By Sophia Turgeon, contributing writer
UMF will be implementing a new curriculum and credit system in the fall of 2023; the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System approved the campus to alter from a four-credit system to a three-credit system.
This system is one that many University of Maine System schools use, but it comes with a catch. Currently, full-time students take four classes a semester and earn a total of 16 credits (four credits per class). Beginning in September 2023, full-time students will need to take five classes to earn a total of 15 credits (three credits per class).
The overall intention of this change is to match UMF’s curriculum with other University of Maine System schools. This will allow UMF to begin increasing the amount of collaboration between other schools in the system. Additionally, it is also intended to make the transfer of students to UMF easier.
Provost and Vice Principal of Academic Affairs at UMF, Eric Brown, believes that students should not be too alarmed by this change. Program requirements will remain the same for students and the amount of credits needed to graduate will be decreased to accommodate this curriculum. With that being said, UMF faculty is currently reshaping their classes in order to account for the reduced amount of time spent in the classroom.
“No students should be adversely affected by this change in terms of program requirements or path to graduation,” Brown said. “And for many current students the change will likely mean a slightly lower cost for their UMF education, since they will only need 120 rather than 128 credits to graduate,” Brown said.
Brown also admitted that though this shift may be difficult, it will not be disastrous. “… there is time to adjust and anticipate what the changes will look like,” Brown said. “I was here at UMF when we shifted from 3-credits to 4-credits and the adjustment didn’t happen overnight. But at some point it will become a new normal.”
When it comes to students wishing to transfer to UMF, Brown trusts that this credit system will make the transition much smoother. According to Brown, more than half (55%) of the transfer students at UMF that were surveyed confessed that they had lost credits during their transition to UMF. Moreover, 45% reported being required to take more classes than they had initially planned.
“One of the primary reasons for making this change is actually to better align our curriculum with all of the other University of Maine System schools,” Brown said. “This will facilitate one of the System’s strategic goals in the coming years—more multicampus collaboration and more seamless movement for students between and among campuses. But what makes UMF special, in my experience—the close and authentic bonds between faculty and staff and students—will not change. And no one anytime soon will mistake Farmington for Portland or Presque Isle.”
When considering the kind of school UMF is, Brown believes that UMF has always been an amazing university for students to attend, even before the switch to a four-credit system. “UMF was a fantastic school before we switched to a 4-credit curriculum and will continue to be so once we have switched back to a 3-credit model,” Brown said. “It doesn’t mean the transition will be easy or always graceful but the core mission and values of this place will maintain. It really is a rare opportunity to reimagine our best practices collectively as an institution, and to continue to improve upon our well-established record of student success. And I do believe we can emerge stronger as a university once we are on the other side of the work to get us there.”