Development and modification of academic programs

The Office of the Provost provides support and guidance for developing and modifying academic programs (certificates and degrees) and efficiently guiding them through VCU’s development and approval process outlined below.

Reasons to develop or modify an academic program

Faculty develop academic programs for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Desire to respond to societal and market (local, national and international) trends and advancements
  • Requirements of employers for new or improved means of developing and/or training highly qualified/skilled professionals
  • Need to enact changes required by specialized accrediting bodies or licensure requirements
  • Aspiration and foresight to become a leader in an emerging or not-yet-existing field or discipline
  • Overall commitment to leadership, quality, effectiveness and continuous improvement in service to students and the academic enterprise

Program development review and approval process

The program development review and approval process reflects a shared governance environment and a responsibility to satisfy the requirements of external agencies. This process fosters transparency, accountability and equity for all affected stakeholders. All academic units seeking to create or modify an academic program should follow this process.

A timeline for this process is available.

Note: The first two steps below are critical for due diligence related to the viability of an idea, student and employer demand for a program and investment of limited institutional fiscal, physical and human resources. Consequently, it is not practicable that all ideas advance.

Initiating unit contacts Provost’s Office using the program development and modification/organizational change request form to begin the process.

For proposed program closures, the academic program closure request form must be completed as well.

SCHEV liaison meets with the representative(s) from the initiating unit to provide guidance based on the specific request. For new degree program proposals, the initiating unit completes a pre-proposal form that makes academic and business cases for the request and a pre-proposal authorization form. Both forms are supplied by the SCHEV liaison after the meeting. New certificate program proposals require the pre-proposal authorization form only.

With support from the Provost’s Office, the initiating unit completes a full SCHEV proposal and VCU Substantive Change Checklist for the purpose of identifying SACSCOC implications. The SCHEV liaison requests a new program code.

After receiving approval at the appropriate levels within the school/college, the final full proposal enters the university approval process.

  • University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee or University Graduate Council
  • University Council, Committee on Academic Affairs and University Policies
  • University Council
  • President’s Cabinet
  • Board of Visitors

Once internally approved, the proposal is submitted to SCHEV (and SACSCOC as needed) for notification or approval. The Provost’s Office facilitates the necessary submissions at this stage. Though this is the culminating step in the approval process, VCU cannot assume approval. The final outcome is not guaranteed.

  • For new degree programs that require SCHEV Council approval, SCHEV requires a two-step process to include a program announcement, in advance of the degree proposal being submitted.

If SCHEV approves the proposal, SCHEV staff will send a written approval to the provost. The Provost’s Office 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 degree inventory to track student enrollment in the approved program. The program initiator will work with the Bulletin editor to provide content for the new program page in the Bulletin.

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.

Program modification review and approval process

Academic units may also seek to modify an academic program. Examples include:

  • Add a concentration
  • Change a core curriculum requirement
  • Change a modality or delivery format
  • Change a program name/title
  • Merge programs or create spin-off programs
  • Change degree or certificate program credit hours
  • Request a CIP code change, degree destination change or degree/name title change

Modifications vary in complexity, which can affect the duration of the review and approval process. The SCHEV liaison provides academic units guidance on modifications and whether they require SCHEV action. Some modifications also may involve SACSCOC notification or approval.

Queue

The current list of items in the Office of the Provost’s SCHEV queue is located on the academic program status tracker web page, which is available to all faculty and staff.

Contact

Please direct questions to the academic program proposal specialist (schevliaisons@vcu.edu).