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Columbus State University-[node:field-date:custom:Y]--Program Maps, -Career/Major Exploration, -15-to-Finish

Strategy/Project Description: 

Goal 3.1 Provide “program maps” that plot the path to a degree and reduce choice through “choice architecture.”

While academic advisors have guided students through individual advising sessions each term, they were only provided with course requirements for the major, not with documentation that mapped the order of their classes from beginning to end.

In Fall 2014, department chairs developed program maps for each major. These maps were then published in the online catalog and shared with students in an effort to help them stay on track toward degree completion and to increase their understanding of program requirements and course sequence. In addition, the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) developed interest-area maps (metamajor maps) for undecided students. The program-map goal was achieved by good communication with the Chairs Assembly and with the Faculty Senate as well as stringent attention to time restraints.  

Strategy 3.1 Provide “program maps” that plot the path to a degree and reduce choice through “choice architecture.”


  • Developed bachelor and associate program maps for all undergraduate degrees.
  • Developed interest-area maps for students still searching for a major.

High-impact strategy

  • Our high-impact strategy involved developing a campus campaign around the existence and use of these maps to improve progress toward graduation.

Summary of the Activities

  • Asked department chairs to develop maps for all undergraduate degrees by November 3, 2014; asked ACE to develop interest-area maps for undecided students.
  • Verified accuracy of all maps by late Spring 2015.
  • Uploaded maps into online academic catalog (2014-2015)—completed May 2015.
  • Educated faculty on how to use maps; asked departments to provide these to students.

Baseline Status

  • Metric 3.1: Have program maps been established for programs of study (must include appropriate mathematics pathways)? Yes
  • Metric 3.3: Have meta-major maps been created for the first semester (associate degree institutions) or first year (bachelor's degree institutions) for all meta-majors (must include appropriate mathematics pathways)? Yes
  • Number of program maps in Fall 2014: 0

Interim Measures of Progress

  • Meeting of deadlines—met all.
  • Emailing students and faculty about information availability in catalog—worked with chairs and faculty to communicate with students. 100% of maps completed by May 2015
  • Counseling of advisors on how to appropriately use maps when advising—worked with chairs, faculty, and professional advisors to achieve this end.

Measures of Success

  • We consider this goal 100% achieved since we accomplished and published these maps as we said we would do.
  • Increased number of students enrolled in 15 hours or more—increase of 4.3% from Fall 2013 to Fall 2015. (Our goal was 10 %.)
    • Fall 2013: 1,951 (27.8%)
    • Fall 2014: 2,115 (30.7%)
    • Fall 2015: 2,228 (32.1%)

Lessons Learned

Creating program maps for all degree programs and for five interest areas for undecided majors was labor intensive. However, now that the maps have been created, keeping them updated from year to year should be relatively easy. How much these maps affect RPG will be demonstrated in the next year or two as students and advisors all over campus begin using them.

The completion of this goal reinforces to students the importance of “15-to finish.” We consider this goal 100% achieved in that we did all of the tasks that we wanted to do. In addition, 98% of the program maps are already completed and uploaded to the 2015-2016 catalog. In addition, we are redesigning our catalog to make the maps easier to find and use.