Students received an email on April 3 from provost and senior vice president Deborah Taylor regarding the opportunity to reduce their minimum units for graduation from 130 to 120 units.
A basic proposal
This change will go into effect for the 2017-18 catalog year for some majors. David Bourgeois, undergraduate chair for the Crowell School of Business, proposed the change in fall 2015 for every department to have the option to reduce the required units for each major, as long as they stay above the new 120 unit requirement.
“Most universities, that’s the standard pretty much. You look anywhere across the United States, it’s 120 units,” Bourgeois said. “So the basic proposal was just to lower the standard from 130 to 120 and then all the different degrees and majors that are out there could decide what they wanted to do with that.”
A simpler way out
Some departments, including nursing and biological sciences, will not change because of their specialized requirements which already exceed the 130 unit requirement of previous catalogs. However, students in other majors may need fewer electives to meet the new minimum requirement.
“In some cases, students are already taking these general electives that really aren’t part of their major just to get to the 130,” Bourgeois said. “They’re just taking the extra units to get to the 130. So we’re giving them a path now so they don’t have to do that.”
Discussions to lower graduation requirements began when Bourgeois proposed a new business degree with only 120 units, in order to compete with other universities, including Azusa University and Westmont College. However, this change has been a long time coming, according to Bourgeois.
“I think even if I hadn’t submitted it, it would’ve been something that would have happened,” Bourgeois said. “[The new business degree is] something that we didn’t want to have to make some sort of special exception and so… I submitted a proposal that we should change it for the whole university.”
While new students will automatically come in under the new catalog, current students will have the option to switch to this catalog. However, Bourgeois recommends students seek advising before switching, due to possible complications in their requirements.
“We don’t want to tell people that, ‘Hey, you can all get done with school earlier,’ because it probably isn’t true for the majority of students,” Bourgeois said. “If someone is already a senior, it probably doesn't make sense because you’re already close to graduation that just a few units maybe won’t help you… But for [a] freshman or sophomore, it’s probably worth examining if there’s an advantage to you.”
The Chimes will publish more information on this topic in future issues, as many details of the unit reduction have yet to be finalized by Biola staff and faculty.