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Want to do a course but not a degree? Now it's easier than ever

Teaching and Learning

By Chad Pelley

Anyone who wants to learn some Spanish before their Mexican honeymoon or take a course in microeconomics or Indigenous education for professional development can now do so more easily.

Dr. Ailsa Craig smiling in a black shirt with bookcase in background
Dr. Ailsa Craig spearheaded the non-degree student initiative.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Memorial University recently added a new admission category: a non-degree student option.

Prior to the fall of 2021, anyone interested in taking a course at Memorial, including those registering as a mature student, would be required to submit a high school transcript, two letters of reference and other materials.

The non-degree student option was created for anyone who would like to take a course without pursuing a degree. It opens Memorial up to the community by making its classrooms available to anyone seeking personal enlightenment and professional growth.

Searchable database of courses

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) has hundreds of courses that have zero or one prerequisite.

To promote its offerings, the faculty launched a searchable listing of its electives that anyone can take: students, Memorial employees and the general public.

Prior to each semester’s registration period, the database will list all HSS electives that anyone can register for in the coming semester.

It is searchable by department and by using keywords and there are plans to further develop the resource so that students can search by course theme or keyword across all departments’ 400-plus electives offerings.

Additionally, descriptions of all the HSS electives and its academic disciplines, from Gender Studies and Archaeology to Economics and Religious Studies, are available.

“The database is especially helpful for members of the general public who aren’t familiar with how to search for course offerings or with what specific courses they could take in subject areas they find generally interesting,” said Dr. Shannon Hoff, associate dean, curriculum and programs, HSS.

Memorial’s mission

Dr. Ailsa Craig, a professor of sociology in HSS, spearheaded a committee to launch the initiative, alongside Dr. Donna Hardy Cox, then associate vice-president (academic); Dr. Ian Sutherland, then dean of the School of Music; Tom Nault, then university registrar; and Dr. Gavan Watson, associate vice-president (teaching and learning0, and director, CITL.

“Increasing the accessibility of our courses to the public contributes to our university’s mission to serve the people of the province,” said Dr. Craig. “There are hundreds of courses at Memorial that do not have prerequisites, which means anyone in the community can register for these courses without background knowledge from previous education.”

Dr. Craig was inspired by personal experience. They knew writers in the community who wanted to take creative writing courses, but found it a hassle to get letters of reference or find old transcripts.

Additionally, while serving as head of the Department of Sociology, Dr. Craig wanted to take a course and was required to apply as a first-year student and be formally welcomed as one.

“It was quite funny to receive the acceptance letter to Memorial, as a professor, welcoming me as a first-year student. It just seemed like there had to be a better way to increase access to Memorial’s courses for people who want to take a course solely out of interest.”


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