Colleges review their degree programs every few years to make sure their requirements are preparing students to succeed. Students who are already enrolled in a program aren’t subject to these curricular changes unless they choose to be.

The Revision Procedure

The six regional accrediting agencies in the United States ask the colleges they accredit to submit a self-study every two to three years. These studies include department-level reviews of every program. When the faculty in a program decide to remove or add a course requirement, or to substitute one course for another, they must get college approval, and the college then notifies the accrediting agency. The college also lets the agency know when it changes general education requirements.

How It Affects Students

Once a department changes a degree program or a college changes its general education requirements, enrolled students get to choose whether they want to proceed according to the original or revised requirements. Programs that don’t accommodate students in this way risk losing accreditation. For example, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, one of the six regional accrediting agencies, mandates that colleges that change degree programs ensure that students can “complete their education with a minimum of disruption.”