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What is a Low Completer?

by Courtney Jackson

Have you ever wondered why a university would cancel a specific program or degree track? 

The LA Board of Regents has the answer – a low completer program may find itself on the chopping block; especially for funding.

A low completer is a program that has failed to graduate a certain number of students per year as mandated by the Board of Regents. 

STEM programs, which include the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, must produce at least eight undergraduates and five graduate students per year. Non-STEM programs are required to produce ten undergraduates and six graduate students each year. If a program has not averaged these numbers over a three year span, it will be classified as a low completer.

These requirements are standardized and do not take into account the size of the university or program. This means that LSUS is required to graduate the same number of students per department as LSU Baton Rouge and other institutions in the state.

LSUS faculty and staff are working diligently to prevent programs from falling into the low completer category. As a result of this work, there are no programs in danger of being cut this year.

Dr. Elisabeth Liebert, Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “Our Provost is being proactive in asking us to review programs that fall in the “low completer” category before the Board of Regents decides to look at them. Our hope is that we can be well on the way to removing them from that category before the Board of Regents turns its attention to LSUS.”

So what does this mean for students who find themselves enrolled in a low completer program?

In the past, there have been a few programs that were unable to be taken off the low completer list. Dr. Liebert says what they try to do with these programs is “shelter them” within other departments.

An example of this is the Physics program at LSUS. The program was classified as a low completer, but it did not get taken away completely. Instead, Physics became a concentration that was housed within Mathematics-and-Physics when it was no longer able to be a stand-alone degree.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to a program receiving low completer status. According to Dr. Liebert, some of these factors include changes in the economy, public perception of the program, and newer degrees that compete with more traditional ones.

While departments have no control over the economy, they can continue to promote the value of every degree in order to counteract public perception of certain programs.

Dr. Liebert said, “We’re developing an intelligent, multi-faceted recruitment campaign as a college to reach potential students not just for our low-completer programs but for all our majors.”

She says that LSUS faculty and staff will continue to help students and ensure that they receive the best education possible.