Undergraduate Course Approval Process
Course Approval Process Step-by-Step
(see Rackham Course Approval Process for graduate courses)
- Faculty: Faculty members propose new courses to the departmental curriculum committee, which is responsible for vetting proposals according to the unit’s practice. They then give the information to a staff member in Student Services who has access to the online course approval request form (CARF). (Click on New Courses and Modifications to see blank CARF forms that indicate types of information and definitions.) The CARF for new courses also requires a plan for course assessment, often a point of confusion for faculty members who submit a proposal. Course assessment refers to an evaluation of the success of the course itself through a measurement of how well the learning gains of students fulfill the instructor’s goals. Final course evaluations cannot constitute a full assessment, since they rate the instructor’s teaching and the students’ perception of the course’s success. Assessment also differs from course requirements, a list of assignments used as the basis for evaluating and grading students.
- Student Services Staff: A person in Student Services has access to the online CARF and knows how to enter information provided by faculty members. If text exceeds the maximum number of characters in a field (extended course description, course requirements, and supporting statement), users can send additional information to the Curriculum Office. After saving and generating a printed CARF for departmental files, we recommend users send a copy to instructors to make sure the information is correct and complete. Clicking on the “submit” button immediately transfers the CARF to the tasklist of the Curriculum Office. Otherwise, it will not be considered by the Curriculum Committee.
- Curriculum Office: We review all proposals submitted by the course approval deadlines. If additional documentation or clarification is needed, we ask users to follow-up with the instructor. We also enter a meeting date to add CARFs to the agenda for the next course approval meeting.
Course Approval Subcommittee: Dean Deloria asks each member of the whole committee to serve on one of two standing subcommittees. The Course Approval Subcommittee, chaired by JoAnn Peraino, is responsible for reviewing all course approval requests and new proposals or modifications for concentrations and academic minors. Faculty members on the subcommittee volunteer to summarize the discussion of particular course proposals at the full Committee meeting the following week. Next the subcommittee places all CARFs on either a Consent or Discussion agenda. On their behalf, the chair communicates any questions and/or concerns to the user for follow-up with the instructor. All responses received by 5 pm on Thursdays will be included in the next course approval report. In many cases, this exchange of information will allay the concerns of the Course Approval Subcommittee. On Friday afternoon the Curriculum Office posts an information packet on the committee’s CTools site so that members have time to review it before the Tuesday meeting.
- Race & Ethnicity Subcommittee: The Race & Ethnicity Subcommittee is chaired by Evans Young, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. The committee closely reviews and discusses all R&E proposals and recommends each be approved or deferred. Dean Young submits an R&E Subcommittee Report to the Curriculum Committee for its approval. More detailed documentation is required for R&E proposals: 1) R&E Proposal Form; 2) a detailed and annotated syllabus; and 3) 1-2 page explanation of how the course provides substantial discussion of all three issues that define the R&E requirement: a) the meaning of race, ethnicity and racism; b) racial and ethnic intolerance and resulting inequality as it occurs in the United States or elsewhere; and c) comparisons of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, social class or gender.
- Curriculum Committee: At the Curriculum Committee meeting, proposals are either approved or deferred by a majority of voting members; Dean Deloria votes in case of a tie. Consent items may be moved to the Discussion agenda before the committee approves them as a batch. Each course approval request is then discussed in view of concerns raised by the Course Approval Subcommittee and responses from the department/faculty. Each CARF is either approved or deferred by a majority of voting members. The committee also may give contingent approval pending acceptance of the recommended changes. The Curriculum Office adds signatures of approval and sends a course approval actions memo to the Executive Committee.
- Executive Committee: All approvals must be ratified by the Executive Committee before being considered official. On occasion, the Executive Committee has overturned the Curriculum Committee’s approval. Prior to the meeting, Dean Deloria typically approves CARFs on their behalf so that the Curriculum Office can deliver printed copies to the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible. The Curriculum Office communicates final approvals to Academic Advising.
- Registrar’s Office: The Registrar’s Office enters all CARF data into MPathways. This allows departments to schedule courses, ideally in time for each term’s student “backpacking” and early registration. Degree audit and the LSA Bulletin editor update their information.
- LSA Course Approval Database: After course data has been added into MPathways, the Curriculum Office launches each CARF to update the LSA Course Database. Both the online LSA Bulletin and Course Guide pull information from both MPathways and the LSA database. As the final step of the course approval process, copies of approved CARFs are saved to a public folder for departments as a way of communicating the committee’s decision and allow them to download printed CARFs with signatures of approval.
- Summer Approvals: The Dean’s Office may approve time-sensitive proposals during the summer and submit them to the Curriculum Committee in September for ratification.
In coordination with the Registrar’s Office Key Dates and Deadlines for Class Scheduling, the Curriculum Office sets course approval deadlines for the academic year. These deadlines apply to all curriculum proposals, including new courses and modifications, new distribution requests, R&E proposals, new programs, and modifications to existing majors and minors. Please note: A syllabus is required for all new courses and/or distribution requests. Incomplete proposals will not be forwarded to the Curriculum Committee for review. Some requests may be deferred until the next meeting, so we recommend proposals be submitted earlier than the final deadline.
Concentrations & Academic Minors
All curricular proposals should be submitted electronically to JoAnn Peraino at firstname.lastname@example.org along with an optional hard copy via campus mail. To request only a few changes to existing programs, departments may submit a brief memo listing the modifications and effective term. Click on the links below to download the appropriate proposal form. For programs that incorporate courses offered by other academic units, email the proposal to all other departments and request the approval of the other unit’s chair or curriculum committee. “Approval” is intended to indicate that the chair and faculty discussed the proposal and agreed with two issues: 1) the courses will be offered on a regular basis; and 2) additional enrollment will not have a negative impact on concentrators. When proposals are submitted, please forward all responses in one batch.
All new academic programs must be approved by the Presidents Council, comprised of Academic Affairs Officers representing public universities in the Big Ten. The council reviews new programs to prevent unnecessary duplication and assure high standards of quality. Proposals are expected to address the issues of need, adequacy of resources, and academic quality. The Presidents Council meets only four times a year, so it is critical to submit proposals by the deadlines (see Office of the Provost for annual meeting dates and deadlines). The Registrar’s Office waits to create codes in MPathways until they have been approved by the President’s Council. One of the primary goals of the LSA Curriculum Committee is to facilitate new and innovative courses.
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