Anyone entering the University of Nevada this fall might be able to cut their college career by a whole semester, and still earn a degree.
The Board of Regents voted to approve a change in degree requirements last year, in June, and it is taking effect for incoming students this fall. The major difference is that the minimum requirement of 120 credits that was in place before is now the maximum.
"What we did now is flipped that," Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich said, "and [now we] have a maximum number of credits at 120, unless they come to the Board and show a good reason why they need more."
The change will allow students with a full course load to finish a full semester earlier. Klaich said the move will save students thousands of dollars on tuition, books, and fees, and get them into the workforce faster. The credit cap only applies to incoming students, however. Current students will not be affected, and will continue with the degree program requirements that were previously in effect.
Klaich said for the most part, the change won't be a big shock to the system. He doesn't anticipate any real effect on the university budget--for better or for worse--and many programs already only require 120 credits. Depending on the program, the current credit requirements range from 120 to 128.
According to Klaich, it is not about making a degree less valuable, it is about eliminating unnecessary credit requirements. When asked what he would say to people who are concerned that fewer credits required to get a degree would mean a less valuable degree overall, Klaich responded:
"I think that those folks are out of touch with the trends in higher education."
Klaich is referring to the choice that many other systems of higher education have made, like the university systems in Texas and Maryland, to put credit ceilings on their degree programs.
But why did the University of Nevada system decide to follow suit?
"We need more graduated, credentialed students here in Nevada to help us diversify this economy."
Degree programs can apply to waive the credit ceiling if they feel their students need to take more classes. However, Klaich said that so far, not a single program has asked to do so.