KU eliminating 2 general degree programs in favor of more specialized options

photo by: Sara Shepherd/Journal-World File Photo

Haworth Hall, 1200 Sunnyside Ave. on the University of Kansas campus is pictured in April 2016. The building is home to the Department of Molecular Biosciences and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The University of Kansas is eliminating one of its general biology degrees and its Edwards Campus’ master’s program in global and international studies in favor of more specialized offerings.

Last summer, KU started the process of examining whether certain degree programs were being used effectively. KU found that its bachelor of science degree in general biology and master’s of arts in global and international studies were not, and it will cut those programs as a result. Outgoing interim Provost Carl Lejuez told the Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday that the move should serve students well going forward.

Among the 555 students in the bachelor of science general biology degree program, for example, most are choosing to switch to one of the specialized options, Lejuez said. While the option to graduate with a general biology degree will remain for the students already enrolled in the program, KU has suspended future enrollment.

“The general biology degree really provides no clear and concrete value at this point,” Lejuez said.

The school’s general degree in biology will remain for Bachelor of Arts candidates.

KU’s general biology degree program had been offered jointly by the college’s Department of Molecular Biosciences and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. But after the Regents approved two more specialized degrees — ecology, evolution and organismal biology, as well as molecular, cellular and developmental biology — students began to drift to the more targeted programs, Lejuez said.

“What made this a usable thing to do is (the specialized degrees) include the same general curriculum in the beginning and then diverge later on,” Lejuez said. “So there will be no impact to any student.”

KU’s global and international studies program, meanwhile, was spread across campuses in Lawrence, Overland Park and Leavenworth. The Edwards Campus in Overland Park had been offering a general master’s degree and graduate certificate to an average of only five students over a four-year span, according to data provided to the Regents.

As a result, admissions to the program were suspended and the certificate program has already been discontinued, Lejuez said.

There will, however, continue to be an option for some students to earn a master’s degree in global and international studies. Lejuez said KU recognized some success with its specialized master’s program that runs in conjunction with Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College. Enrollment in the program is limited to military officers, but it averages 17 graduates per year, so KU elected to continue offering the more specialized degree option.

“While Lawrence and Leavenworth were doing well, the Edwards Campus wasn’t positioned well to do so,” Lejuez said. “We are providing an important service, I believe, to those in the military, by continuing to offer this program.”

Note: This article has been updated to clarify that KU’s general biology degree for Bachelor of Arts candidates will remain in place. It is only the Bachelor of Science program that will switch to more specialized areas of focus.

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