Provost grants exceptions to engineering programs

Miami University Bachelor Degree programs are required to reduce their credit hour requirements from 128 to 124 for the 2017-2018 school year and onward.

In May 2015, the Ohio Department of Higher Education determined that Bachelor Degree programs must not require more than 126 credit hours for completion, unless additional coursework is needed to meet professional accreditation or licensing requirements, according to the Guidelines and Procedures for Academic Program Review Manual (Directive 2015-016) from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Carolyn Haynes, associate provost for undergraduate education, explained why there was lag time between the state mandate and Miami’s actions to comply with the policy.

Miami received the new copy of the policy on May 1, 2015,” Haynes said. “So, we were not able to begin discussions among the academic leadership until Fall 2015.”

Haynes said the Academic Policy Committee identified which degree programs would need to change their requirements in October of 2015 and held interviews with chairs of departments to find the best ways to meet the credit hour requirement.

Diane Delisio, senior associate dean for the College of Engineering and Computing, said the deans of each college on Miami’s campus received a memo in April 2016 notifying them of the change in required hours and outlining a timeline of steps needed to address the change.

“The process entailed a review of the curriculum by every department,” Delisio said. “We were looking for ways to reduce our requirements to 124. Some programs had free elective hours that could be cut. But other engineering departments, after benchmarking themselves against other programs in the state of Ohio, realized they couldn’t.”

Delisio said that while some of the engineering departments do not qualify for the specific exception granted in the guidelines, they will need an exception as well.

“We are accredited by ABET, or Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology,” Delisio said.  “They don’t require a certain number of hours, but they require coverage of certain topic areas. And when you look at that in totality, you can’t complete it in 124 hours.”

The University holds the power to grant exceptions when it sees fit. Due to the ABET standard, the Provost granted those engineering programs an exception.

“The Ohio Department of Higher Education asks universities to generate a process for determining those exceptions,” Haynes said.

Delisio said that while it is unfortunate some departments will still require 128 hours, the students will be grateful for the well-rounded curriculum.

“When students graduate from an ABET accredited program, it ensures quality to a prospective employer,” Delisio said. “We want our graduates to be competitive in the workplace.”

But if graduating with the highest number of credits had been a statewide competition, Miami students from every department across campus would have won.

“Most other Ohio public institutions had graduation requirements with a lower number of credits than did Miami,” Haynes said. “So, they did not have to undergo this change.”

After the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school year, Miami graduation requirements will be on par with other public universities in Ohio.