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D01.0 Policies for Curriculum Development

I. Rationale

An idea or suggestion for curriculum or course modification, or for new courses or programs, can be originated by anyone, be it student, faculty member, staff member, administrator or advisor. This policy provides guidance on the process for changes and additions with respect to credit bearing courses or academic programs and outlines the roles of administrators and committees at the college and university levels within this process.

This policy also identifies the university committees associated with curriculum and their responsibilities. The Intercollege Curriculum Committee (ICC) is the university committee that oversees undergraduate curriculum. The Graduate Council (GC) oversees graduate curriculum. Each college shall have a policy, approved by the faculty of the college, regarding the handling of curricular matters and in which a curriculum committee is defined.

The Provost's Academic Program and Curriculum Management website provides access to all forms, documents, instructions, and guidelines regarding curriculum development to maintain compliance with New York State Education Department.

Abbreviations used throughout this policy include the following:

  • CCC - college curriculum committee

  • GC - Graduate Council

  • GEC - General Education subCommittee

  • ICC - Intercollege Curriculum Committee

  • IWC - Institute Writing subCommittee

  • WI - writing intensive

  • NYSED - New York State Education Department

II. Course Proposals

  1. Minor Course Modifications

    1. A minor modification to a course is defined as anything not covered in section II.B.

    2. Proposals for such course modifications will be submitted to the department curriculum committee, department faculty, and the department head. For minor modifications, the department head is the final approval agency. Notification of any action is sent to the dean.

  2. ​Significant Course Modifications, New Courses, and Special Designations

    Proposals for new courses, significant course modifications, or courses proposed for special designation will be submitted to the department curriculum committee, department faculty, and the department head.

    1. Definitions

      1. A significant modification to an existing course is one that is characterized by any of the following:

        • the proposed modification affects other departments or colleges

        • the proposed modification  reflects a change in status, e.g., credit hour, contact hours, prerequisites, elimination

        • the proposed modification includes a change in the mode of delivery for all sections of the course wherein the change in mode has a significant impact on the students.

      2. A new course is defined as any course that does not currently exist as a permanent course.

      3. A special designation refers to either: (1) Any course proposal that includes a request for designation as part of the general education curriculum or (2) Any course that includes a request for WI designation.

    2. Action on Proposals

      1. For all course proposals defined above (B.1), the department head will forward department approved proposals to the CCC.

      2. After review and deliberation, the CCC will forward its recommendation regarding the proposed course to the dean.

      3. If the course does not affect another college or students outside the college in which the course will be offered, once a course modification is approved by the dean, the dean will ensure the appropriate dissemination of the course information.

      4. If the course proposal affects another college or students outside the college in which the course will be offered, the dean of the college proposing the course will forward the proposal to the deans of the affected colleges. Proposal recommendations from deans will be forwarded to the provost for approval and further action. The recommendation from the dean of  the college proposing the course shall be accompanied by supporting documentation concerning the need for and the budgetary requirements of the proposal. Once a course modification has a final approval, the dean from the college proposing the course will ensure the appropriate dissemination of the course information.

      5. If a course proposal includes a request for any type of General Education designation, the CCC will also forward the proposal to the GEC for action. The GEC will forward any course approvals to the Office of the Registrar for entering in the appropriate databases.

      6. If a course proposal includes a request for WI designation, the CCC will forward the proposal to the IWC for action. The IWC will forward any course approvals to the Office of the Registrar for entering in the appropriate data bases.

III. Minors

Proposals for modifications to a minor or for new minors will be submitted to the department head, the department curriculum committee, and department faculty for approval. If no clear connection to an established administrative unit exists, proposals may be made to the dean of the college that will manage the minor or to the provost, if there isn’t a dean designated to oversee the minor.

If the modification only adds or removes courses from a list of elective options and does not affect a student's ability to complete the minor within the time frame allowed for completion of the baccalaureate degree, then only the dean needs to be informed. The dean will ensure the appropriate dissemination of information of the changes. In all other cases, the approval process below must be followed:

  • The department head will forward department approved proposals to the CCC and to the dean.

  • The dean will forward the proposal for a minor to the ICC for action.

  • The ICC will forward its recommendation to the provost.

IV. Academic Programs

All proposals for program modifications will be submitted to the department curriculum committee, and the department faculty for approval. Once approved a recommendation is forwarded to the department head for further action.

  1. Minor Program Modification

    Refer to Provost's Academic Program and Curriculum Management website for a definition of modifications that are considered minor and do not require submission to NYSED. Once the minor program modification is approved by the department head, it is forwarded to the dean. The dean's recommendation will be attached and forwarded to the provost for approval and further action. The dean's recommendation is to be accompanied by supporting documentation concerning the need for and the budgetary requirements of the proposal.

  2. Major Program Modification

    Major modifications to a program include but are not limited to: alterations that substantially change the stated requirements of an existing already registered program e.g., curricular changes of over 33 1/3 % of existing courses (or credit hours) in already registered programs; major changes in the nature or thrust of an existing curriculum in an already registered program; directly affect other colleges; or require submission to NYSED for approval. Refer to Provost's Academic Program and Curriculum Management website for modifications that require submission to NYSED. Once the major program modification is reviewed by the department head and the department faculty, their recommendations will be forwarded along with the proposal to the dean and the CCC, the CCC will forward its recommendation regarding the proposed program modifications to the dean, who will then forward the recommendations to the ICC or GC. After deliberation the ICC or GC will notify the proposers of its recommendation and will if the recommendation is to move forward, it will present its recommendation to the Academic Senate for review. The Academic Senate will forward its recommendation to the provost for consideration.

    In all cases, major program modifications shall be accompanied by supporting documentation concerning:

    1. The need for the proposed curriculum;

    2. Supporting statements from the deans and curriculum committees of any other college which would be involved in the proposal’s implementation;

    3. Budgetary implications of the proposal;

    4. Implications of the proposal for any support services not covered in the above (library, Space Committee, academic services and computing);
      Other information as articulated on the Provost's Curriculum Management website.

  3. New Programs

    1. Concept Paper

      A new program shall begin with the submission of a detailed concept paper, as defined on the Provost's Academic Curriculum Development website. The concept paper will serve as the basis from which a full proposal will be developed.

      1. If the concept paper is initiated by the department the concept paper shall be forwarded to the departmental curriculum committee and from there to the faculty of the department, and then to the CCC for review and comment. The reviews and comments are sent to the department chair and dean who will determine further action.

        If the dean has initiated the concept paper, it will be forwarded directly to the CCC. If the provost has initiated the concept paper, it will be forwarded to the ICC or the GC.

        If the concept paper involves another college(s), the concept paper is forwarded to the other college dean(s) for review that may include a review by the CCC of that college, and letter of support.

      2. The initiating dean will submit the concept paper, and letters of support if appropriate, to the provost for review and posting for university-wide review and comment.

      3. The provost will notify the concept paper proposer of the decision whether or not to move the concept paper to a full proposal, the next phase of program development.

    2. Full Program Proposal

      1. Once approved by the department curriculum committee and department faculty, the department head will forward the recommendations and along with the full program proposal to the CCC.

      2. The CCC will forward its recommendations to the dean and the initiating department head.

      3. After receiving a confirming recommendation from the department head, the CCC, and the college faculty, the dean will forward all recommendations for the program to the ICC or GC. The dean's recommendation shall in all cases be accompanied by supporting documentation concerning:

        • The need for the proposed curriculum;

        • Supporting statements from the deans and curriculum committees of any other college which would be involved in the proposal's implementation;

        • Budgetary implications of the proposal;

        • Implications of the proposal for any support services not covered in the above (library, Space Committee, academic services and computing);

        • Other information as articulated on the Provost's Academic Program and Curriculum Management website.

      4. Combined undergraduate and graduate programs

        BS/MS programs are developed from existing BS and MS programs, the proposal is sent to the provost for further action, with notifications to the ICC and GC. The ICC or GC may request a discussion prior to the proposal being sent to the NYSED for approval.

      5. Final Approval

        The provost will initiate action after receiving a curriculum-related proposal and recommendations from the appropriate administrator and committees as defined in this policy, e.g., initiating dean, ICC or the GC, the Academic Senate.

        1. If the proposal is presented to the Academic Senate for a recommendation, after deliberation the Academic Senate submits its recommendation for or against the proposal to the provost.

        2. In all cases the provost, after consultation with the president, will be the final approval agency for curriculum matters.

        3. When appropriate, the president shall refer the matter to the appropriate agencies of the board of trustees for final action.

        4. The provost shall inform the initiating dean or other agency as well as the appropriate committees and university bodies (e.g. Enrollment Management, Office of the Registrar) of the ultimate disposition of curriculum matters.

V. Student Load and Credit Hours

  1. Credit or Credit Hour Definition

    Credit or credit hour: A unit of measure representing the equivalent of an hour (50 minutes) of instruction per week over the entire term. It is applied toward the total number of credit hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other award. Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  2. Contact Hour Calculation

    The actual amount of academic work that goes into a single semester credit hour is often calculated as follows:

    • One lecture, seminar, or discussion credit hour represents 1 hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most lecture and seminar courses are awarded 3 credit hours. Over an entire semester, this formula represents at least 45 hours of class time and 90 hours of student preparation.

    • One laboratory credit hour represents 1 hour per week of lecture or discussion time plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most laboratory courses are awarded up to 4 credit hours. For a laboratory course earning 3 credit hours, this formula represents at least 45 hours of class time, between 45 and 90 hours of laboratory time, and 90 hours of student preparation per semester.

    Additional credit hour calculations are located on the Provost's Academic Curriculum Development website

  3. Normal student credit hour load

    The normal student load is 15-16 semester credit hours. As a general rule, the maximum student load should not exceed 18 semester credit hours in any one term with a maximum of 24 clock hours in class and laboratory. In those curricula with predominant laboratory and studio loads, the maximum scheduled clock hour load shall not exceed 30.  Honor students may enroll in up to 25 semester credit hours in a term.  Permission for any student to enroll in additional semester credit hours can be granted at the discretion of the head of the academic unit in which the student is enrolled.

VI. University Curriculum Committees

  1. The Intercollege Curriculum Committee

    1. The Intercollege Curriculum Committee shall be composed of:

      • the provost or designee;

      • a representative from among the academic deans;

      • a representative elected at large by the Academic Senate;

      • a representative from Student Government;

      • a representative from each college of the university that offers an undergraduate degree program;

      • the chair of the GEC, ex officio, non-voting;

      • the chair of the IWC, ex officio, non-voting.

      Representatives of the colleges shall be voting faculty members of the college who have been full-time faculty members for at least three years and have been elected by the voting faculty of each college. Each such elected representative shall be a voting member of the curriculum committee(s) of that college. Terms of these representatives shall be for three years, with the terms staggered so that approximately one-third shall expire each year.

    2. Functions of the ICC shall be to:

      • Study, from an university-wide perspective, undergraduate curricular proposals from constituent elements of the university;

      • Assure maintenance of appropriate intercollege relationships with regard to curriculum matters;

      • Assure that existing undergraduate curricula are periodically reviewed;

      • Ensure the establishment of a committee that will monitor, review, and assess on an on-going basis the general education curriculum of the university;

      • Ensure the establishment of a committee that will oversee, facilitate, and review on an on-going basis the writing curriculum of the university;

      • Make available to all academic units of the university the procedures for submission of proposals to be reviewed in the following academic year.

    3. Program Proposal Review

      The ICC is responsible for studying all proposals for undergraduate certificate, diploma and degree programs as identified in section III B of this policy. This study includes the relation of the proposed program to the current long-range plan of the university and the college(s) involved. In this connection the committee expects to be provided with references to pertinent documents.

      In cases where it is determined that the program represents a departure from current goals and objectives of the university, the committee will refer the proposal to the executive committee of the Academic Senate for subsequent review. If it is decided that such a departure is or may be desirable, the proposal will be returned to ICC for consideration in the light of other factors it normally studies.

  2. The General Education Committee

    1.  The General Education  Committee (GEC) is a subcommittee of the ICC and  shall be composed of:

      • the provost or designee, ex-officio, voting;

      • a representative from among the academic deans or designee;

      • a faculty representative from each college of the university that offers an undergraduate degree program;

      • the director of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, ex-officio, non-voting;

      • the chair of ICC or designee, ex-officio, non-voting.

      Representatives of the colleges shall be voting faculty members of the college who have been full-time faculty members for at least three years and have been elected by the voting faculty of each college. Terms of these representatives shall be for three years, with the terms staggered so that approximately one-third shall expire each year. Each such elected representative shall have the responsibility of being a liaison to the undergraduate curriculum committee of that college. It is acceptable, and may be viewed as optimal, for the college’s representative to the GEC to also be one of the regular voting members of the undergraduate curriculum committee of the college

    2. Functions of the GEC

      The functions of the GEC shall be as follows:

      1. To assure the general education curriculum is established, monitored, reviewed, and assessed on an on-going basis taking into consideration:

        1. The academic soundness of the framework with respect to general educational standards and learning outcomes of the university and the State of New York degree requirements. In this connection the committee will also consider standards of accrediting agencies when appropriate.

        2. The implications of the framework with respect to its impact on the resources (faculty, staff, space, library, etc.) of the university.

        3. The relation of the general education curriculum to the current strategic plan of the university and colleges.

        4. The ongoing advice of the college undergraduate curriculum committees.

      2. To be actively responsible to:

        1. Support and ensure the implementation of the approved General Education Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan.

        2. Review and disseminate the findings and recommendations from the annual general education student learning outcomes assessment process to faculty and other appropriate constituent groups.

        3. Review and revise the General Education Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan and the General Education curriculum as needed.

      3. Review proposals for modification to the General Education Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan and the General Education Framework.

      4. Determine what undergraduate courses at RIT qualify for general education credit.

      5. Determine which general education courses qualify for fulfilling particular functions of the general education framework.

      6. Work with the offices of the provost and the registrar to maintain the official catalog of RIT's general education curriculum and a list of all courses approved by RIT for general education credit. The general education catalog and list of approved general education courses shall be available both online and through the registration system for reference by students, academic advisors, and other RIT units. The General Education Committee shall also maintain an archive of all courses that have at any time been included in the general education curriculum.

      7. Disseminate to all academic units of the university the General Education Framework and procedures to be followed with respect to its documentation and assessment.

      8. Report at least annually to the ICC.

    3. Criteria and Guidelines for General Education Course Review

      1. The GEC will review and evaluate all new proposals for courses that are to be considered appropriate for general education credit.Courses will be evaluated using the criteria set forth by the NYSED Office of College and university Evaluation Policy Statement on Liberal Arts and Sciences and the RIT General Education Student Learning Outcomes.

      2. Submission process: A college wishing to have a course considered for general education credit and/or perspective status shall have their CCC submit its request through its representative to the GEC using the ICC approved course outline form. If a college is proposing a course or a set of courses to fulfill a particular element in the general education framework, they must submit any additional forms required by GEC.

      3. Courses or sets of courses that involve more than one college shall have the approval of all curriculum committees of the colleges involved.

      4. GEC will review the proposed course or courses and forward its recommendation to the provost for the final decision. The provost will have the final approval of all requests.

      5. The GEC will inform the RIT community of the final decision regarding the course proposal.

  3. The Institute Writing Committee

    1. The Institute Writing subCommittee (IWC) is a subcommittee of the ICC shall be composed of:

      • the provost or designee;

      • a representative from among the academic deans, or designee;

      • a faculty representative from each college of the university, that offers an undergraduate degree program;

      • the First-Year Writing Program director;

      • one representative from the Academic Support Center;

      • one representative from  the English Language Center;

      • the Chair of the ICC or designate, ex officio, non-voting.

      Representatives of the colleges shall be voting faculty members of the college who have been full-time faculty members for at least three years, and have been elected by the voting faculty of the college. Terms of these representatives shall be for three years, with the terms staggered so that approximately one-third shall expire each year. Each such elected representative shall have the responsibility of being a liaison to the undergraduate curriculum committee of that college. It is acceptable, and may be viewed as optimal, for the college's representative to the IWC to also be one of the regular voting members of the undergraduate curriculum committee of the college.

    2. Functions of the IWC The functions of the IWC shall be the following:

      1. Facilitate the implementation of the Institute Writing Policy through activities that include:

        1. Consulting with the curriculum committees of the various departments, programs, and colleges to review writing policy objectives and the criteria for Writing Intensive (WI) Courses;

        2. Reviewing courses proposed to carry a WI designation and make decisions regarding their WI status;

        3. Keeping a record of applications and decisions for WI course designation; and

        4. Informing the RIT community of the approved course proposals.

      2. ​Act as a liaison between all academic units to determine student and faculty need regarding implementation of the writing policy;

      3. Define priorities for adequate professional and curricular support for both students and faculty;

      4. Stay current with research on best practices in writing program administration, assess the feasibility and desirability for instituting these practices at RIT, and make recommendations accordingly;

      5. Serve in an advisory role to faculty in the development of assessment methods for writing outcome;

      6. Assess the Writing Across the Curriculum Program;

      7. Report annually to the ICC on its work.

    3. ​Criteria and Guidelines for Writing Intensive Course Proposal Review

      The IWC will review and evaluate all courses that are to be considered for the designation of intensive writing. Courses will be evaluated using the criteria set forth by the committee and published on the committee’s web site.

      1. Submission Process: Courses proposed to meet the WI criteria (as defined in this policy) must first be submitted for review to the appropriate curriculum review bodies using the "University New or Revised Course Outline Approval Form." College and department curriculum committees are not expected to review course proposals to determine if they meet WI criteria.

        Once a course has been approved by the CCC of the college in which it will be offered, a request for WI course designation is made by the CCC - using the approved form(s) - to the IWC.;

      2. Review of courses to determine if they meet the WI criteria will be conducted by the IWC. The WI designation decision is then reported by the IWC back to the requesting CCC. In the case where a WI designation is not recommended, the IWC will provide suggested modifications to the appropriate CCC, at which point a revised form may be submitted to the IWC.

      3. The IWC will inform the ICC of their recommendations and the RIT community of the final decision regarding the course proposal.

    4. Assessment of the RIT Writing Across the Curriculum Program

      The IWC is responsible for assessing the RIT writing program. These assessments explore questions related to student learning, resources for WI course instructors, and institute resources required for successful delivery of the writing program. The specific timeline and implementation for assessment is developed in collaboration with the Provost’s Office.

  4. The Graduate Council

    1. The Graduate Council is a standing subcommittee of the Academic Senate. The Graduate Council shall be composed of:

      • One faculty member with experience in graduate education from each college of the university, to be elected by his or her faculty constituents;

      • Three members at large, who are faculty with graduate education experience, elected by the Academic Senate;

      • The dean of graduate studies (ex-officio, voting);

      • The provost or his or her delegate (ex officio, voting);

      • A duly elected graduate student representative.

      Each college representative shall be a voting member of the curriculum committee or committees of that college that deal with graduate education. Terms of representatives, excluding the graduate student representative, shall be for three years, with the terms staggered so that approximately one-third shall expire each year. The graduate student representative shall serve for a term of one year. Faculty representatives may be reelected.

      The Graduate Council shall be presided over by a chairperson elected by the assembly of Graduate Council representatives with a term of two years. The chairperson will be elected from among the faculty representatives of the Graduate Council assembly. The chairperson of the Graduate Council shall have the authority to call and chair regular and special meetings and oversee the Graduate Council functions

    2. Functions of the Graduate Council

      The Graduate Council shall oversee graduate education and foster the development and maintenance of high quality graduate education curricula.

      The Graduate Council will formulate and recommend policy pertaining to graduate education, evaluate policy proposals, and monitor the implementation of such policies and procedures.

      In pursuance of these functions, the Graduate Council shall:

      1. Study graduate curricular proposals from a university-wide perspective, maintaining appropriate intercollege relationships with regards to curriculum;

      2. Make proposals to the Academic Senate for graduate curriculum approval or discontinuance;

      3. Monitor periodic review of existing graduate curricula;

      4. Make proposals to the Academic Senate for policy additions or modifications pertaining to graduate education.

Responsible Office:
Academic Senate.

Inquiries may be directed to:
Staff Assistant
Office of the Academic Senate
2106 Eastman Hall
asenate@rit.edu
(585)475-2016

Effective Date:
Approved December 1953

Policy History:
Edited July 2001
Revised April 5, 2007
Revised December 17, 2009
Revised January 7, 2010
Edited August 2010
Edited for calendar conversion May 2, 2013
Revised May 8, 2014 to reflect changes in Charter of Academic Governance

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