Curriculum Proposal Procedure

Drafting Proposals

Affected parties determine what needs to be changed.   They prepare a Curriculum Change Proposal, preferably in cooperation with someone with curriculum-change-proposal experience.

The fundamental elements that are presented in a proposal are:

  • How does the catalog read now?  (Shown as "Present Catalog Material")
  • How should the catalog read to incorporate the change?  (Shown as "Proposed Catalog Material")
  • Why is this change needed or wanted?  (Discussed under "Rationale")

Technical elements/expectations are:

Cover pages: one 'approval page' per package for recording approvals; one 'identifier' page per proposal for establishing a proposal number, showing the college and area involved, showing the proposal type, etc.  The proposal number is formatted as "SUBJ-yy-U-n", 'SUBJ' indicating a catalog designator, yy the year, U for undergraduate (or G for graduate or C for a Core Curriculum matter) and a serial number.  The serial numbers do not have to be consecutive, they do have to be unique.

A synopsis, briefly stating what's to happen.

Under Present/Proposed Catalog Material: For any change affecting a course description, the entire course description is quoted, unless "[None]" is applicable (for creating or deleting).  A new course will require a number; that number is assigned by the Provost's office but they will respect the proposers' preference if nothing conflicts.  The level of the course dictates the first digit; the credit carried determines the second digit (a variable-credit course is numbered with the maximum allowable credit, not a variable).  1- and 2-level courses should have Texas Common Course Numbering System numbers requested if the TCCNS has an equivalent (that system is mandatory for Texas junior colleges); higher-level courses may have numbers requested for any reason the department thinks fit.  (For lower-level courses whose prefix is in the TCCNS but the content isn't, the third digit should be 7.)  The format, for a TCCNS case, is that the synopsis proposes to create "SUBJ 13XX, Title"; the Proposed text shows "13XX [1345 requested based on TCCNS]: Title (SUBJ 1345)", where the square brackets indicate material that will not be in the catalog (except for replacing the XX) and the elements in parentheses are required to indicate the TCCNS equivalence which determines transferability.  The format for an advanced case is for synopsis to show "SUBJ 33XX, Title"; the Proposed to show "33XX [3345 requested]: Title".  The Rationale may then indicate a relationship that the new number is intended to indicate; this will help if the Provost has to reject the original request.

If a proposed change applies to several courses, separate proposals are expected for each, because the documents are archived according to the affected course number. Examples of changing, adding, or deleting single courses are linked to this sentence.

For any degree requirement change, the entire degree plan including footnotes is quoted.  This will usually take a full page or so, hence the heading of Present Catalog Material will be followed by simply 'See p. 3, top' and Proposed will say 'See p. 3, bottom', so that something more obviously informative can appear on p. 2.  For such changes, usually a "Summary of Proposed Changes" is an additional expected element, normally as a list of 'Add', 'Drop', 'Replace', 'Move' items; occasionally other wordings.  Examples: "Add PHYS 3343 (Sr. 1st)"; "Drop MATH 3320 (Jr. 1st)"; "Replace PHYS 4353 (Sr. 2nd) with PHYS, adv." (if the replacement is in the same term) or "with PHYS 3313 (Jr. 1st)"; "Move POLS 2301 from So. 1st to Fr. 2nd".  If a plan change involves new courses, they are indicated in the plan and the summary in the format "SUBJ 33XX [3345]".

In a Proposed degree plan, note the order within a term: first entries with subject prefixes, alphabetically by prefix, then ^ Core entries, then entries such as  Elective; Elective, adv.; Minor; Minor, adv., also alphabetically.  Within a subject prefix, in numerical order.  If alternatives are allowed, repeat the subject prefix with each number.  (The clerks need to count on finding ALL instances when they do an electronic search for 'SUBJ nnnn'.)  An exception of sorts is allowed for lecture+lab pairs, where 'PHYS 2325/2125' is allowed.

For other changes, the relevant catalog sections are quoted.  In order to indicate where the material is, or is to be, adjacent material, not otherwise directly relevant, may be quoted, and frequently page numbers; such catalog text that is not to change, or other such material, is indicated by being in square brackets.

When the proposal creates new material: frequently it arises from present catalog material that is not to be changed; for instance, when a proposed course has been offered as a Topic: the topics-course description will be shown under Present, but in square brackets with a note that it is not changed.

Under Rationale: Every change in the catalog text must be addressed with a rationale, that is, a valid academic reason. When a Summary of Proposed Changes is present, much of the Rationale should be presented as a corresponding list.  Each Add, Drop, or Replace item should have each course title mentioned in connection with the change (this aids reviewers in recognizing whether the change seems reasonable).  (Moves within a plan are not substantive changes, and in fact are permitted without committee review at catalog update time, though including them in a proposal is preferable (so more eyes review them).)

List of catalog pages affected, identified with the relevant catalog years (since page numbers change with each new edition of the catalog).  (This is particularly as an aid for the possibly inexperienced data-entry clerk.)  Sometimes just the page where a course description or degree plan appears, or if it is new, where it would have appeared if it had been added earlier (that is, where is the blank space that it needs to squeeze into?).  For a course number change, it may be a much longer list (everywhere the course is mentioned) and additional information will often be desirable to help the clerk find the places on the pages.  The list of affected pages is never 'None'; if it doesn't affect the catalog, somewhere, it's not properly a curriculum change.

For changes affecting other departments, acknowledgments from the affected departments must be attached; the others' approval is not required but they are to be heard from.

For new and substantially-changed courses, a syllabus must be attached.

Approvals

Proposals must be approved (as indicated by dated signatures of committee chairs or other officers on the required Approval form) by

  • Department committee
  • Department chair
  • College committee
  • College dean
  • Undergraduate proposals: University Curriculum Committee (UCC)
  • Graduate proposals: Dean of Graduate Studies' Office; Graduate Council's Curriculum Committee
  • Both levels: Provost

Some types of changes require additional, off-campus approvals.

Typically department committee approval will be given once the department members have decided on the draft.  Department chair approval will normally follow. College dean approval generally follows college committee approval.

Rarely, a proposal has originated at the college level, skipping department-level approvals, if it applies to a college-wide rule impacting multiple departments.

Curriculum Committee Makeup

The college committee includes a member from each department; its chair is appointed by the dean, often a member but sometimes not.

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee includes each college's curriculum committee chair and an additional member from each college selected by the Faculty Senate (two from A&S).  The Graduate Curriculum Committee is selected by the Graduate Council.

College committee review typically involves primarily editorial consideration of the proposal.  Sometimes issues come up, such as overlap with other departments or conflict with established policies, which the proposers have overlooked, or misinterpreted.  In Arts and Sciences particularly, changes are often made to make the synopsis concise, to make the proposed catalog material clear and concise, and to more suitably present the rationale.  If proposers object to particular changes, an exchange of views is encouraged until a consensus is reached.  

Other Curriculum Committees 

UCC review is usually similar to college-level review, except that the overlap issues would usually be of an inter-college nature.

For graduate proposals, the Dean of Graduate Studies' office signature is a matter of record-keeping.  The graduate committee's review is referred to a more detailed set of requirements, especially in justification; the set of requirements is available.  Otherwise it is similar to UCC.

This page was last updated on: February 9, 2016