At this winter’s commencement ceremony, CALS will graduate more students than in years past, while offering fewer degrees. How can that be?

This apparent conundrum is the result of a simplified curriculum adopted by the college in the spring of 2010 that reduced the number of degrees offered from eight to five. So even as the number of students finishing an undergraduate degree has increased – from 550 a decade ago to over 900 in the most recent year – students have a narrower selection of degrees to choose from.

This new streamlined system is a win-win, enabling students and advisors to spend less time figuring out the rules and requirements of the various degree options and more time thinking creatively about how to get the most out of a CALS education. It’s also a boon to the Registrar’s Office and other administrative units that process the paperwork.

The curriculum change was adopted back in March 2010, when CALS faculty approved combining the college’s four existing general Bachelor of Science degrees (Bachelor of Science-Agricultural Sciences, Bachelor of Science-International Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science-Natural Resources and Bachelor of Science-Natural Sciences) into a single Bachelor of Science degree. It took some time, however, to transition to the new system, as students already in these degree programs were allowed to finish them out. This past May, the last student graduated from the final closed-out program.

That means when Dean VandenBosch is asked to present our CALS graduates at the upcoming winter commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 20, she will only need to read the names of five undergraduate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Science-Agricultural Business Management
  • Bachelor of Science-Biological Systems Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science-Dietetics
  • Bachelor of Science-Landscape Architecture

Within these five degrees, CALS offers 24 majors (Can you name them all? Hint: They are listed here.) Majors are not named during commencement ceremonies and do not show up on students’ diplomas. It’s the degrees that are recognized.