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Principles and Strategies

As we move towards the 2013 – 2014 Academic Year, which will be our first in the semester calendar, department chairs, undergraduate program coordinators, graduate program directors and academic advisors will play an important role in the delivery of calendar conversion transition services to our students. To ensure that we uphold our pledge in a coordinated and responsible fashion, the following five tasks have been identified:

  1. Student advisement and Individual Academic Plan generation (IAP). Our commitment is to advise all our transition students in a timely manner. To facilitate this task, departments will identify and inform their transition students of the time frame during which their respective advisors will meet with each of them to work on their IAP, if necessary. Advising and IAP generation for transition students will take place during the 2012 – 2013 academic year.

    Note however, that students who are expected to complete their degree requirements prior to Fall 2013 will be advised to stay on track towards degree completion; these students will not need an IAP and regular intentional advising for them will begin in the 2011 – 2012 academic year.
  2. Mapping of quarter programs to semester programs. Each program will generate a document that describes how each existing quarter program will map to its semester version. This task is part of the program conversion that started in Fall 2011; the mapping from quarters to semesters is a required document in the in the Program Conversion packet. This task is already in progress and is expected to be completed by August 1, 2011.
  3. General education course mapping. Those responsible for General Education courses will generate a document that describes how existing quarter General Education courses will map to replacement or equivalent semester-based General Education courses. This task is estimated to be completed by the end of the Fall quarter of 2011.
  4. Program-specific advisement guide. Departments will generate program-specific advising guides (denoting appropriate courses to be taken, substituted, waived, etc.) to document how transition students will be advised to proceed with their degrees in the semester calendar. Designed specifically for advisors, academic units are not expected to widely distribute their advisement guides. This task is expected to be completed by December 16, 2011.
  5. Resource estimation. Each academic unit will generate a document that describes the resources needed to implement the quarter to semester transition plan. This estimate must include projections of special course sections that will need to be offered during the normal academic year and through the summer as a result of the calendar conversion. The first of these estimates is expected to be completed by December 16, 2011.

General Principles to be followed by All Programs for Current Students and Students Entering Fall 2011 and Fall 2012.

As we prepare for the transition to semesters, it is important that we implement strategies that will help us uphold our pledge to students who are in good academic standing and remain on track for meeting degree requirements. Despite a great deal of programmatic diversity within and across colleges, every attempt must be made to create a calendar transition culture that includes some degree of consistency in the opportunities available to students for completion of their program on time. This will require that department and program chairs develop organized, coherent and fiscally responsible strategies to support the needs of their transition students. Departments are expected to work very closely with both advisors and students during this transition period in order to ensure the successful implementation of each student's IAP.

The strategies we use and the approaches we take, however, will be guided by the following overarching principles.

On-Time Degree Completion. General counsel provided to students must emphasize timely completion of program requirements and avoid the needless rush to complete specific program requirements. However, taking into consideration student ability to handle a credit overload and departmental resources, departments should explore options to help students complete their program's academic requirements no later than Summer 2013 provided that the remaining quarter credit hours projected to be completed in Fall quarter 2013-2014 are 9 or fewer (equivalent to 6 semester credit hours).

Basic understandings. All students will receive information and will be advised about what "staying on track" with their program entails and will be assured that if they stay on track, they can graduate in the number of years for which their program is designed. This will require that students also understand that remaining in "good" academic standing is critical to strategically planning their program. Of equal weight is understanding the importance of registering for quarterly course loads that maximize their chance for academic success and timely program completion.

Sufficient Course Sections. Departments and programs will make every effort to provide sufficient course options and schedule adequate numbers of course sections to assist students in making progress and completing their program in the number of years for which the program is designed.

Coordinated Advising. The University will use a coordinated approach to providing students with appropriate and timely information and advising related to program completion. Specifically, every undergraduate and graduate transition student will be required to work with his/her academic advisor to determine a suitable IAP for completing all degree requirements. The planning process and development of the IAP will consider the impact of educational issues such as course pre-requisites and sequences, potential duplication of course content, the schedule of specific course availability, the rigor of specific course combinations, and preparation for and fulfillment of co-op requirements.

Agreement on Individualized Academic Plan. The IAP should map out courses to be taken in each academic term and specify all mutual understandings and agreements that accompany the plan. Among other things, the IAP must include a statement that certain actions, such as withdrawals, failures and other delays in making progress in the program, may prevent the student from degree completion as outlined in the plan. The IAP will be signed by both the advisor and the student.

General Education Requirements. The IAP for undergraduate students will include advisement about completion of General Education requirements. A mapping between the quarter and semester General Education program components will become available by end of the Fall quarter of 2011.

Co-op Requirements. Programs should consider when and if waiving a co-op block is recommended in order to facilitate a student's ability to graduate on time. In exceptional circumstances programs may decide to allow students to complete one co-op block, at most, after satisfying all other program academic requirements. This co-op must be approved in advance and will typically be completed within six months after completion of the last academic requirement. Degree certification will be processed after completion of both the academic and coop requirements. When this option is used, programs will help to ensure that students understand any corollary issues related to program certification, financial aid and loan repayment. Exceptions to this guideline must be approved by the Dean or at the college/unit level.


Departments will be able to implement a number of strategies to provide their students with reasonable opportunity to complete their degree requirements in a timely manner without compromising the academic integrity of their degrees. The strategies outlined listed below are to be used as guidance by the departments, which will be ultimately responsible for deciding which of the strategies will help them address their students' needs.

  • Summer course offerings – Can help students earn prerequisite credits for semester courses or other program requirements.
  • Bridge courses – A bridge course is an accelerated or "stacked" course designed to deliver the content of two consecutive courses from a given course sequence. Students that complete a bridge course earn the number of quarter credits that the course replaces.
  • Distance learning (on-line) courses – Commonplace today, these courses can be used to allow students on co-op complete necessary coursework to be well-positioned for continuation of their degree in the semester format.
  • Equivalence between semester and quarter courses – If possible, these will be described in the program-specific advisement guide.
  • Independent study – These have been used traditionally to provide students with opportunities to earn credit when standard or on-line course strategies are not available.

In addition to these strategies, and whenever possible and reasonable, departments could add additional seats per section and offer additional and/or trailer section courses.