Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

Undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Business might see a change in their fall schedules this year. The change in format is on a trial basis to try to better accommodate student schedules to help them graduate on time. It would change the majority of classes to 8-weeks instead of 16-weeks. The pilot program would be in effect during the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Michael Elliott discussed the reason for the change to develop more flexible schedules. He said, “The current undergraduate evening offering is rather disjointed and unreliable. The number of dedicated evening students has declined due to the popularity of online courses.”

Elliott continued, “Budgetary decisions have led to the elimination of low enrollment sections. Therefore, students struggle to construct an efficient graduation path when relying exclusively on in-person courses. Our evening MBA students face some of the same frustrations. Most students can take only three or six hours per semester which prolongs the program.”

The change would offer a twice a week meeting or once a week meeting during the 8-week course. The course would keep the same 40 hours of contact with the student if they were meeting once a week for 16 weeks. The twice a week courses would meet Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The once a week offering would be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. The 16-week schedule would meet once a week from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.

The 8-week classes would also offer sequenced related courses to be offered back to back in one semester. For example, the required Marketing 3700 course would be offered the first part of the fall semester and the elective Marketing 3710 could follow in the second part of the semester.

During the fall semester there will be approximately 80 undergraduate and Master of Business Administration classes scheduled in the evening. Of those, Elliott expects 75 percent of those courses will be in the 8-week format. Elliott believes that more online classes will transition to the shorter format in the future.

Elliott explained the time frame for the transition to this 8-week pilot run of classes. Elliott said, “Currently we are working with the newly formed UMSL|NOW (nights, online, and weekends) marketing program to promote the 8-week schedule in the Fall 2018 schedule.  At the end of the semester, we will assess enrollments and get feedback from faculty and students.”

Elliott said he has been working with faculty to make sure the 8-week sessions go smoothly in the fall. He said, “Our faculty has been involved in this process since the beginning.  We survey faculty and students about their preferences for 8-week versus 16-week formats.  Instructors have worked with course designers to modify their courses to the new 8-week format as well as the CANVAS learning management system. Aside from some pedagogical changes, faculty have embraced the challenge of delivering course content in innovative ways.”  

Steve Moehrle, professor and chairman of accounting, compared the classes to the 8-week offerings accounting has in the summer session. Moehrle said, “We will be delivering in the semesters proper, the same course that is delivered in the 8-week summer session.  Hence, this is not a huge leap.”

There will be several accounting classes in the fall in the 8-week format: Financial Accounting in the MBA program, Financial Accounting and Reporting I, Financial Accounting and Reporting II, Financial Accounting and Reporting IV, Tax Research. Moehrle said, “The class will be accelerated.  Essentially, students need to treat their 8-week classes as the equivalent of two classes.”

This pilot will not affect when students are able to sign up for classes. Students are able to sign up for both 8-week class periods during the regular registration period for each semester.

The College of Business holds an international accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for business and accounting programs for both undergraduate and graduate levels. Moehrle believes this new format would not affect this accreditation. “We have plenty of face-to-face time with the students. If a student is going to take two classes, this really just changes the order,” he said.

Moehrle continued, “Under the old model, they had each class for 75 minutes twice a week for 16 weeks. Under the new model they will have one class twice a week for eight weeks, and then the other class twice a week for eight weeks. Hence, the students can fully concentrate on the one course for the eight weeks rather than dividing their attention among the two courses for the sixteen week semester.”

In the long run, Elliott believes that there will be a greater variety of options for the diverse group of students the College of Business attracts. Elliott said, “The College of Business offers a variety of courses and delivery modes to its diverse student groups. For our traditional undergraduate students, we expect to maintain a 16-week format during the day. For distance learners, the College of Business has been offering a completely online undergraduate degree completion program. For adult undergraduates and MBA students, we plan to transform our entire schedule to 8-weeks during the evenings.”

Elliott continued, “In the end, we believe that the 8-week format will increase demand for our evening offers, increase the number of sections offered, and speed up the time to graduation for many of our students.”

It is also possible that should the College of Business pilot program prove popular, other colleges may adopt the 8-week schedule as well. “We hope that if the College’s pilot is successful, the rest of the campus will adopt the 8-week format in the evening. For our adult and evening students, it’s important that UMSL can deliver a cohesive, coordinated schedule that fits their needs,” Elliott explained.

For those interested in more information, please contact the College of Business Undergraduate Business Programs and Graduate Business Programs advising offices in Anheuser-Busch Hall.