Academic Curriculum Guidelines and Procedures

The documents on this website provide summary information about the steps an academic unit must take to obtain the appropriate levels of internal and external review and approval for new or revised curricula. These include:

  • New Academic Programs 
  • Additions to Existing Degree Programs 
  • Modifications/Revisions to Existing Degree Programs 
  • Suspension/Discontinuation of a Program

Suggested timelines and access to necessary forms are included as well. New course proposals and course or academic program (degree, concentration, or minor) revisions proposed for fall semester implementation must be submitted to the Provost’s Office for approval by the third week of February of the previous spring semester. 

In accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012, certain curricular actions require that the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment send an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No marketing, including posting of information on the website, may occur until 60 days from the date of this notification. These actions include:

  • New Minor 
  • New Concentration or Track (see below for clarification)
  • New Certificates Degree Revisions (including degree title changes) 
  • Suspensions/Discontinuations

Concentration: A structured plan of study within a major.  The number of semester hours for a concentration varies, but is included within the semester hours for the major. The student must formally declare the concentration for it to appear on the transcript of record. In some cases, a student may apply directly to the concentration. The concentration is listed on the diploma.

Track: A recommended set of courses within a major or concentration. A track is not a required component of all concentrations, but is offered as an advising tool. It may be suggested as a way of preparing students for specific career goals or graduate programs, or to best match a student’s academic interest. A student does not have to formally declare a track and it will not appear on the transcript of record or on the diploma.

Summaries and Forms

New Undergraduate Academic Programs

Summary

An academic degree program is defined as an undergraduate certificate of 30 or more credit hours or a bachelor’s degree. New concentrations within existing degree programs, or changes in the content, delivery, or graduation requirements of existing programs, are not included in this process.

All new academic degree programs require multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, Provost, and Chancellor). They also include the President and Board of Trustees of the University and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Each level of review and approval focuses on overlapping concerns, but with different emphases. This summary is intended to help faculty and administrators understand the primary concerns of the University President and Board of Trustees, as well as the Board of Higher Education, and to clarify the process and timetables for new program approvals.

The information contained on this page is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process, a summary of the off-campus process, and links to the required forms. Additional information for the off-campus portion of the review process may be found in the UMasss New Program Approval Guide and the UMass Academic Programs Procedures Policy.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Sample Date
Pre-proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval May 2000
Dean recommendation for approval May 2000
Provost approval June 2000
Submitted to President’s Office June 2000
Circulated to AAC, BHE June 2000
President’s office approval / permission to submit full proposal August 2000
Full Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval January 2001
College Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval February 2001
Dean recommendation for approval March 2001
University Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval April 2001
Faculty Senate recommendation for approval April 2001
Provost approval June 2001
Chancellor approval June 2001
Submitted to President’s Office July 2001
Proposal circulated to other campuses July 2001
External review complete September 2001
Final changes incorporated and submitted November 2001
UMass BOT approval February 2002
BHE submission February/March 2002
BHE approval April or June 2002
Admit first students September 2002

*Curriculum committees may have specific timelines for submitting a proposal for review and recommendation that the proposer must follow.

Required forms

 Undergraduate Program Pre-proposal

Pre-proposal Overview 

Undergraduate Program Full Proposal

Full Proposal Template
New degree proposal approval form
Undergraduate Program Curriculum Outline
Budget Template
Syllabi Template
Enrollment Projection Form
Program Goals Description Template
Faculty CV Template
External Evaluator Invitation Letter Template

Other Useful Resources

UMASS New Program Approval Guide
UMASS Academic Programs Procedures Policy

New Graduate Academic Programs

Summary

An academic degree program is defined as a graduate certificate of 30 or more credit hours or a graduate program at the master’s or doctoral level. New concentrations within existing degree programs, or changes in the content, delivery, or graduation requirements of existing programs, are not included in this process.

All new academic degree programs require multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, Provost, and Chancellor). They also include the President and Board of Trustees of the University and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Each level of review and approval focuses on overlapping concerns, but with different emphases. This summary is intended to help faculty and administrators understand the primary concerns of the University President and Board of Trustees, as well as the Board of Higher Education, and to clarify the process and timetables for new program approvals.

The information contained on this page is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process, a summary of the off-campus process, and links to the required forms. Additional information for the off-campus portion of the review process may be found in the UMass New Program Approval Guide and the UMass Academic Programs Procedures Policy.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Sample Date
Pre-proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval May 2000
Dean recommendation for approval May 2000
Provost approval June 2000
Submitted to President’s Office June 2000
Circulated to AAC, BHE June 2000
President’s office approval / permission to submit full proposal August 2000
Full Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval January 2001
College Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval February 2001
Dean recommendation for approval March 2001
University Curriculum Committee* recommendation for approval April 2001
Faculty Senate recommendation for approval April 2001
Provost approval June 2001
Chancellor approval June 2001
Submitted to President’s Office July 2001
Proposal circulated to other campuses July 2001
External review complete September 2001
Final changes incorporated and submitted November 2001
UMass BOT approval February 2002
BHE submission February/March 2002
BHE approval April or June 2002
Admit first students September 2002

*Curriculum committees may have specific timelines for submitting a proposal for review and recommendation that the proposer must follow.

Required forms

 Graduate Program Pre-proposal

Pre-proposal Overview 

Graduate Program Full Proposal

Full Proposal Template
New Degree Program Approval
Graduate Program Curriculum Outline
Budget Template 
Syllabi Template  ‌ 
Faculty Form
Enrollment Projection Form
Program Goals Description Template 
Faculty CV Template
External Evaluator Invitation Letter Template

Other Useful Resources

External Evaluator Invitation Template On Site
UMASS New Program Approval Guide
UMASS Academic Programs Procedures Policy

 

New Minor Programs

Summary

A minor is defined as an undergraduate program of study of at least 18 credits that builds from an existing academic program or academic programs. The minimum requirements for a minor are:

Qualified students may complete an academic minor. To declare a minor, the student must be a degree candidate who has earned no fewer than 24 earned credits, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 and a minimum 2.500 grade point average in the major. Approved minors consist of at least 18 credits, of which 9 must be at the upper division (300-400) level. Within these 9 upper level credits, a course can be counted in only one category. Even if a course could satisfy either the major or the minor, it cannot be double-counted. A college may define electives that are permitted to be used towards the minor. A department offering a minor may establish other requirements beyond these minimal requirements.

All new minor programs require multiple UMass Dartmouth levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, and Provost). The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) sends an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No marketing, including posting of information on the website, can occur until 60 days from the date of this notification in accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012.This guide is intended to help faculty and administrators clarify the process and timetables for minor program approval.

 

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Sample Date
Minor Program Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date/Marketing May
Admit first students September

Required forms 

Minor Proposal Template 

 

New Concentrations and Tracks within Programs: Undergraduate and Graduate Level

Summary

Concentrations and Tracks are defined as undergraduate or graduate programs of study that build from an existing academic program or academic programs. This guide is intended to help faculty and administrators clarify the process and timetable for Concentration and Track program approval.

Concentration: A structured plan of study within a major.  The number of semester hours for a concentration varies, but is included within the semester hours for the major. The student must formally declare the concentration for it to appear on the transcript of record. In some cases, a student may apply directly to the concentration. The concentration is listed on the diploma.

Track: A recommended set of courses within a major or concentration. A track is not a required component of all concentrations, but is offered as an advising tool. It may be suggested as a way of preparing students for specific career goals or graduate programs, or to best match a student’s academic interest. A student does not have to formally declare a track and it will not appear on the transcript of record or on the diploma.

All Concentrations or Tracks require multiple UMass Dartmouth levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, and Provost). The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment sends an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No marketing, including posting of information on the website, can occur until 60 days from the date of this notification in accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012.

The information contained in this document is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process, a summary of the off-campus process, and links to the required forms. Additional information to the off-campus portion of the review process (including the BHE and BOT meeting schedules) may be found in the President’s Office’s UMASS New Program Approval Guide  [Guide to the Process.doc].

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Approval Process Minimum Academic Year Timeline
Concentration/Tracks Program Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if requirements for the new concentration or track impact another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date/Marketing May
First admitted students September

Required forms

New Academic Program: Concentrations/Tracks Proposal Template 
Concentrations/Tracks Program Curriculum Outline

 

 

New Certificate Programs

Summary

Certificates are a focused collection of courses that, when completed, afford the student a record of coherent academic accomplishment in a single field or set of related disciplines. The curriculum for certificates is structured to address particular needs for professional advancement, career transition, practical skill training, and personal development and, thus, the curriculum may represent a more practice-oriented subset of an existing discipline. Certificates are not designed to replace existing degree programs or minors, but may serve as a means of attracting individuals to a formal degree program, and a certificate may be a sought after credential. While the courses comprising a certificate may be used as evidence in support of a student’s application for admission to an undergraduate or graduate degree program, completion of the certificate itself is not considered to be a prerequisite and does not guarantee admission to any degree program. Certificates differ from undergraduate minors in their focus on non-degree seeking students and their specificity of topic. Certificates may be offered at the undergraduate or graduate levels.

General Principles 

  • Certificate programs must be consistent with the academic and outreach missions of the University. 
  • Certificate programs will be housed in academic units (Departments or programs). 
  • When possible, Graduate Certificates should be designed so that there is at least one master's degree program in which the credits earned while obtaining the Graduate Certificate may apply, provided the admission and transfer requirements are met. 
  • Federal Gainful Employment regulations: In order for students in any certificate program to apply for federal financial aid, the following information will be disclosed publicly on an annual basis: Program costs, median debt at completion (more than 10 graduates), number of completers, number of students who completed the program in normal time (more than 10 graduates), and occupation(s) related to certificate.

Standards for Credit-Bearing Certificates 

  • Credit-bearing certificates are expected to maintain high academic standards. 
  • Where appropriate, certificate curricula should meet industry/professional society/accreditation standards. 
  • Certificate requirements should be no less than 12 credits for undergraduate certificates (9 credits for graduate certificate programs) and usually not more than 18 credits. A minimum GPA for certificate credit is required.

All Certificate programs require multiple UMass Dartmouth levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, and Provost). The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment sends an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No marketing, including posting of information on the website, can occur until 60 days from the date of this notification in accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012.

The information contained in this document is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process, a summary of the off-campus process, and links to the required forms. Additional information to the off-campus portion of the review process (including the BHE and BOT meeting schedules) may be found in the President’s Office’s UMASS New Program Approval Guide [Guide to the Process.doc].

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Minimum Academic Year Timeline
Certificate Program Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if the certificate program proposal impacts another college's degree requirements November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date/Marketing May
First admitted students September

Required forms

Certificate Program Template
Certificate Approval Form 

 

Post-baccalaureate/Post-master’s Certificate Programs

Any certificate requiring 30 or more credits for completion cannot follow this procedure and must be submitted as a new academic program with full board approvals.

Summary

Post-baccalaureate/Post-master’s programs are a focused collection of courses that, when completed, provide the student a record of coherent academic accomplishment in a single field or set of related disciplines. Such courses of study are comprised of graduate level courses and may be used to prepare students for graduate or professional school or for a different career or profession.

General Principles

Post-baccalaureate/Post-master’s programs of study must be consistent with the academic and outreach missions of the University.

Post-baccalaureate programs will be housed in academic units (Departments or programs).

Federal Gainful Employment regulations: In order for students in any certificate program to apply for federal financial aid, the following information will be disclosed publicly on an annual basis: Program costs, median debt at completion (more than 10 graduates), number of completers, number of students who completed program in normal time (more than 10 graduates), and occupation(s) related to certificate.

All Post-baccalaureate/Post-master’s programs of study require multiple UMass Dartmouth levels of authorization prior to being established. These levels originate at the campus (faculty governance, Dean, and Provost). The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment sends an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No marketing, including posting of information on the website, can occur until 60 days from the date of this notification in accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012.

The information contained in this document is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process, a summary of the off-campus process, and links to the required forms. Additional information to the off-campus portion of the review process (including the BHE and BOT meeting schedules) may be found in the President’s Office’s UMass New Program Approval Guide.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Minimum Academic Year Timeline
Graduate Certificates Proposal  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if requirements for the certificate program impact another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date/Marketing May

 Required forms

Post-baccalaureate/Post-master programs Proposal Template  
BHE Post-baccalaureate programs Curriculum Outline

 

 

New Courses—Academic Credit

Summary

All new academic courses require multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These recommendation/approval levels follow faculty governance, Dean, and Provost. The information contained on this page is intended to provide an explanation of the on-campus process links to the required forms.

The New Course Proposal Form is required, which asks for specific information about the course that will be put into COIN/PeopleSoft. The proposal must include a standard course syllabus, which explicitly demonstrates that the course work meets the federally mandated course credit hour requirement:

Credit Hour Definition: A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than—

(1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks [includes exam week] for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or

(2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practicum, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

The credit hour policy applies to all courses at all levels (graduate, professional, and undergraduate) that award academic credit (i.e. any course that appears on an official transcript issued by the University). This expectation of contact time inside the classroom and student effort outside the classroom is the same in all formats of a course whether it be fully online, a hybrid of face-to-face contact with some content delivered by electronic means, or one delivered in lecture or seminar format.

Courses that have less structured classroom schedules, such as research seminars, independent studies, internships, practicum, studio work, or any other academic work leading to the award of credit hours, at a minimum, should state clearly learning objectives and expected outcomes and workload expectations that meet the standards set forth above. Academic units are responsible for ensuring that credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in this policy. New Courses proposed for a fall semester registration must be submitted to the Provost’s Office for approval by the end of February of the previous spring semester.

Course Description Instructions

The Course Description consists of up to three elements that may not exceed 100 words.

1. The first phrase identifies the topic and content of the course and is a noun-phrase, not a complete sentence.

Example: A course entitled Amphribrachological Field Theory would begin with “Fundamentals of amphribrachology.” or “Simple models, complex models, and simulative models in amphribrachology.”

2. The second element of the course description consists of complete sentences that provide more details about the course topic.

Example: The second element of Amphribrachological Field Theory could read “Field theory in amphribrachology utilizes simple models, complex models, and simulative models.”

3. The third element of the course description, if any, consists of complete sentences that may provide information about the course's uses in the structure of program requirements and/or intended audience.

Example: “This course is for students intending eventually to seek a PhD.”, but not “This course is required for the biology major.”

Information about intended audiences should be given only when important for defining the unique nature of the course or course content.

Example: “This course is intended for practicing professionals whose seminar project will be conducted at the work site.”, but not “This course is for advanced major students.” (the course number itself conveys this).

Neither enrollment limits nor the offering cycle is stated in course descriptions unless inherent to the course design (e.g., involving summer travel).

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action Minimum Academic Year Timelinefor courses to be ready for fall registration
New Course  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval if course impacts another department in the college October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if course impacts another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval

Deadline: 3rd week of February

Effective Date September of the following year

Required forms

New Course Proposal Form
Syllabi Template
Online Course Development Request Form

 

Program or Minor Comparison Chart

 

Course Revisions

Summary

All course revisions require multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These recommendation/approval levels follow faculty governance, Dean, and Provost. Any change in a course’s credit hours must meet the federally mandated course credit hour requirement:

Credit Hour Definition: A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than—

(1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks [includes exam week] for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or

(2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practicum, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

The Course Revision Form is required, which asks for specific information about the course that will be put into COIN/PeopleSoft. Courses revisions proposed for a fall semester registration must be submitted to the Provost’s Office for approval by the end of February of the previous spring semester.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action  Minimum Academic Year Timeline for courses to be ready for fall registration
Course Revision  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if course revision impacts another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval Deadline: 3rd week of February
Effective Date September

Required forms

Course Revision Form

Degree and Minor Program Revisions

Summary

All degree revisions require multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These recommendation/approval levels follow faculty governance, Dean, and Provost. The Degree and Minor Revision Proposal Form is required and asks for specific information about the proposed revisions that will be put into COIN/PeopleSoft. Depending on the impact of the revisions, Degree Change Notifications may need to be sent to the Office of the UMass President and the Board of Higher Education by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action  Minimum Academic Year Timeline for degree revisions to be ready for fall registration
Degree Revisiosn  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval* October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if requirements for the new degree or minor impact another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date May

*Minor revisions such as the change of a course title or course description edits do not go to the College Curriculum Committee.

Required forms

Degree Revision Form
BHE Degree Retitle Form

 

Program or Minor Comparison Chart

Degree Suspension/Discontinuance

Summary

Discontinued Degree Program: A discontinued program is removed permanently from the PeopleSoft system and the catalog. A plan for current student ‘Teach Out’ is required. For a discontinued program to return to active status, the program would need to begin the curricular process for approval of a new degree program. 


Suspension of a Degree Program: A suspended program is a period of time during which no new students will be admitted to the program. A suspended program may return to active status within a five year period.

Suspension/Discontinuance requires multiple levels of authorization prior to being established. These recommendation/approval levels follow faculty governance, Dean, and Provost. The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) sends an official notification to the UMass President’s Office, who forwards it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. No announcement, including posting of information on the website, can occur until 60 days from the date of this notification in accordance to UMass Policy Doc T92-012.

Approval Process Steps and Estimated Timeline

Action  Minimum Academic Year Timeline for Degree Suspension/Discontinuance
Degree Suspension/Discontinuance  
Chair and Department Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval September-October
College Curriculum Committee recommendation for approval October-November
Dean recommendation for approval November-December
University Curriculum Committee if course suspension/discontinuance impacts another college’s degree requirements November-December
Provost approval February
President’s Office/DHE Notification February
Effective Date May

Required forms

Degree Suspension/Discontinuation Form
BHE Program Suspension/Discontinuance Form

 


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