Office of Undergraduate Studies

Student Academic Success-Degree Completion Policy
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should there be a policy on timely and satisfactory progress to degree?

2. Will a student automatically be removed from the University if he/she reaches the 10 semesters or 130-credit limit?

3. How serious a problem is it?

4. How will this policy affect students’ ability to choose or change majors?

5. What impact will this policy have on students who complete double degrees and double majors?

6. Will this policy impact part time students?

7. What academic advising services will be provided to students who face the possibility of having to leave their major?

8. Will students be permitted to appeal decisions made under this policy?

9. How will the satisfactory progress review be conducted?

10. How will transfer students be affected?

11. Does this policy transform all majors into defacto Limited Enrollment Programs?

12. Who will create/review the satisfactory progress criteria for academic units? How will this be overseen?

13. Will the proposed policy affect timely graduation rates?

14. What will be the impact of this policy on advising staff?

 


Purpose of Policy

1. Why should there be a policy on timely and satisfactory progress to degree?
In fall 2003, Dr. Mote charged a task force with examining academic policy barriers to successful and timely degree completion and asked them to propose a policy to improve student success and graduation rates. The result is the Student Academic Success-Degree Completion Policy. This policy provides students with a structured framework, initiatives to support student success and appropriate criteria to guide the students in this pursuit. Students are expected to complete their undergraduate degrees within 10 semesters or 130 credits.

This policy builds on a series of past initiatives that have aimed at improving graduation rates, levels of student success, advising and retention. The implementation of a satisfactory progress review for all majors and of a 10 semester/130 credit policy will help to ensure that students identify a major in which they can be successful and complete their bachelor’s degree in a timely fashion. In the absence of such a policy, which is the current situation, students are able to remain too long in majors where they are neither succeeding nor progressing.

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2. Will a student automatically be removed from the University if he/she reaches the 10 semesters or 130-credit limit?
No. Since ongoing academic planning is an overarching feature of the Student Academic Success-Degree Completion policy, the number of students requiring overrides of the 10-semester/130-credit limit should diminish over time. However, students who reach the 10 semesters or 130-credit limit may continue enrollment with the approval of the dean of their college. Approval for continued enrollment will require that the student submit a specific, reasonable plan and a timeline for completion of degree requirements.

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3. How serious a problem is it?
Data indicate that approximately five percent (5%) of the undergraduate student body is in a major where they are not making appropriate graduation progress or are unsatisfied with their choice of major. These students are at a high risk of leaving the University without completing a degree.

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4. How will this policy affect students’ ability to choose or change majors?
Currently, the academic unit to which a student will transfer must approve major changes. There are essentially four categories of students who will change their majors; the new policy will affect each category differently:

a. This policy will not affect the student changing to another major if the student has met the new major’s progress criteria. Therefore, current practices will not change: students will request permission to change majors, the request will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate unit and college, and the information will be entered in the Student Information System (SIS).

Students who are meeting the progress criteria in their current majors, but have not met the progress criteria for the new major, will be required to submit a multi-semester plan that outlines their procedures to complete the remaining degree requirements by the 130 credits or 10 semester deadline. This plan must be approved by the dean of the college in which the new major is located.

All students changing majors must submit a graduation plan. Students interested in changing majors after having accumulated a large number of credits will prepare a graduation plan with a timeline for completion that will be submitted to the dean of the accepting college for approval.

Students who are not meeting the progress benchmarks in their current majors will be notified and given an opportunity to remedy unsatisfactory progress. In the event that a student is asked to leave his/her current major, he/she will be unable to register for subsequent semesters until a new major is selected. Resources on campus to facilitate major change include the Counseling Center, the Career Center, Letters and Sciences workshops and individual college workshops. Letters and Sciences will provide transitional advising services.

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5. What impact will this policy have on students who complete double degrees and double majors?
For the large majority of students, this policy will have no noticeable impact; most graduates are within the parameters of the policy, including those choosing to complete multiple majors.

However, some students electing to pursue double degrees may be impacted by the policy. By definition, students electing to complete a second degree must complete 150 credits. Students will seek Dean’s approval to continue earning University of Maryland credits beyond the 130-credit limit.

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6. Will this policy impact part time students?
Yes. Colleges may permit students to take reduced course loads to accommodate individual exceptional circumstances. Approval of a part time student’s graduation plan will be based on a written agreement that specifies remaining course work and a timeline for its completion.

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7. What academic advising services will be provided to students who face the possibility of having to leave their major?
Students facing the possibility of having to leave their major will have access to a number of campus resources to assist them in finding an appropriate major. The services include: the Career Center, the Counseling Center, major fairs, Letters and Sciences’ workshops, individual college workshops and the Degree Navigator audit system. Letters and Sciences will provide transitional advising services.

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8. Will students be permitted to appeal decisions made under this policy?
Yes. Students may request reconsideration by the dean of the appropriate college if they wish to appeal a decision made under this policy.

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9. How will the satisfactory progress review be conducted?
The Registrar will create an audit process for the degree progress criteria established by each academic unit.

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10. How will transfer students be affected?
Transfer student applicants will continue to be admitted to the University based upon their academic performance, credit level completion of fundamental studies, and other personal and life circumstances. All students who do not successfully complete the satisfactory progress review will be asked to choose another major or seek advising services from Letters and Sciences.

Students transfer to the University of Maryland at different times. Some wait until they have completed associate degrees at a Maryland community college, some still need to complete Fundamental Studies or lower level CORE, and others come from outside the Maryland system. For certain majors, some students bring credits that are not applicable to their proposed degree programs. Transfer students will have their transferable earned credits divided by 15 to determine the number of semesters they have completed. In consultation with an advisor, students will develop a plan to graduate. The University will work closely with community colleges to strengthen the articulation and communication of the newly adopted degree programs requirements. The Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies will initiate and oversee this process. All four year plans of study will be posted on the University’s website so that prior to attending the University, students can identify courses that are transferable.

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11. Does this policy transform all majors into defacto Limited Enrollment Programs?
No. Limited Enrollment Programs (LEP) is based on limited resources for a specific academic discipline. In order to assure that students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees in these programs, students are evaluated at 45 credits (45 credit review) based on a series of gateway courses and a minimum grade point average.

The purpose of the Student Academic Success-Degree Completion policy is to ensure that students make timely progress towards their degree. Academic Units will establish criteria for intervals whereby students must successfully complete courses. The policy will be put in place to help guide students through successful completion of their degrees.

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12. Who will create/review the satisfactory progress criteria for academic units? How will this be overseen?Academic units will complete criteria for timely graduation progress. The Provost will have final approval on the criteria. If this policy is implemented during fall 2005, we will be able to determine the number of students who have successfully completed the preliminary benchmarks and are on track to graduate within the 10-semesters/130-credit time frame by spring 2007. Four and five year graduation rates should also improve. A number of other secondary and qualitative indicators will help assess the effectiveness of this policy. This will include: advising surveys for students, advisor surveys, average number of credits attempted and the number of courses repeated, CAWG junior year survey, and focus groups evaluating students’ advising/mentoring experiences. Current baseline qualitative data concerning student satisfaction, advising, mentoring, and academic planning will be used for comparison. Thus, students will have feedback as to their success in their discipline at a time earlier than they currently receive it. This policy will be monitored at the institutional level, the individual student level, and an academic unit’s curricular level.

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13. Will the proposed policy affect timely graduation rates?
Yes. Over time, this policy should contribute to an improvement in the graduation rates of the University, particularly the 4-year and 5-year degree completion rates. Directed at improving academic planning, the Student Academic Success-Degree Completion policy institutes a formal review of satisfactory progress coupled with a 10-semester/130-credit requirement for degree completion.

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14. Will the proposed policy make the University accessible to more students?
Yes. While the University’s overall enrollment goals are expected to remain constant, if the policy has the effect of improving the 4-year and 5-year graduation rates, students will move through the institution faster, thereby providing access to more individuals to attend the University.

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15. What will be the impact of this policy on advising staff?
Colleges currently with mandatory advising will not experience a significant adjustment because of this policy. The Degree Navigator audit system will facilitate the student’s selection of an appropriate major. The implementation of this policy will be monitored to assess the impact of the policy on advising resources.

Updated: 9.19.04

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University of MarylandOffice of Undergraduate Studies  •  2130 Mitchell Building, College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301.405.9363  •  Fax: 301.314.9896