Process for academic degree program approvals and changes

The process to propose new academic degree programs or to make changes to existing programs can be a very lengthy process.  Depending on the change, the process can take two years or longer.  Different requests require approval from the UA Board of Trustees, Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), and/or SACSCOC after faculty within the department and college have approved. Some require only notification.  These boards or commissions only meet a few times during the year. They have deadlines for submission of agenda items well in advance of the meetings. Once final approval is granted, information regarding new programs or revisions must be submitted for admissions and catalog materials by established UA deadlines. To assist departments in submitting the appropriate forms in a timely manner, deadlines for submission to institutional contacts have been established. Information, links to forms and instructions, as well as deadlines and process details follow.

(Click here for downloadable chart of curricular changes and the types of approval/notification needed)

Current List of the ACHE Program Inventory

Deadlines for submitting new program or change requests to institutional contacts

October 16, 2020 (deadline for items to be reviewed by Undergraduate and Graduate Councils in the spring)

January 15, 2021 (deadline for new minors only) 

For more information and/or to submit a request for a new program or change, please contact:

  • Cathy Pagani (cathy@ua.edu), Associate Dean, Graduate School, 205-348-8283, for new programs or changes at the graduate level
  • Ginger Bishop (vabishop@ua.edu), Assistant Provost/Director of Institutional Effectiveness, 205-348-7125, for new programs or changes at any level
  • Carmen Jones (crjones18@ua.edu), Assistant Director of Institutional Effectiveness, 205-348-3439, for new programs or changes at any level

Types of academic program changes to submit for approval or notification

  • Establish: a new academic degree program, college, school, or department
  • Establish: an new extension (concentration, track, specialization, emphasis, option, focus, etc.), certificate, or teacher certification program
  • Establish: a new off-campus site
  • Extend: an existing program to a new location or approved off-campus site
  • Merge or Split: an academic program or academic unit.
  • Reorganize: move responsibility for an academic program from one unit to another.
  • Suspend or Reactivate: an academic program, unit, or a location
  • Terminate: an academic program or academic unit.
  • Change: a degree name, nomenclature, or CIP code
  • Change: the name of an academic department, or research center/institute
  • Initiate: a new dual degree program or contractual arrangement for programs or courses

Course Inventory Management System (CIM) for Programs

The following types of academic program changes must be submitted through CIM.  These changes include:

  • NISPS (Notification of Intent to Submit a Proposal)
  • Proposals
  • Concentrations
  • Graduate Certificates
  • Minors
  • Inactivation (Termination) of Programs, Minors, Concentrations, and Certificates

  Use this link to propose a NISP.

         http://courseinventory.ua.edu/nispadmin/

Use this link to submit a proposal for a new program, concentration, certificate, or a minor.

          http://courseinventory.ua.edu/programadmin/

Getting started with CIM

Login using your myBama credentials.  If you do not currently have a CIM account, contact the registrar’s office for access.

Complete all of the fields on the form in CIM.  Help bubbles are available to give you extra guidance on how to complete some of the fields.

Required attachments

At the end of the CIM form is a place to upload attachments.  Please attach a resolution, a letter of support from the Dean of the college, evidence of faculty support (faculty vote, memo, etc.), the UA Supplement form for a proposal, and a completed long form for a certificate (forms can be found on this web page, as well as examples).

Once the form is completed, click “Save and Start Workflow.”

The proposed academic program change will go through various steps in an internal workflow before it is sent to the Board of Trustees and ACHE.  Through these various stages, the proposed change can be rolled back to a previous stage in the workflow for changes or additional information.    In addition, several notifications will be sent once you click “Save and Start Workflow.”  This is to alert relevant departments about the proposed academic change.  Once the proposed change has successfully navigated the workflow, the form and attachments will be sent to the Provost’s Office and President for final approval. A packet with all forms and attachments will be to be sent to the Board of Trustees from the Provost’s Office. Once approved by the Board of Trustees, the UA System Office will submit the packet to ACHE. UA’s liaisons to the Board and ACHE will update CIM when external approvals are made.

Steps for the approval process of new undergraduate programs and graduate programs

  • IMPORTANT:  ACHE has a 1 year time frame from receiving the NISP to receiving the proposal.  If they do not get it in one year, the NISP will have to be resubmitted. 

  • IMPORTANT:  Departments need to draft the NISP and full proposal at the same time.  NISPS will not move forward to Graduate Council or Board of Trustees unless the first draft of the proposal has been submitted into CIM.

  • Proposals for new graduate/undergraduate degree programs are initiated within a department and follow the format of the following two Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) documents: (1) Notification of Intent to Submit a Proposal (NISP) for a New Program of Instruction and (2) Proposal for a New Degree Program.
  • The proposing department initiates the process through discussions within the department, including a faculty vote, and discussions with the dean of the college. If the dean of the college is in favor of developing the new program, the dean discusses it with the Provost and, if it is a graduate degree proposal, the Dean of the Graduate School.  The department prepares and submits the NISP.  The NISP will be reviewed by the Council of Deans and the Provost.  If it is a graduate proposal, the NISP must also be approved by the Graduate Council.  If it is an undergraduate proposal, the NISP must be approved by the Undergraduate Council.  The NISP will be submitted to the UA Board of Trustees for approval.  Following Board of Trustees approval, the NISP will be submitted to the ACHE staff for comment.  Graduate level proposals will be sent to the Alabama Council of Graduate Deans (ACGD) for review and comments.
  • Once the Board of Trustees approves the NISP, the department will submit the full proposal.
    • If it is a graduate program proposal, the proposal will go to the Curriculum Committee of the Graduate Council.  The committee will review the proposal and possibly request revisions.  When that committee approves the proposal, it is recommended to the Graduate Council. The Graduate Council is responsible for ensuring that all graduate programs meet acceptable academic standards for quality graduate education; that the content, structure, and evaluation of student performance in graduate courses are significantly different from those of undergraduate courses; that all graduate courses are taught by members of the graduate faculty; and that appropriate program reviews will take place.  If the Graduate Council votes to approve the new-program proposal, the Graduate Dean forwards it as a recommendation to the Provost.
    • If it is an undergraduate program proposal, the proposal will go to the Curriculum Committee of the Undergraduate Council.  The committee will review the proposal and possibly request revisions.  When the committee approves the proposal, it is recommended to the Undergraduate Council.  The Undergraduate Council is responsible for ensuring that all undergraduate programs meet acceptable academic standards for quality undergraduate education; that all courses are taught by qualified faculty; and that appropriate program reviews will take place.  If the Undergraduate Council votes to approve the new program proposal, it is recommended to the Provost.  
  • The proposal will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval, then to ACHE for approval, and then back to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
  • Generally the process takes about 2-3 years.

Required forms to be attached in CIM

Inactivation (Termination) of a Program, Minor, Concentration, or Certificate

Use this link to Inactivate (terminate or delete) an existing degree program, minor, concentration or certificate. http://courseinventory.ua.edu/programadmin/

Once you are in CIM for programs, select the program that you wish to terminate. Select the program and click the red “Inactivate Program” button. The request to terminate a program is submitted into a workflow where it will be determined if the program should be inactivated.

Once you select inactivate program, a separate window will open that contains a form that must be completed and then submitted into workflow.

For degree programs, this inactivation proposal must be submitted by February 1st two years prior to the effective date of closure. Termination of programs, concentrations, and certificates must be submitted to the Board of Trustees and ACHE. SACSCOC must also be notified when a program is closed.

Additional forms for academic changes to be submitted as Word documents

Examples of submitted proposals, NISPs, and other forms:

Calendar

  • Board of Trustee meeting dates
    • November 13, 2020
    • February 5, 2021
    • April 9, 2021
    • June 4, 2021
    • September 17, 2021
    • November 5, 2021
  • ACHE meeting dates
    • Dec. 11, 2020
    • March 12, 2021
    • June 11, 2021
    • September 10, 2021
    • December 10, 2021
  • UA Graduate Council meeting dates
    • Sept. 8, 2020
    • Nov. 10, 2020
    • Feb. 2, 2021
    • March 30, 2021
  • UA Undergraduate Council meeting dates (tentative dates)
    • September 16, 2020
    • October 21, 2020
    • November 18, 2020
    • January 20, 2021
    • March 24, 2021
    • May 19, 2021

Recent approvals by the Board of Trustees

Recent approvals by ACHE

Links


Post Implementation and Program Viability

New programs approved by ACHE and the UA Board of Trustees (approved after May 2018) will have to complete a Post Implementation report 7 years after implementation (programs approved before May 2018 will have to complete a Post Implementation report 5 years after implementation). Programs have to report on four conditions: enrollments, program graduates, employment information, and assessment of student learning outcomes. New programs must take an average of the years that they have had graduates of the program, and these numbers must meet the program viability numbers set by the state. The program viability numbers are listed below. Here is a link for the ACHE Post Implementation Report Guidelines.

Existing programs also must meet the program viability numbers. For existing programs, program viability is the average number of graduates over a 5 year period.

Program Viability Numbers

  • Bachelor’s degree programs – 7.5 students
  • Master’s degree programs – 3.75 students
  • Ed.S. – 3.0 students
  • Doctorate programs – 2.25 students