Minors may no longer be mandatory

University considers removing minors from degree plans

By Travis Hunter
On March 22, 2018


Photo  by Axel Marcenaro
The removal of mandatory minors may attract more transfer students to the university.

ASU moves forward with a proposal that would give departments the choice to make minors optional in student degree plans. 

“We want the freedom to say you don’t have to have a minor,” College of Science and Engineering Dean Paul Swets said. “The goal is to streamline the process for students, so they have a clear path to graduation.” 

Students are often ready to graduate as far as hours and GPA are concerned, but they lack one or two courses in their minors, Swets said. This leads to students sacrificing extra time and money to complete their minors. 

Swets said his college’s curriculum committee passed the proposal on Feb. 14. The next step is for the proposal to go to the University Curriculum Committee. That committee is composed of the deans from each college, faculty members and the provost.

College of Arts and Humanities Dean Carolyn Gascoigne surveyed her faculty and said 76 percent oppose the proposal.

“While there are pros and cons to the proposal, the biggest drawback that I see is the lack of breadth it could produce,” Gascoigne said. “Many students will be more marketable with a major and a well- selected minor.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Topliff said he is in favor of the proposal and sees it as a way to make ASU more attractive to transfer students. Currently, ASU has the lowest number of transfer graduates in the state of Texas, he said. 

While this could have many contributing factors, Topliff said it is important to analyze all possible causes. Topliff has begun to conduct institutional research on the effect that required minors have on transfer enrollment. 

“We’re not blaming it all on minors, but it’s something we have to look at,” he said. “We’re comparing ourselves to our peers; we’re talking to students; we’re trying to make a data-driven decision and not just base it on some whim. I believe, and I feel I have the data to back up that this is an impediment to us growing as a university.”

While minors are a good thing for some students, the requirement to have a minor could drive away transfer students, Topliff said. ASU is one of only two universities in the Lone Star Conference that have a required minor.

“If it’s going to take an additional semester to graduate, they’re going to go somewhere else,” he said. “We’re not eliminating minors. I’m just proposing to give faculty an option.”

The credits to make up the minor would most likely divert to electives if the proposal goes into effect, Swets said.

Topliff said he plans to begin meeting with colleges on March 23 and will also meet with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate on March 28 to further discuss the proposal.
The proposal could reach the University Curriculum Committee this semester. If passed there, the requirement of a minor to obtain a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree would be at the discretion of individual departments. If passed, it would take effect in fall 2019 at the earliest.


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