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Academic Planning Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This document provides guidance for course proposals, program proposals, Guide, and Lumen.

Lumen Basics

What is Lumen and how do I access it?

Lumen is the university’s curricular management software used for course and program planning. Lumen is the system used for all course and program changes and provides UW-Madison with a “single source of truth” related to courses and curriculum. Courses and Programs created or edited in Lumen are published in the university’s online catalog, Guide.

You can access Lumen via the MyUW dashboard. See this KnowledgeBase page or this How To for detailed instructions.

Why can’t I find my course/program in Lumen?

There are instructions for using the search function at the top of the Lumen screen. First, ensure you are following these instructions when you search.

If the search is not working:

  • Confirm you have selected the correct Lumen tile. Search for programs using the “Program Proposals” tile and search for courses using the “Course Proposals” tile.
  • When searching for programs, use asterisks before and after the title. For example: *wildlife ecology* or *biochemistry*
  • When searching for a specific course, use the accurate subject code and course number surrounded by asterisks. EX: *INTER-AG 375*
  • Once they are begun, all proposals have 6 months (180 days) to be submitted to workflow. Once a proposal is in workflow it must be completed within 1 year (365 days). UW-Madison will remove any proposal that fails to meet these deadlines from the proposal system.
  • If you are a Lumen subject or department approver but are accessing Lumen to start or edit a proposal, confirm that you have navigated to Lumen from the tiles in MyUW and not a link you received in your email. The Lumen approver system is different from the Lumen proposal system. Navigate to Lumen proposals using the tiles in MyUW.

Wondering where your course proposal is in workflow?

  • Find instructions here.

How do I start a course or program proposal in Lumen?

To propose a new program, first contact Megan Ackerman-Yost, Assistant Dean of Programs and Policies, in the CALS Office of Academic Affairs.

Instructions for beginning a course/program change or new course/program proposal in Lumen:

  • Open the appropriate widget in your MyUW dashboard.
    • To start a new proposal: Click the green “Propose New Course/Program” button to the right of the search bar.
    • To edit an existing proposal: Click the green “Edit Course/Program” button below the search window.
  • Edit the proposal in the inventory window.
  • Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen to save progress.

For courses, see the Course Change Proposal How To or New Course Proposal How To for a step-by-step walk-through of the process.

Send questions to  For one-on-one support, sign-up for Academic Planning office hours.

What is workflow and how does it relate to shared governance?

Workflow is the approval path in Lumen for a proposal. The steps in Workflow vary depending on the type of proposal. You can view the Workflow steps specific to a proposal in the top right corner of the Lumen form after submission. This document provides a general description of workflow. This document provides a general outline of the governance process.

What are the deadlines for course and program proposals?

See this document for comprehensive information regarding all 2023-2024 course and program deadlines.

These recommended deadlines reflect submission to the college level of approval in workflow:

Course and Program Proposal Deadlines

Effective Term

Course Changes

Program Changes

Summer 2024

October 10, 2023


Fall 2024

December 26, 2023

Substantial Changes: November 28, 2023

Minor Changes: February 13, 2024

Spring 2025

March 5, 2024

These recommended deadlines build in time to resolve questions and minor issues but assume proposals are complete at the time of submission. Before submission, proposals must be discussed with relevant parties. Every proposal must go through shared governance, so submitting a proposal that is incomplete or does not have support from colleagues can slow the governance approval process and delay implementation. 

How do I find and approve a course proposal? (for Lumen subject approvers)

Department chairs and designees with Lumen subject approver access can review and approve course proposals on behalf of the department. Once a proposal enters workflow, Lumen sends an email to notify all designated approvers.  If your subject listing has more than one designated approver, determine who is responsible – Lumen does not send you another email when someone approves the proposal.  

  1. Use the link that you got in the automated Lumen email, OR if you do not have the link, go to

  2. If you get a pop-up to complete your log-in, click the circular CourseLeaf icon  

  3. Change your role from your name to the appropriate subject and role (i.e., C&E SOC Subj Approver):


  4. Find the course on your approval list (there may be just one!)

  5. Review changes – Green information is added information, red strike-through means the information is deleted.

  6. If everything is consistent with what your department’s curriculum committee approved (Responsibilities of Course Approvers), click the green “Add Comment” button. A small window should pop up.


  7. Add a comment to indicate the name of the faculty committee that approved the course changes and the date of the approval. Click "save".

  8. Finally, click the small green “Approve” button.

Send questions to

 How do I find and approve a program proposal? (for Lumen department approvers)

Department chairs and designees with Lumen department approver access can review and approve program proposals on behalf of the department. Once a proposal enters workflow, Lumen sends an email to notify all designated approvers.  

Department chairs and designees with Lumen Department approver access can review and approve program proposals on behalf of the department. Once a proposal enters Workflow, Lumen sends an email to notify all designated approvers.  If your your department has more than one designated approver, determine who is responsible – Lumen does not send you another email when someone approves the proposal.

  1. Use the link that you got in the automated Lumen email, OR if you do not have the link go to

  2. If you get a pop-up to complete your log-in, click the circular CourseLeaf icon  

  3. Change your role from your name to the appropriate department (i.e., C&E SOC Dept Approver)

  4. Find the program on your approval list (there may be just one!)

  5. Review changes – Green information is added information, red strike-through means the information is deleted.  In course lists (like requirements), there may also be blue vertical sidebars, which means that a course comment or credits have changed.

  6. If everything is consistent with what your department’s curriculum committee approved (Responsibilities of Program Approvers), click the small blue “edit” button.  A pop-up window will appear.

  7. Scroll down to near the bottom of the proposal to the Approval section.  Indicate how the changes were approved (the name of the faculty meeting and date; for minor curricular changes, faculty curriculum committee meeting and date if empowered by the full faculty; or administratively for error corrections), and add your name and date in the “entered” boxes.  (Click here for more help.)

  8. Scroll to the very bottom and click “Save Changes.”

  9. Finally, click the small green “Approve” button.

Send questions to  

Where can I go for direct assistance with a course or program proposal?


 Course Proposal Basics

What should I consider before I propose a new course?

A new course is a significant amount of work. Before you begin a proposal in Lumen consider the following questions:

  • Does the course fulfill an unmet need within your department and the university as a whole?
  • Is the course you are considering unique within your department and the university as a whole?
    • Perform a key word search using the Course Search and Enroll to review courses in related subject listings to make sure that the same or a very similar course does not already exist.
  • Which students and how many students will benefit from the course?
  • Have you discussed your new course with your department chairs?
  • How does the course fit into your program?
  • Can an existing course be changed to fulfill the same needs met by the new course you are considering?

What kind of course change requires a proposal in Lumen?

Governed course content requires a course proposal in Lumen. The following changes require a proposal in Lumen:

  • Subject Listing
  • Course Number
  • Course Title
  • Course Description
  • Requisites
  • Grading basis
  • Component types (lecture, discussion, lab etc.)
  • Number of credits
  • Repeatability
  • Topics course eligibility
  • Course designations (honors, graduate, breadth, gen ed, workplace, foreign language)
  • Learning outcomes


  • Even minor changes to the governed content of a course require a course proposal. Shared governance committees will review your changes in the context of the course itself, the ecosystem of courses available within the university as a whole, and university policy. 
  • When you make a change to a course there can be downstream consequences. Consider how the change to your course may affect other courses and programs.

Before beginning a course change proposal, discuss it with your department chair to ensure that the change aligns with current departmental needs, goals, and resources.

I am unsure how to complete a particular field within the proposal form. Where can I find more information about required elements within the course proposal?

  • Clicking on the in the course proposal form will provide links to the information you need to complete each field, or you can find the information you need within the Course Elements Proposal Policy
  • Consider making a copy of this worksheet for course proposals and syllabi to ensure you include all components.

Send questions to

Where do I find more information about the syllabus requirements?

  • Proposers must verify that all required elements of the syllabus are included in the sample syllabus uploaded with their proposal. Failure to include all syllabus requirements will delay the approval process.
  • Information about the course proposal syllabus requirements can be found here.
  • We encourage you to use the syllable template available here, which will help you ensure that all syllabus components are included.
  • Consider making a copy of this worksheet for course proposals and syllabi to ensure you include all components.

What are my responsibilities as a course proposer?

The proposer of the course is responsible for:

  • Completing all required course proposal form components. Click on the blue question marks in the editing window for more information about each component.
  • Monitoring the progress of the proposal and resolving any comments entered, including questions and requests for additional information.
  •  Note:
    • After the proposal is initiated, the proposer has six months to submit the proposal into workflow for review.
    • A proposal has one year from the time of submission to receive full approval. If not fully approved within one year, the proposal is canceled and removed from the proposal system.
    • The proposer may delegate responsibility for monitoring the progress to others.

How do I check the status of my course proposal in workflow?

See where the proposal is in the review process at any time by searching for your course in Lumen Courses and looking at "Workflow."

Or use the Lumen Tools viz to keep track of your proposal in workflow.

Why does CALS administration review my course proposal before it proceeds to the CALS Curriculum Committee?

CALS administrative staff review course proposals after they have been approved at the department level to ensure they follow current college and campus guidelines and policies to the greatest extent possible before committee review. We ask proposers/departments to address any issues identified by this administrative review before the proposal is reviewed by the CALS Curriculum Committee. This administrative review expedites the progress of the course through workflow. Identifying potential problems before committee review saves proposers and committee members both time and frustration.

CALS administrative staff will review your proposal and the attached syllabus to ensure all elements are present, in alignment with stated department goals for the course, and consistent with college and university policies and guidelines. CALS administration will notify you that your proposal has been added to the CALS Curriculum Committee Agenda or ask you to address any revisions you may need to make to your proposal or attached syllabus. Depending on the extent and/or nature of these edits, your course proposal may be “rolled back” to you – meaning that you will need to submit your proposal back into workflow after the edits – or the CALS administrative reviewer will work with you to make revisions without rolling the proposal back.

Sometimes the revisions suggested by CALS administration may appear minor or unrelated to the purpose of a course change. These changes are recommended to ensure your course meets policy standards and will be more likely to proceed through governance committees without difficulty.

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What does a CALS Curriculum Committee course review entail?

Following administrative review, your course proposal will be added to the next possible CALS Curriculum Committee agenda. The Committee will review your course as a whole. In addition to affirming that the department-level review is complete, the CALS Curriculum committee will address the following:

  • Have all appropriate academic units reviewed the proposal? Are there units in other schools/colleges that should review for either overlapping content or for possible interest in using the course in a program they offer? Has the department considered the course in the broader university context?
  • Does the course proposal and syllabus adhere to all school/college and university policies and guidelines.
  • Does the course meet the credit-hour policy.
  • Learning outcomes align with the intended audience and purpose of the course.
  • Is the proposed course fulfilling an unmet need at the university?

Approval by the school or college curriculum committee is an indication that the school/college approves the academic merits of the course and of the decision of the department/program faculty to offer it.

The CALS Curriculum Committee has adopted guidelines for reviewing course changes to courses that have already been through the governance process recently. CALS Curriculum Committee Targeted Review Process: Guidelines for Recently Reviewed Courses

 Common Issues and Questions - Course Proposals

This section describes the most common problems administrative reviewers and governance committees may identify in course proposals and sample syllabi. Addressing these issues before submitting a proposal to workflow will save proposers time and may expedite the review process.

How do I determine the correct requisites for my course?

  • Think about what knowledge you expect students to know before they start your course. A common exercise for undergraduate courses is to consider whether a first-semester student in an unrelated major, without incoming credits, has the background knowledge to be successful in your course. For example, if you were teaching a biological science course, could a student majoring in English be successful in your course without preparatory coursework. (Note that incoming students may place into fundamental math, which must be taken before an algebra course.)

  • Requisites must list specific UW-Madison courses. Some foundation courses have multiple choices, and all equivalents should be listed. CALS Academic Planning can help you identify requisites if you tell us the knowledge expected – just ask. Requisites must follow specific formatting guidelines. Formatting issues are a common reason we may request a small revision to the format of your requisites. Requisites are formatted consistently to provide clarity for enrolling students.

  • Requisites are hard-coded into the enrollment system. “Recommended" courses cannot be included.

Should I crosslist my course?

Generally, campus and the College discourage crosslisting:

  • There are very few "good" reasons for cross-listing courses.
  • Crosslisting will delay the progress of your course through governance. Each subject listing must approve the course in workflow. As a proposer, it is your responsibility to monitor the progress of your course through workflow and this task is more complex when a course is crosslisted
  • Cross-listing does not help students find courses and it does not give a subject/department “credit” in the budget allocation.
  • All cross-listed subjects:
    1. Must have the selected course number available for use
    2. Are equal partners in owning and maintaining the course (A "primary" is designated for scheduling and enrollment management purposes, this is distinct from the overall responsibility for the course which is shared equally.)

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (crosslisting).

What should be included in the course description?

  • CALS administrative review often requests revisions to the course description for the following reasons:

    • The course description should be free of information that has an ‘official’ place in another field (e.g., credits, title, requirements it meets, etc.)
    • It should be up-to-date and in alignment with the course content described in the Broad enough that it will accurately reflect the course through the next several offerings? (e.g., free of overly specific information like meeting times or assignments).
    • The course description should be aligned with the general advice on course descriptions provided by the University Curriculum Committee, particularly it should be free from extraneous language such as “Students will…” or “This course will…”

A reminder: undergraduate students tell us they use the course title and description when deciding whether to enroll in a course. The keywords in your course description are critical for enrollment.

How do I address the relationship of my course to other UW-Madison courses in the proposal form? (Rationale for the Course)

    • This question is asking how your course fits into the ecosystem of courses at UW-Madison. While your course may not seem to duplicate other courses, it is extremely rare that a course would have no relationship to any existing courses. The similarities and differences should be described with explicit reference to other UW-Madison courses.

    • It is recommended that the proposer search Course Search and Enroll using key words and review of courses in related subject listings, etc. to make sure that a very similar course does not already exist.

    • Example response for an imaginary course on fungal reproduction:

      • BOTANY/PL PATH 332 and 333 cover fungal reproduction, but only as part of a much broader survey of fungal biology.  FUNGUS 680 delves into the molecular biology and biochemical processes involved in fungal reproduction, which is not covered in 332/333.  332/333 do not require previous coursework in biochemistry.
      • BOTANY/ENTOM/PL PATH 505 and BOTANY/GENETICS/M M & I/PL PATH 655 both cover aspects of biochemical processes in the context of plant/fungal interactions, and 655 is based on specific model organisms.  PATH-BIO 517 and MM&I 410 cover aspects of molecular and biochemical processes of fungal reproduction in the context of veterinary science and medicine.  FUNGUS 680 covers fungal reproduction regardless of their environment and host and compares/contrasts the impact hosts and the environment have on reproductive processes.

        Guidance for Rationale for the Course

    How do I decide which subjects to include in the list of interested subjects in the proposal form?

    • This section is not for “majors that might be interested in the course.”  Consider which subjects have similar coursework or are already invested in the course through major requirements.

    • Subject listings that include related courses described in the proposal must be named in this section of the proposal.

    • It is expected that subject owners will consult with other areas that offer similar or overlapping courses before submitting the proposal. Selecting subject listings here will notify the subject owner that this proposal has been submitted; however, the approval of the subject owner is not part of the course proposal approval process. If the subject owner has questions or concerns about the proposal they may enter a comment which will need to be addressed by the course proposer before the course can be approved.

    What is the accepted format for course learning outcomes?

    Issues with learning outcomes are a common reason why CALS administrative reviewers or the CALS Curriculum Committee might request revisions to a proposal.

    Keep the following guidelines in mind:

    • Reflect what students will know or be able to do by the end of the course
    • Must be clear, observable, and measurable
    • Are written in such a way that they can be assessed
    • Reflect how students will be assessed through participation, assignments, examinations etc.
    • Often are related to one or more program learning outcomes
    • Should reflect the level of the course. Consider using Bloom’s taxonomy to align the level of the course with a sufficiently rigorous learning outcome.
    • If the course has the graduate attribute and enrolls both graduate and undergraduate students, there must be at least one graduate-specific learning outcome that reflects the advanced knowledge and synthesis required from graduate students.  Instructors should keep in mind that not all graduate students will have personal research to use in the course (i.e., masters students, students on rotation).
    • Do not include "Students will..." this is assumed.

    For more information about formatting course learning outcomes see Course Content Information.

    What are the most common problems identified in sample syllabi?

    Missing Syllabus Components

    • Proposals with incomplete syllabi require revisions. A list of required components syllabus template is available for your use or reference the syllabus template here.

    • Consider making a copy of this syllabus checklist or this worksheet for course proposals and syllabi to ensure you include all components.

    Credit Hour Statement

    Verify that the course will meet the UW-Madison credit hour policy and the syllabus indicates how the course is designed to meet the UW-Madison credit hour policy.  Each credit hour is defined as an amount of work represented in learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that approximates at least 45 hours of learning activities (class meetings, presentations, preparation, reading, studying, hands-on experiences, etc).

    The credit hour statement explains how this specific course meets that requirement.  Out-of-class work should be defined in this statement.  Consider how outside work is verified through student achievement.

    The credit hour policy must be observed by all for-credit courses. This policy applies to courses not just when they are proposed but each time they are offered. For more information, see the Policy on the Credit Hour.

    Regular and Substantive Instructor-Student Interaction

    Regular and substantive instructor-student interaction guided by a qualified instructor is required in every course regardless of instructional modality.

    Every course must:

    1. Be guided by a qualified instructor
    2. Engage students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion
    3. Provide a predictable (regular) schedule of substantive interactions, including monitoring of student academic progress

    Regular substantive interaction occurs at predictable points during the course and is defined by the instructor ahead of time.  UW-Madison defines “regular” as at least weekly for courses of six or more weeks, or at least three times per credit for courses shorter than six weeks. Most courses have more interaction points than this minimum.

    Substantive interaction includes regular interaction by a qualified instructor in at least two of the following ways:

    1. Live direct instruction;
    2. Assessing or providing qualitative feedback on a student’s coursework;
    3. Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course or competency;
    4. Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency;
    5. Other instructional activities approved by the accrediting agency.

    See this guidance document for more detailed information. The guidance document includes examples of what is and is not regular and substantive interaction.

    Governance committees will review syllabi attached to course proposals to ensure all courses are designed to provide regular and substantive instructor-student interaction:

    • Regular and substantive instructor-student interaction must be evident in sample syllabi provided in course proposals (through the course calendar, assessments, homework, discussions, or other descriptions of course content).
    • A text summary describing the type and frequency of regular and substantive student-instructor interaction provided in a course is not required in sample syllabi or student facing syllabi.

    Graduate Attribute

    If your course has the graduate attribute and enrolls both graduate and undergraduate students (numbered 300-699) you must:

    • Establish a higher standard of learning for graduate students
    • Include at least one graduate specific learning outcome
    • Describe a graduate specific assessment and how that assessment fits into the overall course grade

    Graduate students can enroll in a course numbered 300-699 even if that course does not have the graduate attribute. This often occurs with foundational courses and specialized courses where graduate and undergraduate students have similar background knowledge and are expected to gain similar skills and knowledge from the course. These courses will still count toward a graduate degree, just not toward the 50% graduate credit requirement.

    Policy – Course Attribute for Graduate Level


    • If attendance and/or participation will constitute more than 10% of the grade, a description of how participation will be assessed (rubric) must be included in the syllabus.

    • See the Course Proposal Sample Syllabus Requirements “Grading” section for more information.

    Guide - Information for Program Guide Editors

    Contact Diana Frantz Anderson with questions about editing Guide.

    Most edits to Guide are accomplished in Lumen. Edits to governed and non-governed content are accomplished through different processes described below.

    How do I edit governed Guide content?

    The following information is considered “governed content” and can be edited only through a Lumen program proposal. Governed content requires approval from the department, school, and university. 

    • How to Get In Tab
    • Requirements Tab
    • Learning Outcomes
    • Four-Year Plan
    • Three Year Plan (if appplicable)
    • Certification/Licensure (if applicable)
    • Accreditation (if applicable)

    Substantial Changes Due: November 28th, 2023

    Minor Changed Due: February 13th, 2024

    Contact with questions about program changes.

    How do I edit non-governed guide content?

    Program Guide Editors can make changes to most non-governed content during a designated editor access window. You will be notified of this window beginning November 1st, 2023 Changes to this content are due December 17th, 2023. The following information can be edited directly in Guide during the designated period for Department Guide Editors. This information is considered non-governed and does not require additional approval beyond the department.

    • Overview Tab
    • Photos
    • WI Experience Tab
    • Funding Tab

    The following information is also considered non-governed (does not require additional approval beyond the department) but may be edited at any time. Contact Diana Frantz Anderson with requests to edit information in the following areas:

    • Advising and Careers Tab
    • People Tab
    • Contact information box
    • Professional Development

    To edit non-governed content: Navigate to next-guide: (This editing environment is only available to editors at very specific times of year.)

    In the top left corner of your browser, you'll see an icon titled "EDIT PAGE."

    Edit Guide

    Once you click on edit page, the editing environment for your page will open.

    Edit Page Body

    This editing menu shows you the tabs available in Guide – all tabs are marked with a pencil icon.  (Note that both governed and non-governed tabs are included, although only non-governed tabs can be edited.)

    • The Contact Box is labeled “Contact List”
    • The Overview is labeled “Page Body”

    Go to the tab you want to edit and open the editing environment by clicking the “Edit” link:

    Edit PageBody

    If you have large sections of text, you may want to add “On this page” functionality to allow users to advance to a particular place on a page.  For step-by-step instructions on creating "On this page navigation", please refer to this KB: Guide: Page Anchors.


    Once you have completed edits on all of the tabs, hit the green "Start Workflow" button in the bottom right corner of the page. If there are multiple people who might be making edits to this page, coordinate with them to ensure all changes are entered before starting workflow. Starting workflow will end editing access for everyone in your Guide editing role.

     Start Workflow

    If you move a page into workflow and need to make additional changes or find that you cannot edit your page as intended, contact CALS Guide Coordinator, Diana Frantz Anderson for assistance.

    For more information see this KnowledgeBase.


    KeywordsLumen, course, courses, program, programs, Guide, approval, proposal, edit, instructor, support, Lumen help, instructor   Doc ID129375
    OwnerDiana A.GroupCALS Academic Affairs
    Created2023-06-28 10:07:48Updated2023-09-20 15:24:09
    SitesCALS Academic Affairs
    Feedback  0   0