Feb 03, 2023  
Graduate Catalog 2009-10 
Graduate Catalog 2009-10 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Evaluation

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Evaluation is a collaborative effort of four colleges – Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Health and Human Services - to address society’s growing need for Ph.D.-level evaluation specialists who can serve effectively in a variety of disciplines. Society’s organizations need evaluation to identify and assign priorities to unmet needs; assess progress and identify areas requiring improvement; assess costs and seek ways to make services more efficient and cost-effective, document and assess outcome, provide credible reports to accrediting/oversight bodies, and, in general, maintain accountability.

Graduating students will receive their degree from one of the participating colleges, usually the one where their major advisor resides. Each student will have an advisory committee that will tailor that student’s program of study to meet her or his assessed needs and interests, drawing from all courses and other learning experiences available in the four colleges. While each specific course in a student’s program may vary from another student’s, each student’s curriculum will be designed to ensure that the student meets a common set of core competencies in evaluation.

A major focus of the interdisciplinary program will be to develop thought leaders in evaluation, individuals with deep knowledge of evaluation theory, methodology, and practice, with superior skills in practical and critical thinking, and a knack for seeing opportunities for innovation improvement.

Admission Requirements

  1. Go to the WMU Admissions Office web site and apply online for the program. Alternatively, you can call the office (269-387-2000) or e-mail them, tell them you want to apply for the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation, and ask them to send you the self-managed application package.
  2. On the admission application form, under “program of study desired,” write “IEV” (this is the code for Interdisciplinary Evaluation). Otherwise, just follow all instructions. If you have questions, please direct them to the Admissions Office.
  3. The admissions application packet includes instructions for sending materials to TWO locations: the Admissions Office and the department. The application going to the Admissions Office should be completed as stated in the instructions. (Students who are currently at WMU do NOT need to send in transcripts, or GRE scores - if they are already on file.)
  4. The application form coming to the department should be addressed to: Ph.D. in Evaluation (interdisciplinary), The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5237 (be sure to include this 4-digit zip code extension to ensure timely delivery).
  5. The departmental application form should contain:
    • A completed WMU application form (included in the self-managed application packet)
    • A completed program application form (available in Word or in PDF)
    • Photocopies or unofficial copies of graduate and undergraduate transcripts—these must indicate any degrees completed (official transcripts are required with the packet to the Admissions Office)
    • A current curriculum vita
    • GRE general scores (if you have taken the GRE in the past and still have an official copy of your scores, you may submit that; scores are not required to be less than 5 years old). Please note that there is no waiver of this requirement even if you already have a graduate degree from a U.S. university. There is no minimum GRE score required; however, entry into the program will be competitive and will be based partially on GRE scores. If you feel that one or more of your scores is not an adequate gauge of your ability, please submit additional supporting evidence (e.g., a writing sample or technical report). Please see the ETS Website for information about scheduling and taking the GRE.
    • A 1000-word essay outlining your career goals and reasons for interest in the program, including any preferences for advisors you would particularly like to work with
    • A recent writing sample on which you are the sole or first author (e.g., a technical report, a publishable paper, or a class project). It is helpful if this provides additional evidence of the abilities we use to judge applications (see the list of selection criteria above)
    • Three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources (preferably in sealed envelopes with the recommendation writer’s signature across the envelope seal; please ask your referees to address the selection criteria)
    • If you are seeking financial support, include a completed doctoral associateship application form and/or a one-page application letter for a research assistantship (please indicate your areas of interest, skills, and knowledge; and availability for work)

Open to Graduate Students Only - Please refer to the Graduate College section for course descriptions

  • EVAL 7100: Independent Research 2-6 hrs.
  • EVAL 7110: Readings in Doctoral Specialization 3 hrs.
  • EVAL 7120: Professional Field Experience 2-9 hrs.
  • EVAL 7300: Doctoral Dissertation 1-12 hrs.

Program Requirements

General Requirements

In order to graduate, you will need to have:

  1. Completed at least 90 hours of course work beyond the baccalaureate, with a GPA of 3.25 or better (up to 36 hours may be transferred in from master’s level course work on which the student earned a grade of B or better; in exceptional cases an additional 12 units may be transferred in if the student has completed significant study beyond the master’s degree). The course work must include:
    • 18-21 credit hours in an approved cognate area
    • 12-18 credit hours of research methods courses (no more than 3 units at the basic graduate level)
    • 35-39 hours of evaluation courses, including, 5-7 hours of required interdisciplinary evaluation courses; 3-6 hours of program/intervention evaluation; 3-6 hours covering the social, political, and cultural context of evaluation; 12-18 hours of specialized evaluation courses; and 9 hours of practical evaluation experience
  2. Passed both written and oral comprehensive exams (covering the competencies listed later on this page).
  3. Completed successfully 12 hours of doctoral dissertation study, plus an optional 3 hours of independent study in preparation for oral qualifying exams.
  4. Written and successfully defended a dissertation that advances the theory, methodology, and/or practice of evaluation.
  5. Demonstrated competency in the two required research tools for this program: needs assessment and evaluation. (Students will fulfill this requirement by completing an entire evaluation of a program, policy, system, organization, intervention, or project according to specifications agreed to with their advisory committee. This requirement will usually be fulfilled as part of the practical experience; however, other options are possible in exceptional cases.)
  6. Complied with the program’s residency enrollment requirements (i.e., 2 semesters of enrollment in at least 6 units of course work per semester within one 12-month period).
  7. Received unanimous agreement by the dissertation committee that you have met all the requirements for achieving the Doctor of Philosophy degree.


Each student will be required to demonstrate knowledge of general evaluation theory, methodology, and practice issues, as well as the ability to apply evaluation to his/her chosen area(s) of specialization. The minimum required competencies in evaluation (and brief explanations) are listed below. Specific colleges may have additional requirements.

  • Evaluation-Specific Logic and Methodology (definition of relevant values, needs assessment, generation of comprehensive criterion checklists, checklist methodology, setting standards, use of evaluative rubrics, synthesis of findings on multiple criteria, ranking vs. grading vs. scoring, subjectivity/arbitrariness vs. use of expert judgment, bias vs. preference)
  • Evaluation Theory and Models/Approaches (descriptive research vs. true evaluation, goal-based/management-oriented vs. goal-free/consumer-oriented, expert judgment-based, participatory/empowerment vs. independent, theory-based/explanatory, evaluative inquiry, CIPP Model)
  • Social, Political, and Cultural Context of Evaluation (psychology of evaluation, politics of evaluation, “kill the messenger,” stakeholder analysis, diversity and multicultural issues)
  • Evaluation Planning, Budgeting, Contracting, and Management (defining key tasks, estimating costs, market-based pricing, use of contracting checklists, project management)
  • Database Design and Management (setting up a database; use of Excel, Access, and SPSS or SAS; merging data files; generating reports; running analyses)
  • Evaluation Reporting and Utilization (effective analysis of client information needs, appropriate communication strategies for different audiences, report writing and layering, oral presentation skills, linking evaluation to decision making, maximizing evaluation utility)
  • Metaevaluation and Evaluation Standards (use of professional standards and checklists for evaluation and metaevaluation)
  • History and Nature of the Evaluation Profession (the roots of the evaluation profession, its development to date, future directions)

Project Work

Students must complete 9 credit hours of practical evaluation experience (usually all EVAL 7120; may include 3 units of EMR 6520). This typically involves taking a series of increasingly challenging roles on Evaluation Center projects as the student progresses through his or her degree. Top students will have the experience of directing a nationally significant project before they leave WMU. This hands-on learning will enable students graduating from the program to “hit the ground running” as competent practitioners.

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