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DegreeWorks to make major completion status more visible

By Tina Nazerian     4/24/14 2:42pm

Students will soon be able to easily find out exactly what they need for their major. By early next semester, the Office of the Registrar plans to replace the current degree-auditing tool, ECAPP, with DegreeWorks, a web-based degree-auditing tool that will let students and their major advisors evaluate degree progress. 

Students will soon be able to easily find out exactly what they need for their major. By early next semester, the Office of the Registrar plans to replace the current degree-auditing tool, ECAPP, with DegreeWorks, a web-based degree-auditing tool that will let students and their major advisors evaluate degree progress. 

Registrar David Tenney said ECAPP only certifies university requirements, such as distributions, Lifetime Physical Activity Program classes and Freshman Writing Intensive Seminars.



“[ECAPP] does not include undergraduate major requirements,” Tenney (Sid Richardson ‘87) said. “That was our big goal — to incorporate the major requirements into the audit system.”

According to Tenney, major requirements had to be manually added to the DegreeWorks system.

“We’ve been working on scribing the curriculum for almost a year,” Tenney said. “We began with the General Announcements, Rice’s official and documented curriculum. We [took] a look at the major requirements as put forward by the departments, and then we [attempted] to scribe it into a form of computer code, which essentially enables a student to see exactly where they’re at with their major.”

Tenney said the Registrar has scribed all majors starting from matriculation year 2011, allowing the rising senior class to be the first to make use of DegreeWorks since major requirements can change each year.

The Registrar will spend the summer confirming with department chairs that curriculum has been accurately scribed, according to Tenney.

We are about to go to [department heads] and say, ‘based on our conversation with your department’s undergraduate curriculum chair, and our review of the General Announcements, this is what we show for your major,’” Tenney said. “Once they sign off, we’ll make everything available.” 

According to Tenney, the reason DegreeWorks has not yet been introduced is because of the behind-the-scenes access issues. The Registrar wants to ensure students and departments can only access their own records and not other’s.

“If all goes well between [the access issues] and our final sign-off from academic departments, we expect to be able to roll this out in the fall,” Tenney said. “[DegreeWorks] exists, it’s there. We’ve been using the tool. It probably won’t be available the first week of class, but we would like to have it up and running in the early part of the semester, so that students are using it for the December conferral, and as students are declaring their majors and applying for graduation.”

Tenney said the Registrar plans to set up DegreeWorks for undergraduate curriculum first.

“We’ll then tackle [the] grade-level curriculum with attention first spent on the MBA programs and the professional masters degrees,” Tenney said. “The curriculum for the MBA programs is well-defined, so we believe that we’ll be able to implement that within a short period of time after we finish the [undergraduate] roll-out.”

Tenney said the administration gave the go-ahead for purchasing the DegreeWorks software a year and a half ago, but localizations from the software company have set back the date the system goes live. 

“One of the main things is to give [DegreeWorks] our look and feel,” Tenney said. “Here at Rice, we refer to our academic schools as ‘schools;’ other places call them ‘college[s].’ We use semester credit hours; some people use quarter hours. [Many of] our students have multiple majors; a lot of [universities] have a limit on the number of majors. We needed the ability for an [advisor] to see multiple majors.”

Lovett College junior Shelby McPherson said she thinks DegreeWorks will be simpler than looking at all the degree requirements for each of her majors and trying to make sure she is taking the right classes. 

“Especially when you have more than one major, checking major requirements can be tedious,” McPherson said. “It [will] be nice to have something that does it for you.”



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