This fall, the University of Georgia system announced its plans to eliminate over 200 degree programs across its campuses which have seen low or no enrollment within the last two years. The University of Georgia in Athens saw the greatest number of program cuts, with 43 programs to be terminated, followed by Georgia Southern University, with 32 programs on the chopping block. Across all campuses, the majority of cuts impacted degree programs within education departments, as specialized degree tracks were either grafted into more general programs of study or discontinued altogether. The University of Georgia cut seven degree paths within the Specialist in Education program, and Georgia Southern eliminated 13 degree paths within their Bachelor of Science in Education program.
While the changes may appear drastic, Kristina Torres, a spokesperson for the university system stated: “This process follows board policy and reflects the University System of Georgia’s priority to consistently review degree program performance and align current offerings with the needs of USG institutions and students.”
The UG system is not alone in reconsidering its degree offerings as student enrollment needs have responded to an evolving job market. In particular, the discontinuation of numerous education degree tracks is consistent with a national decline in students pursuing a career in education, due in part to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. In 2020, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that one fourth of US colleges offering education degrees expected a decline in enrollment ranging from 10-40%. Additionally, The New York Times reported that even before the pandemic, the number of graduates completing degree programs in education had dropped by 22% since 2006.
In the midst of these program closures, the Athens Banner-Herald notes that the university system has developed new degree paths that align with student needs and interests, highlighting the growth at Augusta University in particular, which has expanded from 140 to 155 degree programs in the last two years. New degree programs are particularly concentrated in professional degrees in the medical field, as the university introduces a new School of Public Health in the fall of 2023.