3.4.1 Academic Program Approval

Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1: Academic Program Approval

The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded is approved by the faculty and the administration.

Compliance Partial Compliance Non-compliance


The faculty and administration at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USF Sarasota-Manatee) approve all curricular changes, including minors, certificates, concentrations, new and changed courses, new degree programs, and terminations.

In doing so, USF Sarasota-Manatee follows Florida Board of Governors’ (BOG) Regulation 8.011, Authorization of New Academic Degree Programs and Other Curricular Offerings, and USF System Policy 10-036, Authorization of New Degree Programs. Through the Memorandum of Delegation, USF System’s President delegated the authority to approve new academic programs to USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Regional Chancellor. USF Sarasota-Manatee’s faculty, through the Faculty Senate’s Academic Programs Committee (APC), and the administration, through Academic Council, carefully evaluate new programs, changes to programs, and terminations of programs to determine their appropriateness to higher education and the Mission Statement: “The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee provides high quality bachelor’s and graduate-level education and scholarly activity in a personalized learning community that prepares successful leaders and responsible citizens.” Academic Affairs posts approved curricula on the Academic Programs Committee’s APC website and in the Academic Catalog 2014-15 and Academic Catalog 2015-16. USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Catalog contains specific information on all programs listed on the Degree Program Inventory 2014-15 and the projected Degree Program Inventory 2015-16.

Curriculum Approval Process

USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF System faculty and administration developed procedures for approval of new academic proposals: Instructions for Submitting a Proposal and Guidelines for APC Members. Throughout the process, faculty and administration consider the appropriateness of the proposals to USF Sarasota-Manatee’s mission and the quality of the academic content regardless of the delivery system, whether it be face-to-face, online, or blended.

Below are the steps in the process of curricular approval at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (Tracking of Curricular Changes):

  1. College Review
    1. Faculty members originate a proposal.
    2. The college faculty and dean review and approve the proposal.
  2. Academic Programs Committee (APC) Review: APC Agenda and Minutes Website
    1. The faculty members present the proposal to the Faculty Senate’s APC for review, using the appropriate forms.
    2. Proposal deadlines for submission to the APC are eight (8) times per academic year.
    3. The APC support staff member reviews the proposals and documents recommended changes. The APC chair assigns proposals to APC preview teams, made up of two faculty from different colleges. The APC preview team has the responsibility to review the proposal and communicate and resolve any missing, unclear, or contradictory information with the faculty member who submitted the proposal.
    4. Once the preview teams have finished their reviews, all proposals are posted onto the Learning Management System (Canvas) for the full APC committee’s review prior to the meeting.
    5. The APC preview team presents the proposal at the next regularly scheduled APC meeting. The preview team has the option of inviting the proposal initiator to be a guest at the APC meeting. After appropriate discussion, the committee may take the following actions:
      1. Approval – Proposals pass with a simple majority vote. A written recommendation for approval goes to the Academic Council, the initiator, and the college dean.
      2. Disapproval – Proposals do not pass when they fail to win a simple majority vote. The APC returns the disapproved proposal to the college dean and initiator with APC’s stated reasons for the negative vote.
      3. Deferral – Proposals are deferred when a simple majority of the voting members present vote to defer the proposal. The APC chair outlines the steps necessary to bring the proposal back for action by the Committee. This document is sent to the college dean and initiator.
  3. USF Sarasota-Manatee Academic Council Review: Academic Council Minutes Website
    1. Members review the proposal at a regular meeting, held every other week.
    2. The following actions may be taken:
      1. Approval – Upon approval, the support staff move the proposals to the next steps.
        For courses, the next steps include: USF System concurrence review and submission
        to the State Course Numbering System.  Once all approvals have been received, the
        curriculum changes are updated in the appropriate upcoming catalog. If it is a new
        degree program, the proposal proceeds to Step 4 below.
      2. Disapproval – Upon disapproval, the Academic Council provides a written statement citing the reasons for disapproval to the APC Chair.

After USF Sarasota-Manatee approvals occur, the subsequent steps differ dependent on the type of proposal.  

Minors, Certificates, & Concentrations

The following flowcharts show faculty and administration involvement in curricular approvals: New Minor, New Certificate, New Concentration. For new certificates and minors, USF Sarasota-Manatee submits proposals to either the USF System Undergraduate Council or the USF System Graduate Council for review by faculty in other USF System institutions. If faculty have no issues, the new certificate or minor is then set up in the Student Information System (Banner), DegreeWorks, and in the following year’s USF Sarasota-Manatee Catalog. Note that although new minors, certificates, and concentrations go through USF System review, changes to them do not.

An example of a recently proposed minor is in Spanish & Latin American Studies with documentation of the steps followed below.

  1. Spanish & Latin American Studies Minor APC Minor Proposal
  2. APC Meeting Approval, December 12, 2014 (Minor APC Agenda, Minor APC Minutes)
  3. Academic Council Meeting Approval, January 12, 2015 (Minor Academic Council Minutes)
  4. Posted for USF System review (January 22, 2015 – February 25, 2015) (USF System Minor Proposal Form)
  5. Updated in Banner, March 13, 2015 (Banner Documentation of New Minor)

New & Changed Courses

The following flowcharts show faculty and administration involvement in curricular approvals: New Course Flowchart  and Course Change Flowchart. USF Sarasota-Manatee submits course proposals to either the USF System Undergraduate Council or the USF System Graduate Council for review by faculty at other institutions within the USF System. The USF System shares course numbers in Banner, the student information system. This stage in the process allows for appropriate concurrence on shared courses. After the review period, staff send courses to the Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS) for review and approval. Once a number is approved by SCNS, the Registrar sets up the course for use by faculty and students in Banner. It is also added to the next year’s Academic Catalog.

An example of recently proposed course is MCB 4277 Insect-Borne Diseases and Global Health, which went through the documented steps below (Note: Course was developed and submitted as MCB 4241.  SCNS assigned MCB 4277).

  1. Course APC Course Proposal
  2. APC Meeting Approval, December 12, 2014 (APC Course Agenda, APC Course Minutes)
  3. Academic Council Meeting Approval, January 12, 2015 (Academic Council Course Minutes)
  4. Posted for USF System Review (January 21, 2015 – February 25, 2015) (USF System Course Proposal Form)
  5. Submitted to Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS) on February 25, 2015, Approval granted on March 1, 2015 (SCNS Course Approval)
  6. Updated in Banner, April 28, 2015 (Course Notification in Banner)

New Degree Programs

The following flowchart shows faculty and administration involvement in curricular approvals: New Degree Programs Flowchart. Faculty first propose new degree programs by pre-proposal. Once a pre-proposal has been approved through USF Sarasota-Manatee’s internal steps through the APC and Academic Council, it is sent to the USF System Academic Programs Advisory Committee (APAC), formerly the Academic Programs and Policies Coordinating Committee or APPCC), for review. Members from the three USF System institutions review the pre-proposals and make recommendations for the BOG’s Work Plan and may provide comments. Then, the Council of Academic Vice Presidents for the State University System of Florida (CAVP) reviews it and provides comments. The pre-proposal is then reviewed by the USF Board of Trustees (BOT) and the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) as part of the Work Plan. If they approve the Work Plan with the pre-proposal, the full program proposal process begins.

The full program proposal goes back through USF Sarasota-Manatee’s internal steps again: APC and Academic Council. Then there is a USF System notification for a 14 day concurrence period. The full program proposal is then sent to the Academic & Campus Environment Advisory Council (ACEAC) for review and comment. It is then sent to Academics & Campus Environment Workgroup (ACE) and then to the BOT for approval. If approved, it goes to the BOG to enter the degree into its state-wide degree inventory database system. Then, faculty members implement the program.

An example of a recently proposed new degree program is the Bachelor of Science in Biology.  The Biology Proposal went through the following academic process as outlined above:

  1. Biology Pre-proposal developed by faculty and dean.
  2. Pre-proposal approved by APC, August 28, 2012 (APC Biology Pre-proposal Minutes)
  3. Approval by Academic Council, September 4, 2012 (Academic Council Biology Pre-proposal Minutes)
  4. Pre-proposal approved by Academic Programs Advisory Committee (APAC, formerly APPCC) (APPCC Biology Signature Form 11/8/2012)
  5. Council of Academic Vice Presidents(CAVP/SUS) in Florida met and expressed “no concerns” (Summary 2/15/2013)
  6. Biology posted on USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 2013-14 (Work Plan – Biology)
  7. Biology Proposal approved by APC March 26, 2013 (APC Biology Proposal Agenda, APC Minutes March 26, 2013)
  8. Proposal approval by Academic Council April 1, 2013 (Academic Council Biology Proposal Minutes)
  9. Proposal approval by Academic & Campus Environment Advisory Group (ACEAC), April 29, 2012 (ACEAC Biology Notes)
  10. Proposal approval by Academic & Campus Environment Work Group (ACE), May 23, 2013 (ACE Biology Agenda, ACE Biology Minutes)
  11. Proposal approval by USF Board of Trustees (BOT), June 6, 2013 (BOT Biology Agenda, BOT Biology Minutes)
  12. Degree posted on SUS Degrees Inventory at Florida Board of Governors, August 21, 2013 (BOG Letter – Added Biology to SUS Degrees Inventory).
  13. USF Sarasota-Manatee then notified SACSCOC of the substantive change, because this was a bachelor’s degree in a different field (SACSCOC Approval Letter – Biology Substantive Change).

Termination of Degrees

BOG Regulation 8.004, Academic Program Coordination, and BOG Regulation 8.012, Academic Program Termination, govern program termination. BOG Regulation 8.012 empowers each university BOT to adopt policies and procedures for degree program termination. Furthermore, the CAVP Work Group annually reviews “low productivity” programs across the State University System (SUS) and makes recommendations to the CAVP and the BOG regarding potential program terminations. The BOG establishes thresholds for sufficient productivity based on numbers of graduates for each level of degree over the previous five-year period. The CAVP Program Coordination Summary 2013-14 provides an example of the activities of the Work Group. USF Sarasota-Manatee periodically documents its review of programs with low productivity and reports them to the BOG (Productivity Audit).

Once CAVP has targeted a program for termination, USF Sarasota-Manatee must follow internal procedures for termination. USF System Policy 10-040, Termination of Degree Programs, governs USF System program termination. The process for degree termination is similar to the second phase of the process for new program approval (no pre-proposal is necessary for program termination). The process for terminating an academic degree program is detailed in USF’s Academic Program Termination Procedures (BOG Termination Form).

An example is USF Sarasota-Manatee’s termination of the BS and MS in Special Education (Special Education Termination Form). Following approval by the BOT (June 4, 2015, Meeting: BOT Special Education Agenda, BOT Special Education Minutes), and the BOG removed it from the SUS Degrees Inventory (BOG Letter – Special Education Terminations). Then USF Sarasota-Manatee notified SACSCOC of the termination (Special Education Termination Letter to SACS – June 10, 2015).



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