Development and modification of academic programs

The following changes must undergo a rigorous approval process — both internal and external (i.e., SCHEV and potentially SACSCOC) before they can be implemented and marketed to potential students:

  • New degree/certificate programs
  • Program modifications
  • Adding a concentration
  • Changes to core curriculum standard
  • Changes in modality
  • Program name/title change
  • Program merger or spin-offs
  • CIP code changes
  • Degree destination changes
  • Degree name/title change
  • Program closures

The Office of the Provost provides support and guidance for developing proposals and efficiently guiding them through VCU’s review and approval processes. These processes include priority setting, formal vetting of the proposed new program or modification, full proposal development and interfacing with other internal and external stakeholders to ensure academic programs are non-duplicative and sustainable.

Development and approval process

The process for getting proposals approved and implemented at VCU requires the following steps:

The first step in creating or revising an academic program is to make the Office of the Provost aware of your proposed change. To do so, fill out the online program development and modification request form.

Once your request form is received, the SCHEV liaision will touch base with you to collect additional details about your proposed change. This may be done via email, phone call or a face-to-face meeting, depending on the complexity.

The purpose of the pre-proposal is to ensure university support and resources for the request are available before extensive time and effort are invested in developing a full proposal. The pre-proposal should make an academic and business case for the proposed request, and should identify resources needed to initiate and sustain the program.

The pre-proposal stage requires the completion of two forms:

  • Pre-proposal form: This form, sent to the initiator by the SCHEV liaison after their preliminary discussion, collects detailed information related to the purpose, demand, curriculum and resources needed for the proposed change, as well as its impact on existing academic units. It is developed in consultation with the SCHEV liaison and is typically no more than 10 pages in length, including any supplemental attachments.
  • Pre-proposal authorization form: This form collects the signatures of the department chair, the dean, and the unit's fiscal coordinator. It also will be provided to the request initiator by the SCHEV liaison following their preliminary discussions.

The purpose of the full proposal development and review is to respond to SCHEV’s requirements for the submission of a proposal to create, modify, or discontinue an academic program or to request an organizational change. VCU's SCHEV liaison will provide the program initiator with relevant resources to facilitate this process.

The VCU Substantive Change Checklist [Word Doc] must also be completed and emailed to the SCHEV liaison. Once received, the Office of the Provost will review the checklist to determine if the proposed program will require SACSCOC notification or approval prior to implementation.

The full proposal provides a comprehensive description of the proposed program including program background, mission, curriculum, relationship to existing degree programs, justification for the proposed program, and projected needs. The program initiator will develop all sections of the proposal required by SCHEV, with particular attention given to the curriculum, assessment, relationship to existing degree programs, and resources sections.

It is recommended that the proposal be read by at least two reviewers before sending it to the SCHEV liaison. One reviewer familiar with the field should assess the content of the proposal. The second reviewer should edit the proposal for clarity, thoroughness, organization, grammar, and basic formatting.

After review by the Office of Provost, the SCHEV liaison requests a new program code if no issues were raised. The program initiator and the academic units should allow adequate time for the proposal to go through the various check points in the Curriculum Inventory Management (CIM) workflow.

Consistent with university policy and governance procedures, all proposals for new degree programs, new certificate programs, program modifications or program closures must be approved at the department level, school curriculum committee (if appropriate), and the school level before going through institutional review and approval. Upon review by the Office of the Provost, the proposal moves through appropriate institutional-level review and approval.

Proposals for new degree programs, new certificate programs, program modifications, program closures are submitted to the appropriate university-level curriculum committee. The University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UUCC) reviews program proposals for undergraduate programs. The Programs & Courses (P&C) Committee and the University Graduate Council (UGC) review proposals for graduate programs.

If the proposal is approved at the university-level curriculum committee meeting, the program will move to the University Council Academic Affairs and University Policies (UCAAUP), University Council (UC), President’s Cabinet, and the Board of Visitors (BOV), consistent with university policy.

Following Board of Visitors approval, proposals will be submitted to SCHEV (and, if required, SACSCOC).

View 2019-20 institutional review and approval calendar for key meeting dates and deadlines »

The tables below indicate what approvals are required for a given action:

Academic programs

Type of program actionUUCC/P&C/UGCUC/AAUPUCCabinetBOVSCHEVSACSCOC
New degree program Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
New certificate program Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Program modification Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Adding a concentration to a degree program Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes --- Depends*
Changes to core curriculum standard** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ---
Change in modality Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Program name/title change Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Program merger Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Program spin-off Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*

* SACSCOC notification or approval depends on whether the proposed program represents a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated.
** Changes to required courses for the degree program as defined by SCHEV

Technical changes

Type of program actionUUCC/P&C/UGCUC/AAUPUCCabinetBOVSCHEVSACSCOC
CIP code changes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Degree destination change Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Degree name/title change Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*
Program closure (i.e., suspended admissions, program discontinuance, teach out plan) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Depends*

* SACSCOC notification or approval depends on whether the proposed program represents a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated.

Once approved by the BOV, the proposal can be submitted to SCHEV for review and approval. If the proposed program or modification constitutes a substantive change for the institution as per SACSCOC policy, then approval or notification to SACSCOC must be obtained prior to implementation.

SCHEV staff will send a written approval to the provost. The SCHEV liaison will send the written notification to the college/school dean and all relevant parties, which will include the date for program implementation. The SCHEV liaison will add the program to the SCHEV Program Inventory to track student enrollment in the approved program. The program initiator will work with the bulletin editor to provide content for the new programs pages.

If the new program constitutes a substantive change as per SACSCOC policy, then program approval must be obtained by SACSCOC as well prior to implementation. (In some instances, units may begin to recruit for new programs not yet approved by SACSCOC, but only explicit clearance to do so from the VCU SCHEV liaison.