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Agenda Item FA 20-11

Submitted by the Academic Standards Committee

Degree Progression and Change Major Policy

Major revision to the policy is needed

03/05/20: Passed

03/05/20: Approved

Rationale for the Update:

The existing "Degree Progression and Change Major Policy" does not adequately address many issues identified by advising staff as impediments to timely graduation. Major revision to the policy is needed to more adequately define degree progression in the context of a 4-year graduation rate and to explain the financial consequences of excess hours as well as the potential impact from additional majors and unrequired minors. From 2019 and thereafter, the State of Florida requires that universities charge students an "Excess Hour" surcharge when they exceed 120% of their credit hour allotment. This surcharge amounts to100% of tuition, essentially doubling the cost to the student. For a 120-credit degree, students will incur this penalty after 144 credit hours. Repeated courses, non-required courses and non-required minors do not afford students any extension of the excess hours limit. As such, the Double Degrees and Majors policy (2.0090P) is being subsumed into this policy.

 

I. Objective & Purpose

The University of North Florida (UNF) strongly encourages the timely completion of degrees for all fulltime students. All first time in college (FTIC) students are expected to graduate within four academic years of matriculation, through the summer of their 4 th academic year. All transfer students will be expected to graduate from their intended major in the fewest number of semesters considering factors such as degree requirements and incoming credits. This policy is designed around the standard 120 credit hour Bachelor's degree.

 

The purpose of this policy is to encourage students to achieve their educational and professional goals in the most efficient timeframe while avoiding Excess Hour surcharges.

II. Statement of Policy

A. Precision Advising:

Academic Advisors will provide students with course sequencing guides that outline all degree requirements and satisfy degree progression milestones defined in Section II(B) of this policy during their first academic year at UNF. Freshman advisors will inform students about specific degree requirements that exceed those set forth in this policy for certain programs (i.e. nursing, engineering, computing, etc.). Upon entering the university, all new undergraduate students must meet with an academic advisor before registration for any classes.

 

UNF recognizes that many incoming students have already satisfied credit-bearing requirements through

 

"accelerated mechanisms," such as dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB). Whereas these credits often work to a student's advantage, credit from accelerated mechanisms can place students "out of sequence" with typical course offerings. Advisors should identify and discuss exactly how accelerated mechanisms affect graduation timelines and semester schedules with each individual student based on university policies regarding accelerated mechanisms.

B. Milestones for Degree Completion:

There are four milestones that define satisfactory degree progression defined in this policy, based on a typical FTIC 120 credit hour degree. The milestones mark the end of each of the four academic calendar years to graduation. Transfer students will be evaluated for their degree progression upon entering the university, depending on transferable degree requirements and their intended major. The milestones are as follows:

 

First Year Milestone - By the end of a student's first year, they must declare a major which they can complete in their remaining three academic years. Students who are more than one semester behind in their four-year major course sequence will be required to meet with their advisor and will be advised toward a major from which they can graduate in the three remaining years.

 

Second Year Milestone - Students must demonstrate the ability to graduate within two calendar years (including summer semesters) for their current primary major. Students who have not made sufficient academic progress in their current major to graduate within the next two calendar years will be required to meet with an advisor and select a major that can be completed in the remaining two years.

 

Third year Milestone - All students must see an advisor and create a "final year" schedule which will allow them to complete their degree in the fourth year. Students may change majors after earning 90 credits only if they are suspended from their current major or if the intended major is attainable by the end of their fourth academic year.

 

Fourth Year Milestone - Students must complete all degree requirements by the end of their fourth academic year (including the summer semester of their fourth year). Students who have exceeded 120 credit hours earned at UNF will not register for courses that do not apply toward graduation unless additional credits are needed to maintain full-time status. Students who have satisfied all degree requirements by the end of their fourth year or later will be notified by their advisor and graduated by the end of the semester. Students pursuing additional majors and unrequired minors at the time of their graduation may continue enrollment at the university as post-baccalaureate students.

C. Selection and/or Change of Majors and Minors

UNF encourages students to explore majors and provides many opportunities for students to embrace their intellectual curiosity. Students wishing to pursue specific subject matter in greater detail may elect to add programs of study in the form of a minor(s) or second major or elective courses only in the event that such paths will not delay graduation. Students must consult with their advisors and get permission for any additional programs of study to stay on track for four-year degree completion. The following definitions provide clarity on the definitions for majors and additional programs of study.

 

Primary Major -A student's primary major determines their academic department, college, and advisor. Some departments have their own degree progression policies, and students should be advised of those prior to major selection. Students pursuing any baccalaureate degree must declare a primary major of study by the first-year milestone.

 

Dual Degree - Students pursuing two different baccalaureate degrees (e.g., BA and BS) who apply for and satisfy the requirements of both degrees will be awarded two diplomas. Students must meet the requirements for both degrees and have the approval of both colleges. Students may not declare a dual degree that cannot be completed in the four-year timeline to graduation.

 

Double Major - Students pursuing a single baccalaureate degree and who apply for and satisfy the requirements of two majors within the same college or division will be awarded two diplomas and both majors will be indicated on their permanent record/transcript. Students may not declare a double major that cannot be completed in the four-year timeline to graduation.

 

Required Minors - Students pursuing certain baccalaureate degrees (e.g. BA degrees) are required to declare a minor course of study which is contained in the standard 120 credit hours. The progress toward this minor will be included in the standard degree progression milestones.

 

Non-required Minors - Students pursuing a baccalaureate degree that does not require or include a minor program of study in the 120 credit hours may elect to pursue a minor, only if it does not require deviation from the four-year graduation timeline.

 

Change of Majors (or Addition of Second Major) - A student may change their major at any point in their academic career if they can demonstrate the ability to graduate within their original four-year timeline.

 

Students must be advised if this decision incurs Hours surcharges.

 

Students must meet with an academic advisor to initiate the process of changing majors after a primary major has been selected. A student cannot change into or add a major for which they cannot currently exhibit satisfactory degree progression. Any major change or addition requires the student to maintain their original four-year graduation timeline. Students will be prohibited from major changes that would delay timely graduation. In addition, students changing majors from one academic college to another must receive approval from the appropriate advisor in the new college.

 

Selection of a Non-required Minor - Students may elect a minor program of study at any point in their academic career if they can demonstrate the ability to graduate and complete the minor within their original four-year timeline. Advisors must inform students if this decision will result in Excess Hours surcharges. Students who reach the four-year graduation milestone, and who satisfy their major degree requirements will be graduated regardless of completion any non-required minors.

 

Election of any Non-Required Courses - Students who wish to pursue additional majors, minors or elective course work that would delay timely graduation will be advised of the "Post-Baccalaureate" option to complete any desired coursework. Election to attempt non-required coursework can have a variety of consequences on timely graduation, excess hours, scheduling difficulties, and financial aid eligibility.

D. Exceptions and Appeals:

Any academic program that requires timelines, academic progress, admissions to majors or degree requirements more restrictive than this general policy will supersede this policy. Students who wish to appeal any portion of this policy should submit their appeal no later than the beginning of the semester within which they are scheduled to graduate. Appeals will follow the standard policy for academic appeals. https://www.unf.edu/records/policy.html