CNU will be putting a new degree on the books soon in the science department.
The interdisciplinary studies degree for Neuroscience is in the process of becoming a bachelors of science degree all on its own.
Dr. Guajardo has been working with the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) since 2015 in order to get the process of a new degree approved.
Back in 2011 CNU wanted to gauge interest in a neuroscience program and the easiest way to do that is by creating an interdisciplinary studies degree with a major in neuroscience says Guajardo.
She says that at the state level the university can start an interdisciplinary degree without approval.
Anything more than that needs SCHEV’s approval. SCHEV looks at the need for classes, duplicity and state-level need.
“It is looking at it from an investment perspective,” Guajardo explains.
Since the beginning of the program in 2011 there have been on average 25-30 students each year who indicated interest in the neuroscience degree. The same number of students signed for that degree on signing day she says.
There are 89 graduates of the interdisciplinary studies degree in neuroscience.
According to the 2015 Cohort from the Center for Career Planning, 91 percent of these graduates are either employed or in grad school.
There are several benefits to shifting from an interdisciplinary studies degree to a neuroscience degree, namely for the sake of practicality says Guajardo.
This shift would mean that students are now eligible for scholarships designated solely for neurology students that they weren’t before, the graduates would included in the state STEM count and it will be easier for students to explain their degree to future employers she says.
The curriculum will change slightly with this shift but it will only affect the freshman class of the year of implementation.
Currently the program is a collaboration of the department of psychology and the department of molecular biology and chemistry.
With the shift, the students participating in the degree program will share a common core of 22 credits with electives that complement their interests.
The core will represent both psychology and biology.
“Students will have a potentially minimal impact,” Guajardo says, “but it will help them communicate more clearly about their major and the core will make them stronger.”
The Board of Visitors just gave approval at the last board meeting and Dr. Osei from the SCHEV board has made it known that CNU will have its support.
The hope is that this new degree program will impact the fall of 2017 cohort.
“It was always the goal for a BS,” says Guajardo, “having four years of successful student flow helped us start the process.”