Proposed Revisions to 301.11 - Undergraduate Degree Requirements



Board Policy:


1.  Requirements for baccalaureate degrees offered by units of the Montana University System are limited to a maximum of 120 semester hours of credit.  Exceptions to this policy must be recommended by the units, reviewed by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, and approved by the Board of Regents. Exceptions will be limited in number and approved only on the basis of the criteria listed below.


2.  The campuses of the Montana University System are encouraged to develop outcomes-based programs as alternatives to the awarding of undergraduate degrees based upon the earning of credit hours.  Degree requirements for these programs will be based upon what the student must know and be able to do to earn a baccalaureate degree in a specific major.  The campus will award the degree to a student who demonstrates the appropriate knowledge and abilities without regard for the earning of credit hours or the amount of time spent working toward the degree.




1.  Revisions in degree requirements to reduce existing baccalaureate programs to the maximum of 120 semester hours should be submitted as soon as possible to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for approval.  The revised program requirements  will take effect no later than the beginning of the Fall semester 1997.   Programs are encouraged to implement the new degree requirements as soon as possible.  Each academic officer will ensure that special procedures are in place to advise students of the impact of the changes on their plans for graduation and students may elect to graduate following either the old or new requirements.


2.  Units Campuses seeking exceptions to the 120 hour maximum must submit formal requests to the Regents  for approval at their meeting in September of 1996 following the established deadline for submission.  The cover sheet of the request should include signatures indicating the approval and support of the: academic administrator of the unit organizational entity in which the program is housed; dean of the school or college (if applicable); chief academic officer of the campus; chief executive officer of the campus; university provost; and, university President.  The body of the request should be no more than four pages in length (not including appendices or supporting materials) and should document the existence of one or more of the criteria listed below.


3.  Criteria


a.  Accreditation standards of the appropriate specialized accrediting agency mandate a baccalaureate program of over 120 credit hours.


b.   Licensing standards of the profession involved require a baccalaureate program of over 120 credit hours.



c.   Employment and initial success in the profession requires a baccalaureate program of over 120 credit hours.



4.  The burden of proof will be on campuses requesting exceptions to document that any or all of the above conditions are present with regard to their particular situation.   Programs approved for over 120 credit hours will report to the Board of Regents by March of 1997 the results of a thorough curricular review.  The Regents anticipate that the review will result in a reduction of credit hours required for the degree.  Failure to achieve that goal will have to be justified to and approved by the Regents at the March 1997 meeting of the Board.


5.  The Board of Regents understands that additional hours beyond the minimum required for the baccalaureate degree would be desirable for many students to broaden their general education, deepen their knowledge and preparation in a specific discipline, and to improve their chances for employment.  Students will have the additional hours up to the 144 limit for subsidized tuition to achieve these goals with the support of Montana taxpayers.  The Board anticipates that the advising process will make these opportunities known to students.   However, the desirability of additional education to achieve these or other goals is not sufficient rationale for an exception to the 120 hour requirement, which is intended for students who wish to enter the job market or pursue graduate/professional education as soon as possible.


6.  Campuses wishing to award outcomes-based undergraduate degrees will submit proposals for approval by the Regents in the normal process for approval of degrees.






Item 89-002-R1195, Undergraduate Degree Requirements; Montana University System, approved by the Board of Regents on March 29, 1996.