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State board slashes less popular degree programs at Texas universities

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board voted last week to eliminate degree programs that were not attracting enough students, including art education, dance and physics at institutions around the state.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that despite the pleas of university officials during the hearing, the board cut the programs based on tougher guidelines implemented last year to pinpoint less popular degree programs, and encourage schools to drop them.

As previously reported by the Texas Independent, Sul Ross State University in Alpine already began phasing out six degree programs considered “low-producing,” in response to the state program.

This same program also led to three programs being cut by University of Texas-Pan American. Both universities are cutting programs in the science fields, such as environmental studies-chemistry at Sul Ross and computer science at UT-Pan American.

The Houston Chronicle reports that programs at Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M were cut, despite protests from university officials wh argued that cutting the programs would hurt low-income and minority students. At Prairie View A&M the masters in physics program was phased out, and at TSU, the bachelors in physics and masters in mathematics were phased out.

“We are not out to eliminate the options that students have,” said Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes. “We are out to eliminate options that are not working for students.”

The board had identified a total of 545 programs statewide that it said were under-enrolled — meaning they had graduated fewer than 25 bachelor’s degrees in five years, 15 master’s degrees in five years, or 10 doctorate degrees in five years.

In the first phase of the review process, 145 programs were phased out by each institution’s choice. Then 62 programs were phased out by THECB mandate, which included programs that universities applied for and were denied or withdrew exemptions, said Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board spokesman Dominic Chavez.

Other programs phased out include Texas A&M International University’s Spanish Masters program; the University of Texas-El Paso bachelor’s in Latin American and Border Studies and master’s in Art Education; Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Tarleton State University’s bachelor’s in physics; and Lamar University’s bachelor’s in dance.

The full breakdown of programs, according to the Higher Ed Coordinating Board, is below, with those completely phased out highlighted in red. Programs listed in green have been granted extensions while the university works to attract more students.

Texas degree programs cut for low demand

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