our literature, field faculty are invited to participate in all colloquium activities, and often give illuminating lectures.

The honorarium paid by the University to our field faculty advisors is $500 for each six-month term. The hourly breakdown averages about $20. This stipend is paid at the end of each academic term. Program administration is championing a raise in this stipend, and we are hopeful we will succeed in this effort. However, as those of us who have served as field faculty advisors know, the intellectual and academic satisfaction resulting from mentoring our exceptional graduate students is a recompense in itself. Graduate Program policy prohibits the supplemental payment of funds to field faculty by our students.

The needs of students with certified disabilities are accommodated by Norwich University according to law. However, should your advisee manifest serious writing problems in the absence of recognized disabilities, we encourage you to contact your core faculty colleague.

The University policy on sexual harassment is taken very seriously. Please review this policy in the Student Handbook and notify the appropriate party about any potential violations.

Should you wish to find out more about adult-centered education, we recommend these books: S. Brookfield's Developing Critical Thinkers (1991); P. Candy's Self-Direction For Lifelong Learning and M. Knowles' Andragogy in Action (1984); J. Mezerow's Fostering Critical Reflection in Adults.

Further information and particular academic requirements will be made available to you by the individual core faculty advisor through a personal letter or other communication.

"I believe that because the students are expected to give structure to their own programs, the field faculty advisors should possess certain qualities above and beyond simply being professionals in the students' chosen field of study. We think the field faculty should be 'mission oriented' and should understand the program and be able and willing to redirect the students when they lose their focus."

-- A Graduate Program student


The Graduate Program remains virtually unique in its emphasis on an independent, flexible and distance learning model for adult students. Few other masters degree programs in the United States takes its program out to students in their own communities, allowing them to work with local field faculty, so they don't have to interrupt their lives as working adults with families. Because of this mobility, the program reaches a wide diversity of students and field faculty in many different communities, nationally and internationally.

The Graduate Program was started in 1969 at Goddard College by a group of people who included Edgar Bottome and Mary and Bob Belenkey. In 1981, Goddard sold its adult programs to Norwich University, at which time this and other programs were moved to Norwich University's Montpelier, Vermont campus -- the former Vermont College. In 1994, the traditional undergraduate programs at Montpelier were moved to Norwich University's Northfield, Vermont campus and the Montpelier campus was designed to be the nation's only campus dedicated solely to low-residence degree programs for adults in the country.

As you probably know, the Graduate Program is what we call learner-centered. By this we mean that the study starts with the learner's own experience, interests, and issues as the central question, then works out toward research and reading areas which provide answers and insights within a unique academic focus.

The Graduate Program is also inquiry-based, which means that the final study plan is structured around a key question which guides the selection of study areas and may lead the learner into a variety of academic fields by way of a variety of research methods. This process contrasts with, but does not necessarily conflict with, a disciplinary-centered approach which tends to orient students to one particular field, rather than allowing them to map their own territory. For you field faculty, as disciplinary experts, the challenge is to find a balance between listening to and respecting student concerns while also apprenticing your student from the vantage point of an expert in the field.

The Graduate Program also requires a balance of theory and practice, with an emphasis on applied learning, outcomes, and competencies. We hope to teach both critical and creative thinking processes which our adult learners can apply to a variety of life experiences, including professional situations. Rather than offer just professional training, we provide opportunities for integrated professional studies which not only include learning in professional fields like psychology, education, and organizational development, but also allow learners to integrate into their Graduate Program study insights from liberal arts and humanities, as well as personal and creative experience. We view both social significance and personal growth as essential aspects of the learning process.

As teachers, we follow principles of adult education or andragogy which respect the life and work experience of adult learners. We encourage self-direction and self-evaluation by learners, with mutuality between faculty and student in planning, assessment, problem-solving, and final evaluation. We also respect the different learning styles and stages of development of our learners, recognizing that each one's study plan, process and achievement will be unique and valuable.


The mission of The Graduate Program is, first, to provide graduate level learner-centered education for adults in the humanities and social sciences in an inquiry-based independent study format; and, second, to develop new and better models of teaching in a learner-centered environment which is increasingly mediated by electronic technology. The Graduate Program encourages the cultivation of a critical perspective, which is in turn conducive to transformative experience. Its approach emphasizes connected knowing rather than the passive reception of information. While The Graduate Program values and respects the knowledge, methods, and professional practices that have evolved through the disciplines, we also affirm the value of insights gained at the intersection of fields and disciplines, which can contribute to students breadth of vision and appreciation of the relationship among fields of knowledge.

In the Deweyan educational tradition, learning in The Graduate Program is regarded as an activity. Learners are encouraged to find a balance between theory and practice in their studies, to examine ideas pragmatically in the laboratory of lived experience, to develop critical and reflective research skills and express the results of their learning precisely and creatively. The Program is responsive to individual learning styles and the cognitive and developmental needs of the adult population. Adult students bring to the Program a wealth of experience in professional areas such as teaching, counseling, and management, and receive through the Program further professional enhancement which in turn qualifies them to teach, counsel, serve and lead more effectively in their professions. At the intersection of adult, distance and learner-centered education, we continue to pioneer new paths in all three areas.

Our mission is to encourage in each student the development of an informed perspective, to insist on an understanding of and application of graduate-level research, writing and speaking skills. A central component of the learning process in the Program is the dialogue and interaction between student and faculty, but we recognize that this does not take place in isolation from the society in which we live. Hence we emphasize an understanding of the social context of each study. We believe that our educational values promote the capacity of individual learners to respect, appreciate and learn from diverse ideas and points of view, to contribute to democratic public life, and to participate responsibly in the betterment of the human community and our world. As part of Norwich University and in common with other educational institutions we are dedicated to the search for knowledge and truth.


As a mentor, your relationship with the student is at the heart of The Graduate Program process. Over the course of an 18 to 24 month program this relationship provides interaction, grounding, dialogue, guidance and continuity within what can otherwise be a somewhat isolated venture. While students also relate to core faculty and peers within weekend and regional meetings, and electronically in our Online option, they meet most regularly with their field faculty. Although your appointment will be approved by the core faculty and Program administrators, you have also been particularly chosen a person as well as an expert by the student with whom you are working. We have found that in most cases relationships between field faculty and students prove beneficial to both student and field faculty.

To facilitate a smooth interaction with the student, we recommend that at your first meeting you establish together clear expectations, meeting times, as well as limitations on your time and energy. The Graduate Program certainly does not expect you to be totally available to the student or to perform services (like counseling or editing) beyond the ones specified as field faculty responsibilities. While the role of mentor is a unique and special one, it also needs clear boundaries. If at any point you feel these boundaries are being violated, please contact the core faculty for clarification and possible mediation.

Your relation to the core faculty is as an expert in the field to a generalist colleague. Although the core faculty may also be an expert in your field, as core faculty he or she functions as a learning specialist tuned both to the overall needs and abilities of the student and to the academic and administrative processes of the Program. The core faculty also serves as liaison between you and the rest of the Program, facilitating the exchange of documents and answering questions you may have about the Program or about your student's progress. Each core faculty has particular guidelines and preferences for working with field faculty, so please ask your core faculty for specific suggestions.

The core faculty is responsible for arranging three-way meetings with you and the student -- but don't hesitate to call at any time if you need to consult with the core faculty. If you have any problems with the student or with another field faculty (in the event that the student is working with two field faculty), please let the core faculty know. If your problem is with the core faculty, please contact the Program Director. And if you have a problem with payment, please contact the Administrative Director.

Program policy requires that you supply a current curriculum vitae and a transcript or diploma of your doctoral degree. Your credentials will be kept on file in the main Program office.


Admissions Committee
a committee formed by core faculty and admissions staff which meets monthly to review student applications and to accept students into the Program.

Area of Concentration
specific area of study within the student's field of interest (examples: psychology of women, literary criticism, etc.)

two-to-four day series of lectures, workshops, and related events between students, faculty and staff in Vermont (semi-annually) and in California (annually)

academic comments by core faculty (other than the student's) or external consultant on the final study plan and final document proposal, to insure disciplinary and methodological soundness Graduate Program

Core Faculty
faculty member whose responsibilities as a generalist include ensuring graduate level research, adherence to University standards, and supervision of all student and field faculty academic activities

Field Faculty
doctoral-level, locally-based expert specific to the student's discipline. As a specialist, he or she supervises and ensures the disciplinary and methodological quality of the student's work

Field of Study
the discipline under which a student's work is listed (examples: psychology, history, etc.)

Final Document
the graduate-level culminating thesis required of all students to qualify for graduation

Final Document Proposal
a document outlining the student's thesis by subject and format, to be presented to and commented on by core faculty, field faculty and consultant

Final Study Plan
a document outlining the student's upcoming work in The Graduate Program, to be presented to and commented on by core faculty, field faculty and consultant

Graduation Groups/Committees
regionally arranged, these groups of four to five core faculty members meet regularly during the year to review final documents and decide whether to grant graduation status

Online Option
The Graduate Program option wherein after attendance at a mandatory initial colloquium, all interaction and academic work is completed electronically

Preliminary Study Proposal
The preliminary outline of field of interest presented by prospective students to the admissions committee

formal or informal academic presentations by students during regional meetings, weekend meetings or colloquia

Regional Seminar Option
The Graduate Program option based on 3 yearly regional meetings and attendance at an initial colloquium

Thematic Papers
ongoing, written scholarly documentation required of all students

Three-Way Meeting
an academic meeting among student, core faculty, and field faculty, to be held in person or by conference call three or four times during the course of study

Weekend Option
The Graduate Program option based on monthly weekend meetings and attendance at an initial colloquium