Forget about majoring in nursing at Humboldt State the program is being phased out.
UC Davis students can no longer get bachelor's degrees in applied science, avian science or nature and culture. UC Santa Cruz has eliminated minors in computer technology, journalism and communication and rhetoric.
As California's public universities look for efficiencies in the face of ongoing budget cuts, some long-standing fields of study are falling by the wayside.
Universities routinely evaluate their academic offerings as society changes, adding new programs the economy demands and dropping majors that stop drawing interest from students.
But the pace of that evolution is changing, university officials say, as campuses in California and other cash-strapped states respond to funding reductions by cutting majors at a faster clip and slowing down the rate at which they add new programs.
"Clearly some of it is cyclical, but the budget cuts are accelerating the process and forcing the campuses to make some tough decisions," said Todd Greenspan, director of academic planning in the statewide president's office of the University of California.
"So there are more of these (program eliminations) than we've seen in a while."
UC estimates that across the state, it has saved $155 million over the last three years by eliminating or consolidating programs.
Campuses are still creating new areas of study, but fewer than in the past, according to the state agency that reviews proposals for new degrees from California's public colleges. A report last month by the California Postsecondary Education Commission says that from 2009 to 2010, the number of graduate program proposals from UC dropped by 35 percent.
UC's five-year plan calls for developing 109 graduate programs, 42 undergraduate programs and five professional schools while closing 15 programs and withdrawing another 57 from the planning process.
Many of the graduate programs being developed are essentially private schools with the UC brand they receive no state funding and are paid for entirely by student tuition. Berkeley and Davis have proposed self-supporting master's degrees in accounting, while Riverside and San Diego want to create self-supporting degrees in engineering. UCLA is talking about converting its entire business school to a private self-supported model.
Medical school postponed
The state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed last week cut $650 million from each public university system or about 22 percent from UC and 24 percent from the California State University.
The funding cut caused UC Riverside to postpone opening a new medical school.
"The accrediting group in Washington, D.C., has said that in the absence of a state financial commitment to this medical school, we're not going to give you preliminary accreditation," said UC Riverside Chancellor Tim White.
"So our task now is to have the state of California provide the necessary resources for us to go back to the accrediting group and say, we've got that problem solved."
Budget constraints are also responsible for Humboldt State's decision to eliminate nursing, said campus spokesman Paul Mann. It was the university's most expensive program with costs exceeding $1 million a year and the university could no longer afford to hire qualified faculty, he said.
Berkeley has eliminated several majors and graduate programs in the last few years: a Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental chemistry, master's degrees in Latin and Greek and bachelor of arts degrees in physical sciences and environmental sciences. It still offers a bachelor of science in environmental sciences.
Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said the programs were not dropped for financial reasons, but because of minimal student enrollment. It's been almost a decade since Berkeley awarded a master's degree in Latin or Greek, Mogulof said, and five years since an undergraduate has enrolled in those majors. The B.A. degrees in the science disciplines were drawing just a handful of students a year.
Lack of student interest also prompted Sacramento State in recent years to drop master's and bachelor's degrees in German and master's degrees in French. The campus more recently suspended minors in Latin and Greek due to the retirement of faculty and minimal student demand, said campus spokeswoman Kim Nava.
But it was the tight budget that prompted Sacramento State to phase out its master's degree in international affairs this year. Nava said cuts have made it difficult to staff the program, which shared a similar curriculum with another degree.
Cuts worse in other states
At UC Davis, the decision to close the Department of Applied Science and eliminate a few majors this year was driven by a combination of declining student demand and budgetary constraints, said Patricia A. Turner, vice provost for undergraduate studies.
The Department of Applied Science was projected to serve just eight undergraduates and 45 grad students for the fall. Rather than operate such a small department, the university decided to move faculty and students to related departments in the college of engineering.
The academic changes at California universities are mild compared to cutbacks seen in some states that have also reduced funding for higher education.
University of Nevada, Reno, recently announced it is eliminating 24 academic programs, including bachelor's degrees in animal science, interior design, German studies and environmental and resource economics.
University of Arizona has eliminated 15 academic programs and merged or restructured another 10 degrees to eliminate redundancies.
John Cheslock, an associate professor with the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University, said many universities have been criticized in the past for not doing enough to get rid of inefficient programs.
"That critique is irrelevant now because the financial situation is causing them to regularly do this, and will probably continue forcing them to do this for a while," Cheslock said.
"They're forced to think about: 'If we're going to do less, what are we going to do less of than we've done in the past?' The easiest way to do that is to look at programs that don't have that many students."