University discusses removal of specializations

With classes more focused in her area of interest, communication junior Rachel Bonello so far has enjoyed being a part of the public relations specialization she recently joined.

But Bonello might be the last of her kind if university discussion becomes university policy in the near future.

University officials are considering eliminating the title of undergraduate specializations and converting the specialization programs to minors in the future, said social relations and policy and accounting junior Christie Teske, who sits on the University Committee on Curriculum and is an ASMSU business college representative.

“To other people, it would just make more sense,” Bonello said. “It will look more professional (and) more recognizable.”

Members of the University Committee on Curriculum seem to have the same idea in mind.

Teske told members of the ASMSU Academic Affairs Committee last week the university committee is discussing the change to remove any confusion the term specialization might cause with employers or members of the global community who only are familiar with minor programs.

Teske said MSU only is one of a few universities that have specialization programs.

Almost all Big Ten universities use specialized programs in some way, although most are part of graduate degrees or major requirements.

“For students, it’s often difficult to articulate what a specialization means,” Teske said. “I think a lot of people are in favor of this because it gets rid of needing that conversation (explaining what a specialization is) to happen at all.”

Teske also said the university committee is discussing changing the amount of credits a minor requires.

She said the committee is considering lowering the amount of credits needed to receive a minor and lowering the number of credits that must be unique to the minor without overlapping major requirements.

However, Teske said some professors on the university committee were concerned lowering the number of credits unique to a minor might conflict with the intention of the minor program.

Both issues still are just under discussion, but Associate Provost for Academic Services Linda Stanford said in an email that if, in the spring semester, the committee decides a change is necessary, its chairperson will request University Curriculum and Catalog to send a proposal to the University Committee on Undergraduate Education.

After moving to that committee, the proposal must gain approval from the remaining necessary academic governance groups.

Stanford is the liaison between the curriculum committee and the Office of the Provost, and Academic Governance is the university’s policymaking body.

“This process will take months,” Stanford said. “Any changes, if approved, will not affect students who select a minor or specialization prior to the effective term (fall, spring or summer). This effective term will be determined during the Academic Governance review and approval process.”

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