UM’s College of Business, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education are currently confirmed to be dropping their required hours to 120 hours. Photo by Katie Compton.
Next semester, the University will officially drop their required number of undergraduate hours from 130 to 120.
The ten hour decrease comes from after a year of discussions concerning the matter. According to Suzanne Ozment, the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, the decision was partly born from an upcoming project titled “Finish in Four.”
According to Ozment, the program’s intention is to make students more conscious of finishing their degrees in a timely manner.
Ozment said that because many students don’t finish within a four year period, unexpected career roadblocks and college costs come about.
With the plan in consideration, Ozment and Academic Affairs felt that lowering the required number of hours would help students graduate on time and save money.
In addition, the department also took into consideration the 120 hour programs offered by other public and private universities across the nation.
With that in mind, Ozment and her team began polling each college of the University on the feasibility of such a change.
Each program’s faculty was asked how close to 120 hours the degree could get without sacrificing education quality. By the spring semester of 2014, the decision was made.
Ozment said the “vast majority” approved, with the Colleges of Education and Fine Arts featuring a few programs that could not comply with the adjustment.
The case was then brought to the executive cabinet, which consists of the University President as well as the Vice Presidents. An external consultant and finance officer was also brought in to weigh in on the matter.
“You want everybody asking every question they can think of so that you make a really well-informed decision,” said Ozment about the process.
“Going from 130 to 120 isn’t easy,” said UM President John Stewart. According to Stewart, the change will cost the school $1 million in revenue. “But that’s a million less dollars students will have to come up with or borrow,” he said.
After months of deliberation by the cabinet, a formal recommendation was brought to the UM Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 13.
With the board’s approval, the University has been “scrambling” and attempting to prepare the shift by Fall 2014. Ozment said that by the time of priority registration in March, students will meet with advisors to go over revised check sheets for each program.
Accordingly, by next Fall, all students will be under the new bulletin. Seniors graduating before Fall will still be under the 130 hour requirement.
Rather than change the number of hours for the incoming 2015 freshman class, Ozment says the board felt that the change needed to be immediate to “affect as many people as possible as soon as possible.”
Ultimately, she says that the change could have “uneven consequences” for some students.
She explained that upperclassmen with 10 hours of electives left for their degree could greatly benefit, while a person who has not taken required general education courses and specific major classes will still be required to complete them.
Because everything within each college is under the process of being figured out, Ozment said student questions and concerns will hopefully be met once March advising starts.
Ozment warned that even if a current student meets all of the required criteria for their degree program this semester under the new checksheet, their first chance to graduate under the new catalogue will not be until December 2015.
“We just want to emphasize to everybody that students will still be able to graduate with complete confidence that they have an exceptionally high quality degree and can be every bit as proud of their diploma as they would be if they took those extra 10 hours,” said Ozment.