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New Credit System and Requirements Coming in Fall 2013

Nov. 7, 2012

In late October, the College Faculty and Conservatory Faculty each passed the final piece of the new course/credit system first reported on Oberlin OnCampus last May. The new system, as well as revised requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree, goes into effect in fall 2013; students making progress toward graduation at that time will be transitioned into it.

In moving continuing students into the new system, the college and conservatory will honor students' progress toward graduation, including all individual requirements and credit earned and recorded on transcripts. For both divisions—the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music—the basic course “building block,” currently 3 credits in the conservatory and 3 to 5 credits in arts and sciences, will become 4 credits. This uniformity will allow credits and courses to translate smoothly across both divisions, making it easier for students to complete work in either division.

In the Conservatory of Music, this change will be reflected in a proportionate shift in the number of credits required for graduation, but there will be no changes to existing graduation requirements.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, the change to assigning all full courses 4 credits will allow a new approach to the curriculum, where academic courses are defined as full courses (4 credits) or half courses (2 credits). Cocurricular courses, such as learning assistance courses, ExCo, and Athletics, will still count towards graduation, within some limits.

Along with changing the way academic courses are defined in the College of Arts and Sciences, the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree have all been revised in a way that aligns with the current version of the requirements but enhances their curricular value.

Why This Change Is Important

There are several reasons for the change, but the most important one is to move to a course/credit system and set of requirements that provide students with the best possible access to the full curriculum and help them focus their engagement of the curriculum. In the College of Arts and Sciences, this change will make it straightforward for students to build a balanced schedule based on the premise that every student should be able to register for four academic courses or the equivalent every semester. The current system can be an impediment to this, with courses carrying a range of credits from 3 to 5 that can make it impossible for arts and sciences students to take desired courses without exceeding the current 16-credit semester limit. Conservatory of Music students can also encounter challenges in building a reasonable schedule when selecting courses carrying 4 or 5 credits in arts and sciences.

Under the new system, arts and sciences students will be able to take four full courses or the equivalent every semester, and conservatory students will be able to take courses in arts and sciences without exceeding semester credit limits.

New Requirements for Earning the Bachelor of Arts Degree

When the new course/credit system takes effect in fall 2013, new graduation requirements will also take effect for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Instead of being required to complete 112 credits, mostly through courses earning 3 to 5 credits, students will be required to complete 32 full courses or the equivalent, with no fewer than 30 full academic courses (two half courses will equal one full course); up to the equivalent of 2 full courses may be completed with cocurricular courses/credits.

In addition to focusing on courses completed rather than credits earned, general curriculum requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree will be revised:

  • a Curricular Exploration Requirement will replace the old Distribution Requirement (aka 9-9-9);
  • a Quantitative and Formal Reasoning Requirement will replace the Quantitative Proficiency Requirement; and
  • a Writing Requirement will replace the Writing Proficiency Requirement.

The Cultural Diversity (CD) requirement will not change substantially, but with the new requirement students will receive CD credit for approved study-away programs.

The revised requirements reflect important shifts. The Curriculum Exploration Requirement asks that students not merely complete a number of courses distributed across the curriculum, but that they also engage the curriculum broadly from the time they arrive at Oberlin. Both the Quantitative and Formal Reasoning Requirement and the Writing Requirement redirect students from thinking of quantitative skills and writing as proficiencies to be attained to understanding that they are fundamental ways of engaging the world that develop with attention to the processes of quantitative reasoning and writing in multiple contexts.

A New Degree Evaluation Program

In an important development designed to facilitate transition to the new system and improve functionality, Oberlin College is implementing a new degree progress software program that will be more flexible than the Presto degree evaluation program, will provide more information, and be easier to use. This new program should function to assist students and advisors in both divisions not only in monitoring progress towards graduation but also in planning courses of study.

Next Steps

All progress towards graduation under the current system will be honored proportionally in the transition to the new system. This means that a student who is halfway towards graduation at the end of four semesters under the current system will be halfway to graduation under the new system as well. In addition, a student who has met any general curriculum requirement under the current system will be credited with satisfying the revised requirement. As a result, students should register now for spring 2013 courses in light of the current requirements.

In the months ahead, as we move closer to registration for fall 2013, we will provide more detailed information about the changes to the course/credit system and about the revised requirements for the BA.

Joyce Babyak is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

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You can read all of the new requirements by going to the New Course/Credit System organization on Blackboard or going to the Registrar's page and clicking on New Credit Requirements Effective Fall 2013. There is additional information about the new requirements available on the Blackboard site.

Joyce Babyak (Nov. 18, 2012)

I'm curious as to what the new circular exploration requirements will be.

Ryan Yates (Nov. 17, 2012)

The new software will not replace Presto itself, just the degree evaluation program in Presto. More information will be available in the spring semester, in plenty of time for spring registration for the fall 2013 semester.

Joyce Babyak (Nov. 16, 2012)

I am curious what the new software that will replace Presto is. Is that information public?

Lillie (Nov. 14, 2012)

Thank you for this article

sjohn2012 (Nov. 10, 2012)