The institution publishes requirements for its undergraduate programs, including its general education components. These requirements conform to commonly accepted standards and practices for degree programs. (See Commission policy “The Quality and Integrity of Undergraduate Degrees.”) (Undergraduate program requirements)

Compliance Judgment

X      In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University provides documentation of its general education requirements and major program requirements as seen in the annual catalog, website, minutes from faculty meetings, and in reports from reviewers.

General Education Information

General Education requirements for all baccalaureate degrees at Francis Marion University are defined and published annually in the university catalog [1], which is also posted on the university’s website [2].

The General Education requirements constitute 48 hours for a B.S. degree and 59 hours for a B.A. degree. For both degrees, students must complete nine hours in Social Sciences, twelve hours in Humanities, nine hours in Communications, six hours in Mathematics, and eight hours in Natural Sciences. Students earning a B.A. degree must complete an additional twelve hours in a foreign language and three additional hours in Humanities or Social Sciences; students earning a B.S. degree must complete an additional four hours of a Natural Science. Students in the B.B.A. and the B.G.S. degree programs (Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of General Studies) must satisfy the general education requirements either for the B.S. or for the B.A. programs. Students in the B.S.N. (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program must satisfy the General Education requirements for the B.S degrees [3].

To be implemented at Francis Marion, General Education requirements must be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the full General Faculty [4]. The current General Education requirements were developed after a study during 2011-12 by an Academic Affairs Committee ad hoc subcommittee whose membership included experienced faculty from a wide range of disciplines. With the help of an outside consultant, Dr. Elizabeth Normandy, who led SACS reviews at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke [5], and following examination of the general education requirements of other colleges and universities, this subcommittee agreed to change the wording of some of the General Education goals, to put those goals into the catalog, and to encourage faculty to include phrasing from the goals on syllabi to show that they will be incorporated into classes taught at the University [6].

The goals include:

  • Goal 1: The ability to write and speak English clearly, logically, creatively, and effectively.
  • Goal 2: The ability to read and listen with understanding and comprehension.
  • Goal 3: The ability to use technology to locate, organize, document, present, and analyze information and ideas.
  • Goal 4: The ability to explain artistic processes and evaluate artistic product
  • Goal 5: The ability to use fundamental mathematical skills and principles in various applications
  • Goal 6: The ability to demonstrate an understanding of the natural world and apply scientific principles to reach conclusions.
  • Goal 7: The ability to recognize the diverse cultural heritages and other influences which have shaped civilization and how they affect individual and collective human behavior.
  • Goal 8: The ability to describe the governing structures and operations of the United States, including the rights and responsibilities of its citizens.
  • Goal 9: The ability to reason logically and think critically in order to develop problem-solving skills and to make informed and responsible choices [7].

These General Education Goals were developed and then approved by the Academic Affairs Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the General Faculty. The final approval of the General Education Requirements by the full faculty occurred during the spring of 2012, and they were implemented the following academic year [8].

Major Program Information

Like the requirements for General Education, requirements for each major program are defined and published annually in the university catalog  under the section entitled “Undergraduate Academic Programs” [9-beginning on p. 62]. Table 1 below provides the page numbers for each degree program and the degrees offered in each undergraduate program:

Page Number for Degree Requirements
Accounting, B.B.A.
Industrial Engineering, B.S.
Art Education, B.S.
Management, B.B.A.
Biology, B.A. and B.S.
Management Information Systems, B.B.A.
Business Economics, B. B. A.
Marketing, B.B.A.
Chemistry, B.S.
Mass Communication, B.A.
Engineering Technology, B.S.
Mathematics, B.S.
Computer Science, B.S.
Middle Level Education, B.S.
Early Childhood Education, B.S.
Modern Languages, B.A.
Economics, B.B.A., B.A., B.S.
Music Industry, B.S.
Elementary Education, B.S.
142–43, 145
Nursing, B.S.N.
English, B.A.
Physics, B.S.
Finance, B.B.A.
Political Science, B.A., B.S.
General Business Administration, B.B.A.
Psychology, B.A., B.S.
General Studies, B.G.S.
Secondary Education, B.A., B.S.
Healthcare Administration, B.S.
Sociology, B.A., B.S
History, B.A., B.S.
Theatre Arts, B.A.
Visual Arts, B.A.

Table 1. Page Numbers for Degree Requirements

Each degree requires completion of a minimum total of credit hours (including General Education requirements) and a minimum number of hours in the major. Each major requires at least 120 semester hours or more. Minimum hour requirements are published in the Catalog 2016-2017 for each program.

In many programs, students must also complete either a minor of 18 semester hours or two collaterals of 12 semester hours each. Exceptions to the rule include students who pursue a double major or those who pursue baccalaureate degrees in:

  • Art Education
  • Business Administration
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • General Studies
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Middle Level Education
  • Nursing
  • Physics [10].

Elementary Education majors, Math majors who pursue the Math Secondary Education option, and English majors who pursue the English Secondary Education option are required to complete only one collateral. Although no minor or collateral is required for the Middle Level Education major, two specific areas of specialization are required [11].

Degree and program requirements are available in both hard copy and online versions of the Catalog 2016-2017. Many of the departments also provide informational sheets listing the requirements for their specific majors. Examples include Biology and Modern Languages-French Option [12, 13].

Requirements for major programs are determined in a multi-step process consistent with the mission of the University. Any changes to existing programs or the creation of new ones begin with the faculty in the major discipline and are then subject to the approval of the Academic Affairs Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the General Faculty.  Depending on the proposal, it is either implemented or sent to the Board of Trustees or Administrators at the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE), which requires Institutional Effectiveness Reports for approval and implementation [14].

This process can be highlighted by the following examples:

Department of English and Modern Languages

  • The Department of English and Modern Languages took note that:
    • New South Carolina secondary high school standards had changed to incorporate argumentation into classes taken by students as they neared graduation
    • The department’s data demonstrated that students arriving at the University were:
      • delaying courses that emphasized analysis and argumentation
      • were offered repetitive course objectives
      • were experiencing transfer issues.
  • To better prepare students for college writing, a group of department professors, with advice from two outside consultants, revised the department’s composition requirements by:
    • reducing the number of courses from three to two
    • offering struggling students extended sections of English 101 so they would be better prepared for English 102.
  • Once the new composition requirements had been established by that group of professors, it went to the department’s First-Year Writing Advisory Committee.
  • Following vetting and revision, it was sent to the entire department for discussion and a vote.
  • Once approved by the department, the new requirements were sent to the Academic Affairs Committee and the General Faculty for approval, and then to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education for ratification [15].

Industrial Engineering

  • The demand by industry in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina for engineers moved the University to create an Industrial Engineering program affiliated with the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy conducted a feasibility study during the fall semester of 2011.
  • Having determined an Industrial Engineering Program was feasible, the department:
    • established new committees to develop applications to both the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET).
    • hired as a consultant an industrial engineer from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who served as well as an Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology accreditor.
  • The department and the consultant developed a curriculum that received approval from both the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology, and the program received its first students in the fall semester of 2014 and graduated its first class of four students in the spring semester of 2017 [16].

Francis Marion University’s 2016–2017 Institutional Effectiveness Report to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education includes summary reports on Francis Marion’s general education program, departmental majors, and concentrations. These review and approval processes help the University ensure its programs are consistent with comparable programs in the field, including Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University  [17] and Clemson University [18].

Another indication that major programs conform to accepted standards and practices is the set of programs listed in Table 2 below that have earned and maintained accreditation from established accrediting organizations. These include:

FMU Programs and Accrediting Organizations
ProgramAccrediting Organization
Business AdministrationAACSBThe Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – International
Early Childhood EducationNCATEThe National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Elementary EducationNCATEThe National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Secondary EducationNCATEThe National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Art EducationNASADNational Association of Schools of Art and Design
Visual ArtsNASADNational Association of Schools of Art and Design
Theatre ArtsNASTNational Association of Schools of Theatre
ChemistryACSAmerican Chemical Society
Psychology M.A.NASPNational Association of School Psychologists
Psychology M.S.MPACMaster’s in Psychology Accreditation Council
Nurse Practitioner, MSNACENAccreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
NursingACENAccreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Table 2. Francis Marion University Programs and Accrediting Organizations

To assure consistency with accepted standards and practices, other disciplines follow guidelines provided by their respective professional associations. For example the department of English is guided by the Modern Language Association, and the department of mathematics refers to the Commission on Undergraduate Programs in Mathematics.

In addition, faculty who participate in program development frequently study comparable programs at both in-state and out-of-state colleges and universities while developing and modifying their programs.


  1. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  2. FMU Website, Catalogs
  3. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  4. Faculty Minutes November 28, 2006
  5. UNC Pembroke Website, Elizabeth Normandy
  6. Elizabeth Normandy Report
  7. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Goals and Requirements, p. 61
  8. Faculty Minutes April 10 2012
  9. Catalog 2016-2017
  10. Catalog 2016-2017, Undergraduate Degrees and Majors, p. 62-63
  11. Catalog 2016-2017, General Education Requirements, p. 65
  12. Catalog 2016-2017, Four Year Plan for Biology Majors, p. 72
  13. Catalog 2016-2017, Four Year Plan for Modern Languages-French Option, p. 89
  14. Academic Policy Flowchart
  15. Institutional Effectiveness Report, English Composition 2016, p. 1
  16. The View Magazine Winter 2014, Here Come the Engineers!, p. 4-7
  17. Virginia Tech Industrial Engineering Checklist
  18. Clemson University BSIE Course Planning Guide