Minimum Progress

Summary of Current Policy

This description is up-to-date with the policy changes made during the 2008-2009 academic year.

There are two components to academic standing. The first component, “qualitative standing,” refers to a student’s GPA and balance points. The second component, “quantitative standing,” refers to the number of units that a student completes. According to Academic Senate Regulation A552, students are expected to graduate in 4 years. This regulation defines expected progress as 15 units per quarter and minimum progress as 13 units per quarter. There are penalties for not meeting minimum progress; there are no penalties for not meeting expected progress.

At the end of each spring quarter, the average number of units earned over the full-time terms in which the student was enrolled in the previous academic year is calculated based on the number of quarters in which the student was enrolled full-time during that period (Note: a student is only considered "part-time" for purposes of minimum progress if they apply for and are granted external link: part-time status through the Office of the University Registrar). At this point the student’s academic status for quantitative reasons is determined as follows:

  • If a student completes an average of 13 units or more during this period, they are considered to be in good standing for quantitative reasons.
  • If a student completes an average of less than 13 units during this period, but at least 12, they are considered to be on academic probation for quantitative reasons.
  • If a student completes an average of less than 12 units during this period they are considered to be subject to disqualification for quantitative reasons.

The academic progress of students in good standing for quantitative reasons is not recalculated until the after the following spring quarter.

For a student on academic probation for quantitative reasons, a “degree progress average” of all of the units completed at UC Davis during full-time terms is calculated at the end of the next term in which they are enrolled full-time. If this average is calculated to be greater than or equal to 13 units per full-time term, the student is considered to be in good standing for quantitative reasons and his or her academic progress is not recalculated until the after the following spring quarter. If this average is calculated to be less than 13 units, the student is considered to be subject to disqualification for quantitative reasons.

For a student who is subject to disqualification for quantitative reasons, the degree progress average is calculated at the end of the next term in which they are enrolled full-time. If this average is calculated to be greater than or equal to 13 units per full-time term, the student is considered to be in good standing for quantitative reasons and his or her academic progress is not recalculated until the after the following spring quarter. If this average is calculated to be less than 13 units, the student is dismissed.

Summer Units: Courses passed in summer sessions at UC Davis or at another accredited school (during the summer) and transferred to UC Davis will be counted as units passed (applied to the next full-time quarter of enrollment immediately following the summer session). (Summer Sessions Minimum Progress)

Minimum Progress Waiver: In certain cases, students with a qualifying disability may be eligible for a minimum progress waiver. Students may apply for such a waiver through the external link: Student Disability Center. Approval of the waiver omits the specified term(s) from the calculation of quantitative standing; there is no notation on the internal transcripts.

Elective Pass/No-Pass and Minimum Progress: If a student is not in good academic standing solely due to minimum progress, such standing does not restrict their use of the P/NP grade mode option (DD Reg A552C5).

How to do the Minimum Progress Calculation

Both the Minimum Progress Average (MPA) and the Degree Progress Average (DPA) are calculated by dividing the number of units that a student has completed during the full-time terms in question, by the number of full-time terms completed. Part-time quarters, and units earned during these quarters are not part of the equation in any way.

Calculating Minimum Progress Average (MPA)

  • N1 = Number of units in which the student was enrolled during the preceding academic year during full-time terms.
  • Q1 = Number of full-time Quarters in which the student was enrolled during the preceding academic year.
  • Equation: N1 / Q1 = MPA.

Calculating Degree Progress Average (DPA)

  • N2 = Number of units in which the student was enrolled during full-time terms during their academic career at UC Davis. Summer units (taken after matriculation) are calculated as being part of the next full-time term in which the student enrolls.
  • Q2 = Number of full-time Quarters in which the student was enrolled during their academic career at UC Davis.
  • Equation: N2 / Q2 = DPA.

Minimum Progress Questions Answered

In terms of minimum progress, what is the difference between Part-time and Full-time? Part-time quarters are quarters in which the student has been approved by the Office of the University Registrar to be part-time. All other terms are considered “full-time” and subject to the minimum progress calculation. Part-time terms are not calculated into the minimum progress calculations and cannot offset a minimum progress deficit.

Do workload courses count towards Minimum Progress? Yes. Workload courses are evaluated using the “Carnegie Unit Rule” (meaning that the units for each course are assigned in accordance with the number of hours that the course meets). See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)a for details.

Do summer session courses taken at UC Davis count towards Minimum Progress? Yes, for purposes of minimum progress, summer session units count as units passed during the first full-time term in which the student enrolls following the Summer Session. See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)c for details.

Do courses taken during the summer at an outside institution count towards Minimum Progress? Yes, for purposes of minimum progress, summer session units taken at an institution other than UC Davis may count as units passed during the first full-time term in which the student enrolls following the Summer Session. See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)c for details.

Do courses taken during the regular academic year (fall-spring) at an institution other than UC Davis count towards minimum progress? Yes, if the concurrent enrollment is approved. Students are prohibited from obtaining transfer credit for courses taken at a non-University of California campus in a quarter during which the student is enrolled as a full-time student at Davis unless an exception has been granted by the appropriate Dean or administrative officer. In such cases where an exception has been approved, units earned from courses taken at a non-University of California campus are counted toward minimum progress in the quarter(s) in which the dual enrollment occurred. See Academic Senate Regulation A553 for details.

Do In-progress (“IP”) units count towards Minimum progress? Yes. See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)e for details.

Do Incomplete (“I”) units count towards Minimum progress? No, not until they are made up for a passing grade. When the work is completed for an Incomplete grade, minimum progress credit will be given for the term in which the work was assigned. See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)f for details.

Do units count towards Minimum progress if they are repeated? Yes, up to a maximum of 16 units. See Academic Senate Regulation A552(B)b for details.

Does Credit By Exam count towards Minimum progress? Yes.

(Recent) History of the Minimum Progress Issue

Minimum progress is a very important issue at UC Davis. It is linked not only with time-to-degree, but also with college affordability, class availability, class enrollment size, and accessibility. When students do not meet minimum progress, the additional time that it takes them to earn their degree is not only costly to the student, but also expensive to taxpayers. UC Davis has a responsibility to its student body and to the state to ensure that students are making adequate progress towards their degree.

In reference to the high number of students taking longer than 4 years to graduate, Professor Quirino Paris would assert in 2004 that, “The magnitude is staggering….We are in a crisis situation.” (Dateline, "Senate examines minimum progress")

The longer a student takes to graduate, the more the student’s education will cost. Equally, when a large percentage of students take longer than the expected amount of time to graduate, the more crowded the campus becomes, which affects the number of new students that can be admitted. Minimum progress has always been on the books, but enforcement has been stepped up in recent years.

1993-2000: in 1993 UC Davis had the lowest percentage of students graduating in 4 years in the UC System (at 29.6%). By the year 2000, this had risen, although not nearly at the pace of most other UC schools. UC Davis was now the second lowest percentage (at 42.7%) but was clearly lagging behind other UC schools which were rated significantly higher.

1997-2001: During a discussion about whether UC Davis should stay on the quarter term system or change to a semester term system, it was asserted by then Provost Robert Grey that the university was losing state money because students were not completing enough units in each academic term. To address this problem, the university did not change term systems, but instead changed the Minimum Progress expectation from 12 to 13 units. This change was enacted in 1999, and went into effect during the 2000-2001 academic year.

2003: Minimum progress continued to be an issue. It was estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of UC Davis students failed to make minimum progress every year and that as much as 70% of these problematic students were not being addressed. With a high number of freshman applicants to UC being rejected for admission (~3200 per year), it was a concern that these potentially high performing applicants were being denied slots due to current students who were not making sufficient progress in their academic career. It was established that a permanent committee be formed – the Time-to-Degree Task Force – for the purpose of improving the methods by which the colleges would track academic progress. The colleges would submit quarterly reports on these matters to this new committee, who would then submit annual reports to the General Assembly. ("What is the Most Important Business of the Academic Senate?")

2004: In an effort to address the time-to-degree problem, the task force changed the rules in 2004 governing the Planned Educational Leave Program (ruling that students could only PELP for one term) and launched an initiative that would increase the number of units that students were permitted to enroll to 17 during registration Pass 1. The Task Force also recommended that the Minimum Progress standards be enforced more forcefully by the colleges. (Time to Degree Task Force)

2005: In 2005, The task force, "worked with the Academic Senate to substantially revise the campus minimum progress regulation. Called the ‘Think 15’ campaign, the Task Force worked with various offices to inform the campus community about the revision of the minimum progress regulation through emails to students and advisers, messages during the enrollment process, advising meetings with students, and during orientation activities for new students. The new regulations were published in the Davis 2005-06 general catalog.” (Source: Time to Degree Task Force - link no longer available)

The “Think 15” campaign was designed to get students to think beyond the minimum of 13 units that they were required to take and to enroll in 15 units per term. One of the goals of stressing the “expected” number of units as being higher than the minimum that is required, is that these extra units provide a padding – should a student ever not meet the minimum of 39 units required after being enrolled full-time for a year, these extra units would help protect the student from dismissal when their degree progress was analyzed the following term.

2006: In 2006, minimum progress enforcement increased significantly. A supplement to the 2005-2006 General Catalog published in Spring 2006 specified these new stricter standards. Additionally, in the 2005-2006 academic year the college deans’ offices were expected to step up enforcement of the Minimum Progress policy and were tasked with presenting dismissal exceptions made to this policy to the Academic Senate. For many students, this stricter enforcement created problems: for instance, students who habitually enrolled in less than 13 units throughout their academic career without penalty became faced with an almost insurmountable unit deficit if they missed the 39 unit mark (and thus were to have a degree progress average calculated after the following term).

In his fall 2006 State of the Campus address, Chancellor Vanderhoef would outline progress being made with respect to minimum progress, and reinforce the importance of this issue:

“We have made significant strides this year in two other shared areas of interest — students' time-to-degree progress, and expansion of summer programs. With regard to time to degree, a joint Senate-Administration committee, called for by this body, proposed substantial changes in the minimum progress regulation, changes you approved last year. And the joint Senate-Administrative Task Force proposed a pilot program to allow students to initially enroll in up to 17 units. Both of these changes are showing good results, especially considering how early on we are in the process. Compared to fall 2004, the percentage of students carrying 13 or more units at the census increased by approximately 4 to 8 percent this fall, depending on their class standing. The number of units that students completed at the end of fall term also showed an increase of about 4 percent overall. These are real gains and, again, it was our partnership that helped this to happen.” (Source: Time to Degree Task Force - link no longer available)

2008: In an effort to better accommodate students with disabilities, a waiver for minimum progress was instituted and went into effect Fall 2008. This waiver allows students with disabilities, as determined by the Student Disability Center, to waive the minimum progress requirement for up to three terms. Once approved for a student, they may take more than the 10 units maximum allowable when they are part-time, but less than the 13 required for minimum progress.