Transform UMSL: Curriculum Alignment Process

Driven by student success, the University of Missouri–St. Louis is engaging in a Curriculum Alignment Process as part of an initiative to establish streamlined degree pathways. The process seeks to:

  • Provide students with a more accurate and simpler picture of the courses needed to complete a degree program, thereby creating a clear path to graduation and reducing the chance of students paying for excess credits.

  • Define each program’s student learning outcomes and demonstrate how specific courses help students acquire the expertise, skills and knowledge needed to be successful with their particular degree.

  • Determine the frequency and sequence of courses to give students more opportunities to take required courses and reduce the time to graduation.

  • Determine the course delivery modes – from traditional to fully online – that best serve students and support learning outcomes.


Charged with leading the Curriculum Alignment Process (CAP), Keeta Holmes and Beth Eckelkamp work closely with faculty, department chairs and deans to align our curriculum with the needs of students while establishing a clear path to graduation. Keeta Holmes assists departments by providing a framework and resources for each phase of the project, particularly in the areas of program outcomes, curriculum mapping, and assessment of student learning. Beth Eckelkamp assists departments by providing guidance on best practices for successful pathways to degree completion and by assisting departments when setting priorities. 

While academic departments regularly review their specific curriculum, this effort allows the university to look globally at a student’s education path from start to finish and challenges faculty to reflect critically on how to streamline course offerings to provide a clear path to graduation without excess costs for students.

In CAP, each department considers the courses students need to meet their program outcomes and trims what does not contribute to that end. While some departments may not have to cut a single course or section, other departments find they have several that do not effectively contribute to their defined outcomes.

The Curriculum Alignment Process is a concurrent step that supports the university’s strategic planning efforts, specifically the Compact for Excellence in Student Success, as well as the university’s academic program prioritization, five-year fiscal plan and HLC Accreditation efforts.

2018-2019 Academic Year Progress 

In the 2018-2019 academic year, the Curriculum Alignment Process began with the undergraduate curriculum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College. In the first phase, Honors College and each CAS academic department reviewed and revised program outcomes with help and resources provided by Holmes and Eckelkamp. Honors College and CAS faculty have worked to develop a streamlined curriculum, sustainable 2-year schedule, and academic map for each major, minor and certificate program that aligns with the revised outcomes. 

As with any proposed curriculum changes, the Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) committee of each college, as well as the Faculty Senate, approved any changes to degree programs. Each department was asked to submit all changes to their designated programs to the committee by the end of January 2019, for review, approvals and subsequent updates to the UMSL Bulletin. All updates for CAS were implemented for the Fall 2019 semester.

Timeline for Colleges and Departments

2019 - 2020 Academic Year

  • College of Business Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
  • College of Education Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
  • College of Arts and Sciences 2+3 Programs and Graduate Programs

2020 - 2021 Academic Year

  • College of Nursing
  • School of Social Work
  • Joint Engineering Program


Progress Dashboard

Phase 1: Program Outcomes

1) Review and update outcomes for all degree programs
2) Differentiate between BA and BS degrees
3) Differentiate between major, minor and certificate programs



Phase 2: Curriculum Mapping

1) Consider new avenues for students within your degree programs
2) Review course goals and assessments
3) Align courses to program outcomes
4) Streamline curriculum
5) Archive, combine, and/or consolidate courses
6) Review required courses
7) Review electives and consider alternative elective groupings

Phase 3: Sequencing, Staffing, and Scheduling

1) Determine Course Frequency
2) Plan course staffing
3) Plan for course delivery options
(Online, Blended, F2F)
(16wk, 8wk, 4wk, 2wk)
(Nights, Weekends)

Phase 4: Program Assessment Planning

1) Reflect on assessment plan for each degree program
2) Update criteria/success for each outcome
3) Plan for analyzing and reporting results
4) Identify examples of evidence of student learning (course- and program-level plan)


More information will be available on this website as the process continues.


Campus and Academic Leaders Forum 2018 - Complete College America Slides

Nicholas Huot's Presentation slides, Advancing Student Success through Game Changer Strategies
Larry Abele's Presentation slides, Graduation is Everyone's Responsibility

Success Stories and Additional Resources

  • The University of Rhode Island increased its student completion rates (+6.3%) by structuring its curriculum and changing its gen-ed curriculum. Read more here.
  • Eight years ago, Indiana partnered with Complete College of America to increase graduation rates and close completion gaps for underrepresented students. They have implemented several programs to reach these goals: 1) 15 to Finish, 2) Math Pathways, 3) Corequisite Support, and 4) Academic Maps with Proactive Advising. Read more here.
  • Complete College America's Dashboard provides college completion metrics for each state in the alliance (40+ states are part of the alliance). The interactive dashboard allows you to see the metrics for first-time full-time students, first-time part-time students, and transfer students by state, degree program. You can also filter for demographic variables. Access the data dashboard here
  • The University of Hawaii report fantastic results from their 15 to Finish campaign, nearly doubling the number of first-time freshment taking 15+ credits resulting in higher end-of-semester GPAs and higher credit completion rates. 
  • The Educational Advisory Board (EAB) share similar data about increased GPA scores and greater retention rates when taking at least 15 credit hours/semester. They also found that students who did this in their first year were 19% more likely to graduate in four years. 
  • The Tennessee Board of Regents found that in state universities, students who earn 9 hours in their major during their first year graduate at a rate of 53% compared to only 35% for students who did not attempt 9 hours in their major.