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:


  • Retain: program has sufficient productivity, centrality to mission, and quality to be retained.

  • Eliminate: program has insufficient productivity, quality or merit from the campus' perspective to warrant continuation.  (Campuses may use the Level I process and the closure checklist.)

  • Consolidate: curriculum will be restructured to reduce the number of programs. 

  • Quantitative review: program sufficiently close to numerical standards to make it possible for standards to be met in two years. 

  • Review: some programs will warrant focused evaluation, possibly with the use of external consultants, to determine if a credible action agenda can be developed to attain the numerical standards. With Regents approval, a program could undergo quantitative review after two years. 

  • Convert:  when an option shows a sustained rate of graduates (completions) sufficient to meet quantitative criteria for a major, it may be converted to a major through the Level I or II process.


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.


  • A total of 104 degree programs and minors were reviewed, and the campus recommends the discontinuation of 32 separate majors, minors, and options.

  • One program is recommended for intensive review:  the Education Specialist (EdS) which has graduated no students in either option for six years.  The new dean has expressed the desire to develop a strategic plan for the revitalization of this program.

  • Six programs are to undergo consolidation, with low-demand options being consolidated in one way or another: BA in Agricultural Business, Bachelor of Music Education, BS in Secondary Education (general science and physical science options), BS in Health and Human Development, BS in Chemistry, and the BS in Economics.

  • Two programs will undergo a conversion.  For the BFA in Art, two options--Studio Arts and Graphic Design--will be created.  For the BS in Sociology, the Anthropology option will be converted into a free-standing major. 


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.


  • A total of 58 major programs and options were reviewed. 

  • The old student records system did not maintain data on 50 minors, so the program review for this campus is, in some measure, incomplete.  Data are now being collected and should be reviewed in another two or three years. 

  • Analysis of data revealed fragmented curricula: some programs appeared unproductive when, in fact, in the aggregate, they met review guidelines.  For example, the Biology Teaching major for the BSEd had only 10 graduates over five years whereas the BA/BS in Biology had 40 graduates and the aggregation of data resulted in 50 graduates. This led to a discussion about program consolidation, particularly in secondary education. If the eight free-standing disciplinary majors offered under the BSEd were integrated under the respective BA/BS degrees in the disciplines as 128-credit teacher certification options (art/art teaching, biology/biology teaching, , history/history teaching, mathematics/mathematics teaching, English/English teaching, and Spanish/Spanish teaching), productivity criteria would be met in all but one case.  This would lead to the discontinuation of eight BSEd degree programs, which would be phased out over time as the new 128-credit certification options were brought up under the BA/BS degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

  • At the Billings College of Technology, several certificate programs showed completions below the desired level.  This award gives students a formal certification when they cannot, for work or family reasons, continue for a second year of study toward the AAS.  It is recommended, therefore, that the certificates that are ancillary to the AAS be continued.

  • Also at the College of Technology, it is recommended that two certificates--Drafting CAD Technology and Major Appliance Repair Technology--be discontinued.


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.


  • The campus recommends discontinuation of 18 majors, minors or options after a moratorium has been placed on new admissions and the students currently enrolled have been served.

  • In some instances, the campus is working on program proposals that address market demands and expects to have these to the Board for the next round of new program approvals.

  • If a minor shows fewer completions than desired, the campus recommends continuation if the major is strong (health and physical education, automotive technology, for example).

  • Here, as at Billings, some fragmentation of effort was found in teacher education programs.  Specifically, the campus recommends consolidation of the BS and BSEd in general science and of the BSEd and minor in history with the BSEd in social science.

  • The campus asks to retain programs that are unique in the Montana University System(traffic education and business education) or that are especially relevant to its region or constituents (minor in Native American studies).

  • The campus proposes to place the BA and minor in communications and the BS in water quality technology under review and return with recommendations within three years.


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.


  • In six years, one student has graduated with a BA in English through the College of Arts and Sciences.  

  • In six years, 14 students graduated with the BSEd in English/secondary education through the College of Education and Professional Studies, and 5 completed the BSEd English minor.


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