Procedures for Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses

Information regarding the discontinuation of obsolete courses.


Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses

Policy Number


Responsible Office

Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research


University Policy


Courses that appear in the catalog and are no longer taught present a number of challenges. To comply with the Higher Learning Commission’s accreditation standards (Criterion 2), an institution must present “. . . itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public.” In doing so, the institution must ensure “. . . the accuracy of any representations it makes regarding academic offerings . . .”. Students and advisors expect courses in the catalog to be offered on a regular basis. A streamlined array of courses promotes efficiencies in the management of administrative and faculty workload. Courses that are not regularly taught likely require updates to course descriptions, course syllabi, requisites, etc. to bring them up to date with current scholarship.


  1. To more efficiently conduct the review of obsolete courses, Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research (DAPIR) and the Office of the Registrar collaborate each fall to identify courses that have not been taught in eight or more years. Course discontinuation proposals for the identified courses will be initiated and sent via workflow to the appropriate academic units.
  2. Academic units that receive notification of an obsolete course they wish to continue offering will have the option to:
    • Schedule the course, or
    • Notify DAPIR that the course will be scheduled within the next three terms from the initial identification (spring, summer, or the following fall), or
    • Appeal for an obsolete course waiver. A waiver allows for an additional academic year to schedule the course with enrollment (two years from the initial identification), and will be considered if the following is provided via a course change proposal:
      • Rationale for why the course has not been taught in the past but will be soon; and
      • The instructor(s) who will teach the course; and
      • A plan for including the course in the academic unit’s course array where it will be used regularly in a meaningful way.
  3. Courses offered with enrollment of zero the past eight years (fall, spring, and summer terms) will also be identified for discontinuation. The A2 session (courses taken on a UW–Madison study abroad program) and transfer credit equivalencies do not factor into the enrollment counts for the obsolete course process since enrollment in these usually represent off-campus enrollment for course equivalency purposes.
  4. Independent study courses (numbered x99, x98, x89, 681, 682, 691, 692) and those created specifically for study abroad equivalencies (the study abroad subject and those in other subjects that have a course attribute that identifies them as an equivalency-only course) will be excluded from this review.

Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources

External References

Approval Authority

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Policy Manager

Vice Provost for Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research


Associate Director -- Michelle Young,, (608) 262-2143

Effective Date

Source: View policy UW-1007 in the UW-Madison Policy Library


See the Course Proposal: Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses Process.

Keywordsdiscontinuation, discontinue, obsoltete   Doc ID98032
OwnerMelissa S.GroupAcademic Planning
Created2020-02-17 16:15:13Updated2024-01-02 08:53:26
SitesAcademic Planning
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