Can a university cancel a degree program midstream?

A reference to applicable law or policy would be a bonus. In Arizona if it matters.

Mrs. Cad checked her schedule for next term and found out that that she wasn’t registered because they have decided to cancel the BS in emergency management program she is mid-way through. The will let her transfer some of her classes to a business management program but that is not the degree she wanted. Not only does this sound like bait and switch, but I had always heard that a school cannot cancel a program or unilaterally change the degree requirements for students already in the program. Is that true and if so, how should she fight it? Not quite a needs answers fast … yet.

My first step would be to talk to professors, secretaries, officials, etc. in the departments from which she was taking classes, rather than the administration of the university as a whole. They’ll be more likely to, a, know what’s going on, b, care about how it impacts individual students, and c, be able to fix things on a case-by-case basis.

IIRC, some doper or other got their degree program cancelled out from under them just a few years ago. It sucked to be them.

My son had his degree requirements changed in mid-program. It was a private college if that makes any difference.

Who would be in charge of enforcing that, and what would give them the power to create such rules?

Your wife has a reasonable case for asking for a tuition refund, or some other consideration. AT the least, they ought to help find other schools at which she could finish the Emergency Management program, and perhaps pick up the costs associated with transferring.

That was me. lol

I know a former graduate student whose academic department was shut down when his advisor, the one remaining active faculty member in the department, passed away suddenly. However, he was allowed to continue for a couple years and finish his degree as an independent-program student with an advisor from a different department.

IME, most institutions try hard to make degree program cancellations a planned phase-out, so that the program doesn’t actually shut its doors until all the students who enrolled in it have finished. Or at least if they do shut a program down while there are still students enrolled in it, they try to find a workaround to put the students as close to the goal of the original program as possible.

However, I know of no general policy that prevents or restricts an institution from changing degree requirements for students currently enrolled. I agree it makes better sense for a program to avoid such ex post facto changes, but I never heard of any law, for example, that would forbid it.

Happened to me.

I majored in urban planning at Valparaiso University. At the end of the first semester in my junior year, it was announced that the planning program was going to be dropped in my senior year. They offered the option of independent study, or completion with a B.A. in geography, but I wanted a real classroom environment. Packed my bags, went back home, transferred credits, and got my B.S. in planning at a SUNY school. Basically, I graduated on the four-and-a-half year plan.

I hated Valpo, so it was for the best. Should have gone to Buff State from the start. Good times, good friends, and a good education.

Note that if this happens, you might be able to get your student loans cancelled.

Unlike posters above, I do know of a general concept of law that could possibly help. Promissory estoppel.

If you really can’t solve this without resorting to litigation, and you’re absolutely sure they didn’t inform you about this a while ago, a call to a local attorney may be your best option.

When a school drops a sports team they normally will honor the player’s scholarship for all 4 years. Almost all of the players transfer so it ends up costing them little or nothing.

can you perhaps see how this is an extremely bad analogy?

WTF? Cite?

Wasn’t meant to be an analogy, just adding some info. I’m no lawyer but I would think it’s a real big waste of time to sue over dropping a major. I know UNC dropped at least 1 major around 10 years ago but I don’t remember what they told students to do or if most of them transferred.

BTW, when I got my BA degree they did change my major requirements slightly but it did not impact me. Guess I should have thought of suing!

Also UT-Knoxville switched from the quarter system to semesters in the 80s. Thousands of students had to take different lengths of classes.

If Mrs. Cad was promised a degree by the school, and relied on that promise, then that argument may have some weight. But if she had not paid her four-year tuition in full at the start of the contract, (I’m assuming that she put forth consideration one academic year at a time), then consideration does not support the un-taken portions of the program. I’m assuming that there was no consideration, even nominally, explicitly stated at the outset that applied to the entire time period of the contract (for example, “For $10 and other good and valuable consideration, the school agrees to provide Mrs. Cad with a degree.”). Lacking that, can the school be estopped from cancelling the contract when the remaining portions are not supported by consideration?

Note that I am on the side of the OP’s wife, but Rumor has put forth an interesting legal question, and I’m interested in exploring it.

promissory estoppel exists when there isn’t a contract (assuming P.E. elements are met, and you can still have P.E. issues in a contract) - it’s an alternative theory by which you can have “promises” enforced that weren’t turned into contractual relationships supported by consideration.

i mean don’t get me wrong here - PE is a stretch here, but it is something to explore

Wow, so it happened to you a few years ago and now it’s happening to your wife? What are the odds…

Maybe you guys are just breaking the molds the programs were designed for. :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually, I was able to transfer to a much better University so I consider the 2 years in the Ed.D. program before I took a leave to work on my dissertation to be like going to junior college of doctoral degrees.

I just took my student loans exit survey. This is true. That and getting killed.