JACKSON Miss. – Leaders of Mississippi’s two-year and four-year higher education programs have reached an agreement to standardize course requirements for transfer students.
They began with elementary education because it is the most popular major for students transferring from community colleges to four-year schools.
Almost 39 percent of the 11,815 students who transferred from the state’s community colleges to its senior colleges in the fall of 2009 majored in elementary education.
Those universities agreed this month on 60 to 62 hours of requirements, depending on laboratory classes, for elementary education majors.
Eric Clark, executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, said previously there were eight separate agreements one for each of the universities.
“Now it’s all one,” he said. “We have one agreement that says that all eight universities will accept the same 62 hours from any of our community colleges.”
In March, the state College Board adopted a list of 30 common core requirements they would accept from Mississippi community college students.
“This is a step forward for us, and it is certainly going to help more people earn teaching degrees with a smooth transition and to be able to move within the state if they need to,” said Dr. Kim Hartman, chairman of the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Mississippi.
Now, officials are working to develop common requirements for business administration and physical education, the next two most popular majors. When that’s done, others will follow.
“There is no worry,” said Charlie Barnett, dean of instruction at Northeast Mississippi Community College. “People used to start at a community college, and there were rumors that one thing or another wouldn’t transfer. We can take the guesswork out of it.
“We’ve had people this semester tell me they’re going to Mississippi State and then at the last minute, they decide they are going to Ole Miss. What does that do to them? If they’re in elementary education, they’re going to transfer the same number of hours.”
The students must earn a “C” average in order for the course to be accepted by the four-year university.
Students must earn at least 50 percent of their degree requirements directly from the four-year institution, but educators’ goal is to find common requirements that allow students in many majors to earn the other 50 percent at the community college.
For some specialty majors, such as engineering, the student may still need to take more than half of his or her classes at the senior institution.
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