May 18 – 20, 2005

 

ITEM 127-103-R0505                  Undergraduate Degree Requirements: Associate Degrees; Revisions

 

THAT:                                       The Board of Regents of Higher Education approves the following changes to Policy 301.12:

(a)           clarification of the requirements for Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees; and

(b)           creation of a new credential entitled the Certificate of Applied Science.

 

EXPLANATION:                        The proposed policy revisions were prepared in response to Recommendation 4 of the Transfer of Credits performance audit. The work group focused almost all of its efforts on clarification of the language in Board of Regents’ Policy 301.12, which sets out the characteristics and requirements of two-year degrees in the Montana University System.  The proposed policy changes also integrate the provisions of Policy 301.12 with other Regent guidelines governing academic degrees.

 

The policy revisions will be effective immediately upon adoption by the Montana Board of Regents.

 

The revisions almost certainly do not satisfy all of the expectations of the Transfer of Credit performance audit, however.  The most important language from that audit is probably the following:

 

“There is limited policy from the Regents regarding transfer of credit from two-year institutions. . .Historically, colleges of technology were trade schools.  In an effort to standardize MUS, the units have taken steps to offer additional academic level courses.  With limited Regents’ guidance, each program has developed independently resulting in programs with widely varying credits requirements and distinct differences in the transferability of seemingly similar courses. Policy further allows the receiving institution to determine which courses are applicable for transfer from an AAS degree.  Giving each institution such latitude in determining which courses will transfer from an AAS degree creates inequities.”

 

The audit also concluded that similar A.A.S. programs throughout the System vary significantly in the number of credits required to earn the degree and the number and level of general education courses required in the degree programs.  Using A.A.S. degrees in micro-computer/information processing as an example, the audit found that the total credits required for that credential vary from 62 – 71; and the number of general education credits vary from 0 – 23.

 

The revisions contained in this item do clarify current Board of Regents’ policy on two-year degrees in the Montana University System.  They do not resolve the inequities in credit totals, general education requirements. . .and individual, campus-by-campus determination of the appropriateness and transferability of A.A.S. coursework, however.  That much harder work remains to be done, and will take longer than the four months devoted to this project.

 

Arlene Parisot, director of workforce development and two-year education in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, will assume responsibility for that much more difficult and long-term effort.  Roger Barber, the deputy commissioner for academic and student affairs, will assist her.  The first programs that will be reviewed, in an effort to comply with the concerns of the transfer audit, will be two-year computer, business and healthcare degrees.