Office of the University Registrar

November 6, 2020

FAQ About New Major Declaration Practice

Why do we have this change in policy?

The UW, along with more than 3600 other institutions of higher education, reports some student data to the National Student Clearinghouse. The NSC compiles and assists in reporting required compliance data for state and federal financial aid. It also runs a verification program that businesses and other organizations can use to verify a student’s degree completion. Finally, it assists in research and data exchange for the higher education institutions it serves. Outsourcing compliance reporting and analysis reduces administrative costs and simplifies administrative structures at the UW. It also allows UW to more effectively and fairly provide financial aid to our students.

This information is sent to the NSC four times a quarter. If there is a difference in the listing of a particular student’s program between these four times, UW receives an error report, holding up the information for all of the universities students. These have to be fixed by hand, student by student. Currently more than 1700 students per quarter have to be updated by hand each month due to the universities previous policy of allowing students to add majors throughout the quarter. This is a significant drain on resources.

What curricular structures are and are not covered in this new policy?

Effective Winter 2017, changes from pre-major to a major, switching majors, and adding additional majors all show up on a student’s record beginning with the start of the following quarter. Changes to minors can be done for the same quarter just as before.

Is there a grace period at the start of the quarter when changes can be made without having to be posted to a future quarter?

Yes, if a student’s change of major form is turned in to the Office of the University Registrar by the second Friday of that quarter, the change can be made for the same quarter.

Does this mean that students will have difficulty registering for major restricted courses during one quarter for the next quarter?

No, registration is keyed to the future quarter. This is similar to when a sophomore can register as a junior if they are registered for enough credits to reach junior status by the start of the quarter for which they are registering.

For example: Suzie Q. Student applies to switch from Pre-Social Sciences into the POL S major during Winter 2017 and the department sends her change of major form to the Registration Office after the second Friday of Winter 2017. A month later, when she is registering for Spring 2017, her student record still says she is in Pre-Social Sciences, but the computer still allows her to get into classes that are reserved for POL S majors.

If a student is admitted to a major at the point of admission to the university, will they have to wait for their second quarter to see their major on their student record?

No, it should be effective at the point of admission to the university.

When filling out the change of major form, what quarter should I list in the space after The above changes are effective?

You should list the quarter and year for which the new major should show up on the student’s official record. For example: Chuck X. Empli-Gratia meets with the ENGL adviser during Winter 2017 to add a double major in LATIN. The change of major form should say Spring 2017 after “the above changes are effective.”

What if I run into a situation where a particular student needs to be declared into the major immediately and it is later than the second Friday of the quarter?

Make a clear and obvious note at the top of the change of major form indicating that this particular student needs their major change to be made for the current quarter, being sure to include the date that you are completing the form. You should also put the current quarter in the space after “the above changes are effective” since that is the quarter you   want the change to show up on the student’s record.

What are acceptable reasons for requesting that a student’s major be changed immediately?

This is currently up to the adviser’s discretion. Advisers are encouraged to request this only when it is absolutely needed because it means that the student’s information will need to be manually fixed in error reports to the NSC four times during that quarter.

What happens when a student needs a pre-major extension? Will it be effective only once the following quarter starts?

Pre-major extensions can be granted for the current quarter; the expiration date will be notated in SDB, if provided. If not provided, they will expire at the end of the current quarter. Any SPP Holds will be removed at the time the extension is entered.

What about students adding a major after they have gotten a 105 credit hold? Will their hold not lift until the following quarter?

When a student adds a major, the staff in the Office of the University Registrar will check for and remove holds just as in the past. The hold will be lifted immediately, even though the new major will not show up on the student record until the start of the following quarter.

What if a student is changing the pathway or level? Does this have to be for a future quarter?

Yes. The data that the University sends and that NSC uses is based on the federal CIP codes for majors. A pathway/level change may result in a CIP change, so changing in the current quarter adds to the number of errors the University much correct each quarter.

How can I find the CIP codes associated with my department’s majors?

CIP codes are included in the major codes report available through the BI Portal.

Does a student’s major have to show up on their official record before they can graduate or apply to graduate from that major? In other words, if a student is graduating in the same quarter that they are adding a major, is this a reasonable exception to this policy?

Yes, this is a reasonable exception to the policy.

What happens when you switch pre-majors that are in different colleges? Is this a change of program? For example, a student switching from Pre-Social Sciences to Pre-Engineering is changing from the College of Arts & Sciences to the College of Engineering.

Yes, this would be considered a change of program as pre-majors in different colleges have different CIP codes.

What happens when the paper work to add one major is pending and the paperwork for adding another major is turned in? From the experience of the MATH department, this might mean that the first pending major is discarded by the computer in favor of the second pending major.

If there is already a major change pending for a future quarter in the system and we receive another request for a different major, best practice dictates that we would contact the student for clarification on what their intended major is to be for that quarter prior to processing. (We already do this if it is unclear from the form exactly what change the student is trying to make, especially when they list several majors/degrees) The computer won’t be “discarding” any majors as we will be making these changes manually.

What if a student wants to change their major for Summer but they don’t attend Summer?

We cannot change a major for a quarter in which a student does not register. It will revert to the previous major.

How does this affect the ABB relationships between a department/major and the college? Have the appropriate people in the colleges and Provost Office been informed about how this will skew numbers of majors, thereby affecting the funding projections for the future?

Official ABB calculations (which come from OPB) are based on census day numbers (census day is always the second Friday of the quarter). Since you can request same-quarter changes through the second Friday of the quarter, it should not affect the official ABB calculations. However, if your school/college’s dean’s office is using non-census day numbers for internal calculations, you would need to speak with the appropriate office in your school/college about how this change might affect you.

For International Students

How does this affect visa status?

International students need to have their SEVIS records updated when they change their majors, so they should be completing paperwork with ISS in order to have an updated I-20 issued at the same time they receive approval from a department to change their major. ISS can indicate on the student’s change of major form that the change be made effective for the current quarter if needed for USCIS reporting purposes.

What will things look like for students who apply for their major during SPR and then go on summer vacation? Will the major change occur at the start of summer, or the start of autumn?

Since students won’t be registering for Summer quarter, the change will be effective for Autumn quarter.

**Except in the case of students on CPT or Pre-completion OPT for Summer quarter