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. As of 2023, the Chancellor's Office makes this proposal process available twice a year, in June and December.
The following is an outline of the typical development process:
Stage 1: Academic Plan | Projected Degree Proposal (6-8 months)
- A Preliminary Outline of the proposed degree is prepared by the college for review by Academic Innovations and Programs and the Provost. This would be submitted to APP in January for the June cycle, or in May for the December cycle.
- If the Preliminary Outline is approved by the Provost, a Projected Degree Proposal form is prepared using the template sent to colleges. Departments should be prepared to submit the first draft of this proposal by roughly April 1 for the June cycle, or by roughly October 1 for the December cycle.
- The Projected Degree Proposal form is reviewed at the university level by the Academic Plan Consultative Committee and the Provost. 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 June or December. If approved by the Board of Trustees (generally in September for June submissions, and in March for December submissions), 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 and 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. Ex: Draft during AY 2022-23 and 2023-24 to launch for AY 2026-27.
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.
Note: This process must be completed so the Senate resolution can be approved by the President in time to submit to the CO as described in stage 4. Ex: Complete by the end of AY 2023-24 for a program to be included in the AY 2026-27 catalog.
Stage 4: Chancellor’s Office Review (~3-6 months)
- If approved at all campus levels, Academic Programs and 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 to the CO 18-24 months prior to the proposed quarter of implementation (i.e. the first quarter that students matriculate). Ex: Submit to CO by fall/winter 2024 to be included in the AY 2026-27 catalog.
Stage 5: Notifications (<1 month)
- If approved by the Chancellor's Office, Academic Programs and Planning notifies campus stakeholders (i.e., the department, college, Admissions, and Financial Aid).
Note: A new program must be approved by the CO and circulated to campus stakeholders before October 1 to be included in the next catalog. Ex: Campus notifications before 9/30/25 to be included in the AY 2026-27 catalog.
The above outline applies to the regular process for proposing entirely new programs only. Elevations of existing subprograms will follow a similar process for internal review and approval but have a different CO template. 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).
|Traditional||Prepare and submit preliminary outline for review by campus and 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 preliminary outline and projected 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)
Proposals for new subprograms (i.e., concentrations, specializations) require Chancellor's Office notification and acknowledgment. Academic Programs and Planning will provide a template to be completed by the department upon campus approval of the curriculum for the subprogram. 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.
Whether proposing a new degree program or a new subprogram the development process should begin with a consultation in Academic Programs and 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.
This page provides a high-level overview of the process of developing a new degree or subprogram. To learn about the modification of an existing program, please see our Program Modification page.