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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

University adjusts graduation requirements

St. Joe’s officially moved from having a course-based to a credit-based system, viewable on DegreeWorks. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24 / THE HAWK

St. Joe’s has adjusted degree requirements from a course-based to a credit-based system, updating graduation requirements from 40 courses to 120 credits.

The mandate to change the degree requirements began during the spring 2020 semester and was led by Shawn Krahmer, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum and assessment for the College of Arts and Sciences. The mandate was approved by the Academic Policies and Procedures committee on April 16, 2020 and went into effect in the summer of 2020.

One of the main reasons for the mandate was the difficulties students faced when transferring to St. Joe’s from other institutions, Krahmer said.

“It began with my experience dealing with transfer students and the frustration that we had when students were on a quarter system or when they were on a ‘four-four’ course load,” Krahmer said.
“Those of us who were doing the transfer stuff would complain about the difficulties. Everyone would say, ‘Yeah, we really should be on a credit, not course-based, system,’ but nobody did anything about it. So I finally got tired of that and wrote the mandate.”

Twelve of 15 peer institutions to St. Joe’s function on a credit-only system, according to the mandate. With the new system, students can transfer into St. Joe’s with credits from their former institution
and not have to worry about the 40 courses requirement that was previously in place.

“Under the previous course-based system, courses taken elsewhere that are less than three credits wouldn’t actually fit in, so [transfer students] would lose those credits,” said Sal De Rienzo ’22, student body vice president. “Some universities operate on a standard load of four credits, so four courses of four credits, but if you’re only operating on courses instead of credits, then [transfer students] would be behind because [they] only had four courses even though it was 16 credits.”

The new credit-based system also leaves more room for flexibility with course loads and course offerings respectively, according to Krahmer. 

Krahmer pointed to 100-level GEP language courses and science courses with a lab, which are all four-credit courses. Students who take these courses would be ahead by the end of their first year. 

“That means that if they have a really spectacular opportunity for an internship later, they can take a semester with four courses and have the space for that internship. Or, if they’ve come in with AP credit, they can graduate a semester early,” Krahmer said. 

Faculty are also able to offer more one-credit courses and seminars. Before the mandate, courses were only counted toward graduation requirements if they were worth three or more credits. 

“The one thing that I really look forward to is the opportunity to develop elective one and two-credit [courses],” Krahmer said. “An example of that is the one-credit diversity seminar that’s been added.” 

“Inequality in American Society,” or INT 151, is a one-credit diversity course that was originally offered only to first-year students and is now offered to all students. The mandate allows for more courses such as this to be offered.

While there is more flexibility for students to take elective courses, the core-GEP courses and major requirements are still mandated. 

“All the GEP and major [requirements], that’s unchanged. [Students still] have to take a minimum of 18 free elective credits,” said Tim Higgins, director of undergraduate advising. “I’m encouraging students to really still take five courses a semester to get the most of their education and to explore a second major, minors, even if you’re using extra, free electives.”

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