A significant number of students have taken courses at other post-secondary institutions that need to be looked at and credit given which can count towards achieving a UMUC degree. The process of doing this examination as you might imagine is sufficiently important enough to UMUC to result in a formal effort. The result of each review is what we call an articulation agreement defining how the earlier course ‘articulates’ to its UMUC equivalent.
Within Information Systems Management (IFSM) we divide up the articulation work between myself as the Program Chair and Chris Schultz, my IFSM Collegiate. We alternate weeks.
When it is my week, this week is my week by the way, each morning I sign on to the Articulation Request Summary report which lists all the transfer requests associated with IFSM. The total of requests can range from perhaps 2 or 3 in a day up to 10 to 15.
For each request, I look up the very short description of the course the student took using a database called the Transfer Evaluation System (TES) which includes pretty much every college in the United States (and some foreign institutions), a list of every course taught at all of those schools broken down by year, plus in most cases an electronic copy of the school catalog in case I need to look up the context of the course within a program.
To give you a feel for how broad this database is, I kept a list of some of the source schools from the last week to give an idea of the remarkable variety of schools that we have in this country:
- Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg VA
- Central State University in Wilberforce OH
- Notre Dame College in Cleveland OH
- Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in Carbondale IL
- University of Guam in Mangilao Guam
- Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin GA
- Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green KY
- Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale VA
- University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis IN
A week does not go by when I come across a school I had never heard of before working on articulations at UMUC.
For each articulation request, we need to decide if the course the student took overlaps enough with a UMUC course to give them full credit, or whether we want to give them general credit for the course as an elective but not specifically associated with a specific course. In all cases we need to consider whether we feel the course is closer to a lower level course, freshman or sophomore level, or upper level course, junior or senior. Depending on the answer to all of these questions, we assign a code which is used for this student, or a future student who transfers having taken the same course, what credits UMUC will give the transferring student.
Each of these articulation agreements has a defined lifespan since courses change over time. Thus what articulation credit is given for a course taken in 2010 might be different than the credit given for what seems to be the same course taken in 2016.
Articulation agreements are still one more place which I had no idea existed, or even that a need existed, when I started as a Program Chair at UMUC. The job of helping to provide a college education for adult learners is complicated, time demanding, and never easy.
Working on articulation agreements is just one more aspect of what needs to happen to support provisioning a full-service post-secondary institution.