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Published February 18, 2019
Aiming to reduce advising and course scheduling challenges while still offering students the opportunity to explore multiple curricular interests, the University of Wyoming is considering elimination of three “distributed” degree programs.
UW’s Office of Academic Affairs has initiated the process, under university regulations, to discontinue the humanities and fine arts distributed major, the social science distributed major, and the mathematics and science distributed major.
If eventually approved by the UW Board of Trustees, the action would not result in any personnel losses, and students currently in these majors would be allowed to finish their degrees.
The distributed degrees were created to serve the needs of students who want to pursue multiple interests -- such as math and science -- with a single degree, rather than two majors. But administering the programs has become difficult, as each requires a significant number of credits, and students often are unable to take the required courses within the time frame needed for graduation.
Enrollment in two of the distributed majors is low: Just eight students were in the humanities/fine arts major in the fall 2018 semester, with 12 in the math/science major. The social science major had 105 students in the fall.
Additionally, UW’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, singled out these degrees as problematic, because student learning outcomes could not be assessed in their current structure.
UW plans to launch a new Bachelor of General Studies degree program that will serve as its completion degree. The new degree also was designed to replace the distributed majors.
“The general studies degree will better serve the student populations that have traditionally taken the distributed majors,” Associate Vice Provost Anne Alexander says. “It will serve student needs and interests across a broader area of subjects, while solving the complex challenges in course sequencing and availability that the distributed majors present.”
Because the distributed degrees are composed of coursework required for other majors, and the College of Arts and Sciences’ professional advising center handles all advising for these majors, there will be no personnel consequences associated with discontinuance of the degrees.
All students currently enrolled in the distributed majors have been contacted about the proposal and encouraged to speak with their advisers to create plans for completing their degrees. They will have the opportunity to remain in their majors or move to other majors, such as the Bachelor of General Studies.
The proposal is subject to review and comment by the affected students, along with faculty and staff in the programs. After reviewing comments and making any revisions, the provost intends to submit the revised proposal to the faculty, staff and student senates, along with others, for review and comment. The provost then will review all submitted comments and provide a recommendation to the president, who will make a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
Those wishing to provide feedback on the proposal may do so at www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/plans/reorganization/distributed/. The deadline for feedback is May 17.