Curricular Procedures and Guidelines
To locate the necessary forms and other information governing Penn State Altoona's and Penn State University's curricular procedures, see the links shown below.
Contents of this site
Flowcharts (from VPCC Office, Version 08-02-06)
Curricular Development Procedures
Penn State Altoona
Revised: Aug. 2006
Process for Program Development and Review
Proposals for new degree programs at Penn State Altoona generally emerge from the faculty in the discipline(s). As the proposal is developed, the faculty should discuss
their idea with the Division Head in order to gauge the likelihood of support. The Division Head will also request a market assessment
from the Director of Planning and Program Development. The market assessment should be considered
as the key evidence for the viability of the proposed new program. If the proposing faculty or the Division Head believe
that the assessment unfairly represents the market for the proposed new program,
they can provide suggestions for additional research or data sources for
the Director of Planning and Program Development to consider in the market
assessment. However, the Director of Planning
and Program Development is to provide an independent review of the market
for the proposed program.
The first level of review for a
new program will be conducted at the divisional level with either the division
as a whole or its representatives in a curricular affairs committee reviewing
and providing a recommendation about the proposed new program. If the program is interdisciplinary, then the relevant
divisions or their curricular affairs committees will each review the proposal
and make a recommendation about the program. This
recommendation should be based on the five criteria discussed below, and
should explicitly reference the criteria in its final recommendation. The recommendation should be described as a high priority,
low priority, or a non-recommendation. Note: Recommendations that do not reference the criteria in their
summary will be returned to the division for further review, and will not
be accepted until the proposal is analyzed using the criteria below.
The Division Head will bring the
program proposal, the market assessment, and the recommendation of the
division(s) to Academic Affairs. If there multiple
divisions are involved, then each divisional review should be presented
to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will examine the proposal based on the
four criteria noted below, and will make a recommendation of high priority,
low priority, or a non-recommendation. The recommendation
must reference the criteria below, and especially consider the general balance
of programmatic development at the college and the directions outlined
in the college's strategic plan. If the Associate
Dean for Academic Affairs supports the proposal, they will suggest a likely
starting date for the program based on the availability of resources, and
the timing of the approval process and its impact on student recruitment.
The recommendations of the division(s)
and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will be taken to the Chancellor
for consideration. The Chancellor will make the
final determination about whether or not to move a program proposal into
the consultation and approval processes, as well as suggest a timetable for
start-up. Once the Chancellor approves, the proposal
can begin to make its way through the consultation and approval processes.
Criteria for Program Development
Criteria to be used in determining the recommendation
for new degree programs by the division, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,
and the Chancellor include the quality of the proposed program, the viability
of the program (can the program attract and/or recruit students and is there
a market for graduates in the program ?), the feasibility of the program
(do we have the resources ?), the impact on the direction of the college,
and whether or not the program contributes to curricular alignment across
The quality of the proposed new program should be of paramount importance. First, the program should be based on high standards
for the field of study, and should plan to pursue specialized accreditation,
where appropriate, and should develop a plan for assessing student learning. Second, the program should emphasize the use of full-time
faculty and the most advanced technology and techniques employed in the field. Finally, the proposed program should include a solid
foundation in general education, a thorough understanding of the history,
theory, and methodology of the field, appropriate, well-grounded applied
educational activities (internship, research, performance, etc.), and a clearly
identified capstone experience. The capstone
is required by Altoona College Faculty Senate legislation and should have
a strong writing component.
The first issue is to resolve is the nature of the market for the degree
program under consideration. Can the program
attract and retain students ? Can it provide job
opportunities for its graduates ? To answer these
questions, the Director of Planning and Program Development will produce a
market assessment report that will be circulated for comment to the faculty
proposing the program, the appropriate division head(s), the Associate Dean,
and the Chancellor.
Some measure of student interest in the degree will be gauged by local surveys, Penn State and national enrollment trends, and national surveys. Student interest is the primary element
in determining the market. An ancillary issue
in the determination is the availability of employment for graduates in
our service area and beyond.
The second criterion to be addressed by proposals for new degree programs is
the resource requirements for the program. These include faculty, staff, space
requirements, as well as the on-going operational budget. The operational budget
includes fees for speakers, special activities, fields trips, etc. The proposal
will need to indicate the number of additional faculty and staff necessary to
run the program, both at start-up and as it grows to its full size. The proposal
will also need to identify how the facilities needs can be met, either through
conversion of current space or the addition of new space. In either case
(conversion or addition), the proposal will need to indicate the cost of these
changes or additions to the college's facilities, and how these costs can be
met. Faculty are strongly encouraged to consider the University Classroom
Improvement Fund, outside funding sources, as well as temporary funds in
determining how to meet the facilities requirements. Based on a formula
developed by the Financial Officer and the Director of Planning and
Program Developments, an assessment of the program's feasibility will be
conducted using the attached tables.
Impact on the College
The impact of the proposed new program on the college and its array of
programs also needs to be considered. First,
the proposed new program should have limited impact on enrollments in current
degree programs, yet provide for continued growth in enrollment. In the case of programs that are complementary to
existing programs, an assessment will be made as to how the addition of
the new program(s) will impact the overall enrollment of the College. There may be circumstances in the future when new
programs are added that shift students away from existing programs, yet
enhance or otherwise complement the overall array of academic programs offered
by the College. In these circumstances, additional
care should be taken in planning the new program, including assessing the
potential impact on current students, faculty, and staff.
Second, the mix of current programs needs to
be considered in evaluating proposals for new degrees. Proposals for new programs should strive
either to create competitive niches, or complement existing programs, or
build on existing resources. Of special concern is developing an appropriate
balance between the liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs,
and between traditional and innovative programs. This
criterion asks the reviewers of program proposals to weigh also the larger
vision and direction of Penn State Altoona.
The program should also be reviewed on how it contributes to curricular
alignment within the University. Transfers of
existing Penn State degree programs obviously contribute to curricular alignment. Proposals for new programs will require additional
consultation across the colleges and locations which offer similar degrees. For new programs, a strong case will need to be made
for how this new program is significantly different from existing degrees,
and how it adds value to the array of programs offered at the University. Proposing faculty should be aware that proposals for
new programs, especially those similar to existing degree programs, will face
additional scrutiny at every level of review, and may be less likely to be
Program Development Process
- Proposal Development
Before preparing a proposal for a major, option, or minor at Penn State
Altoona, program faculty should meet with their division head and the Director
of Planning and Program Development. The Director of Planning and
Program Development can advise faculty on requirements for proposals, as
well as the associated processes. Faculty should also review:
Proposing faculty are responsible for developing a preliminary proposal, which should include:
- Rationale for program and link to strategic plan, college mission, etc.
Note: This is often best done last, because it draws on other elements in the program proposal, including focus on program, faculty and staff resources, etc.
- Program Description (Blue Book). This should include:
- Brief description of program and list of any new courses
- Catalog copy of program (If existing Penn State program, catalog can be found at: http://www.psu.edu/bulletins/bluebook/
- Options and minor, if appropriate
- Capstone experience (required by Penn State Altoona Senate)
- Schedules. This should include:
- Matrix of Course Offerings for 2-4 cycle-which should indicate which are new courses and which are replacement for other offering.
- Sample student schedule for each option (Or BA and BS)
- Faculty and Staff Resources. This should include:
- Listing of current faculty with areas of teaching and research expertise
- Identify program coordinator or professor-in-charge (minor)
- Indicate new faculty needs with areas of expertise (link to course matrix)
- List current staff support and indicate new needs for staff (FT, PT, and wage)
- Facilities Assessment. This should include:
Proposing faculty or Division Head may request a market scan or market assessment from Director of Planning and Program Development.
- Listing/analysis of current facilities
- Indication of new facilities needed to offer program (this should be explicitly linked to course offerings as indicated by Course matrix [#3]).
- Indicate plans for developing new resources (grants, college support, etc.)
- Divisional Review - (2 weeks)
Division Head requests market assessment from Director of Planning and Program Development. If draft assessment or market scan prepared
earlier, Division Head should request update or final version. Proposal
is completed, and presented to Division or divisional curricular affairs
committee by Division Head. Division or curricular affairs committee makes
recommendation of high priority, low priority, or a non-recommendation to
Division Head. If this is an interdisciplinary program, then each division
impacted by the program should conduct a review and provide a recommendation.
Division Head will work with Director of Planning and Program Development
to prepare costing analysis forms, and add these to the proposal for submission
to Academic Affairs.
- Academic Affairs Review - (2 weeks)
Division Head(s) bring proposal and divisional
recommendation to Academic Affairs. For interdisciplinary
proposals, each effected division should have its recommendation presented
to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. If the proposal
is recommended by Academic Affairs, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
will take recommendations from Academic Affairs and Division(s) to the
Chancellor for determination on whether or not to move the proposal forward
into the consultation and approval processes.
is filled out by Division Head and submitted to Associate Dean. Associate Dean submits to ACUE for review. If approval is granted, the proposal moves on to next
- Consultation - (1 month)
While program prospectus is under review
by ACUE, the Director of Planning will request letters of support from Admissions,
Library, Career Services, and Information Technology (Computing Center and/or Strategic Planning Committee
for Information Technology). If the prospectus is approved byACUE,
the Director of Planning will prepare the proposal for consultation and approval
processes, and add internal letters of consultation. The proposal will be posted on the Senate
Curricular Proposal website (pdf preferred format). The Director of Planning
will then send email to ACUE listserve with link to proposal for consultation. All consultative comments will be gathered into a
single record. Any concerns or negative comments
will be forwarded to the appropriate Division Head(s) for response, in consultation
with the proposing faculty.
- Altoona College Faculty Senate - (1 month)
Once the consultation period is concluded,
the Director of Planning will repost updated proposal with university-wide
consultation. Emails will be sent to the Curricular
Affairs Committee of the Senate requesting review, and to the faculty listserve
for any comments to be sent to Division Head and Curricular Affairs Committee
Chair. Curricular Affairs Committee will review
proposal and make recommendation to the Senate to support, support with recommendations,
support with reservations, or not support.Senate will review proposal and
approve or not approve proposal.
- Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses (VPCC) - (per Working Paper, Oct. 26, 2005)
If proposal is supported by Chancellor,
the Associate Dean will submit proposal to Vice President for Commonwealth
Campuses for review and approval. Proposal should
be sent to Gail Gilchrest (email@example.com). The VPCC review will be based on:
- Content Clarity
- Rational & Campus Mission
- Curricular Alignment & Course Duplication Issues
- Regional Complementarity
- Fiscal resources required to deliver the Program(in-place & new resources)
- Market Demand & Enrollment Projection
- Faculty Resources (in-place and new resources needed)
- Equipment and Lab resources
- Library resources
- A. University Faculty Senate - (depends on timing of meeting, usually 1 month, unless new Gen Ed courses are included)
If proposal is for a new program in
the University and is approved by the Altoona College Faculty Senate, the
Director of Planning will prepare forms for signature by Division Head, Faculty
Senate Rep to Curricular Affairs, and Chancellor. 25 copies of proposal
and consultation record submitted to University Faculty Senate Curriculum
Coordinator. Proposal posted on Curricular Blue
Sheets for comment. If approved by Curricular Affairs,
proposal will be sent to Provost's Office for Administrative review.
- B. P-3 Transfer
If proposal is to transfer an existing
program to Altoona from another college within the University, the Associate Dean will prepare
a memo of agreement for transfer to be signed by the Chancellor and submitted
to Dean of the College which currently houses the program. Dean of
home college submits proposal to Provost's Office for review.
- Administrative Review
The Vice Provost for Undergraduate
Education and International Programs processes undergraduate academic program
proposals and administrative authorizations. The University Provost reviews
academic program proposals and administratively authorizes their implementation.
This step includes:
Note: Administratively authorized new programs or changes in names of programs are to be implemented only after review by the Board of Trustees.
- consideration of the proposal supporting materials, including identification of proposed offering sites;
- confirmation of consultations with affected academic program areas and academic support units--library, academic computing, instructional facilities;
- costing by the Office of Budget and Resource Analysis (for new majors/options/minors);
- approval by the Executive Vice President and Provost; and
- review by the Board of Trustees.
Typically, a new program or transfer proposal takes 6 months to be approved, after Divisional approval. New programs should be approved by Oct.-Nov.
of the year before it is to start in order to allow for recruitment of junior
class, and for promotion through admissions for an incoming freshmen class.
Back to Top
Expedited Review Procedures
An Expedited Review can be used for any proposal
of MINOR revisions to an existing course, degree program, or minor. Examples
include changes to a course name, change in the prerequisites for a course,
and the substitution of a comparable course for another course to meet program
requirements. [Note: All certificate programs can receive an Expedited
The process for an Expedited Review is as follows:
- Submit the proposal and follow consultation process as described in Detailed Procedures.
- The Director of Planning will post the proposal to the Faculty Senate web site and ask for comments to be sent to the Chair of Curricular Affairs within one week.
- Rather than requiring a full vote of the Faculty Senate, the proposal can be approved by the Curricular Affairs Committee (upon the vote of at least five members), which will report on its approval to the Senate.
Following is the Penn State University's definition of an EXPEDITED REVIEW
- Limited changes in name or number (without substantive change in course content)
- Prerequisite changes affecting only courses within a department
- Updated course descriptions of a limited nature
- New 400-level courses, which do not affect courses in other majors
- Course drops affecting only majors in the department
- Changes in requirements for a major in response to a name and/or number change with no substantive content change.
- Changes in requirements for a major in response to another curricular change where there is some actual change in content. (Example: A program changes the content of an introductory course, so all other majors requiring the content of the old course may have to reevaluate the prerequisites.)
- Addition or subtraction of a course to a selections list for a major due to changes previously approved. These proposals should include a letter of consultation from the relevant department.
It is the responsibility of the Curricular Affairs Committee to determine, by a majority vote, whether the proposed change(s) is sufficiently minor to justify an expedited review; if not, the Curricular Affairs Committee will present the proposed change(s) for full Senate review and approval.
Back to Top
Every degree offered by the Penn State Altoona College requires a Capstone
experience. This experience would take place during the senior
year - preferably the spring semester. This experience should
- a synthesis of the learning which has been delivered in the program;
- a significant writing component;
- the student with an opportunity to place himself/herself in a scholarly or professional context;
- for a transition to post graduation goals, be these academic or vocational;
- a class size small enough to ensure significant individual interaction between student and professor.
The exact form of this experience and the number of credits assigned
to it would be determined by the unit designing the degree. Thus directed
internships, projects courses, student teaching experiences, clinical experiences,
and traditional classes would be potentially acceptable means of delivering
the Capstone experience. The program approval process will allow the
Altoona Curricular Affairs Committee to ensure that any proposed experience
would meet the goals stated above and that some uniformity across programs
occurs in terms of expectations of, and demands upon, the students.
Back to Top
Curricular Affairs Committee Actions
Once a proposal has been posted on Penn State
Altoona's Faculty Senate website for a minimum of 10 working days and at
least 10 working days have passed since faculty notification via the faculty
listserv, the Curricular Affairs Commitee will meet to review the proposal
and will either A) approve it; or B) reject it; or C) send it back to the Director of Planning and/or the faculty authors with a request for additional information.
If A): The Chair of Curricular
Affairs will notify the Penn State Altoona Faculty Senate Chair and the Penn
State Altoona Director of Planning that the Committee has approved the proposal.
The Director of Planning will notify the Associate Dean of Academic
Affairs and the appropriate division head. The Chair will request
that the Faculty Senate Chair place the proposal on the agenda for the next
Penn State Altoona Faculty Senate meeting. At the Senate meeting, the
Committe Chair will report the Committee's approval and request a call for
If B): The Committee Chair will notify
the Director of Planning and the Faculty Senate Chair of the reasons the
proposal was rejected.
If C): The Committee Chair will contact
the Director of Planning and/or the faculty authors of the proposal and request
the additional information needed. The Committee will then meet again to
consider the proposal.
[NOTE: The Curricular Affairs Committee
reserves the right to request any additional information it considers necessary
to review a proposal.]
Back to Top
Helpful Points to Keep in Mind
What is provided here are just a few helpful points to keep in mind when
putting together a proposal.
- Majors are required to have at least 15 credits of courses at the 400-level.
- Upper-level courses should have at least one prerequisite.
Back to Top