var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-48720098-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + ''; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Academic Program Development

New Degree Program Proposals

As a general rule, new degree program proposals must be submitted to the Chancellor’s Office (CO) for approval.  The following is an outline of the typical development process:

Stage 1: Academic Plan (~6 months)

  • The Projected Degree Proposal form is prepared using the template sent to colleges every fall quarter.  Departments should be prepared to draft this proposal by early November. The deadline for submission will normally be in mid to late November (but varies).
  • The Projected Degree Proposal form is reviewed at the university level by the Academic Plan Consultative Committee.  If approved by the Provost, the new degree is added to the Campus Academic Plan.
  • The Projected Degree Proposal form and the Campus Academic Plan are submitted for review by the Chancellor's Office in December. If approved by the Board of Trustees (generally in March), there is a five-year window to implement the new program.
  • Beginning in 2023, there is an opportunity for summer degree projections. Summer Projected Degree Proposals will be due to Academic Programs and Planning in early April and are submitted for review by the Chancellor's Office in June and by the Board of Trustees in August. 
  • If the Board of Trustees approves the projected degree proposal, the new degree will be submitted to WSCUC for a substantive change screening.  WSCUC will determine whether the proposed degree requires a formal proposal and review. 

Stage 2: New Degree Program Proposal (~1-2 years)

  • The new program proposal is developed using the template provided by the Chancellor's Office.
  • The new program proposal is submitted for review by the appropriate associate dean and then by Academic Programs & Planning.
  • The new program proposal is submitted for review by the Provost.

Note: Departments will want to closely review and adhere to Cal Poly admission deadlines in order to meet launch date goals.

Stage 3: Campus Curriculum Review (~6 months)

  • The new program proposal is submitted for approval by the department curriculum committee, the college curriculum committee, and the Academic Senate Curriculum Committee. It is the author's responsibility to ensure that the program proposal progresses through all the required campus approvals, and the author should plan to be in attendance at all meetings. Associated course proposals can be submitted through the curriculum management system at the same time as the program proposal.
  • If approved by the Senate Curriculum Committee, the new program proposal is submitted for approval by the Academic Senate Executive Committee as an attachment to a senate resolution (click here for an example). 
  • If agendized by the Executive Committee, the new program proposal is submitted for two readings by the Academic Senate.
  • If approved by the Academic Senate, the new program proposal is submitted for approval by the President.

Stage 4: Chancellor’s Office Review (~3-6 months)

  • If approved at all campus levels, Academic Programs & Planning submits the new program proposal to the Chancellor's Office.

Note: To account for Chancellor's Office review and the admissions cycle, the proposal should be submitted 18-24 months prior to the proposed quarter of implementation (i.e. the first quarter that students matriculate).

Stage 5: Notifications (<1 month)

  • If approved by the Chancellor's Office, Academic Programs & Planning notifies campus stakeholders (i.e., the department, college, Admissions, and Financial Aid).

Note: A new program must be approved and circulated before October 1 to be included in the next catalog. Ex: Notifications by 9/30/21 to be included in the AY 2022-23 catalog.

The above outline applies to the regular process for proposing entirely new programs only. Pilot program proposals have a different timeline. 

The fast-track process has been made obsolete by the ability to make degree projections twice per year (December and June). 

Paths to a New Degree


Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


Year 4


Year 5


Year 6


Year 7


Traditional Prepare and submit projected degree proposal for review by campus and CO Prepare and submit new degree proposal for review by campus Submit new degree proposal for review by CO Students apply to new program      Students begin new program         
Pilot (only two per campus) Prepare and submit new degree proposal for review by campus; prepare and submit pilot program proposal template to CO Students apply to new program; update campus academic plan Students begin new program     Undergo program review including self-study and visit by one or more experts Prepare and submit pilot conversion proposal for review by campus and CO

(CO = Chancellor's Office)

Other Proposals

Proposals to make changes to an existing program (e.g., elevations, pilot conversions, and changes to the degree designation, title, or code) will have their own processes and requirements, including Chancellor's Office approval or notification. In addition, the university's accrediting agency, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), requires a substantive change proposal for new online or off-campus programs.


Proposals for new subprograms (i.e., concentrations, specializations, and graduate certificates) may require Chancellor's Office notification. Minors do not require Chancellor's Office notification. All such proposals must undergo campus curriculum review via the curriculum management system. See the Registrar's Curriculum Handbook for more information.

Blended 4+1 Programs

Proposals to combine existing bachelor's and master's degree programs in a 4 + 1 or blended degree program do not undergo full curriculum review, but they must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Education, the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Planning, and the Provost. For more information on blended degrees, see the Graduate Education Handbook.

Program Suspension

Program suspension results when a program stops admitting students to a program. The process for a suspension requires consultation with the program faculty and a proposal to the Provost, Associate Vice Provost, and Academic Senate Chair providing the reasons for the suspension, among other things. Note: it is possible for a program to be reinstated from suspended status.

Program Discontinuation

Program discontinuation results in the official and permanent deletion of a program from the campus Academic Master Plan.  A request for discontinuance may be initiated at any time; however, discontinuation will follow the suspension of a program and documentation that all enrolled students have been taught out. The process requires Provost and Academic Senate approval. 

Department Name Change

A department name change requires multiple levels of support and Academic Senate approval.  APP can provide guidance and a template to assist a department through this process.


Whether proposing a new degree program, a change to an existing program, a new subprogram, a blended degree program, program suspension/discontinuation, or a department name change, the development process should begin with a consultation in Academic Programs & Planning. Please contact the Program Development Coordinator, Angela Standifer (, to schedule a meeting or to request further information. She can also provide relevant policies and templates for submitting a proposal in the correct form to the Chancellor's Office.

Related Content

Office Contact

Academic Programs and Planning 
1 Grand Avenue
Kennedy Library
  (Bldg. 35), Suite 319  
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 

Main Number 
(805) 756-2246

General Email