Historically Black Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina is participating in the new program led by the Association of American Colleges and Universities that seeks to improve “degree efficiency” and therefore increase graduation rates of Black students. The Purposeful Pathways: Faculty Planning for Curricular Coherence initiative seeks to focus students on finding the most direct path to graduation without becoming overburdened by unnecessary course work.
The University of North Carolina System requires students to complete 120 credit hours of study in order to graduate. But the system average for graduating students is 139.2 credit hours. At Winston-Salem State University, degree efficiency programs have reduced the average credit hours of graduating students from 137 to 128 over the past three years.
Under the program, faculty and administrators examine how general education courses integrate with the students’ majors and see how students can meet the prerequisites required for advanced study with fewer total courses. Advisors work closely with students to help them identify the best courses to take to meet their graduation requirements.
Elwood L. Robinson, chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, stated that “we cannot do things the way they have always been done. We are looking at our curriculum from all angles and making decisions on the alignment of courses by placing the student at the center of the process. By helping our students graduate more efficiently, we are able to help them save thousands of dollars of tuition, room, and board. They also enter the workforce sooner, which gives them a head start in paying off any debt they did incur.”