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Missouri Western reduces credit hour requirement, launches Finish in 4

As part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs for students and help them finish college in a timely manner, Missouri Western State University will reduce the number of credit hours required to earn a bachelor’s degree from 124 to 120, effective in the fall semester of 2018.

“This change is an important part of our overall strategy to help more students earn their degrees within four years,” said Dr. Jeanne Daffron, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Students will be able to take a manageable 15 credit hours per semester and graduate on time. Because this change applies to all students this fall, we may have some who will be ready to graduate a semester ahead of schedule or take a part-time course load and enter the workforce sooner than they anticipated.”

Credit requirements within majors or minors will not change. The new minimum reduces the number of elective hours that are needed.

The credit requirement change comes as Missouri Western launches a new program called “Finish in 4” to help more students finish their courses of study on time. Finish in 4 will give qualified first-time freshmen who choose a major or pre-major in their first semester a clear four-year plan to graduation.

“Finish in 4 will provide a roadmap to success for our incoming freshmen,” said Dr. Paul Orscheln, associate vice president for enrollment management and retention. “We not only will give them a plan to finish in four years, but we will give them the tools to follow the plan and persist to graduation.”

As part of Finish in 4, Missouri Western will help students be sure they are staying on track academically. The Early Intervention System will monitor academic progress to provide timely feedback and support for struggling students. Participating students making satisfactory academic progress will also receive priority registration for next semester’s classes.

Incoming freshmen will be able to sign up for Finish in 4 during Griffon Orientation events this summer, or any time prior to the start of their first semester.

Finish in 4 and the reduced credit hour requirement are both parts of Missouri Western’s efforts to bridge the affordability gap in higher education.

“Missouri Western remains a very affordable option compared to our peers, but we know that for more and more students around the country, higher education seems increasingly out of reach,” Dr. Orscheln said. “We want to do everything we can to make sure that a high quality education is attainable for the students we serve.”

Other recent measures to help make Missouri Western more affordable include using the “superscore” method to evaluate ACT scores for admissions and scholarships, making some incoming freshmen eligible for an additional $1,000 to $1,600 in scholarships per year, or $4,000 to $6,400 over four years. Missouri Western also recently extended the Griffon Rate tuition waiver, allowing students from anywhere in the eight states neighboring Missouri to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain academic requirements. Missouri Western is also discussing ways to address the affordability of textbooks.

Missouri Western’s enrollment outlook for next year continues to look promising, Dr. Orscheln said, with applications for fall 2018 up more than 40 percent over last year and more than double from two years ago.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit