Slippery Rock University prepares for PASSHE academic minor policy change

Kevin Squires, Assistant News Editor
February 19, 2014

Students graduating from Slippery Rock University in Fall 2015 or later may need to rethink their minor. The Pa. State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) amended their policy regarding academic minors in Jan. 2012, stating that “the academic minor comprises no more than six credits from the major field of study.”  PASSHE also stated that all programs must be in compliance with the policy as of Aug. 1, 2015.

Elliot Baker, Slippery Rock University’s Executive Director of Academic Records, Summer School and Graduate Studies, said, “we didn’t want to announce this until we were sure we clearly understood what we thought the policy was trying to say.” He began sending emails last semester to students with declared minors informing them of the changes set to take place in the coming years.

“This [new policy] means that a minor requiring 18 credits may include up to six credits from the student’s major including cognate courses,” said Baker. He explained that there was some question as to what if the policy was including cognate courses or not. It does.

According to PASSHE policy, “cognate courses are those that are in a discipline or field of study different from the primary discipline of the major, but are considered essential to the major requirements for the program of study.” Baker said that this could be like a student majoring in biology being required to chemistry courses to earn the degree.

So far, Baker said that only two or three departments have vocalized discontent with the new policy, mentioning the geography, geology and environmental science department and the biology department. He said that the sciences are the “minority” group in this situation because their degree programs include so many cognate courses.

“This isn’t a problem for a history major, for example,” Baker said. This is because within the history degree program, all of the required courses are in the history department. Any minor from a student in a program like history chose would be out of a different department and therefore have a large enough amount of credits outside the academic major.

According to Baker, an academic minor currently must include at least four credits from outside of a student’s academic major. For example, a minor requiring 18 credits may include up to 14 credits from the student’s major.

This current policy will be in effect until the summer of 2015 with the new one applying to all students graduating in the fall of 2015 and later, regardless of when they declared their minor or started their education at Slippery Rock University.

“If you are graduating after the summer of 2015, please make sure you are meeting these new requirements. You should discuss your progress with your adviser and department chairperson to see if you will be affected by this policy.  Your current degree audit reflects the old policy, but we will be revising all degree audits to reflect the new policy as we approach the summer 2015 deadline,” Baker said in the email to students.

He said that he hopes to raise awareness as much as possible to the students the change is affecting and disclosed that he hopes to have the degree audits reflect the changes soon with a disclaimer for students graduating before the policy change to ignore the minor requirements.

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