Honours Commerce changes degree requirements

At a university with an ever-growing student population, you might expect that academic distinctions would get more competitive. But a recent policy change in the DeGroote School of Business will now make it easier for more students to earn an honours degree.

At the Feb. 13 meeting of University Senate, a motion was passed to change the average requirement to enter the level three honours stream of the Bachelor of Commerce program from a 6 (67-69 per cent) to a 5 (63-66 per cent).

According to Giri Kanagaretnam, Associate Dean at DeGroote, the change is only meant to “make entry and exit requirements consistent.”

To graduate with an Honours B. Com., a cumulative average (CA) of 5 is required. A CA of 5 is also the standard for passing from Level I to Level II of the program.

Kanagaretnam was unsure as to why the averages were different in the first place, but he said the standards have remained the same since the separation of the Honours stream about 20 years ago.

“One of the biggest complaints is that we have these two programs that are the same length,” he said of the B.Com. and Honours B.Com., which are both four-year degrees.

The difference between the two, aside from the distinction itself, is the availability of electives. While Honours students have their choice of business electives, regular B.Com. students must choose from courses offered outside the department.

It is unclear as to how many students this will affect. The current Level III B.Com class has 81 students, 61 of whom passed into the Honours stream with an average of at least 6.

“We cannot promise anything until we review their grades in May,” Kanagaretnam said of the effect on current second-year students.

The department also chose to allow third-year students who fell just short of meeting the requirement of a 6 to switch into the Honours stream in Sept. 2013.

Applying the change only to incoming students was an option, but Kanagaretnam explained the rationale behind the decision, saying that “given that [the Honours degree] would be students’ first choice, why not extend that to them?”

Though the motion was passed before reading week, when the Silhouette went to press, students had yet to be notified of the change. The Academic Office at DeGroote reported that it would be alerting students to the new policy by email later in the week.

The shift in requirements will be put forward in Sept. 2013 and was described as a “minor structural change” done in preparation for changes to the B.Com. curriculum which aligns with the Forward with Integrity priorities.

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