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Academic Program Development

New Degree Program Proposals

As a general rule, new degree program proposals must be submitted to the Chancellor’s Office 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 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.
  • 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.

Other Proposals

The above outline applies to the regular process for proposing entirely new programs only. Other types of new program proposals (i.e., pilot and fast-track) or 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 Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 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. All such proposals must undergo campus curriculum review via the curriculum management system. See the Registrar's Curriculum Handbook for more information.

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.

Whether proposing a new degree program, a change to an existing program, a new subprogram, or a blended degree program, 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.

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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

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