Carnegie Mellon University modernizes degree systems to boost efficiency and improve student experience

Executive Summary

The Registrar's Office at Carnegie Mellon University was at a crossroads with their degree audit, which they found to be outdated and difficult for students and staff to use. They were looking for a solution that would not only provide real-time reporting for their staff, but also a modern digital experience that their students have come to expect. When the time came to evaluate degree software solutions, they found Stellic to be head and shoulders above the rest. 

The Challenges

John Papinchak, long-time CMU Registrar, was frustrated by the limitations of the degree management tools used by the team, which often required older coding languages or even involved the IT department in order to update the system. The team at CMU knew they needed innovative technology that aligned with a modern, forward-thinking university. In particular, they were searching for a system that was flexible enough to help them effectively manage processes like graduation clearance and requirement adjustments.

"As we were going to replace a very outdated tool, we were looking for something to be more contemporary, modern and flexible. That was Stellic." John Papinchak, Registrar, Carnegie Mellon University

The Solution 

The team also required a system that would not only improve staff experiences, but provided a student-facing interface for students to track their own progress and easily map out their path to graduation.

“We looked at Stellic and other degree audit and planning tools. Stellic met all of those requirements and had so much more.” John Papinchak, Registrar, Carnegie Mellon University

In the words of Papinchak, the “user interface was head and shoulders above” the rest. Stellic’s modern design and functionality enables a seamless user experience, leading to higher student and staff adoption. For staff,  Stellic provides autonomy over the degree audit process across a variety of departments, because where other tools use older coding languages that restrict system capabilities, Stellic doesn’t require its users to know how to code in order to make adjustments and built out requirements in the system.

Stellic also allows students to keep track of completed, planned, and unplanned requirements, and drag and drop best-fit courses into their plan based on their goals and interests. Students can then visualize their degree path and understand exactly how those decisions will affect their path to graduation. CMU was particularly excited to provide their students with the kind of online interface that today’s students have come to expect in their everyday lives. 

“I really like it - it's very straightforward and easy to use. The drag-and-drop course planning and the pathway planning are so valuable because it really helps me see my path compared to just writing it down." - Student, Carnegie Mellon University

The Results

CMU has improved student success and engagement by aligning the needs of students, faculty, staff, and university operations in one place. With instant reporting on students that are on-track towards graduation, have completed certain requirements, or are falling behind, the Registrar 's Office has been able to significantly reduce their graduation clearance processes from weeks to days, and can easily collaborate with other offices to support students before it's too late. Furthermore, the platform has provided greater flexibility in adapting to different programs  and requirements while providing one source of truth for all users.

Students have also seen major benefits with the tool, which is now available to undergrad and graduate students across multiple campuses. To date, over 90% of students have adopted the platform to plan for future semesters, and adoption rates continue to grow. With Stellic, CMU students are more engaged in their degree plan and confident in their decision making leading to graduation.

“Being able to plan your progress and track your path - those are my favorite little tabs because it organizes it in such a clear, visual way that it makes me feel more confident about where I'm at in my degree.” - Student, Carnegie Mellon University

As students engage more with Stellic, administrators are able to accumulate more data to draw out insights and trends that can inform strategic decisions on course offering, popular courses among certain cohorts, and faculty demand. By having visibility into rich historical and future course data, CMU is able to better predict and support all student needs and improve the digital user experiences across their institution.

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