Recommended Course Sequence

Background 

Texas Education Code Section 51.96852

Passed by the 86th Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 25 (SB 25) requires each public institution to provide at least one recommended course sequence for each undergraduate certificate or degree. A recommended course sequence is a list of courses by semester, term, or enrollment period that satisfy the requirement for a student to complete an undergraduate certificate or degree program without exceeding the semester credit hours required for the degree program. Each public institution is required to:

  • Include the recommended course sequences in the institution’s course catalog
  • Include the recommended course sequences on the institution’s website
  • Submit the recommended course sequences to the Coordinating Board

Deadlines

  • Deadline for publishing to institution’s website is Aug. 1, 2021 as determined by the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee.
  • Deadline for the RCS data submission is Dec. 1, 2021, however, institutions will be able to submit completed templates starting Aug. 1, 2021.

Negotiated Rule Making Committee

The Coordinating Board convened a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of higher education institutional representatives with expertise in curriculum development, course sequencing, and institutional reporting. The committee met on March 9, 2021 and developed proposed rules in alignment with Texas Education Code (TEC) §51.96852, which authorizes the Coordinating Board to adopt rules relating to the development, reporting, and publication of recommended course sequences.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted the proposed rules were at its July 22, 2021 quarterly board meeting.

Benefits

Recommended course sequence reporting to the Coordinating Board will benefit key stakeholders, specifically students and families, institutions of higher education, policymakers, researchers, and others.

  • Students and families
    Recommended course sequences will provide clarity and transparency by identifying at least one efficient, timely path for completing a higher education credential.
  • Institutions
    Recommended course sequences will provide actionable data to facilitate student success and target advising efforts.
  • Statewide
    The THECB will be able to provide insightful tools and reporting for students, institutions, policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders on the impact of transfer policies and practices.

For additional background details about SB 25 Recommended Course Sequences, please see our SB 25 Recommended Course Sequence Concept Document (PDF) (includes timeline and dates).

Contact

For questions about SB 25 recommended course sequence statute, rules, or policy, contact Dr. Stacey Silverman at Stacey.Silverman@highered.texas.gov.

Instructions for Reporting

  • SB 25 Recommended Course Sequence Reporting Template (Excel(Updated parameters 8/3/2021)

Resources

Recommended Course Sequence Frequently Asked Questions 

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has received numerous inquiries from higher education institutions regarding compliance with relevant state rules and reporting requirements for SB 25 recommended course sequences, Texas Education Code Section 51.96852. The responses below are intended to provide general guidance for institutions from the THECB as it pertains to recommended course sequence policy and reporting.

Policy Guidance

Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, Section 51.96852, Recommended Course Sequences, requires institutions to develop and post a recommended course sequence for each certificate and degree program they offer beginning in fall 2021.  

Proposed Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter U, Rule 4.364(4) provides the following definition:  

4.362 (4) Course Sequence – a recommended list of courses by semester, term, or enrollment period that will satisfy the requirement for a student to complete an undergraduate certificate or degree program. 

For further clarification, the proposed rules provide the following standards in developing a course sequence:  

4.363 (b) – Each course sequence developed by the institution of higher education must:  

  1. Identify all required lower-division courses for each certificate or degree program, if applicable;
     
  2. Include for each course, if applicable:  
    1. The TCCNS course number; and
    2. The course equivalent in the ACGM; and
       
  3. Be designed to enable a full-time student to obtain a certificate or degree, as applicable, within:
    1. two years, for a 60-hour degree or certificate program;
    2. four years, for a 120-hour degree program; or  
    3. a comparable time frame, for an approved certificate or degree program that requires credit hours other than those specified in subparagraph (A) or (B) of this paragraph.
       
  4. include at least one specific sequence in which courses should be taken to ensure completion of the applicable program within the time frame described in Section (b), subsection (3).
Having a recommended course sequence for each certificate and degree program allows academic advisors to help guide students to take appropriate courses in an order that ensures students proceed without the loss of credit.
 

A recommended course sequence provides a student a clear roadmap of the courses they can take in each semester, including summer, to ensure they will make efficient progress in their selected program to receive a certificate or degree.

For students who change their major, a recommended course sequence provides the information needed to compare the courses students have completed to other degree or certificate programs, thereby increasing the chance for timely completion.

Based on SB 25 requirements for recommended course sequences, institutions must post and report the recommended course sequences to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (Coordinating Board) beginning in fall 2021. The Coordinating Board will not require an institution to report information detailing how it complied with Education Code Section 51.96852(c)(1). For more information on what will be reported, please see Q5 through Q11.

First and foremost, the Coordinating Board will use reported recommended course sequences to provide tools and resources to students and advisors to help students identify a viable path for transfer and/or completion of a credential or degree. Reported recommended course sequences will also provide actionable data to institutions to promote student success and target advising efforts, as well as provide statewide tools and reporting on the impact of transfer policies and practices for stakeholders. This information will not be used by the Coordinating Board for degree audit purposes.

 

Institutional Posting Guidance

New section 51.96852 requires the development of a separate recommended course sequence. The statute then provides that the institution must publish the recommended course sequence in its catalog and on the institution’s website. Texas Education Code, Sec. 51.96852(c)(1), states: 

Each institution of higher education shall: 

include the recommended course sequences developed under this section in the institution’s course catalog and on the institution’s Internet website; and

Therefore, posting a catalog, rather than a recommended course sequence, on an institution’s website does not satisfy the plain text of Texas Education Code, Sec. 51.96852(c)(1), which specifically requires the development of a recommended course sequence separate from the catalog. The intent of requiring the institution of higher education to publish its recommended course sequences on its website is to provide students, parents, high school and college advisors, and others with easily accessible information about certificate and degree programs. Additionally, such public-facing information provides prospective students with important information to help them better understand their educational options.  

Publication of recommended course sequences helps to ensure that students will understand which courses to take and when, which will likely reduce excess hours and improve time to degree. 

The recommended course sequence requirements must meet the standards set out in the proposed rule (see response to Question 1). 

Degree maps that meet the definition in the proposed rules and standards set out in the development of a course sequence, as prescribed in the Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, Section 51.96852(b)(1)-(4), will likely fulfill the requirement.

 

Reporting Guidance

Institutions of higher education are only required to report undergraduate degrees/certificate programs that are active and open for student enrollment as of the 2021-2022 academic year in the fall 2021 reporting period. Institutions may report recommended course sequences for degrees/certificate programs that the institution will offer to students in the future, but institutions are not required to report those in fall 2021.

For fall 2021 reporting, institutions will need to report only standalone upper division program recommended course sequences that only include those courses that are part of the upper-division program (i.e., two years of full-time enrollment). See SB 25 Recommended Course Sequence Reporting Template: Standalone Upper-Division Example. 

Please do not report a recommended course sequence for the following: (1) recommended course sequences that match the recommended course sequences submitted through the WECM Inventory Access and Update Portal (this includes AAS, Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates, and Advanced Technical Certificates), (2) field of study completions and core curriculum completions, or (3) requirements to fulfill a minor. IHEs are not required to report degree programs in which a student simultaneously earns a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree. Individual FOS and Core curricula courses that are part of the recommended course sequence should be reported.

Institutions should refer to the Degree Program (Clearinghouse) Awards to get the correct six-digit CIP codes and degree/certificate titles when they are reporting recommended course sequences to the Coordinating Board. The Degree Program (Clearinghouse) Awards displays the full six-digit CIP codes for each of the individual degrees and certificates on the program inventory.

The THECB Program Inventory site displays each program area that the college offers and groups them by the first four digits, with the final two digits defaulting to -00. If there are any discrepancies between the six-digit CIP codes in the Degree Program (Clearinghouse) Awards and what an institution has in their catalog, please notify Duane.Hiller@highered.texas.gov.

Institutions must upload recommended course sequences to the Coordinating Board via MoveIt. The Coordinating Board will contact the course sequence contacts identified by your institution to confirm who will be responsible for uploading recommended course sequence data on behalf of each institution. The Coordinating Board will send an email to each institution’s designated reporting contact with further information that will include a link to the MoveIt site, login information, and directions for how to upload files. Institutions will be able to submit recommended course sequence information for fall Aug. 1, 2021, through Dec. 1, 2021.

According to SB 25, the Coordinating Board is required to begin data collection in fall 2021. As part of the Coordinating Board’s continued efforts to improve data systems, the Coordinating Board anticipates changes to the submission process for future reporting. Future institutional submissions will be limited to additional degrees/programs and changes to previously reported recommended course sequences. Moving forward, institutions will not have to re-submit reported recommended course sequences.    

If an institution reports to the Coordinating Board with the same FICE, then you should only submit one course sequence for that institution. However, if the FICE differs by campus, then please provide the recommended course sequences by campus.

Additional information on reporting recommended course sequences is available in the SB 25 Recommended Course Sequence Reporting Template (Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, Section 51.96852), including, but not limited to, information on the following:

  • College readiness
  • Program/degree concentration
  • Groups:
    • Showing instances where students have a choice of courses to fulfill a course requirement
    • Assigning group numbers for group identification
    • Reporting core curriculum group(s)
    • Reporting electives that are specifically related to a major
    • Reporting semester credit hours that vary in a group
  • Reporting of complex prerequisites
  • Transfer pathways (optional reporting on articulation agreement pathways)
  • Submission of single or multiple Excel workbooks
 

Contact

For questions about SB 25 recommended course sequence reporting, contact Dr. Christina Zavala at Christina.Zavala@highered.texas.gov.