Academic News

Information on the STEM Variant and the College Option

July 6, 2012

Below is some additional Pathways policy information concerning the STEM variant and the College Option (with the latter applying only to baccalaureate programs).

STEM Variant Policies

  • Any student can, at his or her discretion, take a STEM variant course approved for his or her college.
  • STEM variant courses must satisfy major requirements.
  • Colleges can submit STEM variant courses in any or all of three areas of the Common Core: Life and Physical Sciences, Mathematics & Quantitative Reasoning, and the Scientific World.
  • Colleges must insure that STEM variant courses are clearly coded in DegreeWorks and other university systems as meeting the appropriate Common Core requirements.
  • STEM variant courses can be three or more credits and contact hours.
  • STEM variant courses do not need to be submitted to the CUNY Common Core Course Review Committee and so do not need to have been explicitly assessed as meeting Common Core learning outcomes.
  • Colleges will submit to the central Office of Academic Affairs a list of the courses they plan to offer as STEM variant courses within the Common Core. The submission will include information on the Common Core area(s) that each course fulfills and the major or degree requirement or requirements that each course satisfies.
  • Colleges must have sufficient numbers of “regular” (non-STEM variant), approved courses available in each area of the Common Core to meet student demand before offering STEM variant courses.
  • Colleges may submit STEM variant courses as satisfying more than one Common Core area. In such cases, students will choose which area they want the course to fulfill. Each college that has one or more STEM variant courses that can satisfy more than one area of the Common Core will decide what procedure a student needs to follow (if any) if the student originally enrolled in a STEM variant course to satisfy one area of the Common Core, but subsequently decides that s/he wants to use that course to satisfy a different area of the Common Core.
  • Colleges cannot require students in particular programs to take STEM variant courses without explicit approval from the central Office of Academic Affairs. However, colleges can always recommend STEM variant courses to students in particular programs as simultaneously satisfying both Common Core and major requirements.

College Option Policies
(for baccalaureate students only)

Colleges with baccalaureate programs decide on their own College Option requirements. However, any baccalaureate student, whether native or transfer, and at any college, must be able to finish his or her College Option requirements by taking the number of credits specified by the CUNY Board of Trustees Pathways resolution for that category of student (6, 9, or 12 credits depending on whether a student is a native or transfer student, and how many credits a transfer student has earned at the point of transfer). Once a student has earned the applicable total number of required College Option credits at any CUNY baccalaureate college, that student will be deemed to have satisfied the College Option requirements at any CUNY college, and no additional College Option credits can be required. (The same principle applies if a student has earned some, but not all, of the required College Option credits—such a student will be deemed to have satisfied that portion of the College Option requirement at every CUNY college.) Colleges can, however, also make College Option courses available that students can take, if the students wish, that would result in students taking more credits than required. For example, a student required to take 9 College Option credits might take three four-credit courses instead of three three-credit courses, resulting in a total of 12 instead of 9 credits. In such situations, credits in excess of those required for the College Option would be treated as elective credits (or, if appropriate, major credits). The key, though, is that no student can be required to do more College Option credits than the number mandated for that category of student.