Subject: Academic Program Approval

Effective: 1/29/87
Last Revised: 2/25/10, 7/15/19

Academic Program Development

Regardless of the level of a program (e.g., undergraduate majors, graduate degree program, advanced certificate of study, concentrations, minors, associate degrees, or credit-bearing certificates), academic units are encouraged to continuously explore innovative programming that can serve the needs of the discipline, students and State of Maine. To that end, programs should align to:

a. the mission and goals of the submitting university(ies);
b. need for the program;
c. availability of resources for program support;
d. appropriate delivery modalities to best provide educational access and service to students.

I. Approval of Undergraduate Majors, graduate degree programs, and advanced certificates of study

Step 1: Program Request

a. Request submitted to Provost(s) with a written description and rationale for a new program in 250 words or less. Such requests must briefly mention the findings of a market analysis consultation with campus or UMS institutional researchers.

b. If recommended by the appropriate Provost(s) to whom the request was submitted, the request is provided electronically to the VCAA and CAOC.

c. Except under extenuating circumstances, formal response from a Provost Office and the VCAA office regarding the CAOC recommendation should occur within two weeks.

Step 2: Submission of Program Proposal.

Upon approval of a program request from the Provost and the VCAA office, a Program Proposal must be prepared and evaluated through the originating university’s normal curricular process(es). Program proposals must be submitted within six months, after which time the request must be renewed. The Program Proposal must address the following areas:

a. Program objectives and content
b. Evidence of program need (to include the detailed findings of the market analysis conducted in consultation with campus or UMS institutional researchers, or other relevant programmatic information)
c. Program resources and total financial considerations
d. Program evaluation

Step 3: University of Maine System (UMS) Evaluation.

After completion of the campus program evaluation process, University of Maine System evaluation is initiated by submission of the proposal by the university President to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs who will acknowledge receipt of the document and distribute the proposal electronically to members of the Chief Academic Officers Council (CAOC).

The CAOC will collectively evaluate and discuss the proposed program at the first available CAOC meeting. In some instances, and on the basis of CAOC input, the VCAA may seek external reviews of a program proposal (e.g., instances in which major questions of program relevance, content, or demand have been raised in the CAOC). After CAOC review, the VCAA has five action options:

a. forward the proposal with a recommendation for approval to the Chancellor;
b. refer the discussion of the program proposal to the President’s Council;
c. seek external review from disciplinary experts;
d. return the proposal to the originating university with specific critiques and suggestions for revision; or
e. return the proposal to the initiating university with specific written rationale for its rejection.

Should revisions be required by the CAOC or VCAA, the originating university must submit a revised proposal to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at least 30 days before the UMS Board of Trustees meeting at which the proposal is to be considered. Revisions will be distributed by the VCAA to the CAOC for information only.

Step 4: Chancellor and BOT Action, Notification, and Program Inventory

The Chancellor will recommend program proposals to the Board of Trustees for its review and approval. Notice of final approval of program proposals will be transmitted to all universities. The originating university is notified of Board of Trustees approval, and has 12 months to implement the program, i.e., admit students. After formal notice of implementation from the originating university’s provost, the new program is added to the UMS Program Inventory through the VCAA’s office.

II. Approval of Concentrations, Minors, associate Degrees and Credit-bearing Certificates,

Step 1: Program development

A program concentration, minor, associate degree, or credit-bearing certificate is developed in accordance with the originating university processes and procedures for evaluation.

Step 2: CAOC Consideration

An approved program concentration, minor, associate degree, or credit-bearing certificates is submitted by the originating university(ies) Provost(s) to the VCAA office for CAOC consideration at the next regularly scheduled CAOC meeting (typically within two weeks).

Step 3: Final notification, approval and Program Inventory

On the basis of input from the CAOC, the VCAA notifies the originating university of the CAOC’s recommendation and the VCAA office’s decision. In the event of disagreement among CAOC members, the VCAA shall refer the program request to the President’s Council. When approved, a new program concentration, minor, associate degree, or credit-bearing certificate is added to the UMS Program Inventory through the VCAA’s office.

III. Temporary Program Approval

To meet urgently needed workforce development demand in a university’s immediate catchment area, the VCAA may make exceptions to the above policy, with notification to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees.

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