A new decrease in upper-level course requirements has students seeking less hours to graduate. The change became effective immediately following its passing at the Board of Trustees meeting in July.
An upper-level course is defined as a 300-level course or above. Prior to its passage, 52 hours were required. Students now need only 36.
Registrar Kelly Osterbind conducted the initial research needed several years back and began again this summer.
“We did [research] a few years ago and it just resurfaced in the summertime. We did research on what everyone else in the Ohio Valley was doing, because they’re good,” said Osterbind. “We also did all the schools in our state. The reason we do the whole Ohio Valley and our state is just frame of reference for size of school.
”The research took less than a week, due university web sites and their online catalogs.
Osterbind’s finding? “We just required lots more hours than anybody else. And so we adjusted.
”However, she warned against misinformation, and feels that several theories out there are incorrect. No program within the university has dropped requirements for a specific degree. In short, there has been no “watering down.”
“There’s check sheets in every single major for every single degree program. And anybody who studies those, or any advisor can tell you, those programs have already used up all, and all programs with a minor, have used up all 36 hours,” said Osterbind.
“All this means is that if you have electives, you can either take upper- or lower-divisional electives. There’s no restriction.
”While some students are just learning of the change, Senior Crystal Thompson’s advisor did inform her. However, it didn’t help her in terms of graduating.
“Because I tranferred from a community college, the majority of my electives were taken there, & the 300 level electives needed at JSU I had already taken prior to fall 2012,” said Thompson.
Sophomore Alex Lang hadn’t heard of the change, but he’s hopeful.
“I feel that this will lighten my load over the course of my remaining three semesters.
”In addition to the change in elective hours, Osterbind finds another change at JSU to be a much bigger deal. Beginning last fall and continuing this year, many programs have begun dropping overall required hours from 128 to 120 hours.
“There’s a trend toward 120-hour programs in, well the entire country, but we are not behind the eight-ball on that one,” she said. “I know a lot of the arts and sciences programs and all the business programs have gone to 120 hours, so that saves students money.”
Osterbind provides an example. For a business degree, a student was required to take two fine arts classes and one political science.
With the change, a student is now only required one fine arts and no political science. “All parties were very concerned that we not water down any degree program,” said Osterbind. “But then they were quite surprised to realize that we were alone out here with our very high number of 300-level courses.
”According to Osterbind, the administration felt the 8-hour cut would help both students and the university’s graduation rate. “We hope to have a little bit larger graduation in the fall for people who had everything done except their 300-levels.”