The process to reduce degree credit hours across the university to 120 is underway, with faculty in each of the academic colleges leading the way.
This was identified as the first strategy under the nurturing student success imperative in the 2022 Strategic Plan, Academic Excellence. The goal: to ensure more students can graduate in four years and with less debt.
The change was proposed by the strategic planning committee then approved by the Board of Trustees in June as part of the updated strategic plan.
"The change from 124 to 120 credits would allow students to graduate in four years without having to take more than 15 credits in a semester or courses over the summer," said Claudia Douglass, vice provost for academic effectiveness, who is providing leadership for the effort. "We have heard from students who have had to stay for a fifth year and how difficult thahelt extra financial burden is."
While this effort was approved by the Board of Trustees, any changes to the curricular process are led by the faculty.
Currently, 13 of CMU's 16 degrees require the university's current minimum of 124 credit hours. The remaining three require a minimum of at least 130.
Douglass said some degrees, particularly those not tied directly to a certain academic college, have been under review this fall. Those degrees include the bachelor of arts, the bachelor of science, the bachelor of applied arts and the bachelor of individualized studies.
These four degrees have been discussed by the Degrees, Admissions, Scholarships, Honors Committee within the Academic Senate. Changes to the B.A. and B.S. degrees include more than just a reduction to 120 credits. The B.A. and B.S. degree changes are awaiting approval by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and will then be discussed at the Academic Senate.
Not all of CMU's undergraduate degrees will be able to be reduced to 120 credit hours, Douglass said. In some cases, for example, specialized accreditation standards may require more than 120.
The reductions will require a variety of approaches. For example, one strategic initiative for the College of Science and Engineering is to look at all majors and degrees to increase efficiencies, she said. Any changes made to the curriculum would likely be implemented in the fall 2018 semester.
Enhancing student success, graduating students in four years
A new committee also will address other issues related to student success as defined in the updated Strategic Plan.
"Other issues that affect students' ability to finish in four years will be addressed by a new standing committee, the Committee on Completion and Student Success," Provost Michael Gealt said.
The committee, formed by Gealt and Steven Johnson, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, will be led by co-chairs Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, and Evan Montague, director of student success.
Gealt, Johnson, Pehrsson and Montague are working to cement the committee charge and its membership.