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Economics Dept permits S/Cr/Nc on prerequisite courses

The Economics department recently adjusted their language, explicitly allowing majors to take the two math prerequisite courses—Calculus I (MATH111) and Introduction to Statistics (MATH215)—on a Satisfactory/Credit/No Credit (S/Cr/Nc) basis. 

The change in policy was proposed by Chair of Economics Jenny Bourne and Registrar Emy Farley at an Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) meeting on Friday, March 8. The department’s catalogue language—which listed both math courses vaguely as “prerequisites”—had previously been inconsistent with official degree audits, which tracked MATH215 as a required, graded-scale course but not MATH111. 

The Political Science department, which is the only other department to allow S/Cr/Nc within the major, has permitted majors to take the math prerequisite—one of MATH115, MATH215, MATH245 or MATH275—on a S/Cr/Nc basis since 2003. 

“Per the Major Field Requirements policy, departments have the latitude to allow extra-departmental courses to be counted as S/Cr/Nc as appropriate. These generally happen on a case-by-case basis,” said Farley. “The Economics department wanted to standardize these courses as being able to be S/Cr/Nc for all students.”

“We were concerned about students who decide to become Economics majors after they’ve had MATH111 or MATH215 and decided to S/Cr/Nc for reasons unrelated to Economics,” explained Bourne. “Those students shouldn’t be precluded from becoming Economics majors.”

A graduating senior Economics major experienced a problem with this inconsistency earlier this year, when they were “shut out of the Comps seminar,” according to Bourne. The student had taken MATH215 on a S/Cr/Nc basis before declaring as an Economics major.

“We want to make sure to not run into a similar situation, which was a lot of hassle,” Bourne said. “We talked as a department, and decided that a S/Cr/Nc equates to at least a C-, so you would still be passing. It’s not a good thing to S/Cr/Nc because it means you’re probably not that strong in that subject. But on the other hand, the department has taken students who have gotten C-’s on the math courses anyways.”

The department still encourages students interested in Economics to take the math prerequisites on a graded basis, and doesn’t anticipate the S/Cr/Nc option being widely used.

“The students that come in with C’s or C-’s in the math courses—they do struggle,” noted Bourne. “I don’t know if this change will push more people into the S/Cr/Nc category. I talked to the students on ECC, and in their opinion, it’s not going to have a perverse effect.”

Beyond Economics, the Registrar’s Office is working with other departments to revise and clarify catalogue language.

“As the Hub phases out, we’re taking the opportunity to review catalogue text and compare it to our degree audits to be sure we’re listing information consistently and clearly across the College,” said Farley. “Our office has been working with departments on these reviews, which really don’t result in changes to the majors so much as they might result in changes to the way the degree audits might be written.”

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