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4. Federal Requirements

Federal Requirement:

4.4 Program length is appropriate for each of the institution's educational programs. (Program length)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia adheres to the criteria developed by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents (BOR) related to appropriate academic program length. Board of Regents policies are outlined in the Board of Regents Academic and Student Affairs Handbook [1]

The University of West Georgia is in full compliance with both SACS and BOR requirements of a minimum of 120 semester credit hours for all baccalaureate degrees (some programs may require more than 120 credit hours) and a minimum of 30 semester credit hours for all graduate degrees. All degree requirements can be found in the following resources: Undergraduate Catalog - Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees [2] and Graduate Catalog - all colleges/schools [3], [4], [5], [6],[7], [8].   

It should be noted that the 120 credit hours required for all undergraduate degrees include the general education component (Core Curriculum) that is discussed in the report for Core Requirement 2.7.3. The report for Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1 explains the academic program approval process that assures compliance with the Board of Regents policies. Additionally, the University of West Georgia is in compliance with the SACS Policy on "Distance and Correspondence Education" [9] as discussed in the report for Core Requirement 2.7.2 (Program content).  Program length is also described in the report for Core Requirement 2.7.1 (Program Length).    

Beyond compliance with the Board of Regents and SACS policies for minimum program length, all academic programs at the University of West Georgia are routinely subjected to regular review. Furthermore, when changes are made to the existing programs or when new programs are proposed, a thorough approval process is undertaken.  The program approval process is discussed in the narrative for Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1. The Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) that the University requires serves as the catalyst for systematic and thoughtful evaluation of academic programs [10]. It evaluates the long-term history and sets the long-term plans for each academic program. This review focuses on three characteristics of an academic program: quality, viability, and productivity. These characteristics are defined by the department or college submitting the report. Each academic program is reviewed at least once every seven years.  Academic programs that do not meet the review characteristics are subject to review at least every three years. The determination of compliance with the review criteria requires the approval of the academic program faculty, Department Chair, and college or school Dean, and the Faculty Senate, the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Office of the President. All credentialed programs are included in the review cycle including certificates, minors in areas where there is no major, and coherent, identifiable areas of focus such as the core curriculum.    

Any additions or modifications to the undergraduate or graduate academic programs, any alterations to undergraduate or graduate course offerings, and all new course offerings require a rigorous review and approval process. Moreover, any changes to academic program length are determined and reviewed by faculty in the relevant discipline and college as well as by the administrative officers in the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The process is initiated by a college or a school. First, the Dean of the College and the Department Chair (or the Program Director) seeking the change complete and sign a Modification Request Form [11]. The Modification Request Form is submitted to the office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.  The Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs then guides the request through an approval process that involves the University of West Georgia Faculty Senate, the relevant colleges and/or divisions, and the office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Academic programs must also be approved by the Board of Regents. Furthermore, in many disciplines, program length is determined by specialized accreditation requirements and standards as well [12], [13].

The program length of all academic programs at the University of West Georgia is the same regardless of the location or method through which these programs are delivered.

Supporting Documentation: