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Shepherd makes curricular changes to lessen time to graduation

ISSUED: 14 March 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd makes curricular changes to lessen time to graduation)

Shepherdstown, WV--Shepherd University is leading the way in the state of West Virginia in reducing the number of credits required for a bachelor's degree through curriculum reform in general studies and in the majors and minors. The new curriculum will be available to students fall 2011.

Responding to calls nationally to enhance student access and success, Shepherd University is reducing the amount of time students take to earn their baccalaureate degree and complete a degree in four years. Shepherd University will change the number of credit hours required for a bachelor's degree by eight credit hours, from 128 to 120, this fall semester.

The national average for earning a bachelor's degree is five years. Shepherd's initiative is designed to help return the undergraduate degree-earning time to four years. Additionally, an innovative core curriculum will be implemented that includes a first-year experience course, a writing intensive course within the major, and a senior capstone course.

"This change broadens student access and success by making graduation in four years a greater possibility, thereby reducing the tuition costs for students and their families," said Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley. "These curricular changes will also make it easier for community college students to transfer to Shepherd and complete a degree within two years after transfer."

All students entering Shepherd in the fall will be part of the 120-credit hour degree changes. Currently enrolled students will have the option of selecting the new curriculum or continuing under the course catalog in effect when they enrolled at Shepherd.

An academic advising assistance center has been established to aid students in the transition process. A web-based analysis tool will also be available to current students so they can compare the new program with the one in place when they originally enrolled.

"Without the hard work of our faculty members, we would not have successfully developed and implemented changes to the core curriculum," said Dr. Richard Helldobler, vice president for academic affairs. "They carefully examined the curriculum and reworked it to reflect the competencies that students should have in the 21st century."

The retooling of the academic core requirements will lessen Shepherd's reliance on part-time faculty who teach general studies and will emphasize an applied and practical application of the liberal arts, linking students to career training and planning.

"Shepherd University's tradition of academic rigor will continue as we provide our graduates with the skills to be successful in their professions and in their lives," said President Shipley.

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