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Project Title:Curricula Review to Ensure a Timely GraduationInstitution Name:California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Cecile Lindsay, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate StudiesContact Information:(562) 985-7955, clindsay@csulb.eduWebsite:
Project Description: In 2009-2010, CSULB launched an initiative to review curricula in all colleges and departments to identify high-unit majors that are prolonging time-to-degree for students. We also reviewed curricula to identify majors with unusually complex pathways to degree completion. We identified several majors, clustered in three colleges, with an unusually high number of required units or with very complex degree requirements. These departments are now engaged in curricula revisions to decrease the number of required units and to create more easily navigable paths to degree completion.
  • Reduce the number of units required for graduation in high-unit majors, such as engineering and the arts
  • Eliminate unnecessarily complex requirements or course sequencing and hidden pre-requisites
  • Reduce the time-to-degree completion for students in the arts, engineering, and in health and human services
  • Increase graduation rates for students in the arts, engineering, and in health and human services

We have already demonstrated in many majors:

  • Reductions in required units to degree
  • Review and elimination of overly-prescriptive requirements
  • Review and elimination of some “hidden” prerequisites

Eventually we hope to measure:

  • Shorter average time-to-degree
  • Reduced average accumulated units at baccalaureate graduation
  • Increased graduation rates


Challenges/Problems Encountered:Curricula development and oversight are key faculty responsibilities. Convincing faculty that changes are needed to facilitate student success has been no easy task. We have worked to overcome it by stressing student success as the core mission of CSULB. As President Alexander and Provost Para repeatedly say, student success is what we do at CSULB. Ultimately, though, we have had to enforce, rather rigidly, CSU rules for the number of units allowed in degrees such as the BFA and draft our own university policies supporting 120 unit-132 unit degree programs. 
Evaluation Approach:Evaluation of academic programs is done largely through the program review process which includes data on student success, persistence, and graduation. We have created departmental institutional research web pages that allow department chairs to track their persistence and graduation rates, as well as average completed units and time-to-degree.
Potential for Replication:Replication depends upon strong leadership at the dean or associate dean level. Identifying faculty and department chairs who are willing to lead the curricula review processes in their departments is also critical and should be supported by the creation of system-level or institutional-level policies that limit the number of units necessary for degrees. The dissemination of data illustrating the average number of units completed for particular degrees and time-to-degree are critical for garnering support. 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:F. King Alexander , Presidentfkalexander@csulb.edu
(562) 985-4121
Date Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011