Undergraduate credit-hour requirements for graduation decreased

Undergraduates throughout SIUE now have a smaller number of credit hours to complete on their path to graduation.

Credit hours required for undergraduate students to graduate have decreased from 124 credit hours to 120 credit hours, according to Brian Hinterscher, College of Arts and Sciences advising coordinator.

The policy was approved June 4 and went into effect June 14. Hinterscher said the reason behind the change was to “become more in line” with other public universities in Illinois.

“SIUE was I believe the last state university to have 124 credit hours,” Hinterscher said. “All the other state universities are at 120. And then secondly, it helps with the progression toward graduation. And enabling a student to take 15 credit hours a semester, eight semesters in a row if they’re staying on their academic path to be able to get the 120 hours.”

Hinterscher said he “had the notion” of the credit hour change “coming down the pipeline last year.”

“The advisors here in the College of Arts and Sciences started taking a little bit of time to look at the curriculum to see what electives there were and to see if the so-called free electives could be cut down to where a student would be able to graduate in [a] 120-hour timeframe,” Hinterscher said.

Hinterscher said he has contacted every department chair in the college and received approval for students to graduate this semester with 120 credit hours.

However, he said he will not be able to determine how many students were eligible to graduate this semester with 120 credit hours because students could be eligible for commencement, but have to return if they did not pass a class.

Academic advisers have been making students aware of the change during advising appointments, according to Hinterscher.

“So far it’s just been an individual, one-on-one discussion with the students,” Hinterscher said. “I cannot speak on behalf of other academic units if anything is going to go public like email blasts or anything like that. But we are taking the initiative to speak with our students individually because since this was brought to our attention we want to be able to share this with our students.”

The advising unit was not notified of the change “until right before the beginning of this fall semester,” according to Hinterscher.

Students, according to Hinterscher, have been “very receptive” to the change.

“I’ve had one student actually thank me for telling her because it’s now allowing her to graduate in the fall term, this semester, instead of having to go for classes next semester,” Hinterscher said, “and the courses that she would have been taking would have been free electives that just to complete the credit hours.”

Because of the change, some students may no longer need to take extra classes over the summer and they could graduate in the spring, according to Hinterscher. Some students, according to Hinterscher, have been identified as able to graduate in the fall with the 120 credit hour requirement.

“We’re working with those students as we’re able to identify them,” Hinterscher said. “Unfortuantely, there’s not a system that we have that we can 100 percent go through and identify, ‘OK, here are the students… we know that are graduating this semester but are taking too many courses.’”

The credit hour change, according to Hinterscher, will benefit students because they will “be able to maintain their course load at approximately 15 hours a semester.”

“If they wanted to pursue summer school as well, depending on the course sequencing, it could potentially allow students to accelerate their degree path. So a student could potentially cut two semesters off of their final year and move it up by taking summer classes if the courses are offered.”

The bulk of SIUE courses, according to Hinterscher, are three credit hours, but they can range from zero to 12 credit hours.

To read the complete policy, visit http://www.siue.edu/policies/1f1.shtml.

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