Developing New Graduate Degree Programs

at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Campus academic program development guidelines must follow the framework provided by the UNC System and the Board of Governors. The Academic Program Development Procedures and templates are found on the UNC System website. Academic actions requiring approval from the UNC System are:

Request for Preliminary Authorization

Proposals for new Master’s degrees or Doctoral degrees (research or applied) must submit a Request for Preliminary Authorization for New Academic Degree Program (using the Request to Establish as a guide).

Notification to the UNC System may be sent at any time, but programs should plan on a year-long planning process at minimum prior to the proposed date of establishment.

Please see the sample timelines for the order and expected response times for the approval stages. Note that doctoral degrees take longer to approve due to the state’s Graduate Council review and the external review process.

The UNC System’s approval of the Request for Preliminary Authorization and permission to submit the Request to Establish does not constitute a commitment on the part of the Board of Governors to approve the program. UNC System Academic Planning maintains a listing of all programs being planned system-wide.

Request to Establish

All Master’s or Doctoral degree program proposals approved for planning must submit a Request to Establish for New Academic Degree Program.

The proposal should be reviewed once again by the same campus units that reviewed the Request for Preliminary Authorization before it is submitted by the Chancellor to the UNC System. A report summarizing progress can be provided by the Chancellor to the Faculty Council or Board of Trustees as appropriate.

All proposals should ensure they address the following key areas:

  1. Budget information, especially addressing how the new program will be implemented, supported, and sustained if there should be no enrollment growth funding;
  2. Student demand for the program;
  3. Societal need for the program (i.e., employment opportunities for graduates);
  4. Collaboration opportunities considered/investigated with other institutions; and
  5. How the proposed program supports the campus’ Institutional Mission.

Please see the sample timelines for the order and expected response times for the approval stages. Note that doctoral degrees take longer to approve due to the state’s Graduate Council review and the external review process.

After collecting all feedback from the Graduate Council and external reviews (where appropriate), the UNC System will recommend approval of the program to the Board of Governors’ Committee on Educational Planning, Policies & Programs, and through it, to the full Board. In general, reviews will be completed within three to six months.

Once complete, the UNC System will notify the Chancellor, who will inform the University and campus offices involved. The program, The Graduate School, and the Office of the University Registrar work collaboratively to institute the necessary procedures for admission and enrollment of students in the new degree program.

Reports on Progress to Implement the New Program

Reports on the progress of program implementation must be submitted twice to the UNC System. The first such report will cover the first one to two years of implementation, and the second report will cover the first three to four years of operation of the program.

Updated January 2021