Bachelor’s degrees adding number of credit hours required

Suzi Starheim

Students may have

difficulty graduating

in four years

Students hoping to complete

their bachelor ’s degree in four

years may have to start taking a

closer look at their major’s degree

requirements prior to enrollment.

Students hoping to complete

their bachelor ’s degree in four

years may have to start taking a

closer look at their major’s degree

requirements prior to enrollment.

A typical bachelor’s degree

should require 121 credit hours over

the course of four years, yet several

of Kent State’s programs have far

exceeded this standard, said Robert

Frank, provost and senior vice

president of academic affairs.

“We’ve had sort of degree

creep over the years where people

add more and more and more

into degrees, and employers sort

of give us mixed messages,” Frank

said. “They want our graduates to

have more, but on the other hand

they want graduates to come out

with more work-ready skills, so

you get caught up in how to best

prepare people.”

This means that many students

cannot graduate in the allotted four

years, typically having to complete

the left-over credit hours during a

fifth year.

“Students may not really realize

what going 20 or 40 hours more

means in their lives,” Frank said.

“They may not realize until junior

or senior years.”

Therese Tillett, director of curriculum

services, said, “Ideally, a fulltime

enrolled student should get by

by taking 15 credits per semester

plus an orientation course.”

Mohammed Alsawaha, freshman

English as a second language

major, said while he is changing his

major to business administration in

Fall 2010, he plans to take 15 credit

hours per semester.

Alsawaha said if it comes down

to having many credit hours during

his last two years, he will do

whatever it takes to graduate in

four years.

Alsawaha said he would rather

“load up on credits in his fourth year

than take a fifth year of classes.”


Tillett said the education and

nursing departments tend to have

degrees with high credit hour


“Licensure or state requirements

change every few years, and

I think there is a history of changing

the program to add courses

without checking to see what can be removed,” Tillett said. “The

College of Nursing is very good at

looking at their own program and

incorporating content into already

existing courses.”

Tillett said another possible reason

for the high credit requirements

in these departments is “because

of their accreditation and state

requirements for teacher licensure

and with some of these majors,

sometimes the student will specialize

in two areas and they will have

to take content in both areas.”

Tillett added that fortunately

for education students, some of

these high credit hour requirements

can be counted toward their

master’s degree when they come

to complete it.

When Katelyn Regan, sophomore

integrated language arts

major, changed to her major from

business her freshman year, she

wasn’t fully aware of how much

she would have to do each semester

to graduate in four years.

“I was led to believe I could

get out in four years,” Regan said.

“That would be if I did my student

teaching in Spring 2012.”

Regan said she hopes to ideally

graduate in four years and wants to

begin teaching immediately upon


Cynthia Symons, professor in

health education and promotion,

said while the credit hour requirements

look daunting on paper, there

is a very good explanation for this

that many students don’t realize.

For example, students working

to earn a degree in school health and

physical education can have to take

up to 167 credit hours to graduate

— taking them well into a fifth year

of classes. This is because a program

like this is technically a dual major:

one in school health and one in

physical education.

However, by taking a fifth year,

students will graduate with two

full majors and two full licensures

in Ohio, Symons said.

“That accounts for the additional

credit hours,” Symons said. “The

licenses are split and you can get

one or the other, or you can load up

and get both.”

Symons said the fifth year of

additional credits is very beneficial

to students in the education field.

“In terms of increasing their

marketability, anytime a teacher can

have licenses or credentials in more

than one area, the more marketable

they are,” she said.

If students choose to get both

licensures, some of those hours

can be taken over the summer, said

Ralph Lorenz, interim associate

dean of the College of the Arts.

“Of course you can take extra

courses during the summer, but it’s

not generally assumed that students

have to take courses during summer,”

Lorenz said.

If a program is 132 hours or

more, the department has to decide

whether to cut back hours or advertise

as more than a four-year program,

Frank added.

“Degrees are constantly pressured

to justify why they aren’t at the typical

120 national average,” Frank said.

“Both at a national and international

level, there is a push for a bachelor’s

degree to be as efficient as possible.”

Lorenz said overall, colleges

have to realize that it’s all about

“finding the right balance.”

“There is always something to

be said for the additional knowledge

you take up,” Lorenz added.

“There is always a trade-off between

efficiency and picking up a highly

developed set of skills.”

Contact academics reporter Suzi

Starheim at [email protected].