February 10, 2011

Jefferson City - The Missouri Department of Higher Education today released a report about low-producing degree programs at public colleges and universities around the state.

Gov. Jay Nixon directed the agency to review academic programs that do not appear to meet the Coordinating Board for Higher Education's productivity criteria. "Low-producing programs" are defined by CBHE policy as those producing fewer than 10 graduates per year at the baccalaureate level, five majors per year at the master's degree level, and three majors per year at the doctoral degree level, calculated over a three-year average.

As a result of the program review, which began in September 2010, colleges and universities will terminate a total of 119 programs, or 20 percent of all programs identified for review. Institutions will move 24 programs to inactive status, and 175 programs were flagged for follow-up review in three years.

The four-year institutions will end 73 degree programs, and two-year institutions will end 46 programs. The majors will be phased out over time so students currently enrolled in the degree programs can graduate.

A major purpose of the academic program review was to improve higher education efficiency. Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell said the review also identified some serious problems in the state's system of postsecondary education.

"Many fields that have been identified as crucial to the state's economic growth and global competitiveness were among the low-producing degree programs," Russell said. "Foreign languages, teacher education and the STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - were prominent on the list of fields with few graduates. This is a concern that must be addressed across K-12 and higher education."

The report recommends eight steps to improve the efficiency and productivity of academic programs at public institutions. They are:

  • 1. Improve the productivity of high-priority programs.
  • 2. Strengthen policies for the review of new program proposals.
  • 3. Develop appropriate reforms in teacher education in collaboration with DESE.
  • 4. Revise and update the policy for the regular review of existing academic programs.
  • 5. Develop a policy for the review of programs in the two-year sector.
  • 6. Encourage collaboration for program delivery among institutions, especially in foreign languages.
  • 7. Continue analysis of program duplication.
  • 8. Conduct follow-up reviews in three years.

The CBHE will consider the draft academic program review report tomorrow during a conference call meeting. If approved, the final report will be presented to the governor at the end of the month.