As part of its course offering, the MPCS gives students the option of doing a practicum under the supervision of a faculty or staff member (known as the practicum advisor). This practicum can be counted as elective credit towards the student’s Masters degree. Like any MPCS elective, students are only eligible for a practicum once three core classes have been completed or taken concurrently with a third core class.
During a practicum, a student must develop a well-defined project requiring roughly 100 hours of work throughout a single academic quarter (i.e., an average of 10 hours per week). Throughout the year, the MPCS seeks project proposals from faculty and staff members interested in working with Masters students. These proposals are distributed to our students, who must then apply to work on a specific project.
Applying to the Practicum Program
Students interested in doing a practicum during an academic quarter will have to apply to the practicum program in the preceding quarter. The key dates are the following:
Week 4: Practicum project proposals are published. Links to the proposals, and instructions on how to apply to participate in the practicum will be sent out to all MS students.
Weeks 5-6: Students interested in doing a practicum review project proposals and submit an application to work on specific projects.
Weeks 7: Masters program administration and prospective advisors evaluate applicants. During this time, applicants may be asked to do a short interview with the advisor/s of the project/s they have applied for.
Week 8: Students receive acceptance/rejection notices.
Weeks 9-11: Students should meet with their advisors to start planning their work on the practicum during the following quarter.
Since registration takes place during 8th week, and students won’t be paired with projects by then, students that have applied to do a practicum will be allowed to register for the Practicum course, but should also select a backup class in case they are not selected for a practicum. If a student is not selected, their registration will be modified accordingly without penalty.
The Practicum Course
During the quarter in which a student is doing a practicum, the student will be enrolled in a Practicum course. Although the course will be assigned a specific time on the course schedule, it will not meet every week. Instead, students will only meet during Weeks 1, 6, and 10 to share information about their projects and provide status reports. Additionally, advisors will provide an evaluation of the student's progress during Weeks 5 and 11.
Week 1: All students enrolled in the practicum course meet during class hours, and must deliver a short presentation on the project they will be developing. This presentation will not be evaluated.
Week 5: By the end of this week, advisors submit a midterm evaluation of the students they are supervising, with a specific letter grade.
Week 6: All students enrolled in the practicum course meet during class hours, and must deliver a short presentation presenting a status report. This presentation will be evaluated (see below).
Week 10: All students enrolled in the practicum course meet during class hours, and must deliver a short presentation presenting a final report. This presentation will be evaluated (see below).
Week 11: By the end of exam week, advisors submit an evaluation of the work done by the student, and assign a specific letter grade to this final evaluation. This report is submitted by the end of Week 10 for students who are graduating.
The final grade for a practicum will be based on the individual evaluation submitted by each advisor, and on the grades of the midterm and final presentations. The presentations will be graded by a committee of advisors selected by the Masters program:
Each member of the committee assigns a score on a scale of 1 to 10 on the following aspects of the presentation: ability to explain the background necessary to understand the project, ability to explain the project itself, including the goals of the project, and ability to answer questions during the Q&A. The grade assigned by each committee member will be the weighted average of the above three points (weighed 30%, 50%, 20%)
The grade for a given presentation is the average of the grades given by all the members of the committee. Committee members can discuss presentations amongst themselves, but they do not share their scores amongst themselves.
Members of the committee do not provide a score for students they are advising.
The final grade is determined as follows:
- 25% - Midterm evaluation by advisor
- 10% - Midterm presentation
- 45% - Final evaluation by advisor
- 20% - Final presentation