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Degree Planning

When planning their degrees, students should not only take into account their courses, but also their out-of-the-classroom involvement like research, study abroad and internships. Participating in these experiences will give students a more holistic academic career.

Our expectation at The Ohio State University is that you will complete an undergraduate degree. For a variety of reasons, the amount of time students need to complete a degree may differ. Many students and families regard four years as the normal time needed to complete a baccalaureate degree. If your goal is to complete your degree in four years, in order to make it a reality, you (and your family) need to think about how you are going to achieve it. You need to plan to succeed academically, and that planning requires considering factors that may extend the time it takes to complete a degree. Whatever your time frame, understand that faculty and staff are here to assist you in making your degree program your own and to guide you to complete your plan in a reasonable time frame.

To begin planning your degree, you need to determine (and, from time to time, re-evaluate) whether a four-year graduation plan is right for you. Although there are probably unique individual circumstances that you will need to factor into your decision, the following concerns are common to many students.

  • Why have you decided to pursue a baccalaureate degree?
  • How strong is your commitment to completing the work for a degree in four years?
  • Have you decided on a major? Have you been admitted directly to the major you have chosen, or will you need to apply? Is admission to the major competitive? When will you have the grades you will need to be admitted? Delayed entry to a major—or extended pursuit of a major to which you are unlikely to gain admission—is a frequent cause for extended time in completing a degree.
  • Are you prepared and committed to succeed in the major you have chosen? Do you understand how your placement levels in English, mathematics and world language may affect your time to graduation?
  • Will you be employed a substantial number of hours during the academic year to help finance your education? Being a full-time student is a demanding full-time job, and you may find it necessary—perhaps desirable—to take lighter course loads while you are working in order to perform as well as you expect. This will, of course, extend the time it takes to complete a degree, but that may be the right choice for you.
  • Are there good academic or professional reasons—opportunities for enrichment, study abroad, internships— for taking longer than four years to complete a degree? You will need to balance the timely completion of a degree, on one hand, and objectives that might extend the time you will need to complete your program, on the other.

The business of constructing your own graduation plan should involve an ongoing dialogue with an Arts and Sciences academic advisor and, in some cases, a faculty advisor in the field of your major. It is quite possible that, as you discover more about your interests and aptitudes, you may change your mind about the program you think you want to pursue. Such changes in direction do not always extend time to graduation (though they may), and your Arts and Sciences academic advisor is an excellent resource in helping you to think about alternatives.

What is your next step? Your next step is to learn what it takes to plan your degree thoughtfully. If you have not been able to answer the above questions, or if you have concerns or other questions, please consult your Arts and Sciences academic advisor. Remember: Remain in contact with your Arts and Sciences academic advisor on a regular basis.

Degree planning is a process requiring careful consideration. We have identified several important factors for students as they plan their time at Ohio State. Many students regard four years as the time necessary to complete an undergraduate degree. We understand and support that goal; however, we also understand and support a student’s decision to pursue a degree within another time frame.

Timely Selection of a Major

Students begin college with varying levels of commitment to a major:

  • 100% certain
  • deciding between two or more majors
  • exploring interests and options

If you are still deciding or re-deciding, you are not alone. Some students have well-defined major and career plans; other stu­dents have a variety of questions and concerns about choosing a major. It is not unusual for students to change majors three to five times prior to graduation. Being uncertain about your major can be very unsettling. Please be assured that your academic advisors, faculty, and staff stand ready to assist with the range of needs you might have. Ohio State provides many opportunities to engage in activities designed to provide experience and information related to the majors you are considering.

Ask yourself this question to help determine your level of commitment to a major: What motivated you to select your major?

Timely Selection of Course Work

An important part of the degree-planning process is under­standing at what point in your program a particular course should be taken, whether a GE, a prerequisite, a major or minor course, or an elective. Each course should be carefully chosen after consulting with your advisor.

Your major program must consist of at least 30 semester hours of credit in courses numbered 2000 or above as prescribed by your advisor. Please note that many major programs require considerably more than 30 hours of credit.

You must earn at least a C- in a course in order for it to be listed on your major. However, you must receive a 2.0 cumulative GPA for all major course work. If you earn a D+, D, or an E in a course that is required for your major, the course cannot be counted toward the major. Your advisor will decide if the course should be repeated or if another course should be substituted. Courses taken on a pass/non-pass basis cannot be used on the major.

Your advisor must approve all courses comprising your major. If you change from one major or curriculum to another, consult your advisor. Such changes may result in modifying requirements to such an extent that your date of graduation might be delayed.

At least one-half of the credit hours in the major must be credit from completed Ohio State course work. Note: AP/IB/EM credit and transfer credit from other institutions are not considered to be “Ohio State course work.”

If you are pursuing multiple majors, course work may overlap between the majors, provided that each major department allows such overlap and that each major has at least 18 unique (non-overlapping) semester hours. Similarly, if you are planning multiple majors, there may be overlap between major course work and the GE — again, with permission of the major department and at least 18 unique non-overlapping semester hours on each major.

Talk to your advisor about requirements for minors.

One of the most important tools students and advisors use in degree planning is our degree audit system. At any point, a student can use Buckeye Link to request an evaluation of how all the courses they have completed are used to meet both general and major area course requirements.

Get Your Degree Audit Report

How do I get to the degree audit system?

  1. Navigate to the Buckeye Link website
  2. Select the "Degree Audit" link under the "Enrollment and Academic History" section

Presentation on how to run your degree audit report [pdf].