by Karen Farkas, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
January 15, 2013
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The number of credit hours required for graduation at Cleveland State University will likely be reduced to 120, saving many students time and money. The academic affairs committee of the university’s board of trustees is expected to approve a resolution Wednesday to adopt the graduation requirement and also reduce the credit hours for general education courses from four to three, which is standard at other four-year institutions in Ohio.
The full board is expected to vote Wednesday and the measures would go into effect beginning with the freshman class of 2014.
The more credit hours a course carries, the more time and money a student could spend on that class. The average CSU student graduates with 10 to 15 more credits than required, officials said. Depending on a student’s major, CSU requires about 128 credits to graduate, more than the 120 recommended by the Ohio Board of Regents.
CSU faculty have been discussing changing the credit hours and graduation requirements. President Ronald Berkman prodded the Faculty Senate to act by this month’s trustees meeting. He said the measures would help the university improve retention and graduation rates, which will be factor in determining state funding in the next two-year budget.
It is not known how much longer it takes a CSU student to graduate or how much more his or her degree might cost because of the additional credit hours. But it is clear the university lags behind others, officials said. Three credit hour courses are the norm for universities like CSU on a two-semester academic year. A standard credit hour equates to one hour of classroom time and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class work per week during a semester, which is 14 to 16 weeks. Full-time students usually take five three-credit classes per semester. At that rate, they would have 120 credits at the end of four years, the graduation requirement at most colleges.
The 17 two- and four-year public institutions in Ohio that were still on quarters made the switch to semesters this school year and were required to revise all their courses to three credits.
But that didn’t happen at CSU when it converted to a semester system in the fall of 1999. Each department was given the right to make its own determination on credits, with the majority opting for four-credit courses, officials said. Under CSU’s current contract, a full-time faculty teaching load is 24 credit hours in an academic year, which breaks down to three four-credit courses a semester compared with four three-credit courses. The effect on the teaching load is why some faculty objected to more three-credit courses.
CSU’s Student Government Association passed a resolution in support of the three-credit plan on Nov. 30, saying it would save students money, offer more class options and allow CSU to become more competitive with other state universities