Creating a degree: The approval process simplified

A new degree may take months before it is offered on campus


Photo courtesy of Aspen Kirchgessner

Ryan McCracken, Staff Reporter

Creating a new degree at IU Southeast might take a few years, and the new degrees being offered this semester were first proposed months ago.

This process is often extensive and must be passed through multiple committees before students can enroll in a new program.

Infographic by Louis Herlihy

On-Campus Approval

“The approval process proceeds from the department level, to the school level, to the academic policies committee and to the faculty senate,” Dr. Angela Salas, vice chancellor of academic affairs, said.

According to Dr. Randy Hunt, the IUS program coordinator for recently approved sustainability and regeneration degrees, a lot of information was collected for the degree proposal in order to get the new programs approved.

“The degree proposal documents several things. It must document why a new program is needed,” Hunt said. “The proposal includes research on student demand, national and regional projected growth and anticipated demand.”

According to the IU Southeast Department of Academic Affairs, labor market information examined by the faculty senate includes occupational projections, labor statistics, alumni survey data and workforce information.

New Courses

New course proposals are detailed and must include a syllabus and have approval by their academic units. 

“Importantly, the proposal documents that our campus has qualified faculty to teach the courses and the time to offer courses,” Hunt said.

Once approved by the faculty senate, courses are put into the student information system to show course offerings, course descriptions, course titles and course
topic information.

Off-Campus Approval

Once all levels of approval have been attained on campus, the proposals are placed into an off-campus approval system. The off-campus approval can take several months to complete.

Off-campus approval involves input from the Academic Leadership Council, the Board of Trustees and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE).

“After the ICHE approval there is a next step which is the Higher Learning Commission – a national organization,” Hunt said.

Changes to Programs

Often the curriculum for a degree will change, either by adding new options or changing requirements entirely. Changes often occur after a degree has already been approved.

As described in the IU Southeast Faculty Senate Constitution Bylaw No. 2, A (2), major changes in a degree program include credit hour changes, degree requirement structure changes and new tracks or concentrations.

Minor changes include course substitutions and adding course options to an existing requirement. Major changes must be approved by the Academic Policies Committee (APC) and the faculty senate.

New Fall Undergraduate Degrees

All of the new undergraduate degrees being offered this semester went through the entire approval process and were eventually signed and approved by IUS Chancellor Ray Wallace.

“Upon their approval, the final signature is the Chancellor at IU Southeast,” Hunt said. “The process can take up to two years.”

This semester, IU Southeast is offering a new bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in sustainability and regeneration as well as a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in social sciences.

The B.A. and B.S. in sustainability and regeneration provides students with skills and perspectives that will serve the development of their
own careers.

The two degrees offer civic engagement opportunities
in the region and provide
an alternate program for
students interested in
environmental issues.

The degrees will also enhance the student experience with courses in other areas such as social sciences and business.

The sustainability and regeneration degrees were approved by the faculty
senate on April 21, 2016.

The degrees prepare students with skills in areas such as oral and written communication, teamwork, critical thinking, research and problem solving.

The social sciences degrees were approved by the faculty senate on Jan. 18, 2018.

The Sept. 2018 faculty senate meeting will be held
at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday,
Sept. 20 in University Center,
Rm 127.