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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. (Academic program approval)


Judgment of Compliance

The faculty and administration at Sam Houston State University approve each educational program for which academic credit is awarded. Starting at the faculty level, ideas for new programs are proposed, evaluated and referred on to college, university, administrative, and system level committees for approval through departmental curriculum committees. The entire curriculum process as outlined in the Faculty Handbook is described in detail in Core Requirement 2.7.2 and Comprehensive Standard 3.4.10 [1].

Before any new course may be taught, it must be cleared through the normal chain of command: faculty, chair, dean, provost, president, board of regents, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Any major changes in existing courses or proposals for new courses follow the same procedures. The curriculum process at Sam Houston State University adheres to The Texas State University System Rules and Regulations [2]. All requests for curriculum changes must include a justification [2].

Proposed New Programs
The proposal and approval process for all new programs and accompanying courses originate at the faculty level and proceed through a series of committees comprised of faculty and administrators before submission to the Provost, President, Board of Regents, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Requests for new programs follow the guidelines created by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board [3]. Proposals for new doctoral programs must meet more stringent guidelines that include assessing the need for the new program [4].

Each new degree program request is submitted to the Departmental Curriculum Committee for review and approval. Each department’s committee will report to the appropriate department chair. In fact, it is permissible for the department chair to serve as the committee chair. It is the responsibility of the committee to review the curriculum, to make suggestions for changes in existing curricula, and to present recommendations for new courses and degree programs. The department chair is ultimately responsible for the quality of the department’s curriculum report [5].

If approved at this level, the proposal is subsequently forwarded to the College Curriculum Committee for review and approval. The college committee's function should be to review all requests, originating in the departments in the college’s administrative area. The committee should ascertain whether the proposed requests are in harmony with the various roles and scopes of the departments in the college, as well as in congruence with the statement of mission of the college itself. It should be a concern of the committee that the requests do not in any way foster an overlapping of offerings among the departments within the college [5]. The academic dean support the program and indicate willingness to allocate resources to support the program prior to submission to the University Curriculum Committee.

The University Curriculum Committee, comprised of faculty and administrators, is charged with reviewing the proposals to ensure there is a documented need and no unnecessary duplication [6]. The committee is charged with reviewing for academic integrity the curriculum reports to resolve conflicts to the extent possible. This includes responsibility of carefully reviewing the curriculum submissions to determine if information provided for all requests for new programs and/or courses is complete, to analyze proposed additions and changes in course in the interest of identifying areas of possible overlap or duplication, and to work toward a resolution of potential problems before the matters come up for discussion by the Academic Affairs Council. Petitions for programs are evaluated on a basis of program demands and the qualifications of the faculty. It is expected that committee member(s) will be knowledgeable of the details of the curriculum submissions from their respective colleges in the interest of responding to most questions, which will arise in committee meetings [5].

Finally, all proposed changes are submitted to the Provost and the Academic Affairs Council [7], comprised of faculty and administrators, for endorsement before submission to the President, The Texas State University System’s Board of Regents, and The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

New Courses Required to Support Programs
As with new program proposals, all new course proposals begin at the faculty level. The University utilizes a standardized request form that accompanies each request for a new course [8] [9] [10]. On this form, the proposed course is identified by prefix and number, title, and a course description. It specifies the number of credit hours to be awarded, as well as any course prerequisites. The proposal also identifies the audience to which the course is being offered. The most important part of the proposal is the statement of need and program compatibility. The faculty must make a case as to why the course is needed and whether or not the course will duplicate any existing course(s), both within the department and across campus. A course outline and course objectives are included in the description. Based on the course description, a recommendation is made as to the appropriate level (e.g., 100-, 200-, etc.) for course numbering. Finally, it addresses the question as to whether the University has adequate faculty, technological, and library resources to support the course [8] [9] [10].

If a program and/or any new support courses are recommended for approval by a departmental curriculum committee, the proposal is submitted to the respective college curriculum committee. This committee again considers these requests to insure that these additions or deletions are consistent with the institution’s mission and goals. Avoidance of unnecessary duplication and the assurance of academic integrity are key components of this review process. If deemed appropriate by the college curriculum committee, the proposal is forwarded to the University Curriculum Committee, which shares the same mission as the college curriculum committees, but with University-wide input and consideration. The University Curriculum Committee [6] is responsible for reviewing the program and curriculum submissions to determine if information provided is complete, to analyze proposed additions and changes in course titles to avoid possible overlap or duplication, and to work toward potential problem solutions before the matters are discussed by the Academic Affairs Council [7]. Committee members must be knowledgeable of their college's curriculum submissions and able to respond to most questions that arise.

The recommendations of the University Curriculum Committee are then forwarded to Academic Affairs Council (AAC) for its review and recommendation. The AAC consists of the Provost, all academic deans and associate deans, departmental chairs, program coordinators, representatives from key academic support units and the Chair of the Faculty Senate. The AAC provides a forum for both the discussion of these academic matters and for communicating more effectively on all academic concerns. Upon approval by the Provost, the proposed change is submitted to the President and ultimately the Board of Regents for final approval. After Board of Regents action, the Curriculum Report [11] is posted on the University’s website [12].

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Curriculum Development and Evaluation - Faculty Handbook
[2] The Texas State University System, Rules and Regulations, Chapter III, Section 5.1
[3] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Undergraduate and Masters Degree Guidelines
[4] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Doctoral Proposal Guidelines
[5] Curriculum Review Cycle Memo from Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs to Deans
[6] University Curriculum Committee, SHSU
[7] Academic Affairs Council, SHSU
[8] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course
[9] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course, BIO 434
[10] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course, HIS 390
[11] Curriculum Report, February 2008, SHSU
[12] Curriculum Reports, Webpage

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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111