New Majors, Certificates, and Formally Transcripted Options

New program development in L&S falls under the purview of the Academic Planning Council. The approval process involves several levels of governance: department, college, campus, and (for new majors and degree programs), the UW System. Key contacts and links are provided below.


The University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) has outlined procedures for approval of new academic programs, including new undergraduate majors, undergraduate or graduate degree programs, transcripted options within existing programs, or certificates. Please see links below for UAPC policy and templates that should be used for proposals submitted.
All proposals submitted for consideration should be approved by the faculty at the department/program level before they are submitted formally by the Department Chair or Program Director to the Dean.  As proposals are developed, the faculty and Chair/Director should remember to confer with their Academic Associate Dean, as well as with the Associate Dean for Academic Planning (Elaine M. Klein, elaine.klein<at>  The development of programs involving faculty or courses from different units should include consultation with those units, and proposals will be expected to include memos (preferably indicating support) from those units. All proposals will be circulated for comment within the college, and will be shared with other schools/colleges as well.  If the creation of a new program may have implications for other units on campus (similarity in name/mission/purpose, real of perceived overlap, etc.), when the proposal is circulated, the Dean will also ask for those units' concurrence as well. 

Timeline for Approval

Several factors influence the time required for new programs to be approved and implemented. Faculty planning programs should understand that under no circumstances will any credential be awarded retroactively, nor may students be admitted to programs that do not yet exist.

Consultation.  Review at all governance levels focuses on service to students, procedures for ensuring that student learning outcomes are articulated and effectively assessed, and - beyond academic matters - cost implications for offering the program.  As noted above, in keeping with UW-Madison's consultative governance process, L&S shares widely proposals that may have implications for units other than the proposing department, or that affect units outside the college.  The process of consultation can be a time consuming, and may take several weeks.  To the extent that it is possible to do so, faculty preparing proposals should anticipate this step and consult peers and partners across campus during planning to ensure that consultation beyond the department or program goes smoothly.

Governance.  The process for approving new programs involves several layers of approval.   All new programs (degree, major, certificate program, or option), after first being approved by the sponsoring faculty (e.g., the department curriculum committee), must be approved by the Dean and the L&S Academic Planning Council.   If the proposal concerns a graduate program, it must also be approved by the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee.  The next step is approval by the University Academic Planning Council.  For certificate programs and options, this is the final stage of approval, and the next step is to proceed to implementation. Proposals for new majors or degree programs involve a two-step process ("Notice of Intent to Plan" and "Request for Permission to Implement") involving all of these stages, as well as approval by the UW System Administration and the Board of Regents.  Only after approval by the Board of Regents may the plan for a new major or degree program proceed to implementation.

Program Review.  Since the regular review of academic programs provides important context for and evidence of a unit's capacity to administer programs and serve students well, UAPC policy holds that requests to create new academic programs or to change existing academic programs or structures will only be considered if the sponsoring unit is current with respect to academic program review. Requests to create new programs will be delayed if a sponsoring unit has not completed a review within the ten years prior to submitting a request for change.  (See section J of the UW-Madison Program Review Guidelines.)

Fall Term.  In light of the cycle of academic life, it is customary to plan implementation of new programs for the first Fall term for which students have not yet begun enrolling.  Because proposals for new majors and degrees require additional approvals that usually require an additional semester or two, and there are two cycles of approval, requests to create new majors or degree programs can take two or more years to move proposals to implementation.

Administrative Process.  In general, requests to create new certificates or options can be approved within one semester; however, plans for admitting students may need to wait until approved programs can be encoded into the campus data systems. After a new program is approved, an implementation meeting will be convened to discuss the "nuts and bolts" of program implementation, administration, and review. Program faculty and department representatives are expected to participate in this meeting with L&S Administration, Student Academic Affairs, and colleagues from the many campus offices that support academic programs. 

Early consultation with L&S Administration contributes to success. All parties involved in planning should understand the approval process, proposal requirements, and time-frame - it's important to have realistic expectations about the time needed to plan new programs and consult with stakeholders and partners, and obtain approvals. Members of the faculty who are interested in developing new academic programs are encouraged to contact their Associate Dean and to consult the Associate Dean for Academic Planning (Elaine M. Klein, elaine.klein<at>

    Keywords:Curriculum Change New Program   Doc ID:20049
    Owner:Elaine K.Group:College of Letters & Science
    Created:2011-08-29 14:08 CDTUpdated:2016-08-12 11:59 CDT
    Sites:College of Letters & Science
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