Procedures Regarding Limited Retention in an Undergraduate Program

Original Policy Source APPM Section III Item 11
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Effective Adoption Date 05-06-2004
Last Review Date 02-05-2009
Policy Category/Categories Faculty & Academics


This information is intended to set forth the basic procedures by which a department, school, or college (hereafter referred to as “the program”) may seek and gain approval to limit the retention of students in majors. This process involves attention to both curricular and resource matters. The guidelines are intended to insure that all affected campus offices, interested students, high schools, and community college counselors have adequate notice and sufficient time to prepare for the change in the retention policies of an NIU program.

A. General Guidelines

  • The resource implications for the limited retention program should be addressed primarily by the dean of the appropriate college and the provost. The particular non-resource implementation issues of limited retention should be processed through the normal curricular review process.
  • Unless otherwise mandated by law, accrediting agency, or other external authority, a request to limit retention in majors must be primarily based upon resources.
  • The Office of the Provost, in collaboration with the Council of Deans, will provide guidelines for the data to be supplied by those programs requesting limited retention. The same data shall be required for either a new application or a renewal of limited retention status.
  • Any limited retention program should be publicized by the program, the Office of Admissions, and the Transfer Center at least six months prior to implementation.
  • The program limiting retention must assume responsibility for any additional processing required for the implementation. Additional resources needed should be addressed by the dean and provost
  • The program applying for limited retention must consult the Director of Admissions, the Executive Director of Enrollment Services, and the Transfer Center Coordinator early in the process to identify possible implementation concerns.
  • Once a limited retention policy is implemented, it applies to all students seeking retention in the program regardless of which Undergraduate Catalog is being used to satisfy other requirements.
  • Implementation of limited retention shall commence at the beginning of the first term ( Spring , Summer, or Fall) which is at least six months after approval by the Baccalaureate Council (BC) . The term in which limited retention is to be implemented will be stated in the Baccalaureate Council minutes.

B. The Process for Approval

  • The approval process begins with the program submitting a request and justification for limited retention to the dean of its college.
  • The dean shall discuss with the provost the resource implications of the application. At the conclusion of the dean/provost discussions, the provost shall in a timely manner forward a letter of recommendation to the dean indicating concurrence or nonconcurrence with the request for limited retention.
  • Following the dean's and provost's consideration of resource issues, the program seeking to limit retention shall prepare a proposal to be reviewed through the normal curricular approval process.

C. The Limited Retention Proposal

    • The proposal should include statements from the dean of the college which offers the program and the provost supporting or opposing limited retention on the basis of resources.
    • The proposal should describe how limited retention would be implemented with explanation sufficient to justify the particular procedure chosen to implement the policy.
      1. Student preparedness:  Many colleges/departments use retention standards to ensure students are prepared for advanced coursework.  If student preparedness plays a role in justifying limited retention policies, please address the following questions.
        1. How has the college/department defined prepared students?
        2. What proxy (e.g. GPA, course completion, C or better, etc.) will be used to identify prepared students?
        3. What efforts have the college/department made to validate the proxy used?
        4. What alternative proxies were considered and rejected?
      2. Resources:  Many colleges/departments do not have sufficient resources to accommodate all students who may wish to matriculate in their majors or programs.  If resources justify limited retention policies, please address the following questions.
        1. Which resources are most lacking?
        2. How did the college/department identify the desirable level of resource utilization (e.g. class size, student teaching limitations, internship availability, etc.)?
        3. What options to more efficiently use resources other than limiting retention were considered?
      3. Accreditation issues:  Achieving and maintaining professional accreditation is critical to many NIU programs.  When accreditation standards play a role in justifying limited retention policies, please address the following questions.
        1. What are the relevant accreditation standards?
        2. How do the particular limited retention policies chosen meet accreditation standards?
        3. What other policies were considered?
      4. Adverse impact on students:  When designing limited retention policies, colleges/departments must consider the adverse effect on students and other units of the university.  The following questions must be addressed by all colleges/departments seeking approval/re-approval of limited retention policies.
        1. Approximately how many students will be adversely affected?
        2. To which colleges/programs/majors are adversely affected students likely to migrate?  Explain the efforts that have been made to inform, consult, and involve those colleges/programs/majors.
        3. At what key points (e.g. courses, semesters, etc.) will students be identified as at-risk for admission or retention, and what efforts will be made to advise potentially affected students at such key stages?
        4. What efforts will be made to assist adversely affected students in identifying and evaluating possible alternatives?
    • The proposal must include a statement of limited retention to be inserted in the Undergraduate Catalog. The statement must include:
      1. A description of the methods to limit retention.
      2. Provisions for transfer students.
      3. When applicable, the deadline for application and the date for notification to the student.

D. Renewal of Limited Retention

Justification for a program continuing its limited retention policy shall be addressed in the year prior to the normal eight-year program review.  As with an initial application, the college/department will need to address the issues in “C” above.  Continuation or modification to the limited retention procedure is recorded in the college curriculum committee minutes.

E. Methods Used to Implement Limited Retention

Subject to the normal curricular review process, the following methods may be used to implement limited retention:

  • Tool Courses: A restricted program may establish a set of tool courses in which the student's performance will form the basis for retention in the program. A tool course package should be designed so that the student can complete the package by the end of the sophomore year and know whether retention in the program has been achieved.
  • Grade Point Average: A minimum overall GPA may be required for retention in a program.
  • Retention Exam: A retention exam may be administered to students seeking retention in a program with a minimum passing or acceptable score established. Such a test should not be used as the only method for retention to a program.
  • Maximum Number of Students: A program may establish a maximum number of students to be retained from the pool of majors during an academic year.
  • Other Methods: Auditions, portfolios, recommendations, work experience, or other methods determined by the program, may be used for limiting retention. Combinations of the several methods may be employed by a program.

Approved by Undergraduate Coordinating Council, May 6, 2004;
Revised December 10, 2008; 
Revisions Approved by Undergraduate Coordinating Council, February 5, 2009
Approved by the Baccalaureate Council on September 8, 2016.

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