March 4, 2000


To:                  Montana Board of Regents


From:              Joyce A. Scott, Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs


Re:                  Montana State University Program Review

The Academic Program Review process now being completed included the review of  284 program majors, minors and options at the campuses of the Montana State University. This year,  programs at the Colleges of Technology were included in the review, so the number of programs reviewed is substantially higher than it was in 1994-95.  Recommendations about programs at the campuses of Montana State University to the Board of Regents appear on the submission agenda in March 2000, with action to be taken at the May 2000 meeting.


Campuses were asked to examine all programs and to identify what may be termed  Special Purpose Programs, those that serve a special purpose in the curriculum such as


1.   Master’s programs that serve as an alternate degree to the doctorate, provided the doctoral degree itself is not on the low degree list (similarly, there are certificate programs that serve the same purpose in relation to associate's degrees);

2.   Programs that are formed of dual majors—comprised solely of program requirements from accredited programs not on the low degree list;

3.   Programs that are central to institutional mission; and

4.   Programs that lack at least a three-year history. 


The Office of the Commissioner offers recommendations of six  types:



Normally, programs that do not meet the numerical standards will be discontinued.  In a few cases, campuses have argued to retain a program pending an in-depth review on the campus.  For example, the Education Specialist degree Montana State University-Bozeman. Finally, campuses' ongoing review of  the program inventory has resulted in additional eliminations that were not included in this list.


Following this memo are the respective campus recommendations. The academic officers and I have had productive interactions.  Nevertheless, we have not been able to reach accord in all cases.  Hence, I offer below my observations and recommendations to the Board.

Montana State University-Bozeman


This campus used program review effectively to address program inefficiencies, to adjust curricula to market needs, and to earmark a few programs for further, in-depth internal review.



Recommendation:  I recommend that Board of Regents accept the campus' recommendations.

Montana State University-Billings


This campus has been making a comprehensive adjustment of curriculum to respond to the last program review and its changing market.  In the present review, it addressed effectively a problem in program articulation that will make available to secondary education majors what seems to be the preferred credential today, the BA/BS in the disciplinary major in Arts and Sciences with the teacher certification package as an option.



Recommendation:  I endorse the campus recommendations to the Board of Regents.  Further, I suggest that the Board authorize the Deputy Commissioner to work with MSU-Billings to effect changes in a timely and orderly manner, taking into account the needs of students presently enrolled, and report progress to the Board as it is accomplished.


With respect to the 50 minors for which no data were available, I recommend that these be reviewed based on five semesters' of data in Spring 2002.

Montana State University-Northern


Program review for this campus involved 90 program majors, minors and options ranging from certificates thorough master's degrees.  More than 30 programs under review were found to have completion rates below the thresholds.  Six were relatively new programs and could not be expected to generate the numbers.  Vice Chancellor Barber and I have worked extensively on the issues that have emerged and are generally in concurrence.



Recommendation:  I endorse the campus recommendations on the above items and urge Board approval.  Although the Vice Chancellor and I have reached agreement on these matters, there is appended to this memo a communication from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for your review.


Finally, I do not support the campus recommendations on programs in English, which are discussed below.

Programs in English.  On this matter, the campus and I have not reached agreement.   In English, Northern offers a BA major and minor in English and a BSEd major and minor in secondary English.  Even when aggregated the programs do not meet the minimum productivity criteria for continuation.



Nevertheless, there may be reason to retain the BSEd despite the fact that it alone does not meet the productivity criteria.


Slightly less than a third (29 percent) of the 2703 total completions reported in majors, minors and options for the six-year period were in teacher education.  This  is a substantial component of Northern's mission.  If the Board accepts the campus recommendations, the array of  certification options in secondary education will be narrowed to business education, general science, social science, and health and physical education.  I think it desirable to retain the BSEd major and minor in English to support the teacher education mission and to ensure a balanced array of opportunities in teacher education for students from the Northern service area.


Recommendation:  After consultation with the MSU Provost, I recommend that the BSEd major and minor in English be continued.  In addition, I recommend that BA major and minor in English be discontinued due to a lack of student interest and a failure to meet productivity criteria.

MSU College of Technology at Great Falls


This program review addressed 32 programs including several where there were two awards (certificate and associate's degree) available.  Of these, seven were new programs.  In several instances, certificates are recommended for continuation as ancillary to the AAS degree.


Recommendation:   I endorse the campus' recommendations to the Board.


pc:       Commissioner Crofts

            MSU Academic Officers