6,089: Low-Yield Academic Program Policy

Revised: October 2023

Low Yield Academic Program defined:  The Board of Regents defines low-yield academic programs as those that have been in existence for at least 10 years, but have not met the three-year degree granting thresholds of twenty bachelor’s degrees for undergraduate programs or eight combined Master’s and doctoral degrees for graduate programs. Low-yield degree programs that fail to meet the low-yield threshold after three consecutive years risk outcomes, including the possible dissolution of the program. 

Policy Exemptions: A program that otherwise constitutes a Low Yield Academic Program may be exempted from the Board of Regents low-yield policy if, as determined by the Executive Vice President & Provost, it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The program is central to the educational or research mission of the institution or of partnering institutions vested in the program.
  2. The program meets a demonstrated workforce or service need of the state or geographical region served by the institution, including projected future needs of the state or region.
  3. The program demonstrates an increase in student demand through a pattern of increasing enrollment of majors.
  4. The program demonstrates productivity in the receipt of external grants and contracts related to the program.
  5. The program supports underrepresented student or community groups.
  6. A program may be grouped with other closely aligned degree programs for purposes of degree productivity reporting if no additional resources are needed to support the program, beyond those supporting the aligned programs. In such cases, the total degrees awarded in the last three years for all programs in the grouping is the measure used to determine if the low-yield threshold has been met.

Low-Yield Program Reporting: The Board of Regents requires each institution to provide an annual report of all low-yield degree programs.  A program meeting the definition of Low Yield Academic Program shall complete the Annual Low Yield Program Questionnaire. Data gathered from this questionnaire will be used by the Office of the Provost to: 1) generate the annual low-yield report for NSHE and 2) determine if the program qualifies for an exemption from the Board of Regents low-yield policy. The department and/or college will be expected to 1) develop a plan of action to increase program enrollment, retention and graduation rate and 2) determine whether the program can be modified to increase efficiencies in use of current resources.

Reporting Procedure:

First Year

  1. The program/department will be informed by September 30 that it has been identified as a low-yield program. At this time the Office of the Provost will provide notice of the review process and provide instructions on how to respond to the questionnaire. The program/department shall complete the questionnaire within 30 days of the date of the notice.
  2. The program/department response to the questionnaire will be forwarded to the appropriate college dean and the UNR Faculty Senate for their review. The dean and the Faculty Senate shall prepare comments and submit them to the Executive Vice President & Provost within 30 days of receipt of the response to the questionnaire.
  3. After reviewing the response from the program/department and the comments from the dean and faculty senate, the Executive Vice President & Provost will draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) describing the corrective actions that the program /department must implement over the next reporting period to mitigate the low-yield status.
  4. The combined materials (i.e. the questionnaire, the dean and Faculty Senate Comments, and the MOU signed by the dean and the Office of the Provost) will be filed in the Office of the Provost and used to generate an executive summary for submission to NSHE.

Second Year 

  1. No later than Dec. 1, the program/department will prepare a progress report to address issues described in the MOU regarding efforts to increase program degree yields.
  2. At the request of the Executive Vice President & Provost, program/department representatives will meet with the Executive Vice President & Provost, dean and faculty senate representative to discuss progress and appropriate modifications to the MOU, if any, to facilitate further progress in the coming year. Any amendments to the MOU will be prepared and signed by the dean and the Office of the Provost.

Third Year

  1. If the program remains a low-yield program in the third reporting year, the Executive Vice President & Provost determines whether to a) grant the program an exemption to the low-yield policy, b) redesign the program curriculum, c) merge the program with appropriate high degree yielding programs, or d) eliminate the program.
    1. If the program is granted an exemption, the exemption will be in place for three years. After three years, the program graduation yields will be reassessed. If the program qualifies as a Low Yield Academic Program, the program will again undergo the review process described above.
    2. If the Executive Vice President & Provost determines that a major curricular redesign is necessary, the program shall redesign the program within one year of the date of the Executive Vice President & Provost’s determination; the Executive Vice President & Provost and the dean shall agree upon the timeframe in which the program/department must show progress and the extent of that progress towards no longer qualifying as a Low Yield Academic Program.
    3. If the program can address the low-yield status by merging with an appropriate related program, the Executive Vice President & Provost, dean and department chair may develop an appropriate plan of action.
    4. If the Executive Vice President & Provost determines that elimination of the program is appropriate, the department and college will be directed to develop a plan to allow all students currently enrolled in the program to graduate within the program and shall present the plan to the Executive Vice President & Provost. If the program elimination will result in closure of the department, the Executive Vice President & Provost and dean shall provide to the President a plan for placing program faculty into other departments as appropriate and/or for taking other personnel steps as appropriate, including but not limited to laying off faculty, all in accordance with the NSHE Code.