The Educational Policy Committee has approved reducing the College’s graduation requirements to 124 hours from 128 as a result of the credit-hour changes scheduled for next fall. Faculty will vote on whether to approve this change in the next two months.
The Wheel reported this spring that Emory will begin following the Carnegie Unit System next fall, in which the number of credit hours for courses matches the number of “contact hours,” or the amount of time students are in the classroom, per week. Under this system, one credit hour represents one hour per week that a student is in direct contact with a professor as well as two hours of work outside the classroom, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.
For the College, the “standard” class, or those that meet for three 50-minute periods each week, will be worth three credits, rather than four as is the case under the current system, according to an April 19 Wheel article.
“The hours per class are going down slightly, so [the graduation change] will make it a little bit easier on students,” said Joanne Brzinski, the senior associate dean for undergraduate education.
Members of Emory’s faculty will have to approve the change twice, as stated in the Emory College Faculty Bylaws, in order for it to take effect, said Steve Savage, communications specialist for the Office for Undergraduate Education.
Faculty will vote on the graduation change during faculty meetings in November and December.
If approved, students will be “grandfathered” into the new graduation policies, meaning that the change will affect students enrolled at the University when the credit-hour changes are implemented.
The Educational Policy Committee, which makes decisions regarding policy changes within the College, proposed the change, ultimately approving the graduation requirement alteration on Aug. 28. The committee consists of faculty, student and committee representatives as well as ex officio members such as Brzinski, according to the Emory website.
The Goizueta Business School announced this spring that because most classes will be worth three credits starting next fall, the B-School will change its graduation requirements to 128 credit hours from 138.
Progress on the Credit-Hour Changes
Savage noted that the University is “moving cautiously” in revising its credit-hour policies and making sure to “catch all the things we need to catch.”
“We’ve been progressing amazingly well,” Brzinski said. “It’s gone a lot more smoothly than we expected in the beginning.”
Departments submitted requests for the number of credits that each of their courses will offer this past spring. The University has reviewed and approved almost all of these courses but is currently working to finalize the number of credit hours for courses with added components such as labs, film screenings, directed study and internship classes, Brzinski said.
“We’re very, very close,” Savage said in reference to the status of approving all of Emory’s courses.
Brzinski added that the Curriculum Committee still needs to completely review courses that will be offered for the first time this spring. The committee consists of students, faculty and ex officio members who make recommendations concerning the College’s curriculum, including the addition or deletion of courses.
Savage said the courses will be “pretty well distributed” between three, four and five credit hours.
“We have been leaning more toward three credits, but we do have a spread,” he said.
In addition, the Educational Policy Committee has sent out guidelines to departments with “general ranges of how many hours should make up a major or minor,” Brzinski said.
Departments are currently reviewing major and minor requirements, she said, assuring that they are “still rigorous and can be completed in a four-year period.”
Like the graduation requirement changes, students will be grandfathered into the new major requirement policies. While most departments will add one additional elective course to the major, students will have the “option to use the new major requirements or the old ones, if they declared their major before the [credit-hour] changes occur,” Savage said.
Some departments will be making little to no changes, Savage said, while others will make changes that are more noticeable.
Meanwhile, the Office of Undergraduate Education is “asking departments to look at major requirements differently,” Brzinski said, particularly in reference to distinguishing between prerequisites and requirements for majors and minors in the College Catalog. The catalog includes academic guidelines, financial aid information, University policies and information on Emory faculty.
The University plans to be more consistent in displaying prerequisites versus requirements, according to Brzinski.
Currently, most departments show only the course requirements – not prerequisites for the major – thus leading to instances of inconsistency among departments, Brzinski noted.
“We’re hoping to display for students the requirements for the major in a different way,” Brzinski said. “We will include requirements in the major and then the prerequisites or co-requisites which may be in other [departments].”
The new College catalog will be available in February.
“We’ve been using this opportunity to make things better at the same time as we’re making the changes we have to,” Brzinski said.
She noted that the University will launch a campaign by the end of the semester to keep students informed on the credit-hour changes.
–By Jordan Friedman