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Graduate Council Continuous Registration Report, 4/2/08

The University of Montana

Continuous Registration Policy Report Summary

Continuous Registration Subcommittee of the Graduate Council

Date: 4/2/08

The Continuous Registration Subcommittee of the Graduate Council was charged with the task of studying The University of Montana's continuous registration policy. The subcommittee has examined the data from Institutional Research, as well as the data and comments from the Graduate Student survey and the Graduate Director Survey. In summary, the Continuous Registration Subcommittee can not fully support the Institution's continuous registration policy of 3 credits for all graduate students.  The cost analysis shows, assuming every graduate student taking 1 or 2 credits during the academic year 07-08 were to enroll for 3 credits, the University would have received an additional $316,547.30 per year. However, a cost benefit analysis with consideration to the above data analysis identifies numerous costs that call into question the financial gain.  While the data and surveys evidence the reasons for our concerns in detail, the most common recurring issues are:

  • significant student financial burden especially for non-resident thesis granting masters programs and doctoral programs 
  • engendering lack of good will towards the University by students and faculty
  • concern for potential bias in impact and loss of diversity
  • concern for lack of planned resource allocation of this new revenue
  • enforcement of the new minimum credit requirement
  • increased tuition expenses for grants
  • hardships for internship students including Peace Corps, field study
  • graduation rate is already healthy
  • data suggests few student outliers - students making good progress toward degrees

Given the sensitivity and volatility of this issue for students and graduate programs to be impacted, we recommend greater consideration be given to thoughtfully addressing the concerns expressed by those who responded to the surveys.  The importance of this issue is evidenced among graduate students by the return rate of 25% and among graduate directors representing 80% of the graduate degree programs on campus.

Our committee has considered several options that may address aspects of concern:

  • A) Allow 1-3 credits for continuous registration per semester based on faculty advisor approval;
  • B) Allow 1 credit for interns, field experience, Peace Corps, and institute an appeals process;
  • C) Allow master's students to enroll in 1 credit of continuous registration for one semester and doctoral students for two semesters, for any reason, and after that, require a minimum of 3 credits continuous registration; and
  • D) After completing thesis/dissertation proposals, all students pay a tuition rate equal to the in-state rate. Require students to enroll for 3 credits at this "advanced" tuition rate.