Academic Program Approval Process

Proposing a New Certificate Program

Certificate programs provide a means for Indiana University to respond with a high degree of flexibility in meeting emerging needs for educational programs. They may address professional development needs of practitioners in a wide variety of areas, or they may provide focused areas of study for students pursuing other academic programs.

Certificate programs may be offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels and may be either credit or non-credit programs. The approval process here only deals with for credit programs. They culminate in Trustee approval for awarding a certificate as the functional equivalent of a diploma. 

These programs of study are intended to be housed and supported within existing academic units. Credit certificate programs typically will be primarily comprised of courses already present in the curriculum. Generally, courses required in credit certificate programs will apply to related degree programs in the supporting academic unit. Thus, credit certificate programs often perform a recruitment function, serving as stepping stones to participation in a degree program.

  • ´╗┐Criteria for Credit Certificate Programs

    1. Has a clearly defined audience(s).
    2. Is composed of an integrated, focused curriculum.
    3. Is based on specific learning objectives.
    4. Includes an assessment plan/process focused on the achievement of the learning objectives
    5. Has admission criteria and process.
    6. Is able to stand alone or be part of another curriculum, but is not automatically earned by completing the requirements for a major.
    7. Includes no hidden pre-requisites.
    8. Usually built on current faculty and facility resources.
    9. May be graduate, undergraduate, or post-baccalaureate (undergraduate).
    10. Will normally be titled using one of the following:
    • Certificate in
    • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in
    • Graduate Certificate in 
  • Process for Development of Credit Certificate Programs

    1. The first step in the process is for the head of the academic unit to notify the campus vice chancellor for academic affairs of the intention to proceed with the development of a certificate proposal. (For IU Bloomington, please contact the Vice Provost for Graduate Education for graduate certificates or the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education  for undergraduate certificates.)

    2. Proposals must be prepared in the format available from the campus Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
    3. Proposals must approved through the appropriate campus curriculum approval processes.
    4. When appropriate, the certificate program proposal must be approved by the system-wide or core school. Graduate certificates must be approved by the appropriate graduate unit. System-wide or core school certificate program proposals must be approved by all affected campuses.
    5. If additional state funding is required to offer the certificate, the chancellor or designated academic officer of the campus where the program is to be offered must submit one (1) copy of the program proposal to the Associate Vice President for Administration in the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs (EVPUAA), which will work with the academic unit in developing consistent approaches to estimating cost and identifying income sources for the program budget.
    6. Determine if the program will be eligible for Financial Aid. (See Determining Financial Aid Eligibility Section)
    7. Following EVPUAA approval of the budget (if relevant) and completion of campus reviews, an electronic copy of the certificate program proposal is submitted to the chair of the Academic Leadership Council (ALC) (uploaded to APPEAR) by the campus vice chancellor for academic affairs/dean of faculties or by the dean of a system-wide school.
    8. The Assistant Vice President for Statewide Academic Relations will provide copies to members of the council on the Consent Agenda for consideration. ALC may approve with or without suggesting alterations, return to the initiating campus, table or defer, or disapprove. If approved, the proposal is forwarded to the Office of the Executive Vice President.
    9. The Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs (EVPUAA) places the certificate program on the Trustee administrative action report.
    10. The EVPUAA will forward to the ICHE for approval. The ICHE notifies the chief academic officers of the other six (6) state institutions of higher education and offers to send a copy of the proposal to parties that request them.
  • Determining Financial Aid Eligibility

    On June 1, 2011, the Department of Education released details for a new process for demonstrating the extent to which certificate programs prepare students for gainful employment* in a recognized occupation. IU must be able to defend its assertion that this is true when requesting that a non-degree program be eligible for federal aid. IU follows this method to ensure each program is rigorously evaluated prior to any request for financial aid eligibility.

    * According to the Department of Education, a program leads to gainful employment if estimated annual loan payments of typical graduates do not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. Programs that exceed these levels would be at risk of losing their ability to participate in taxpayer-funded federal student aid programs.

    The following information, if required, is to be submitted using the "Notice of Intent" form.

    Financial Aid Eligiblity Rules pertaining to “Gainful Employment” require that campuses demonstrate that a program prepares students for credible vocational fields in order to be considered for Title IV student aid programs.

    1. The requestor must indicate if the certificate is for a vocational education program that prepares completers for gainful employment in a recognized occupation if ‘no’ this program cannot be considered for aid eligibility.
    2. If the certificate program prepares completers for gainful employment in a recognized occupation the requestor should provide a Standard Occupation Code (SOC). If none is provided, the proposed certificate program is ‘not eligible.’
    3. If the program is presented as eligible for financial aid, the requestor must attach a completed Notice of Intent to Offer a Gainful Employment Program, to include:
      • Institution Name
      • OPEID (campus Federal Identification Code)
      • Program Name(s) and Program CIP Code(s) supported by this documentation
      • Narrative description of how the institution determined the need for the program. For example, describe what need this program will address and how the institution became aware of that need. If the program is replacing a current program(s), identify the current program(s) that is being replaced by the new program(s) and provide details describing the benefits of the new program(s). If the program will be offered in connection with, or in response to, an initiative by a governmental entity, provide details of that initiative. The institution must retain documents that support this description for review or submission to the Department upon request.
      • Narrative description of how the program was designed to meet local market needs, or for an online program, regional or national market needs. For example, indicate if Bureau of Labor Statistics data or State labor data systems information was used, and/or if State, regional, or local workforce agencies were consulted. Include how the course content, program length, academic level, admission requirements, and prerequisites were decided; including information received from potential employers about course content; and information regarding the target students and employers. The institution must retain copies of documents and its analysis for review and submission to the Department upon request.
      • Narrative description of any wage analysis the institution may have performed, including any consideration of Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data related to the new program. The institution must retain copies of analysis documents for review and submission to the Department upon request.
      • Narrative description of any wage analysis the institution may have performed, including any consideration of Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data related to the new program. The institution must retain copies of analysis documents for review and submission to the Department upon request.
      • Narrative description of how the program was reviewed or approved by, or developed in conjunction with, one or more of the following:
        • Business advisory committees
        • Program integrity boards
        • Public or private oversight or regulatory agencies (not including the state licensing /authorization agency and accrediting agency)
        • Businesses that would likely employ graduates of the program
        • Date of the first day of class. Include both the first day the program was or will be offered by the institution, and the day you would like to begin disbursing Title IV funds to students enrolled in the program.

    For example, describe the steps taken to develop the program, identify when and with whom discussions were held, provide relevant details of any proposals or correspondence generated, and/or describe any process used to evaluate the program. The institution must retain, for review and submission to the Department upon request, copies of meeting minutes, correspondence, proposals, or other documentation to support the development, review, and/or approval of the program.

Required Documentation for Program Proposals

The official process to submit documentation is through the APPEAR system. However, for your planning purposes, below are fillable-form PDF documents of what you will see in APPEAR.

See a table of required documentation for program proposals to ICHE »