Approval Process

Planning Processes for Academics

The centrality of the academic mission and the length of time needed to develop and implement new academic programs and initiatives require a more elaborate process for academic planning. There are two sources for the origin of new academic programs and initiatives: university-wide initiatives coming from the Office of the Provost, and academic program initiatives coming from the departments of the schools and colleges.

The Office of the Provost Curricular Review and Approval Process (MS Word) provides a step-by-step description of the process to bring the idea of a new program or initiative into reality. In Stage 1, the School/College Initial Proposal (SCIP) (MS Word)for a new program or initiative presents the basic logic for the program and supplies introductory evidence to support why the new program is needed. This form is developed by a faculty member, chair, or dean and is presented by the dean to the Academic Cabinet in extended session three times a year (October, February, and April) in accordance with the Academic Strategic Planning Cycle. The form is first submitted to the Office of Curricular Support (OCS), which reviews the document to ensure it is complete, then begins tracking the document through the implementation process. The OCS submits all forms to the Office of the Provost to place them on the calendar for an upcoming extended meeting of the Academic Cabinet.

An adequate preliminary proposal provides sufficient information upon which to base a decision to proceed or not to proceed with further consideration. The SCIP addresses the following issues:

  • Brief description of the degree, curriculum, and delivery mode, with time line for planning and implementation
  • Mission congruence—university, school, and department
  • Initial evidence that suggests an external demand for the program (this may include national, local, or discipline demands and trends, but is not expected to be a full feasibility study at this point)
  • Institutional capacity to deliver and support the program
  • Resources required to develop and support the program, along with initial estimate that the new program will be revenue positive, neutral, or negative in the first three years.

After the Academic Cabinet has indicated its support for the proposed program in principle, Stage 2 is initiated, and the department chair works with the OCS and faculty to design the program and complete the Program Initiative or Proposal (PIP) (MS Word) and preliminary discussions to review the components of the Educational Effectiveness (EE) process. The PIP, which may take 12 to 18 months, includes: (1) developing the curricula, (2) crafting any necessary documents for accreditation, (3) conducting a comparison of curricula, time to degree completion, and tuition to appropriate competitors, (4) outlining a three-year budget, and (5) conducting a market analysis or feasibility study to verify the demand for the program. Concurrently, departments are encouraged to complete the Educational Effectiveness (EE) process and related paperwork for the program. This critical part of the proposal provides more specific information about the curricular plan, including a curricular map, an assessment plan, faculty needs and qualifications, and three sample syllabi.

The PIP is submitted to the OCS and is placed on the agenda for the Academic Cabinet to review and approve. Once approved, Stage 3—the Educational Effectiveness (EE) process—can be initiated. This stage involves a high degree of faculty involvement to develop the curricula, student outcomes, and assessment plans. The Educational Effectiveness (EE) forms represent the paperwork that needs to be completed based upon the need for a new program, new course, changes to current courses, or other minor, expedited curricular changes. Once this documentation has been completed by the department, it is submitted to the OCS, which is responsible for getting the proposal on the agenda of the Curriculum Committee of the Undergraduate, Master's, or Doctoral Studies council for review and approval. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves to the Undergraduate, Master's, or Doctoral Studies council for approval. This approval is noted in the council minutes. By consensus ballot, the Faculty Senate reviews all council minutes and approves or disapproves the action of the council in regard to the curricular change. The OCS is responsible for tracking the proposed change along this journey, and once the proposal is approved by the Faculty Senate, the OCS is responsible for ensuring that information about the new course or minor course change is disseminated to the registrar’s office, those responsible for catalog changes, University Relations, and other parties impacted by this change. The OCS is responsible for tracking the new proposal until one month following actual implementation.

Initiatives for New Courses
or Changes to Current Curricular Offerings

Development of new courses and minor course changes is initiated by faculty within their respective department. Each department has its own governance structure and processes for reviewing and approving new courses or minor course changes. Once these changes have been approved by a department committee, the chair, and the dean, the proposal is submitted to the OCS for review and tracking through the approval process. OCS is responsible for getting the proposal on the agenda of the Curriculum Committee of the Undergraduate, Master's or Doctoral Studies council for review and approval. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves to the Undergraduate, Master's, or Doctoral Studies council for approval. This approval is noted in the council minutes. By consensus ballot, the Faculty Senate reviews all council minutes and approves or disapproves the action of the council in regard to the curricular change. The OCS is responsible for tracking the proposed change along this journey, and once the proposal is approved by the Faculty Senate, the OCS is responsible for ensuring that information about the new course or minor course change is disseminated to the registrar’s office, those responsible for catalog changes, University Relations, and other parties impacted by this change (see the Office of the Provost Curricular Review and Approval Process (MS Word)). The OCS is responsible for tracking the new proposal until one month following actual implementation.