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Academic & Student Affairs Handbook

2.3 Academic Programs

2.3.1 Majors and Minors

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.3.1, CORE CURRICULUM
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.8.1, DEGREES,GENERAL

A record of all degrees offered by an individual institution shall be on file in the respective registrar’s office and shall be listed in the USG’s database of Degrees and Majors. A new degree, including external degrees, shall not be listed until it has been approved by the Board of Regents.

Major Programs

A baccalaureate degree must contain 120 semester hours (exclusive of physical education activity/basic health or orientation course hours that the institution may require).

A baccalaureate degree program must require at least 21 semester hours of upper division courses in the major field and at least 39 semester hours of upper division work overall.

All majors must be authorized by the Board of Regents.

Exceptions to degree semester hour requirements indicated above may be made only with approval of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG

Minor Programs

A minor must contain 15 to 18 semester hours of coursework with at least 9 hours of upper-division coursework. Courses taken to satisfy Core Areas A through E may not be counted as coursework in the minor. Core Area F courses may be counted as coursework in the minor. University System institutions are required to notify the Office of Academic Programs when a new minor is established. Notification will be provided using the minor notification form (http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/). Upon notification, minors will be listed on the Office of Academic Programs website. Changes in the name of a minor should also be sent to the Office of Academic Programs.


2.3.2 New Academic Programs

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.6.1, CREATION OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS

New Degree Programs Overview

All proposals for new degree programs must be consistent with the college or university mission and must be high on the list of academic priorities as delineated in the institution’s strategic plan. It is expected that the institution will have already planned for redirected internal resources toward support of the proposed program before asking for new resources centrally. Program proposals requesting new state funding should be forwarded to the Chancellor as a part of the annual budget request, which will be the only time program proposals requiring new state funds will be accepted for review.

The Office of Academic Affairs in the University System Office will review new proposals using the guidelines at the following URL: http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/new_programs/.

2.3.2.1 Academic Program Forecast

Added: February 2011; Revised November 2014

An annual report should be forwarded electronically to the Office of Academic Planning presenting an academic program forecast of potential new programs. All programs included in the forecast should be consistent with the college or university mission and must be high on the list of academic priorities as delineated in the institution’s strategic plan. This forecast should only include programs the institution definitely plans to implement. Institutions are required to include new programs, existing programs if planning to evolve to an online teaching format that will exceed 50% online. Future online programs should also be included. New programs that are not part of the most current forecast may be forwarded to the BOR; however, submitting programs not included in the academic program forecast must be justified.

The academic program forecast should be forwarded by September 1st of each year to the Office of Academic Planning using the attached form.


2.3.3 Deactivation and Termination of Academic Programs

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.6.2, TERMINATION OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS

When applied to educational programs, the terms “termination” and “discontinuation” refer to the same action. Termination means that the institution is no longer authorized to offer the program. Termination requires Board approval, and subsequent reinstatement must be handled as submission of a proposal for a new program.

When applied to educational programs, the terms “temporary suspension” and “deactivation,” refer to the same action. Presidents can temporarily suspend a program for a period not to exceed two academic years, without obtaining Board approval, and may subsequently reinstate the program within that period.

However, the President of the institution should advise the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs of such actions. If the suspension has not been (or will not be) lifted (i.e., the program has not been reactivated) by the end of the second academic year, the president should take action to terminate the program. The institution’s Office of Academic Affairs will submit a request to terminate an academic program with the following information:

  • Termination date to coincide with the a regularly scheduled Board meeting
  • Confirmation that no students are currently matriculating through the program or confirmation that any remaining students in the program have been appropriately advised and counseled concerning degree program options
  • Confirmation that termination of the program will not have an adverse impact on tenured and non-tenured faculty or students
  • Rationale for terminating the program
  • Length of time that the program was in a deactivated status, if at all, before requesting action to terminate

A suspended program remains an authorized program at the institution, but new students are no longer permitted to enroll. Suspended programs should not be listed in the college catalog but will remain in the Degrees and Majors inventory of the Board with a notation that they are on a deactivated status.

For details and forms related to the deactivation and termination process, see http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/.


2.3.4 Program Modification

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 8.3.7.10, TERMINATION/LAYOFF OF TENURED PERSONNEL DUE TO PROGRAM MODIFICATION
BOARD MINUTES, 1/2008

Institutions that find themselves in programmatic decline as a result of a significant change in institutional mission or academic priorities, shall request a program modification from the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs. The President or Vice President of Academic Affairs shall include the following in the request:

  • List of programs that require permanent termination
  • List of impacted faculty, staff, and administrators
  • List of tenured faculty out of those impacted
  • Rationale for permanent reduction in programs
  • Request for in-depth study by academic staff
  • Request for report and timeline
  • Request to include outside evaluators with list of evaluators included
  • Request for action by the Board of Regents within the specified timetable
  • Analysis and impact statement on facilities and fiscal resources
  • Plan for student advisement with regard to other available academic programs
  • Plan for any current matriculants in programs slated for permanent termination
  • Plan for communications and notification to the campus community

For details and forms related to program modification, see http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/.


2.3.5 Degree Requirements

Associate Degrees

An associate degree must include a minimum of 60 semester hours.

Associate of Arts and Associate of Science transfer degrees have a maximum of 60 semester hours (exclusive of physical education activity/basic health or orientation course hours that the institution may require).

Career degrees include the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) in allied health areas in designated fields. Career degrees may be awarded for the completion of two-year collegiate programs designed to prepare students for immediate employment. Associate of Applied Science degrees and Associate of Science career degrees in allied health and nursing have a maximum of 70 semester hours (exclusive of physical education activity/basic health or orientation course hours that the institution may require. These degrees must contain a minimum of 20 semester hours of general education.

Exceptions to the maximum degree length requirements indicated above may be made only with the approval of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG.

Baccalaureate Degrees

A baccalaureate degree program must require at least 21 semester hours of upper division courses in the major field and at least 39 semester hours of upper division work overall.

Any changes above the 120 degree credit hour maximum must be presented in the form of a request for waiver to degree-credit hour length through the institution’s vice president for academic affairs with a rationale for such changes and a sketch of the existing and proposed curriculum. The rationale shall include references to external accrediting body requirements that exacerbate the need and requirement to increase credit hours in a program. Likewise, changes above the minimum requirement for associate and master’s degrees must be presented in the form of a request for waiver to degree-credit hour length with a rationale for such changes.

Master’s Degrees

Master’s degrees are established at a maximum of 36 semester hours. In some cases, the master’s degree may require fewer than 36 hours but not contain fewer than 30 semester hours.

To offer a program above the 36-semester hour maximum, a request must be made to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG for approval.


2.3.6 Comprehensive Program Review (CPR)

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.6.3, COMPREHENSIVE ACADEMIC PROGRAM REVIEW
EFFECTIVE DATE: THIS POLICY AND ITS ACCOMPANYING PROCEDURES WERE DEVELOPED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE ON INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND ENDORSED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC AFFAIRS ON 7/18/ 2000. FURTHER REVISIONS TO COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM REVIEW (CPR) POLICIES WERE UNDERTAKEN BY THE TASK FORCE ON NEW AND COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM REVIEW IN A REPORT COMPLETED 1/2009.

The Comprehensive Program Review process is a campus-based program review with the University System Office serving in an oversight capacity to evaluate initial program review processes and conduct periodic audits. For information about institutional responsibilities and to view institutional program assessment plans, see http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/cpr/.

Comprehensive Academic Program Review

Each USG institution shall conduct academic program review on a periodic basis. Consistent with efforts in institutional effectiveness and strategic planning, each USG institution shall develop procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of its academic programs to address the quality, viability, and productivity of efforts in teaching and learning, scholarship, and service as appropriate to the institution’s mission. Institutional review of academic programs shall involve analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data, and institutions must demonstrate that they make judgments about the future of academic programs within a culture of evidence. Planning and conduct of academic program reviews shall be used for the progressive improvement and adjustment of programs in the context of the institution’s strategic plan and in response to findings and recommendations of the reviews. Adjustment may include program enhancement, maintenance at the current level, reduction in scope, or, if fully justified, consolidation or termination.

An institution’s cycle of review for all undergraduate academic programs shall be no longer than seven (7) years, and for all graduate programs no longer than ten (10) years. Newly approved programs should automatically be reviewed seven years after launch. If successfully reviewed, the new program will then become part of the regular institutional cycle. If unsuccessful, the institution will present a plan of action to the System Office. Programs accredited by external entities may not substitute an external review for institutional program review, but material submitted as part of an external accreditation process may be used in the institutional review. Institutions may align program review cycles with required external accreditation review, so long as no program review cycle at any level exceeds ten (10) years. Institutions must also review General Education every five (5) years; learning outcomes for each Area A-E of institutional core curricula must be approved by the Council on General Education. Institutions are also encouraged to review Learning Support programs.

Each USG institution shall provide a web link outlining institutional comprehensive program review procedures and shall post program review results on a password protected institutional web site, which shall include the institutional review cycle and a summary of current institutional reviews.

Academic Affairs staff will perform spot audits on the posted institutional comprehensive program reviews to ensure that reviews are being used to inform institutional decision-making on the issues of program quality, productivity and viability. The System Office staff will continue to provide data on programs with low enrollment for institutional information.


2.3.7 External Degrees: Off-Campus & Online Instructional Delivery

According to BOR Policy 3.3.3, the Board recognizes two categories of external degree offerings, off-campus instruction and distance education.

a) Off-campus instruction is defined as traditional face-to-face classroom instruction that occurs at a location away from the home premises of the institution.

b) Distance education is defined as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction occurs when student and instructor are not in the same place and the instruction is delivered using technology.

2.3.7.1 Off-Campus Delivery Approval Procedures

The designation of an off-campus instructional location as a campus, center, or consortium requires approval by the Board of Regents through its Committee on Academic Affairs. (See BOR Policy 9.3 - Off-Campus Instructional Site for additional information on off-campus instruction.)

After an instructional site has been approved by the Board, the institution may offer 50% or more of any of their existing approved programs at the instructional location by obtaining administrative approval through the Office of Academic Affairs at least 60 days prior to the implementation of the additional program(s) at the site.

Institutions may also seek to offer 50% or more of any of their existing approved programs at a location that is not a Board-approved instructional campus, center, or consortium (e.g., a public school, a company, or an agency). Such program delivery arrangements do not involve the naming of this location as an official institutional instructional site and are usually contractual and time-limited. Institutions seeking to deliver 50% or more of any existing degree program at such a site must obtain administrative approval through the Office of Academic Affairs at least 60 days prior to the implementation of the program(s) at the site.

For all types of off-campus instructional delivery, it is desirable, in terms of program availability and mission appropriateness, to have the closest qualified institution respond to off-campus credit course needs. In cases where requests for services exceed the qualifications, mission, program availability, or capability of the closest institution, then attempts should be made to have such requests met by other qualified university system institutions.

Academic programs offered on campus are supported by processes, services, and infrastructure which were developed for campus-based educational delivery. When programs are delivered externally, those processes may be inappropriate or insufficient in the new location or format. Because academic and student support services are vital to the success of academic programs, those delivered in a non-traditional format or at an off-campus location must involve comparable levels of academic and student support services that contribute to overall student success and that are for students at that location.

Prior to the submission or a request for off-campus course work delivery, the president of the proposing institution will discuss and notify the president(s) of all other university system institution(s) located in closer geographic proximity to the site proposed for the off-campus course work. A letter of non-objection or support from the president of the closer proximity institution should be included in the administrative approval request. In the event the involved institutions are unable to arrive at a mutual agreement on the offering of off-campus credit courses, the issues will be referred to the Chief Academic Officer for final resolution.

Additional information and request forms for all off-campus instructional delivery may be found at the following website: http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/external/.

2.3.7.2 Distance Learning Approval Procedures

The Board of Regents encourages the use of distance learning to help meet the instructional needs of the citizens of the State. Approval procedures for delivery of distance learning programs follow SACS requirements and are intended to allow institutions to avoid duplication of effort in the development of material submitted to SACS and the Board of Regents for approval.

Prior approval by the Board of Regents is required for an initial program delivered fifty percent or more via distance learning by an institution and for any additional distance learning program(s) requiring SACS approval for substantive change (i.e., significant departure from originally approved programs). See SACS Policy on Substantive Change

Institutions must receive Board approval for their initial distance learning delivery of fifty percent or more of an existing approved program prior to implementing the program. However, once an institution is approved for distance delivery, only notification to the Office of Academic Affairs is needed to offer additional existing approved programs 50% or more via distance learning, unless the distance delivery of the program requires SACS approval for a substantive change. In the latter case, Board approval must be obtained in order to implement the additional program.

Additional information and request forms for all off-campus instructional delivery may be found at the following website: http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/external/.


2.3.8 Certificates

University System institutions are required to notify the Office of Academic Programs when a new certificate is established. Notification will be provided using the certificate notification form (http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/). Changes in a certificate name should also be sent to the Office of Academic Programs as notification.

Embedded certificates, those certificates that are only awarded to a student upon completion of a degree and are a self-contained set of courses embedded in a major or stand-alone degree, do not require notification and are not listed separately on the Degrees and Majors inventory. Additional information may be found at the following website: http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/


2.3.9 Dual Degrees

Dual Degrees in the University System of Georgia are defined according to the SACS Collaborative Academic Arrangements Policy. Programs of study offered in which each institution awards a separate program completion credential require notification to the Office of Academic Programs at least two weeks prior to implementation. Only dual degrees comprised of academic programs that have been previously approved by the Board of Regents either at a single University System institution or between University System institutions shall be forwarded as notification items. All new degree programs in collaborative arrangements require Board approval. Dual Degrees within a single University System institution also require notification to the Office of Academic Programs at least two weeks prior to implementation. See the Office of Academic Programs Website for appropriate notification forms for dual degrees.

Each institution conferring the degree assumes responsibility for meeting SACS requirements for collaborative academic arrangements.

Should it be determined that a dissolution of the dual degree arrangement is in the best interest of the institution(s) involved, it is incumbent upon the institution(s) to advise faculty and students appropriately and in a timely manner of the conclusion of the dual degree program and with provisions for teach out agreements with one another. In such cases, notification of the dissolution of the dual degree arrangement will be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs two weeks prior to dissolution and within a timeframe that does not have an adverse impact on students or faculty.


2.3.10 Joint Degrees

Joint educational programs in the University System of Georgia are defined according to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Policy on Collaborative Academic Arrangements. A joint educational program is one whereby students study at two or more institutions and are awarded a single program completion credential bearing the names, seals, and signatures of each of the participating institutions. Only joint degrees comprised of academic programs that already exist and are Board of Regents approved programs either between or among University System institutions shall be forwarded as notification items. All new degree programs require Board approval.

All joint degree arrangements require each participating USG institution to notify the Office of Academic Programs at least two weeks prior to implementation. It is incumbent upon all USG institutions to meet SACS requirements for collaborative academic arrangements.

Three categories of joint degree arrangements are possible according to SACS. They are: 1) joint degrees with institutional partner(s) which are SACS-COC accredited; 2) joint degrees with an institutional partner(s) which is accredited by a USDE-recognized accreditor other than SACS-COC; and 3) joint degrees with an institutional partner(s) which is not accredited by a USDE-recognized accreditor.

Please see the website of the Office of Academic Programs for the appropriate notification forms and documentation required for these degree arrangements. (http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/changes/).

Should it be determined that a dissolution of the joint degree arrangement is in the best interest of the institutions involved, it is incumbent upon the institutions to advise faculty and students appropriately and in a timely manner of the conclusion of the joint degree program and with provisions for teach out agreements with one another. In such cases, notification of the dissolution of the joint degree arrangement will be submitted via a notification letter to the Office of Academic programs two weeks prior to closure and within a timeframe that does not have an adverse impact on students or faculty.


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