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Level UP FAQ

Level UP: Experience Your Future is MSU’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which means it is a campus-wide program we have developed to help our students improve specific student learning and student success outcomes. The program we have designed will help our students prepare for their future careers by using hands-on experiences (e.g., undergraduate research, education abroad, service learning, and internships) to foster critical career skills which can be used no matter what discipline or career they are pursuing. In addition, through those same hands-on experiences, students will learn compelling strategies for convincing potential employers or graduate/professional schools of their skill mastery.

The Level UP program has several goals:

  • To help students develop the critical career skills that employers tell us they value when they are hiring
  • To teach students to articulate how they use those critical career skills in combination with the knowledge/skills of their major disciplines
  • To improve graduation rates by involving more students in hands on, high impact, faculty-mentored experiences in their chosen disciplines

In each Level UP experience, a student will have opportunities to develop one of five critical career skills to a proficient level:

  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism

In addition, each Level UP experience will teach students to articulate evidence of their skill level by using a structured technique known as the STAR Method. In doing so, they will become better prepared to “sell” their strengths in a job or graduate/professional school interview, especially if asked to share compelling evidence of how they use the highly desired skills in the context of their major disciplines.

Level UP experiences are faculty-mentored learning opportunities that occur through projects in undergraduate research, education abroad, or service learning, or via an internship. Students can Level UP in specially designed courses in their academic programs, or through carefully-planned non-curricular experiences. As they do so, the experience will require students to practice a particular career skill (i.e., written or oral communication, critical thinking, teamwork, or professionalism) through assignments or prescribed activities. Faculty provide them with targeted feedback, and students use the feedback to improve how they use their skills in the next assignment or activity. Students reflect upon their progress at multiple points during the experience, and they learn to use the STAR method to provide evidence from the hands-on experience that they have developed the career skill. At the end of the experience, students provide evidence of their growth and level of skill proficiency by producing a portfolio about the project or internship experience.

Students should take advantage of Level UP experiences because they are associated with many current and future benefits:

  • Hands on, high impact learning experiences, like those in the Level UP program, foster deep learning.
  • The career skills that are fostered through Level UP experiences also will help students be more successful in college classes.
  • Level UP experiences provide valuable connections to faculty who will mentor their development.
    The types of experiences that are included in the Level UP program (i.e., hands on, high impact experiences) are known to increase student retention and graduation rates. So, just getting involved in
  • Level UP experiences may help our students stay in school and leave with a degree.
  • Level UP experiences help students master critical career skills, so they can become highly competitive in the job market after graduation.
  • Level UP experiences build skills that will help students move up in their careers once they get a job, or even switch jobs if desired, because the skills they promote are valuable at every stage of work, and in every job.
  • Level UP experiences will help students learn how to convince others they have strong career skills, and that they can use them in the context of their disciplines.
  • Level UP experiences allow students to document that they took the initiative to develop in valued skill areas. For example, students who take Level UP courses will have them listed on their transcripts, and students who participate in both course-related and non-curricular Level UP experiences will be able to document their skills through a final portfolio. Further, students who demonstrate that they have mastered one of the Level UP skills and successfully illustrate that skill using the STAR Method will have their achievement documented by the university (i.e., the student will earn a Distinction).

The Level UP program is slated to begin officially in Fall 2021; however, a small number of pilot courses for the program are offered in Spring 2021.

There are two paths for students if they want to gain a Level UP experience:

1. Students may enroll in specially designed Level UP courses, each of which will help them grow one critical career skill and articulate their progress using the STAR method.

  • The Level UP courses are denoted in the course offerings list in Self-Service by the Level UP logo. In Self-Service, students also may search for a complete list of Level UP classes, or narrow their search to a list of Level UP classes in a particular academic program, or a list of courses that use a specific high impact strategy or have a specific career skill focus. Level UP classes also have special section numbers (i.e., 700s) to help students and faculty/staff recognize them readily.
  • If a course has more than one section, it is possible that some may be Level UP classes and some may not. Students can tell which is a Level UP opportunity by looking for the Level UP logo.
  • In Self-Service, students may click the title of any Level UP course to learn which high impact experience is used in the course (i.e., undergraduate research, education abroad, service learning, or internship), and to see which skill will be fostered (e.g., oral communication, written communication, critical thinking, teamwork, or professionalism) in the class.
  • When a student completes a Level UP course, their transcript will show that the class was one that used a high impact experience and list the career skill that was the focus in the course. Students can use this transcript information as evidence that they took the initiative to build their skills, or that they engaged in hands-on learning opportunities.

2. Students also may turn a non-curricular undergraduate research experience (e.g., undergraduate research fellowships, volunteer research, etc.), campus-related or third-party education abroad experience, non-credit service learning project, or volunteer/external internship into a Level UP opportunity, if it is one that will foster growth in a critical career skill and help the student learn to articulate their progress using the STAR method. In some cases, workstudy positions or campus leadership experiences could be classified as falling into the high impact categories of undergraduate research, service learning, or internships, and thus they also may be candidates for Level UP In order to be considered, however, they also must foster one of the critical career skills that are the focus of our program.

  • To level up an out-of-class (i.e., not for credit) experience, students will work with a faculty mentor and an on-site supervisor to insure that the activities involved will allow for proper skill development and assessment. A detailed plan for how the experience will be managed and foster the targeted career skill through a high impact practice must be submitted and approved before the experience begins.
  • Interested students should contact, and we will assign a high impact coordinator to discuss how the experience could be turned into a Level UP opportunity.

Note that students who need assistance in finding the right kind of Level UP opportunity can contact for assistance. Our staff will help them match their interests and academic program/career aspirations to existing opportunities, or help them create a new option to Level UP.

MSU will highlight some of the students who participate in the program through social media and campus spotlights. In addition, students who participate will be given Level UP swag items that identify their commitment to career preparedness.

A student who completes an official Level UP course will have the experience denoted on their transcript, including the high impact experience that was used and the career skill that was the focus of the experience. Students can use this denotation information as evidence that they took the initiative to build their skills, and that they engaged in hands-on learning opportunities.

Finally, student who demonstrate two kinds of mastery through their Level UP experience (i.e., both mastery of the targeted career skill and mastery at articulating evidence of their skill level using the STAR Method) will earn one of the University’s highest student honors – a Distinction. There are five distinctions possible through the Level UP program, and students may seek to earn them all. They are:

  • Distinction in Oral Communication
  • Distinction in Written Communication
  • Distinction in Critical Thinking
  • Distinction in Teamwork
  • Distinction in Professionalism.

Distinctions will be noted on the student’s final transcript and recognized at Commencement. Although distinctions will be challenging to earn, they are clear evidence that can be shared with potential employers that the student is highly skilled in the areas they desire in hiring.

The vast number of Level UP opportunities can be pursued at no cost or through regular tuition arrangements; however, some opportunities (e.g., education abroad travel, internships, etc.) may be financially challenging for a student to pursue. The Level UP coordinators can help students find and/or arrange assistance in such cases, including helping them to identify financial aid opportunities, scholarships, and student success awards that also can be used to fund participation. Students can email to set up a consultation with a coordinator about such assistance.

Contact Level UP

Dr. Tim O'Brien & Megan Boone - Level UP Co-chairs

150 University Blvd.
Morehead, KY

PHONE: 606-783-2233