The University of New Mexico Board of Regents unanimously passed a resolution at its October meeting endorsing the university’s progress toward creating 120 credit hour degree programs and clearing the way for more students to graduate in four years.

The resolution notes that increasing UNM’s graduation rate is a primary goal for the administration, faculty, and staff, as well as the regents.

“Faster degree completion benefits not only students, but also taxpayers, by lowering the overall cost of college and by getting students into the workforce sooner,” said Board of Regents President Jack Fortner. “It is also in line with the governor’s higher education initiatives for the state.”

For the past few years, regents and the administrators have been working to encourage more efficient degree completion through a number of incentives. In spring 2013, regents passed a new block tuition rate model makes the hourly rate more affordable for students who take at least 15 credit hours per semester. The board also recently voted to provide the final semester tuition-free for students who complete their baccalaureate degree in four years.

In the resolution, the regents also acknowledged appreciation for the UNM Faculty Senate’s action that enables degree programs to be completed in as few as 120 credit hours.

“So far, faculty in the various schools and colleges at UNM have be able to convert almost 70 per cent of our bachelor’s degrees to 120 hours and the rest are cutting back on required hours, “ Fortner said. “That puts many more students on a faster track to graduation.”

The regents also encouraged the University to continue to maximize four-year programs and make 120 credit hour degrees the default standard for baccalaureate programs by 2017, as is feasible.