Developing or Amending a Program

Procedures for Developing or Amending a Graduate Program 

The University at Albany has a structured governance and administrative review process for establishing and modifying graduate degree and certificate programs, a responsibility vested with the faculty. 

When a new program proposal secures final campus approval, it is sent to SUNY System Administration for consideration and, upon support, to the New York State Education Department for final consideration and registration action. 

This same routing is followed for any major changes to existing registered programs, as required by the N.Y.S. Education Commissioner’s Regulations, § 52.1 (h), that specify “New registration shall be required for any existing curriculum in which major changes are made that affect its title, focus, design, requirements for completion, or mode of delivery.”  

Program changes not requiring updated registration action are considered on campus through campus governance, with final authorizing action typically taken by the University’s Graduate Academic Council. 

Faculty and administrators, guided by the University’s strategic planning, must work together to successfully develop or amend graduate programs. 

Once all stages described below have progressed successfully, UAlbany can implement the new program or make the major change. Learn more about this process by reading SUNY’s Guide to Academic Program Planning

We encourage faculty members who are considering developing or amending a graduate program to contact the Graduate Course-Program Changes email ([email protected]) for individualized assistance.

Academic Approval Process for New Degree Programs
Stage 1: Concept
  • The initiating department or committee has a preliminary discussion with their school or college’s Dean. 
     

  • The Dean and Provost review the concept. 
     

  • The Provost approves the development of an initial concept document, known as the Letter of Intent (LOI), and a Campus Impact Form (CIF).

Stage 2: Letter of Intent
  • The school or college’s Dean, department and faculty craft and approve the LOI and CIF.
     
  • The school or college will transmit the documents to the Graduate School so they can be verified for completeness and compliance. The Graduate School will transmit the documents to the Provost on behalf of the school or college.
     

  • The Provost approves and forwards the documents to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School for consideration and referral for governance review to the University Planning and Policy Council (UPPC). 
     

  • UPPC reviews the LOI and CIF to ensure harmony with campus mission, as well as ensure the resources necessary to run the program are in place and sustainable. The LOI must be approved by UPPC. 
     

  • Upon UPPC approval, the LOI is prepared for transmittal by the Graduate School and it is transmitted under signature of the UAlbany Provost to SUNY program review.
     

  • The LOI will be distributed to all graduate degree granting campuses for comment and to System Administration for consideration thereafter. 
     

  • All SUNY campuses that grant graduate degrees will have 10 days to submit an intent to comment directly to the President or Provost of the University. If a campus submits an intent to comment, they will have 20 calendar days to comment. 
     

  • If no intent to comment is received within 10 days, the LOI is automatically approved.
     

  • If an intent to comment and comment are submitted to the University, the President or Provost will have 30 days to reply directly to the commenting institution. If a resolution is reached, the commenting institution can withdraw their comment and the University can proceed with the full program proposal. 
     

  • If the campuses are unable to arrive at a mutual understanding, SUNY System Administration will adjudicate the situation and render a decision as to whether the proposing campus may proceed; in these instances, SUNY System Administration will issue a formal decision memo.
     

  • If the LOI is approved, the notice is sent to the UAlbany President. The President’s staff forwards the notice of authorization to develop a Full Program Proposal to the Provost. The Provost’s Office notifies the Graduate Dean, who notifies the school or college Dean and initiating department they have been authorized to proceed.

Stage 3: Full Proposal
  • The initiating department or committee develops a Full Program Proposal, using Form 2B at SUNY Forms for Academic Program Planning, according to SUNY’s Guide to Academic Program Planning. Form 2C is used for Advanced Certificate programs.
     

  • The proposal is submitted to the school or college’s Dean for approval. 
     

  • The initiating department or committee works with the Graduate School to craft a roster of external reviewers, who are typically external to the State. External reviewers are vetted by SUNY System Administration and the State Education Department only if the programs are licensure-qualifying or doctoral programs. For programs that do require SUNY and SED pre-approval, a rank-ordered list and the CVs of three to five potential reviewers must be provided.

    • Advanced Certificate proposals do not require external reviewers.
       

  • Master's and doctoral degree programs require two external evaluators. All external evaluators are expected to: 1. possess significant expertise in the discipline of the proposed program, 2. have appropriate academic credentials, professional experience, and academic teaching and/or administrative experience in similar programs at peer institutions (typically, outside of the SUNY system), and 3. not have a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest with the institution or program. For licensure-qualifying programs, at least one of the evaluators should be licensed in New York State in the proposed licensure area. For educator preparation programs, at least one of the evaluators should be from an institution in New York State that offers a registered program in the proposed certification area. For doctoral programs, both evaluators should be from outside of New York State.
     

  • Once the external reviewers are approved, the Graduate School and the initiating department or committee will arrange for a site visit by the external reviewers. Campuses may continue with remote external evaluation, except in instances when in-person is necessary due to program-specific expectations related to facilities. 
     

  • For remote evaluations, 1. materials and remote connections with relevant stakeholders must be made readily available to external evaluators and 2. for programs that involve laboratories or other facilities, the campus must be able to provide a way for evaluators to virtually interact with these facilities in a manner that would substantially approximate an in-person visit.
     

  • Before the visit, external reviewers receive the Full Program Proposal draft and the template for preparing an external review report, according to SUNY’s Guide to Academic Program Planning.
     

  • The initiating department or committee hosts the site visit. (Financial underwriting for the site visit must be coordinated with the school or college’s Dean.) 
     

  • After the site visit, the reviewers forward an External Review Report to the Graduate School Dean. The Graduate School Dean shares the External Review Report with the initiating department or committee and the school or college’s Dean. The report is appended to the Full Program Proposal. 
     

  • The initiating department or committee crafts a Response to the External Review Report and appends their response to the Full Program Proposal. 
     

  • The Full Program Proposal, with the External Review Report and Response appended, is sent to the Graduate School Dean, who sends it to the Graduate Academic Council (GAC) for review and approval. Advanced Certificate proposals will not have the External Review Report or Response. 
     

  • The GAC and UPPC, based on its prior review of the LOI, introduce a bill to the University Senate for the establishment of the new graduate program. 

    • Advanced Certificate proposals do require UPPC review after GAC review, regardless of resource implications. 
       

  • Upon Senate approval, the bill is forwarded to the Provost and President for final campus consideration. 
     

  • Upon Presidential approval, the Graduate School Dean’s office prepares correspondence to the SUNY System Provost. The UAlbany President or Provost then transmits the Proposal.

Stage 4: SUNY Review
  • SUNY reviews the proposal. Any questions from SUNY related to the proposal will be forwarded to the Graduate School for coordination of a formal response. The Graduate School will work with the academic department regarding a response, but all formal responses to SUNY will need to be sent by the Graduate School. 
     

  • SUNY approves the proposal and submits it to the New York State Education Department (SED) for consideration, final approval and registration. 

  • For Advanced Certificates, SUNY will only review the proposal for program title and classification codes (HEGIS and CIP) and, if approvable, the full proposal will subsequently be transmitted to NYSED for registration review.

Stage 5: State Education Department Review
  • New York State Education Department (SED) reviews the proposal. This review may involve notice to other institutions in the State, affording them opportunity to comment. 
     

  • Any questions from SED related to the proposal will be forwarded to the Graduate School for coordination of a formal response. The Graduate School will work with the academic department regarding a response, but all formal responses to SED will need to be sent by the Graduate School. 
     

  • SED notifies the SUNY Provost upon final approval and registration. The SUNY Provost notifies the UAlbany President, whose office then forwards the approval notice to the UAlbany Provost. 
     

  • The UAlbany Provost sends the approval notice to the Graduate School Dean for implementation purposes.  
     

  • The Graduate School then notifies the school or college’s Dean, the initiating department or committee, and all appropriate administrative units for program activation purposes.

Academic Approval Process for Changing an Existing Program 

Revisions to an existing academic program are submitted to the Graduate School for initial review before going through the campus governance process for approval. 

Certain program revisions also require SUNY System Administration approval and/or New York State Education Department (SED) re-registration. 

The following changes require SUNY and SED approval:

 

Changes in Program Content
  1. Cumulative changes made since SED last approved and registered the program that impact in one-third or more of the minimum credits required for the program
     

    • Each campus is responsible for monitoring cumulative changes to each degree. 
       

    • To count credits for revision purposes, each replacement of one course for another course is considered a change. For example, eliminating one 3-credit course and replacing it with a new 3-credit course is considered a 3-credit change. 
       

  2. Changes to the programs’ focus or design, including a change to the program’s major disciplinary area 
     

    • Note: If a format change is made that enables students to complete 50% or more of the program via distance education, then a Distance Education Formal Proposal must be submitted as part of the revision. 
       

  3. Adding or eliminating one or more options, concentrations or tracks 
     

    • Any new track or concentration must be approved by SUNY and SED. 
       

    • Any removal of tracks or concentrations must be approved by SUNY and SED. 
       

  4. Adding or eliminating a requirement for completion, including internships, clinical placements, cooperative education or other field-based experiences
     

    • Any time a requirement like this is added or removed, it must be approved by SUNY and SED.

Discontinuation of a Program
  1. SUNY must approve any discontinuation of a program. Upon SUNY approval, SED will remove it from the Inventory of Registered Programs. 
     

  2. An academic department must gain approval from their school or college’s Dean and notify the Graduate School before temporarily suspending admissions to a program. 
     

  3. Permanently suspending admissions to a program, while maintaining the program’s active status, requires a full program proposal to the Graduate Academic Council.
     

    • For example, an academic department wants to permanently suspend admissions to their certificate program because they no longer want to directly admit students to it, but they do want to keep the certificate program active so their master’s and doctoral students can earn it.

Establishing New Programs Based on Existing Registered Programs
  1. Creating a multi-award (M/A) program (also known as a dual-degree program) from existing registered programs 
     

  2. Creating a multi-institution (M/I) program (also known as a jointly registered program or join degree) from existing registered programs at two or more institutions 
     

  3. Creating a new program from an option, concentration or track in an existing registered program

Other Changes
  1. Program title changes 
     

  2. Program award changes (for example, changing a degree from M.A. to M.S.) 
     

    • If the campus is not already authorized to offer the new degree, changing an award requires a Degree Authorization. 
       

  3. Mode of delivery change 
     

    • Adding a Distancing Learning Format requires SUNY Form 4, in addition to SUNY Form 3A if the program requirements are changing. Visit the SUNY website for fillable SUNY Forms for Academic Program Planning.  
       

  4. Any change to a registered program leading to professional licensure, or the addition of licensure qualification to an existing program 
     

    • Changes to courses and credits that do not satisfy one of the required content areas in the profession do not need SUNY approval and SED registration, unless required by one of the other categories above. 

If the revision involves any of the areas outlined above, the proposal must be submitted using SUNY Forms for Academic Program Planning

If the revision does not require approval from SUNY or re-registration through SED, the proposal can be submitted using a Course & Program Action Form. The proposal must include the currently registered curriculum from the Graduate Bulletin, the proposed curricular changes and justification for the requested revisions. 

Revisions that involve campus resources must include a Campus Impact Form (CIF) and be reviewed by the University Policy and Planning Committee (UPPC).

 

Stage 1: Program Revision Proposal
  • The initiating department or committee develops the Program Revision Proposal, using the guidelines listed above.  
     

  • The Program Revision Proposal is submitted to the school or college’s Dean for approval. 
     

  • Next, the Program Revision Proposal is sent to the Graduate School, which reviews the proposal for completeness and then submits it to the Graduate Academic Council (GAC).

Stage 2: GAC Review
  • The Graduate Academic Council (GAC) reviews the proposal for approval. 
     

  • Proposals with resource implications are referred to the University Policy and Planning Committee (UPPC) for review and approval. 
     

  • Upon approval by GAC and, if applicable, UPPC, the initiating department or committee and any affected University offices are notified.

Stage 3: Campus Approval
  • If the proposal does not require approval from SUNY or re-registration through SED, the proposal changes are enacted in the Graduate Bulletin, as well as the graduate admissions system and webpages. (In this case, Stages 4 and 5 are skipped.)
     

  • If the proposal does require off-campus review and approval, the proposal is forwarded to the University President and Provost for final campus consideration. 
     

  • Upon their approval, the Graduate School Dean’s office prepares correspondence to the SUNY System Provost. The UAlbany President or Provost then transmits the Proposal.

Stage 4: SUNY
  • SUNY reviews the proposal. Any questions from SUNY related to the proposal will be forwarded to the Graduate School for coordination of a formal response. The Graduate School will work with the academic department regarding a response, but all formal responses to SUNY will need to be sent by the Graduate School. 

  • SUNY approves the proposal and submits it to the New York State Education Department (SED) for consideration, final approval and registration.

  • For Advanced Certificates, SUNY will only review the proposal for program title and classification codes (HEGIS and CIP) and, if approvable, the full proposal will subsequently be transmitted to NYSED for registration review.

Note: If the proposal does not require approval from SUNY or re-registration through SED, skip Stage 4.

Stage 5: State Education Department
  • The New York State Education Department (SED) reviews the proposal. Any questions from SED related to the proposal will be forwarded to the Graduate School for coordination of a formal response. The Graduate School will work with the academic department regarding a response, but all formal responses to SED will need to be sent by the Graduate School. 

  • SED notifies the SUNY Provost upon final approval and registration. The SUNY Provost notifies the UAlbany President, whose office then forwards the approval notice to the UAlbany Provost.
     

  • The UAlbany Provost sends the approval notice to the Graduate School Dean for implementation purposes.  
     

  • The Graduate School then notifies the school or college’s Dean, the initiating department or committee, and all appropriate administrative units for program activation purposes. 
     

Note: If the proposal does not require approval from SUNY or re-registration through SED, skip Stage 5.

Additional Information
Course Changes

If you’re establishing or amending a graduate course as part of a program proposal, you will need to submit a Course & Program Action Form with your proposal. 

If you are changing the course outside of a program proposal, please submit the Course & Program Action Form to the Graduate Course-Program Changes email at [email protected] once all necessary approval signatures are obtained.  

Visit our Course Changes & Syllabus Guide page for more information.

Graduate Certificate Programs

As described in SUNY’s Guide to Academic Program Planning, graduate certificate programs may be proposed for any post-baccalaureate curriculum that does not lead to a degree (such as a master’s or doctorate). 

There is great variation in the number of credits required for a graduate certificate but its salient feature is that all courses involved must be applicable to a registered graduate degree program. 

Students may enroll directly into a graduate certificate program or may be drawn from those enrolled in master’s and/or doctoral degree programs. 

Proposals to develop or amend a graduate certificate program typically follow an abbreviated review process, because the courses for a graduate certificate program are part of registered graduate degree programs and the faculty is affiliated with such programs. 

In general, graduate certificate proposals are not required to go through the Letter of Intent or external review stages that graduate degree program proposals are subject to. Otherwise, the process is largely the same. 

The initiating department or committee should follow Stages 3 through 5 (eliminating the external review) in the Academic Approval Process for New Degree Programs described above. The proposal does require UPPC review regardless of resource implications.

SUNY will only review the proposal for program title and classification codes (HEGIS and CIP) and, if approvable, the full proposal will subsequently be transmitted to NYSED for registration review.


Campuses are reminded to ensure the following for Advanced Certificates:

  • The proposed program title does not raise scope-of-practice concerns related to the licensed professions (e.g., medicine, engineering) or P-12 educator certification (e.g., childhood education grades 1-6, school building leader), unless the program is proposed as a licensure-qualifying or certification-qualifying program
  • The proposed HEGIS is within a disciplinary area for which the campus has authorization to offer programs
  • The proposed CIP is the best fit when comparing the program curriculum to the CIP definitions
  • All credits in the certificate or advanced certificate are applicable to a registered degree program offered by the proposing institution
Combined Degree Programs

Proposals to create formal pathways dovetailing existing registered degree programs already available to students typically do not require state registration action, unless the program(s) involved lead to state licensure. 

Proposals to develop or amend combined degree programs (including those established with other institutions) do require campus-level review and authorization.  

Proposals to establish a new combined program pathway can be prepared using SUNY Form 3B and UAlbany’s Campus Impact Form (if resource implications exist), and sent to the school or college’s Dean for their approval. 

The school or college Dean will then send it to the Dean of Undergraduate Education and the Graduate School Dean, who will review the proposal for completeness. 

The proposal will then be sent it to the Undergraduate Academic Council (UAC), the Graduate Academic Council (GAC), and if resource implications exists, the University Planning and Policy Council (UPPC). 

If the program(s) involved lead to state licensure, action by the State Education Department is required. Otherwise, approvals by UAC, GAC, and (if applicable) UPPC are considered final.  

The proposal is then reported to the University Senate and announced for implementation.