April 15, 2019


students talking and studying in the SUB atrium

MSU Billings Academic Senate approves program cuts from Strategic Program Alignment

University aims to better align programs with student needs and market demands



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS—The Academic Senate at Montana State University Billings approved program cuts at their meeting on Thursday, April 11. These programs were proposed as part of the university’s Strategic Program Alignment (SPA). These programs had little or no enrollment. For the full list of programs, click here.

“Strategic program alignment is helping better align MSU Billings’ degrees and programs with student needs and market demands, as well as ensuring the university is a good steward of resources,” comments Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Melinda Arnold. Universities and colleges nationwide are undergoing similar processes, and it has been a topic of discussion with MSU Billings’ accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

With the Academic Senate’s approval, the university will begin the process of placing the programs on moratorium, which will result in these programs no longer being available to students. To note, students currently enrolled in these programs will be offered an opportunity to complete their programs.

Strategic Program Alignment began in November 2018 with a focus on being faculty driven and transparent. A SPA steering committee, composed of 13 faculty members and a New Student Services representative, drafted the criteria that departments would use to evaluate their programs. This criteria, along with a framework and timeline, was distributed to department chairs, program directors, and deans in December 2018. They were also supplied institutional research data on their programs.

Programs directors spent six weeks self-evaluating their programs. They were asked to categorize programs into three potential areas: Phase Out, Integrate/Invigorate, or Maintain. Phase 1 (Phase Out) of SPA was completed in February with faculty selecting the 37 programs to be phased out. An Academic Affairs Town Hall was also held that month to share these draft recommendations to faculty, staff, students, and the community.

Phase 2 of SPA commenced in February, where program leads met with the Provost to discuss programs categorized as Integrate/Invigorate to determine next steps. Program directors are presenting the case for the resources needed to further grow their programs. Phase 2 concludes in May. Phase 3 of SPA, which commences in fall 2019, will look at adding programs based on strategic priorities and strong market demand.

For additional questions on Strategic Program Alignment, please contact Shannon Wilcox, Director of University Communications and Marketing, at (406) 657-2243 or swilcox@msubillings.edu.