TCU provost office proposes reducing graduation requirements


2020 Graduates cap decorations during Commencement at Among G. Carter Stadium on Friday, May 7th, 2021. (Esau Rodriguez Olvera / Staff Photographer)

By Jake Peterson, Staff Writer

The provost office has proposed reducing the residency and upper division requirements for graduation, with some administrators saying they put an undue burden on transfer students.

The proposal is set to be discussed Friday afternoon at the Undergraduate Council meeting. The Undergraduate Council recommends and reviews policies for undergraduate academic affairs while maintaining TCU’s mission and program integrity, according to the TCU provost office.

Under the proposal, upper division hours requirement would drop from 42 to 36 hours with 24 required to be completed at TCU, and the requirement for residency hours would drop from 58 to 45 hours. The 124 required semester hours would not change. The proposition would go into effect during the Fall 2023 semester.

Students walking to class
Students on their way to class, crossing University Street, TCU Undergraduate Council to discuss proposal to reduce the required upper division and residency hours for undergraduate students (Esau Rodriguez Olvera/ Head Staff Photographer)

The proposal was signed by Dr. Reginald A. Wilburn, associate provost of undergraduate affairs. A request for comment from Wilburn Thursday afternoon is still pending.

The proposition would fit the requirements of TCU’s accreditation program, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and is supported by many faculty members.

The reduction in required hours puts TCU in a better position to compete for students against similar institutions, and makes the university more appealing to transfer students.

“TCU relies heavily on a healthy transfer student population,” wrote Heath I. Einstein, dean of Academic Affairs, in his endorsement letter of the proposition to the Undergraduate Council. Adding, “Current policy places us out of step with our peer and aspirant institutions.”

For example, another SACSCOC accredited institution Baylor University requires students to complete 124 semester hours with a minimum of 36 upper division hours to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Transfer students’ thoughts on the proposal

Some TCU transfer students welcomed the proposal.

“I think that it would be really beneficial for the transfer students,” said L.J. Herbert, a communications major who transferred from the University of Mississippi. “A lot of time and money additionally goes into the transfer process for kids coming from all different places, so to lower the required hours for those students will be very beneficial.”

Bri Guerra, a communication studies major who transferred  from Tarrant County College agreed.

“At first I’m jealous,” said Guerra. “But it’s fair and should be done to make it easier for future transfer students.”

While the student population has been growing at TCU, the total number of transfer students has decreased since 2018. In 2018, 491 students transferred to TCU, compared to this fall when 390 transfer students enrolled, according to TCU Institutional Research.

While transfer students think the proposed requirements will help, some are still critical of how credits from other institutions will transfer.

“I think it will be appealing for other students,” said Brooke Ashmore, a nursing major who transferred from Point Loma Nazarene University. “But I don’t see it actually having an influence for transfers when choosing between schools since transfer credits get denied often anyways.”

Cade Gunter, a transfer pre-business and Spanish major from the University of Texas, said “I took an art class at UT and TCU would not accept the credits. They denied it for being ‘too specific.’ I sent them the syllabus and apparently they didn’t understand what the whole course was about.”

But Einstein said easing current requirements will make the transfer process smoother for students already in the transfer pipeline.

“Moreover, it will assist us in marketing to future transfer students who believe that transferring to TCU and graduating within a reasonable period of time is not possible,” Einstein said.

“I think it would be beneficial for TCU too,” said Noah Daugherty, an economics major, who transferred from Collin College. “They can cycle kids through, attract more people and build up their alumni base. TCU already has a great brand, but it would attract more desirable transfer students.”