Policy Title

Winthrop Professional Development Courses (WPDC)





Policy Number:2..1.25
Effective Date:01/01/1886
Date Reviewed: 01/01/1886
Last Review Date: 04/15/2021
Responsible Official: Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:
Contact Information:


1.0 Specific meanings of bold terms seen throughout this policy can be found within the University's policy definition glossary by following the link below.

1.1 http://www.winthrop.edu/policy-definitions-glossary

Definition of Professional Development Courses

In the document Policies to Enhance Higher Education’s Professional Development Offerings to P-12 Teachers, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) provides the following distinction between professional development courses and degree offerings. Higher education participates in “two types of professional development for teachers: (a) graduate degree programs which may or may not lead to initial or add-on certification programs and (b) the offering of staff development activities, which typically include graduate courses oriented toward professional development and designed for more specific and immediate use than degree courses and which focus on the career development of the professional educator over time” (p. 1).

The CHE (2001) notes that “courses offered specifically for purposes of professional development must represent learning experiences of high quality. It is also important to recognize that such courses serve a different though not lesser purpose than courses traditionally offered for purposes of fulfilling graduate degree requirements” (p .2). Courses offered to satisfy degree requirements address subject matter and/or skill development of a broader scope in terms of the knowledge base represented (CHE, 2001).

Winthrop Professional Development Courses

Winthrop University offers Professional Development (WPDC) coursework for professional development for school personnel in South Carolina Districts. The WPDC guidelines are based on the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) Guidelines for Graduate Courses Offered for Professional Development of School Personnel. The purpose of the WPDC program is to work collaboratively with school districts and agencies to offer non-degree graduate credit for professional development on contemporary topics that meet the targeted needs of groups of in-service teachers and other school personnel at a reduced cost. WPDC offerings do not duplicate regular Winthrop graduate offerings. The courses generally are delivered off-site by the sponsoring school district or agency.

Professional Development courses must be identified by using the WPDC designator or “professional development” in the course name to distinguish those courses from those designed to support degree programs. 

WPDC courses typically are not applicable to graduate programs; however, a maximum of six credit-hours of Winthrop Professional Development (WPDC) course credit may be considered toward meeting graduate program requirements at Winthrop University subject to approval by the program advisor, department chair, COE director of graduate studies, and Dean of the Graduate School. Applicants seeking course substitutions must consult with their program advisor in advance and complete a course substitution form. WPDC courses approved to apply toward a student’s program will appear on the student’s program of study. A student will not have the option to challenge a decision to deny WPDC course credits from applying towards the student’s graduate degree program by petition due to the extensive review process used for each request.

Administrative Responsibility: WPDC courses are administered through the College of Education. If WPDCs are offered by a department in another college on campus, the chair of that department will coordinate with the COE Associate Dean in the administration of the WPDCs. Course proposals are reviewed by a committee consisting of the Associate Dean, COE Director of Graduate Studies, and a faculty member from the course discipline. All WPDC courses must meet the following standards:

1. WPDC courses should be tied to the mission of University and the goals of the College of Education or the goals of the School Psychology program in the College of Arts and Sciences, as appropriate. (Link to WPDC course syllabi requirements).

2. WPDC courses must build upon an undergraduate knowledge base and contain sufficient rigor. WPDC syllabi must meet the standards prescribed by Winthrop University. (Link to WPDC course syllabi requirements).

3. WPDC courses must meet minimum and maximum enrollment requirements for one to three-hour credit courses for P-12 teachers, leaders, school counselors and school psychologists (Link to our WPDC policy).

4. While WPDC courses can be offered in abbreviated or concentrated time periods, opportunity for reflection and analysis must be included. At least one calendar week of reflection and analysis must be provided for each hour of credit awarded.

5. All WPDC course instructors must meet the guidelines for faculty established in CHE Guidelines for Graduate Courses Offered for Professional Development of School Personnel. Faculty are required to submit documentation of highest degree, relevant preparation, and documentation of contributing to the knowledge base of the discipline they are teaching. If a faculty member does not have a terminal degree in the discipline, he or she must provide additional documentation of preparation and experience. (Link to WPDC forms).

6. All WPDC courses are evaluated using the College of Education Student Evaluation of Teaching form. However, WPDCs offered by a department outside of the COE, such as continuing professional development courses for school psychologists offered by the Department of Psychology, may use the respective department’s student evaluation instrument. Evaluation summaries are shared with district or agency contacts.

7. Documentation of WPDCs for P-12 teachers, leaders, and school counselors (syllabi, vitae, evaluations, etc.) will be maintained in the College of Education. Documentation of WPDCs for school psychologists will be maintained in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Fees: All Winthrop Professional Development Courses are offered at a reduced rate from standard course offerings. To offer more flexibility for WPDCs designed for P-12 teachers, leaders, and school counselors, two fee options are available (link to WPDC information). For option one, the per student fee, Winthrop University bills the district or agency based on the course enrollment. Per student fees are based on the number of credit hours and student residency (in-state or out-of-state). For option two, the flat fee course, the district or agency is charged a standard fee, with a maximum enrollment of 25 students. For this option, the instructor is supplied by Winthrop University. For courses offered off-campus, additional fees based on state guidelines may be incurred for travel, lodging, and/or meals. For WPDCs offered by the Department of Psychology for school psychologists, a reduced rate is negotiated using the University’s special registration request form.


Commission on Higher Education. (No date). Policies to Enhance Higher Education’s Professional Development Offerings to

P-12 Teachers. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from http://www.che.sc.gov/New_Web/ForInstitutions/AcadPolicy.htm\

Commission on Higher Education. (2001). Guidelines for Graduate Courses Offered for Professional Development of School Personnel. Columbia, SC: Author.

All proposed WPDC's are reviewed and approved in the College of Education (with the exception of School Pyschology courses which are reviewed by the Chair of the Department of Psychology) to assure that each course meets graduate-level expectations. These expectations include the following and will be reflected in syllabi and other course materials.

        --The course extends knowledge, skills and dispositions from undergraduate-level course work (initial preparation in the field).

         --The course requires higher-level thinking and reflection skills.

        --The course includes appropriate graduate-level assignments and assessments that are evaluated at a higher level than undergraduate expectations.

        --The course targets learning outcomes that are designed to improve the educator's current practice and incorporates performance-based assessments of those intended learning outcomes. (WPDC, not other graduate courses)

This section was intentionally left blank.

This section was intentionally left blank.

© Winthrop University · 701 Oakland Avenue · Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA · 803/323-2211