Open Option Program
UCM openly welcomes students who are undecided and want to keep their options open. Students who are unsure about what academic program best fits them may choose to be an Open Option student. This program is intended to ensure students are progressing toward the completion of a degree while they are actively exploring their academic options. Some of the services available to assist Open Option students are:
- Specialized Assistance in Academic Advising. Career Counselors in the Gateway Center will aid students in selecting courses to keep them progressing toward graduation, even though they are unclear about their academic direction.
- Individualized Career Counseling. Career Counselors in the Gateway Center help students explore their options, narrow their focus, and methodically make a major decision. The Career Counselors utilize today’s most valid and reliable resources available to assist students with their decision-making process.
- Exploring Majors and Careers (AE 1410 ). This is a one-credit-hour career development course designed to introduce students to a wide range of academic programs and career options. Special emphasis is given to an exploration of self through the use of career assessments and individual career counseling sessions, as well as individual and group activities, discussions, and interviews specifically designed to facilitate a methodical approach to assist students with identifying “right fit” career options and the academic paths that lead to those options.
- Informational Interviewing and Job Shadowing. Career Development Coordinators in the Career Services Center have access to over 8,000 individual employer and alumni contacts that can be utilized by students to learn more about specific career paths and the desired academic programs that lead to those options.
The Open Option program is not designed to be a long-term academic status or program. It is designed to be a bridge between being unsure and confidently deciding on an academic program. At UCM, we are committed to helping every student make continuous and steady progress toward graduation, and to successfully graduate in a program best suited to him/her as an individual. To that end, the following rules apply to individuals who choose to be Open Option students:
- First-Time, Full-Time Students (FTFT). FTFT students will be enrolled in AE 1410 , Exploring Majors and Careers, and will need to reach a decision/declare their major by the time they have earned 30 credit hours, or before enrolling in their third semester (whichever comes first).
- Continuing Students. Continuing students, who are in an academic program and have determined that program to no longer be a fit, may change their status to Open Option. Students in this category with 30 or more credit hours will need to decide on an academic program prior to their enrollment in the semester following their decision to change their status to Open Option. Students with less than 30 credit hours earned should refer to the FTFT rules above.
- New Transfer Students and Readmitted Students. New students transferring in to UCM, as well as UCM students who are coming back after a break in their college career, may choose to enter UCM as Open Option students. These students will be enrolled in AE 1410, Exploring Majors and Careers. Students in this category with 30 or more credit hours earned will need to decide on an academic program during their first semester, prior to their enrollment for the subsequent semester.
By taking active steps to explore and decide on a major before accumulating 30 or more hours of credit, students greatly improve their chances of making timely progress toward graduation.
For more information about the Open Option Program at UCM, or to make an appointment with a Career Counselor, students should contact the Gateway Advising & Major Exploration Center (DOC 203, 660-543-4721).
UCM programs take an active role in preparing students for admission to professional schools in the following areas:
- Veterinary Medicine
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Chiropractic Medicine
- Physician’s Assistant
- Molecular Biology/Molecular Technology
Students wishing to pursue pre-professional programs are assigned to an appropriate faculty advisor whose job it is to mentor the advisees:
- by helping them plan and prepare a program of study.
- by assisting them to prepare for appropriate post-baccalaureate admissions tests, e.g., MCAT, DAT, GRE, administered by national agencies. The faculty advisor shares pertinent information and resources of such tests, i.e., topics covered in the tests with the advisee. Many professional schools use the results of such tests as important criteria for admission.
- by emphasizing the importance of General Education in analytical and critical thinking, which is also evaluated in the written portions of some post-baccalaureate admission tests.
- by communicating the competitive nature of admission to the professional schools and the necessity of an “achiever’s attitude” in the classroom.
- by providing student handbooks which summarize the admissions process to a professional school, e.g., The Pre-Med Handbook.
- by sponsoring student clubs in pre-professional fields (e.g., The Para-Medico Club, The Pre-Vet Club, The Tri-Beta Honor Society, etc.), and coordinating meetings between student organizations and professional school admissions officers.
- by encouraging hands-on student participation in profession-related work outside the classroom (e.g., volunteering or working in a health care facility).
- by polishing the communication skills of student applicants for professional school interviews.
In addition, programs offer courses and research opportunities in many contemporary branches of the sciences, e.g., molecular biology, physiology, microbiology, cell biology, and biochemistry. These courses and research experiences provide students with the necessary investigative and critical thinking skills to prepare them for advanced degree programs, or as entry-level scientists in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
While the American Bar Association does not recommend any particular undergraduate major to prepare for law school, a student should major in an area that is both personally satisfying and that provides the basic skills necessary to be successful in law school.
Students interested in preparing for law school should consult a pre-law advisor from the following list:
- Dr. Benecia Carmack, Department of Criminal Justice
- Dr. Steven Popejoy, Department of Marketing and Public Relations
- Dr. Jim Staab, Department of Government, International Studies, and Languages
These advisors assist students in choosing courses and/or professors that will assist in developing the following skills and values:
- Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills
- Critical Reading Abilities
- Writing Skills
- Oral Communication and Listening Skills
- Research Skills
- Organizational Abilities and Management Skills
- Valuing Service to Others and Promoting Justice
Individualized Majors and Minors
Individualized majors and minors allow students to create an academic program that is personalized to meet their educational and career goals. Students may request an individualized undergraduate major or minor not listed in the Undergraduate Catalog, but consisting of courses offered herein. An individualized program requires thoughtful planning and collaboration with the department chair of the individualized major or minor. Department chairs have the right to deny an individualized major or minor not based on these principles. An individualized major or minor may include coursework across various disciplines, but must satisfy all of the following:
- All General Education Program requirements must be met.
- All university minimum requirements for a baccalaureate degree must be met.
The students’ program includes a signed statement indicating they accept full responsibility for the proposal and understands that the individualized program may not be accepted or recognized by institutions other than UCM. Upon final approval of the individualized major or minor program, the student is notified by the Vice Provost’s Office and a copy of the approved program is filed with the Registrar’s Office.
UCM offers two types of individualized major and minor programs: Named programs and a General Studies program. The two programs have some curricular differences explained below.
Types of Individualized Majors and Minors
- Named Individualized Major or Minor. Some examples of named programs are: “Art History”; “Criminal Psychology”. The diploma and transcript will read, for example: Art History: Individualized Major. The following criteria must be met for a named individualized major or minor:
- Must include a minimum of 40 credit hours and Named individualized minors must include a minimum of 20 credit hours.
- Students pursuing a second major, minor, or degree in addition to the Named Individualized major or minor may overlap courses in the Named program with the other existing major or minor program.
- General Studies Individualized Major or Minor. The General Studies major is intended to serve as a degree completion program for students with advanced earned hours. The diploma and transcript will read, for example: General Studies: Individualized Major. General Studies is not available as a double or second degree, major, or minor. The following criteria must be met for a General Studies major or minor:
- Students may only declare a General Studies major or minor after earning 85 cumulative credit hours.
- A General Studies major must contain a minimum of 43 credit hours. A General Studies minor must contain a minimum of 21 credit hours.
- The General Studies major is comprised of four areas: Arts and Humanities (12 hours, 3 upper level), Social and Behavioral Sciences (9 hours, 3 upper level), Science, Technology, and Mathematics (10 hours), and a Concentration Area (12 hours, 6 upper level).
- Overlap with General Education is allowed in this program with the exception of courses used to fulfill the core writing competency requirements (ENGL 1020 , ENGL 1030 , ENGL 1080 , and CTE 3060 ) and courses used to complete the mathematics requirement of the General Education Program.
- Students in major programs that require a minor and are interested in the General Studies minor will work with an academic advisor to create a 21-credit-hour minor plan.
How to Declare an Individualized Major or Minor
- Named Individualized Major or Minor. The student must select a faculty member to serve as a mentor to develop a proposed plan of study. The faculty member must be from the college where the majority of the courses in the individualized major or minor were taken. After the plan is created with a faculty member, it must also be approved by the department chair, the dean of that college, the Office of the Registrar, and the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services (in this order).
- General Studies Individualized Major or Minor. Only students with at least 85 earned hours will be considered for a major in General Studies. Applications for a minor in General Studies will only be considered for students pursuing majors which require a minor. Students who are currently in a declared major at UCM must meet with their current major department chair for an exit interview. After this interview, the student will meet with an academic advisor in the Office of Extended Studies (HUM 410, 660-543-4984) to develop the General Studies major or minor plan. Students who are undecided or do not have a declared major are not required to complete an exit interview. After the plan is created with an academic advisor, it must also approved by the Office of the Registrar and the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services (in this order).
For more information about individualized major and minor programs, students should contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services (WDE 1800, 660-543-4116).