Academic Program Approval Process

Approval Pathway and Campus Processes Links

The academic affairs approval process follows a prescribed path designed to ensure that any new programs are aligned with strategic priorities of the university, support the mission of the originating academic unit and campus, are in appropriate relationship to all IU campuses, and that the necessary resources are available to sustain the program.

Based on university policy, some types of academic changes may not require submission through all levels or may be advanced through some levels of the approval process simply as an information item. The general sequence of the approval process is as follows:

  • Departments/divisions/schools 
  • University Graduate School (for graduate items)
  • Campus academic officer and/or chancellor
  • Academic Leadership Council (ALC)
  • IU President
  • IU Board of Trustees
  • Indiana Commission for Higher Education
  • Higher Learning Commission

Overview of the Approvals Process

The academic program approval process is based on and built around the steps required to develop and offer a new degree program; however, there are many other types of academic changes included in this process, which is represented in tabular form in the Required Approvals Matrix. The Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs (OEVPUAA) is responsible for administration of this process at Indiana University.

This page provides all information and forms necessary for academic administrators at all levels within a campus and for all campuses of IU to initiate the academic program approval process for any type of approval neccesary, following the appropriate progression for each type of program proposal. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary in OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611).

As a basic overview, listed below are types of proposals considered in the academic program approval process, as well as the general approvals pathway. You will find links below to pages with more specific information for consideration of online degree proposals and for adding an online degree to an existing on campus degree.

Types of changes in Academic Programs and Structures

  • New campus branches or extension centers
  • New schools or name changes of schools
  • New departments, including name changes and transfers to other schools or colleges
  • New centers or institutes, including name changes
  • All new academic credentials, including:
    • Certificates
    • Degrees
    • Majors/tracks/concentrations
    • Minors
    • Name changes
    • Terminations

Steps in Proposal Development

  • Step 1: Notify campus EVCAA and UAA of plans for academic proposal development

    The head of an academic unit typically initiates proposals for new academic programs. As a first step, a Department Chair or the Dean of a school) notifies the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for the campus about their intentions to proceed with development of a proposal. (See particular campus process for further details.) The EVCAA should communicate such intentions to Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary, OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611) as soon as possible to facilitate and expedite the approval process.

    When proposing a new program, academic administrators should assess whether a new degree is necessary, or whether a new major within an existing degree is a viable option. While majors are approved within Indiana University, degrees require additional approval at the state level. New degrees (on-campus and online) require more documentation and are subject to more levels of approval. All proposals must be submitted with the appropriate documentation (see table of required documentation) as approved by the Academic Leadership Council (ALC).

  • Step 1a: Only for academic programs that will be offered by multiple campuses

    Academic program proposals that are to be offered by multiple campuses or university-wide must be coordinated with affected campuses. Such collaborations require the development of Memoranda of Agreements (MoA) between participating campuses, and a process is outlined for the development of Collaborative Academic Programs. The MOA must be included as part of the proposal before continuing with the process. Academic administrators from OEVPUAA are available to facilitate such collaborations. This may take place in parallel with the campus process, but must be done before the proposal goes to the ALC.

    Contact Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary in OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611) for more information.

  • Step 1b: Only for Graduate-level academic programs within University Graduate School

    Review by the Graduate School is required for all graduate certificate and degree programs represented by disciplines within the University Graduate School. (When in doubt, be inclusive and assume Graduate School approval is needed.) The campus originating a proposal is responsible for soliciting campus-level reviews and Graduate School approval (when needed) before proposals are presented to the ALC.

    Note that professional degrees (e.g., nursing, social work, etc.) do NOT require Graduate School approval.

    Please also note that Graduate Affairs Committees exist on each campus, and these committees will also be required to approve graduate-level academic proposals.

  • Step 1c: Only for academic programs that will be delivered online, (new or converted from existing on-campus programs)

    IU’s Office of Online Education must review and approve all academic programs offered online or via distance education. The process for approval of online degrees requires additional steps which are described on the webpage for Online Academic Programs.

    Contact Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary in OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611) for more information.

  • Step 1d: Only for academic programs that will be delivered in a hybrid format (new or converted from existing on-campus programs)

    IU’s Office of Online Education and University Academic Affairs must review all academic programs to be offered in a hybrid format. The process for approval of hybrid degrees is described on the webpage for Hybrid Academic Programs.

    Contact Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary in OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611) for more information.

  • Step 2: Review Required Approvals Matrix and Required Documentation Table

    a) The Required Approvals Matrix provides detailed information regarding the levels of approval necessary for a new or modified program to be considered for approval.

    b) Review the Required Documentation Table to determine what information must be submitted in the proposal.

  • Step 3: Estimating enrollments, projected revenue, and costs

    The initiating unit of a proposed program must consult with Steve Keucher, Associate Vice President for Administration, OEVPUAA, to estimate costs and identify sources of revenue to support the program, using a financial model prescribed by the university in alignment with requirements of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. This contact should be made before the proposal has been routed through the campus approval process. Proposals must have OEVPUAA signoff before review can begin.

    Contact Steve Keucher, Associate Vice President for Administration, OEVPUAA (skeucher@iu.edu, 812-855-9430) for more information.

  • Step 4. Ensure appropriate campus-level approvals are acquired prior to submitting proposals for university-level approvals.

    Review by appropriate campus committees is required before university-level offices or committees will consider the proposal for review.

Approval Process Details

The campus chief academic officer submits the degree program proposal via the online approval tracking system, APPEAR to the Academic Leadership Council (ALC). All academic proposals are first considered by the ALC Technical Committee. The ALC Technical Committee examines proposals and works with program proposers to assure proposals are appropriately formatted and complete. The purpose of this review is to assure conformity with university policy and quality standards as well as presentation of approved programs in a manner that will ease passage through subsequent university bodies, the trustees, and state agencies. Academic administrators from the OEVPUAA then forward most proposals to the ALC Consent Agenda. Items of particular concern or complexity may be added to the ALC meeting agenda. (The ALC may approve as is, return to the initiating campus with suggested alterations, table or defer for later decision, or disapprove.)

The OEVPUAA forwards new degree program proposals to the secretary of the IU Board of Trustees for inclusion on the agenda of its Academic Affairs and University Policy Committee and subsequently for presentation to the full board or inclusion on the Administrative Action Report as appropriate.

See the Required Approvals Matrix for guidance on “agenda” vs. “report” items »

NOTE: Academic changes not requiring ICHE action may be implemented following their presentation to and acceptance by the Board of Trustees (as either an action or report item).

The OEVPUAA provides updates on the progress of academic proposals.

Following trustee approval, the University President sends the new degree program proposals to the Indiana Commission on Higher Education.

The ICHE notifies all state institutions of higher education of the proposal and provides an opportunity for comment and remonstration. The OEVPUAA responds on behalf of the university to all requests from other institutions for copies of new degree program proposals and alerts the appropriate campus officer of the request in case additional information is requested. During the ICHE remonstrance process, the OEVPUAA will inform campus academic officers of inquiries from other institutions about new degree proposals.

Under certain conditions, the ICHE may employ routine staff action or expedited commission action. Examples of such action include:

  • Adding a second degree designation to an existing program (e.g. B.S. to a B.A.)
  • Delivering an approved program to an off-campus site or via online delivery.
  • Creation of new certificate programs

Academic administrators from the OEVPUAA will present proposals to the ICHE. The ICHE staff will work with OEVPUAA to address any concerns about the proposal or request additional information as needed. Contact Natalie Harvey, Executive Secretary, OEVPUAA, (nasharve@iu.edu, 317-278-1611) if you have any questions.

Once decisions are made by the ICHE, the OEVPUAA informs the campus chief academic officer, University Registrar, and program proposers.

Campus-level Academic Program Approvals

Below are links to the academic offices of each campus. If there are specific requirements for academic affairs approvals at the campus level, that information will be available on these websites.

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 »
Visit the ICHE website for ICHE required forms »