Faculty & Staff Services:

Academic Program Approval Procedures

Winthrop University Criteria and Procedures

Proposals on New and Revised Degree Programs, Options,
and Off-Site Offering of Existing Degrees

Internal Development, Review and Approval of the Program
Internal Development, Review and Approval of Program Proposal 
Commission on Higher Education Approval Process 
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


The Board of Trustees and the administration of Winthrop University require internal review and approval of new academic programs. This policy outlines the format, the calendar and the approval requirements for new program proposals, in addition to program modifications and offering programs at off-campus locations. 

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) approves new programs for all public institutions of higher education in South Carolina.  CHE requires submission of a New Program Proposal for any new academic program (degree or major). The final proposal must be approved by ACAP, the CHE Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing (CAAL), then the full commission. (All Winthrop University programs must go through the Liaison to CHE/SACS through the Office of Academic Affairs.)

Notification to and approval from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools must be received to offer degree programs at new off-campus locations, to offer degree programs at a different level than what is currently approved, or for programs that are a significant departure from current offerings.


New Programs --- New Programs are: 1) developing any academic degree program that concludes with the conferral of a degree at any level in any field or major not previously offered; 2) offering courses constituting 50 percent or more of a program of study not previously approved by the Commission offered on-campus or off-site by any instructional modality within a three-year period for associate's, baccalaureate, specialist, or master's programs; 3) offering any program offered at one degree level proposed to be offered at another level (e.g., the institution offers a B.A. and wants to offer an M.A.); 4) developing new teacher preparation programs including add-ons or endorsements; 5) the addition of concentrations in educator preparation programs that lead to initial certification; or 6) changing any existing program to such an extent that a change in CIP code is required or for which a change to the CIP code is requested. (See CHE Policies and Procedures.)

New Program Proposal --- Whether describing a degree program or an academic unit, the Program Proposal is submitted to the CHE once the internal College review and approval process (including Board of Trustees approval) has been completed. (See CHE Policies and Procedures

Program Modifications --- After institutional approval, the CHE expects to review program modifications such as the extension or transfer of a program to another site, the addition of new concentrations within a major, the elimination of majors or concentrations, consolidation of majors, and substantive modifications (exceeding 18 credit hours for undergraduate programs; 12 credit hours for graduate programs) of majors or concentrations. (See CHE Policies and Procedures.)


Deans should notify the Office of the Provost of the intention to develop a new academic program well in advance of submitting the proposal for internal review and approval.

It is the responsibility of the department chair in the area where the new program will reside to develop a Program Proposal. The initial draft covers the following elements: cover page, classification, justification, enrollment projections, curriculum, faculty, physical plant, equipment, library resources, accreditation, and estimated costs. The CHE requires a specific format for a Program Proposal which can be found on the CHE Academic Programs website.

Chairs developing proposals should review them with their dean prior to beginning the internal review and approval process (below). The dean should also contact the CHE and SACS Liaison in the Office of the Provost for information on the CHE process and possible examples of proposals from across campus and from other institutions in South Carolina. The CHE liaison may send the proposals for informal review by the CHE staff. Appropriate assistance will require a minimum of 8 weeks prior to the submission of the documents to CHE. 

Each department participating in the proposed program should review and approve the proposal. The dean of the college where a proposal resides should review and approve the proposal. 

Once the faculty review process has been completed, review by and approval of the Provost, the President and the Board of Trustees are required. This must be accomplished before documents may be forwarded to the CHE. 

Process for Internal Review and Approval 

The CHE approval process requires a minimum of six months from the time of submission of a Program Proposal until approval of a new program by the Commission. The CHE sets deadlines annually for submission of  New Program Proposals and Program Modifications. View the current deadlines.

Program Proposal

New program development requires ongoing consultation among all parties and therefore often takes a great deal of time. New programs and program changes must be submitted through Winthrop's online Curriculum Application System. (View the Approval Process Timetable.)

The approval follows this process:

* Department develops and submits the proposal in the Curriculum Application System

* Department Chair reviews and approves proposal.  Upon approval, the system forwards to the appropriate College Curriculum Committee.

* The College Curriculum Committee reviews and approves; the system forwards to the appropriate college Faculty Assembly.  

* The College Faculty Assembly reviews and approves; the system forwards to the Dean of the College offering the program.  

* The Dean forwards the proposal to the appropriate University-wide committee.

* If the proposal is for a Teacher Certification program, the proposal is forwarded to the Educator Preparation Committee.  The Educator Preparation Committee reviews proposals in light of the State of South Carolina teacher certification regulations. After approval, proposals are forwarded to either CUC or to Graduate Council. 

If the program is for a Bachelor's degree program, it is forwarded to the Committee on University Curriculum (CUC).  If the proposal is for a graduate degree program, it is forwarded to the Graduate Council.

* CUC reviews and recommends approval of undergraduate degree programs to the Academic Council.  The Academic Council then reviews, approves and submits the proposal to the Faculty Conference.

* The Faculty Conference reviews and approves the program.  

* Graduate programs are reviewed and approved by the Graduate Council and then by the Graduate Faculty Assembly.

After programs clear the University-wide faculty approvals, the proposals are forwarded by the Registrar to the Office of Academic Affairs for approval by the Provost, President, and Board of Trustees and submission to CHE.


The CHE publishes timelines with the scheduled meeting dates and deadlines on its website.  


The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) requires notification of significant changes to program offerings.  Read the SACSCOC policy statement on the substantive change process.  The most common change for which Winthrop will need to notify SACSCOC is for offering new academic programs that represent a significant departure from current offerings.

The process for substantive change requires notification to SACSCOC at least 6 months prior to the start of the new program or site.  Submission deadlines are January 1 for programs starting July 1 or after, and July 1 for programs starting in January. The SACSCOC substantive change policy website contains the format required for the Substantive Change Prospectus.  (See Appendix.)

SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy:

A department interested in offering an existing degree program at a new location off-campus must notify the appropriate academic dean and contact the Office of Academic Affairs 10 to 12 months prior to offering the first course at the new site.  Each program/site combination must be approved by SACSCOC prior to offering the first course and/or awarding financial aid to students taking those courses.

The department prepares information necessary for completion of the prospectus for SACSCOC and forwards to the college dean.  The dean reviews and submits the draft prospectus to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs for review.  The Office of Academic Affairs then prepares the appropriate cover letter for the President's review and forwards to the President for approval and signature.

Notification to SACSCOC

The chief executive officer of an institution undergoing substantive change requiring prior approval must provide written notification of the change to the President of the Commission six months in advance of implementation of the substantive change. If an institution is unclear as to whether a change is substantive in nature, it should contact Commission staff for consultation. (See page 6 of the Substantive Change Policy.)

Submission of a Prospectus

Upon notification, the President of the Commission will ask the institution to submit a completed prospectus if one has not been submitted. The prospectus must be submitted at least three months in advance of the planned implementation date to allow ample time for review and approval.  Please submit the completed application prospectus in print copy only.  (See page 26 of the Substantive Change Policy.)

Note:  Access the Approval Process Timetable.