Skip to main content

Curricular Development

Students in outdoor lab.

Curricular development is a faculty-driven process which begins at the program and department/school level. Department/school faculty have primary responsibility for the development and improvement of the programs they offer. Curriculum change requires coordinated efforts of individuals and units across the University. Faculty develop and deliver the curriculum while governance bodies and academic administrators review and approve (or disapprove) proposals. Consultations occur among departments/schools whose programs might be affected by a proposed change and with deans and others responsible for managing budgets, personnel, and other resources.

Developmental Resources

When developing new programs or making significant modifications to programs a variety of information sources are available to guide the process including the following:

Degree Qualification Profile (DQP)

This template provides a framework which articulates what students should know and be able to do once they earn their degrees. The DQP includes specific student learning outcomes for associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees describing five basic areas of learning: broad, integrated knowledge; specialized knowledge; intellectual skills; applied learning, and civic learning.  (Degree Qualifications Profile, The Lumina Foundation, 2014) More details are provided below for each area of learning. The use of the DQP as a reference point emphasizes student learning as the key and most appropriate markers for the quality and value of a degree.

Degree Qualifications Profile Overview

*A template of proficiencies required for the award of college degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels.


At each degree level, every college student should demonstrate proficiency in using both specialized knowledge from at least one field and broad, integrative knowledge from arts and sciences fields. Both kinds of knowledge should be pursued from first to final year, providing opportunities for integration across fields and application to complex problems—in the student’s area of emphasis, in out-of-school settings, and in civil society.

Broad & Integrative Knowledge

Key areas include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, and global, intercultural, and democratic learning.

In each area, students:

  • Learn key concepts and methods of inquiry
  • Examine significant debates and questions
  • Make evidence-based arguments

In addition, at each degree level, students:

  • Produce work that integrates concepts and methods from at least two fields
Specialized Knowledge

Students demonstrate depth of knowledge in a field and produce field-appropriate applications drawing on both major field and, at the BA level and beyond, other fields. Students learn

  • Discipline and field-specific knowledge
  • Purposes, methods, and limitations of field
  • Applied skills in field
  • Integrative skills and methods that draw from multiple fields and disciplines

Intellectual Skills

Students hone and integrate intellectual skills across the curriculum, applying those skills both to complex challenges within major fields and to broad, integrative problem-solving challenges in general education, and in civic, global, and applied learning. Skills include

Analytic inquiry

  • Use of information resources
  • Engaging diverse perspectives
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Quantitative fluency
  • Communication fluency

Civic & Global Learning

Students acquire knowledge required for responsible citizenship both from their formal studies (see knowledge and skills, above) and from community-based learning, and demonstrate their ability to integrate both forms of learning in analyzing and addressing significant public problems and questions, both in civic and global contexts. Civic learning may be demonstrated through research, collaborative projects, and/or field-based assignments.

Applied & Collaborative Learning

Students demonstrate their ability to integrate and apply their learning (see knowledge and skills, above) in complex projects and assignments, including collaborative efforts, that may include research, projects, practicums, internships, work assignments, performances, and creative tasks.

* This chart summarizes Lumina Foundation’s Degree Qualifications Profile, first released in 2014. This edition is informed by feedback from faculty and leaders from hundreds of colleges, universities, and community colleges that worked with the “beta version” of the document, which was published in 2011.

Specialty Accreditation Standards

For programs which are currently accredited or working toward specialty accreditation, attention to those standards of the accrediting body/organization is paramount.  Programs must ensure adherence to accreditation standards when new courses are introduced, plans of study are updated, or other substantive changes are made.

Curriculum Mapping

One of the most helpful tools in curriculum review and development is curriculum mapping.  Curriculum mapping is a method used to align instruction with desired goals and program outcomes.  It can also be used to explore what is taught and how.

Results of Institutional Program Review/Specialty Accreditation Review/Other Reviews

The results of IPR, specialty accreditation review, and other related review processes are used to inform curriculum change.

Program Assessment and Assessment of Student Learning

[SDBOR Policy 2:11]

Program assessment is a critical piece of the overall function of the university. The South Dakota Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) value both institutional and program-level assessment. The SDBOR Policy 2:11 states, “The assessment of student learning enhances the overall quality of academic and co-curricular programs.” The policy makes it clear that “at minimum, each institution’s assessment structure and processes shall a) support institutional program review or specialty accreditation for each academic program/department…b) include program-level (undergraduate, graduate, and co-curricular) assessment plans and processes.”  (For more information, see SDBOR Policy 2:11).  As part of HLC criteria for accreditation, Criteria 4B indicates that the institution must demonstrate “a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning”. For more information, see the HLC Criteria and Requirements  - Criteria for Accreditation.

In support of the university’s mission and vision, South Dakota State University has a strong history of conducting meaningful academic and co-curricular assessment. Each academic program and co-curricular unit is expected to actively participate in assessment activity in order to ensure high quality programs and student experiences. The assessment handbook provides faculty, staff, and administration with a resource to understand expectations related to assessment practices. 

Assessment Philosophy Statement 

SDSU values the assessment and evaluation of its educational programs and services demonstrating SDSU’s commitment to academic excellence, quality programs and experiences. Assessment is foundational to effective teaching, instructional design and student learning. When done well over time, assessment processes lead to improvement in student achievement and high quality academic and co-curricular programs.

For additional resources, please see SDSU’s assessment website.

SDBOR Pending and In-Progress Program Requests

The SDBOR staff maintains an interactive table that summarizes the current status of all known program proposals currently in some stage of formal development in the South Dakota university system. The SDBOR Proposed Program Tracker includes current Intent to Plan, New Program, New Site, New Certificate, New Minor, and New Specialization proposals and their status within the approval process.

Using a variety of available parameters, the list can easily be filtered to show recent progress, show new listings, stage in the review process, notes, and so on. Data is updated by SDBOR staff on a regular basis. It is recommended to utilize Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to view the site.

Programs listed as “new” are those appearing on the list for the first time at a system Academic Affairs Council (AAC) meeting (program proposals should appear on this list at least one AAC meeting prior to their appearance on an AAC agenda).

The University must submit an email request to the SDBOR staff to include any potential programs to the program tracking dashboard. This request shall include:

  1. Justification for the program. For example:
    1. What is the general nature/purpose of the program?
    2. What is the need for the program?
    3. What is the expected workforce demand for graduates (nationally and SD)?
    4. What are the proposed program benefits for students?
    5. Will new courses be requested?
    6. Other important details – for example: it will be offered online or at CCSF; stackable program into X; replaces a different program at SDSU; if the request is for a minor which majors would complete it; etc…
  2. How does the proposed program align to the SDSU mission and strategic plan?
  3. Are similar programs offered in the regental system? (majors – undergraduate or graduate, minors, certificates, specializations, etc.) If yes, where and why is the duplication necessary? How would our program be different? Are there similar programs in the region?
Student working with a camera in broadcasting course.

The SDBOR Executive Director grants formal approval to move forward with the proposed request and for posting on the AAC program tracking dashboard. The Dean or Associate Dean of the College should submit the email request to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Budgetary Resources

Departments and schools consult their dean’s office regarding budget and staffing implications of their proposals, and the availability of resources to support them. These include course fees, space, equipment, materials, etc. For major proposals, both new and modified, resource planning is linked to staffing plans. Staffing plans include consideration of faculty qualifications to offer the proposed program, and so may have implications for future faculty hires, or retirements.

Departments and schools should consider resources to support development and delivery of instruction via distance and other methods. Departments and schools planning program changes or proposing new programs or courses should consult with the Library, Continuing and Distance Education, and IT offices regarding resources for program enhancement.

Students in outdoor wildlife and fisheries lab.


The curriculum development process requires consultation with departments, schools, or other university groups that may be affected by the proposed change. Departments/schools wishing to propose changes consult other affected departments and schools for purposes of notification, and to identify and resolve of problems that might arise from the change. When departments/schools submit proposals for approval, this consultation process is documented on the proposal form, including notations of how any concerns were addressed.  Deans’ offices can assist departments/schools in consultation and resolution of issues.

Transfer & Articulation

Curriculum changes should facilitate transfer whenever possible. Departments/schools whose courses and programs are parts of transfer and articulation agreements with other institutions must consider these in proposing curriculum changes.

Students looking up and listening in counseling course.

Transition Plans & Student Notification

When a course or program undergoes substantial revision, or is inactivated or terminated, departments and schools must develop transition plans. The goals of the transition plan are to minimize impact on students, clearly communicate the timeframe to complete the old/inactivated/terminated course or program to students and others, and minimize the need to offer courses required by the old/inactivated/terminated program. The transition plan should include:

  1. Schedule of course phase out for the inactive/terminated programs and courses.
  2. Timeline for changes and deadlines for students to complete the old program.
  3. Plans for moving students into active programs.
  4. Plans for notifying and advising students.
  5. Proposed blanket course substitutions that can be implemented.

Course Development & Change

This section provides guidance on identifying which of the required form(s) are needed for course level curriculum requests. First, types of minor course requests are identified followed by substantive course requests.  The chart also identifies (in general) which section of the SDSU Curriculum Consultation Form is required. (Note: Based on the type of request and any special circumstances, the form requirements may vary from what is indicated in the chart.)

Minor Curriculum Requests - Course(s)

  Department/ School/College ConsultationLibrary Consultation
Minor Course ModificationsMinor Course Modifications of existing unique course include the following:  
 Course Numbering (you may only change a unique course number to another unique course number not currently being used as a unique course number with an “active” status at another university.)X 
 Registration RestrictionX 
 Course Prerequisite or Co-RequisiteX 
 Course Description (when it does not change the course content)X 
 Change in hours of creditX 
 Cross-listing and equatingX 
 Dual-listing at the 400-500 LevelX 
 Enrollment LimitationsX 
 University Department Code  
 Repeatable for Additional CreditX 
 Change in Grading Option (S/U or A, B, C, D, F)X 
 Course DeletionX 
 Minor course modifications of existing common courses include the following:  
 Credit Hours within the approved variable credit guidelinesX 
 Course Co-RequisiteX 
 Cross-listing and equatingX 
x9x Series Courses

Request x9x common courses with a minor course modification form. 

The middle digit 9 course-numbering scheme is used in the South Dakota public university system.  These courses may have multiple sections.  A section’s title may or may not reflect the material covered in that section. 
Most Course DeletionsTo delete a course use a minor course modification form.X 

Substantive Curriculum Modifications - Course(s)

  Department/ School/College ConsultationLibrary Consultation
Authority to Offer an Existing CourseRequest authorization for SDSU to offer a course offered at another SDBOR university.XX
New Course Request

Request a new course.

If the course contains a lecture and laboratory component, identify both the lecture and laboratory numbers (xxx and xxxL) and credit hours associated with each.

Provide the complete description as it will appear in the system common or unique database, including prerequisites, co-requisites, and registration restrictions.

Revised Existing Course Request - CommonRepresentatives from all institutions offering the common course must participate in developing the proposed revisions to a common course.  Signatures from all institutions offering the common course must be included on the final form submitted to AAC. Attach to the modification request a copy of the email communications with the other universities with their approval. Revisions of existing common courses may include changes in one or more of the following:  
 Course NumberX 
 Course TitleX 
 Credit HoursXX
 Course Content/DescriptionXX
 CIP CodeX 
 Instructional MethodX 
 Registration RestrictionX 
Revised Existing Course Request - UniqueRevisions of existing courses will include the following:  
 Substantive change in the subject matter content of an approved courseXX
 Change in CIP CodeX 
 Change of Instructional MethodX 

Move from Unique Course to Common Course

If the revisions include the following, the university making the request must summarize the discussion with the universities offering the course and indicate which support or do not support the change.

  • Move from unique to common course
  • Move from common course to unique course
 Addition or Deletion of a LabX 

Program Development & Change

This section provides guidance on identifying which of the required form(s) are needed for program level changes.  First, types of minor program requests are identified followed by substantive program requests. The chart also identifies (in general) which section of the SDSU Curriculum Consultation Form is required. (Note:  Based on the type of request and any special circumstances, the form requirements may vary from what is indicated in the chart.)

Minor Curriculum Requests - Program(s)

  Department/ School/College ConsultationLibrary Consultation
Minor Program Modification

Minor program modifications approved by the Office of Academic Affairs include:

Course deletions/additions that do not change the nature of the program

Course deletions/additions that do not change the distribution of courses in the program

Course deletions/additions that do not change total credit hours required

Revised courses in the program


Substantive Curriculum Requests - Program(s)

  Department/ School/College ConsultationLibrary Consultation
Intent to Plan

The Intent to Plan form is used to request authorization to plan a new baccalaureate major, a new associate degree program, or a new graduate program.

Limit the number and length of additional appendices. Identify with capital letters (B, C, D, etc.). Letters of support are not necessary and are rarely included with Board materials. In some cases, responses to questions from the Board or the Executive Director may be provided as an appendix.

New Baccalaureate Minor

Minors should be organized around a specific set of objectives that are achieved through a series of courses. Minors are intended to provide limited competency in the subject. Course offerings in a minor may be centered in a specific department or drawn from several departments as in the case of a topical or thematic focus.

Regental undergraduate minors typically consist of 18 semester credit hours.  Flexibility typically is achieved by offering the student a choice from among a group of courses to complete the credits. 

All requests need to include a curriculum map as part of the internal review process.


New Certificate

Typically includes only previously approved courses. Any exceptions must be justified.

Consists of 9-12 credit hours including prerequisites. Any exceptions must be justified.

May include undergraduate and/or graduate courses.

May include courses offered through a collaborative arrangement with another Regental university.


New Graduate Degree/Program

Master’s Degrees may offer up to three options including Option A – Thesis (30), Option B - Research Paper/Design Paper (32) and Option C- Course work only (35).  Requirements may vary per graduate program. Proposals for new graduate programs shall be evaluated by independent consultants retained by the Board per SDBOR Policy 2:1.XX
New Prefix Request

Consult the Approved Course Prefix List in AAC Guidelines for information about existing courses and prefixes.

All courses, whether experimental, unique, or common, must use an approved prefix. A course prefix need not reflect the name of the department offering the course.

Curricular changes that involve a common course will retain the common prefix; common courses shall have common prefixes, CIP codes, course numbers, course titles, course descriptions, and prerequisite requirements. While on occasion common courses may be cross-listed with another prefix, this should happen only rarely and requires approval by the Academic Affairs Council, the system Chief Academic Officer (CAO), and Executive Director of the Board of Regents (BOR).

Any curricular change proposals that involve the creation of a new prefix for courses that represent a discipline/program unique to a single institution should address the issues driving the proposal.

All proposed curricular changes involving the creation of a new prefix for courses representing a discipline/program offered by multiple institutions should be reviewed by those institutions prior to submission to the Academic Affairs Council.

Requests for a new prefix must include a minimum of six courses attached to the prefix request.


New Site Request

Used to request authorization to deliver an existing degree program at a new site or by distance delivery.XX

New Specialization

This form is used to propose a new specialization within an existing degree program. Specializations provide students with an alternative to the primary format of the major or it may be one of several tracks within a broad major. Specializations contain courses within the discipline(s) of the existing program. Specializations appear in the institutional catalog and on the transcript. Majors that offer specializations typically have one-third to two-thirds of the credits in common with the remaining course work fulfilling the requirements of the specialization(s) offered.XX

New Undergraduate Major or Degree

The number of credit hours required for a major and its organizational structure will vary, depending on whether it aims at disciplinary or professional preparation. Variations are due to the demands of accrediting agencies, certification requirements, professional competence and expectations.

Undergraduate majors require both discipline specific and support courses. In the Regental system majors typically consist of 47-89 semester credit hours with the mean at 68.5 hours.

Credits required for the major are supported by the general education core and electives and together meet the total degree requirement.

All requests need to include a curriculum map – see Appendix A of the new program request form.

Program Termination or Placement on Inactive Status

Programs placed on inactive status should be reported to the SDBOR office on the standard form. These programs shall be reviewed periodically and can only remain inactive for five years. If the university does not request activation of an inactive program within five years of being placed on inactive status, the program is automatically terminated. Students cannot be admitted to a program on inactive status. If determined after review that a program should be reactivated, the institution will submit a letter of notification to the SDBOR Office.

Campuses may propose termination of a program to the SDBOR Office on the standard form at any time. Campuses proposing the termination of a program with actively enrolled students need to provide a detailed phase-out plan including the academic year and term the termination is effective.

Substantive Program Modification

Substantive program modifications include the following changes in:

  • Total credits required within the discipline
  • Total credits of supportive course work
  • Total credits of elective course work
  • Total credits required for program
  • Program name
  • CIP Code
  • Existing specialization
Termination of a Site

Request the termination of an off-campus delivery site or distance education program.

Universities proposing the termination of a program site with actively enrolled students need to provide a detailed phase-out plan including the specific date of termination, last date a student may enroll in the program, potential cost savings, potential employee terminations, and impact on other programs.


General Education Curriculum Development & Change

[SDBOR Policy 2:7, SDBOR Policy 2:26, Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.3, Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.4]

The General Education component of all associate and baccalaureate degree programs shall consist of the System General Education Requirements.

Goal #1

Students will write effectively and responsibly and will understand and interpret the written expression of others.

Goal #2

Students will communicate effectively and responsibly through listening and speaking.

Goal #3
Students will understand the organization, potential, and diversity of the human community through study of the social sciences.
Goal #4

Students will understand the diversity and complexity of the human experience through the study of the arts and humanities.

Goal #5

Students will understand and apply fundamental mathematical processes and reasoning.

Goal #6

Students will understand the fundamental principles of the natural sciences and apply scientific methods of inquiry to investigate the natural world.

General Education Requirements

General Education Requirements for Associate Degree

Associate Degree General Education Requirements SDBOR Policy 2:26 – System General Education Requirements shall include 24 credits of course work. At least 3 credit hours shall be earned from each of 6 goals (total of 18 credits) set out in the System General Education Goals and Requirements. Each institution shall identify 6 credit hours of additional course work from the six goals. The distribution of courses/credits will be maintained as guidelines managed by the Academic Affairs Council and approved by the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. [SDBOR Policy 2:26, Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.3]

 SDBOR Requirement: 18 CreditsSDSU Requirement: 6 Credits
SGR Goal #13 Credits3 Credits
SGR Goal #23 Credits 
SGR Goal #33 Credits3 Credits *
SGR Goal #43 Credits3 Credits *
SGR Goal #53 Credits 
SGR Goal #63 Credits3 Credits *

* Three (3) additional credits selected from approved list of courses from different disciplinary prefixes for Goals #3, #4, or #6.

General Education Requirements for Baccalaureate Degree

Baccalaureate General Education Curriculum SDBOR Policy 2:7 – System General Education Requirements shall include 30 credits of course work. At least 3 credit hours shall be earned from each of 6 goals (total of 18 credits) set out in the System General Education Goals and Requirements below. Each institution shall identify 12 credit hours of additional course work from the six goals. The distribution of courses/credits will be maintained as guidelines managed by the Academic Affairs Council and approved by the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. [SDBOR Policy 2:7, Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.4]

 SDBOR Requirement: 18 CreditsSDSU Requirements: 12 Credits
SGR Goal #13 Credits3 Credits
SGR Goal #23 Credits 
SGR Goal #33 Credits3 Credits
SGR Goal #43 Credits3 Credits
SGR Goal #53 Credits 
SGR Goal #63 Credits3 Credits

The policies identify the course/credit distribution, goals and requirements, transfer of System General Education Requirements, the System General Education Committee, assessment, and student completion of System General Education Requirements.

Students working in structural engineering lab.

The limited list of courses approved to meet each of the established system goals will be maintained as guidelines managed by the Academic Affairs Council and approved by the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. Students may only select general education courses from the approved list. Board action is required to implement any changes. This includes adding or deleting courses as well as any revisions to a course already included in the list of courses which fulfill the established requirement.

SDSU most recently completed a comprehensive general education review during 2013-14. For such comprehensive reviews, all courses on the general education list at the time of the review must be resubmitted for approval. The review process requires submission of the syllabus, evidence of student learning, and a self-report form. The General Education sub-committee reviews requests for new/revised general education course each year in the fall as needed due to special circumstances (i.e., new major adds a new course to meet advanced writing requirement). Courses will need to be submitted to the Academic Affairs Committee prior to the start of the fall semester.

Student presenting in speech communication course.

Completion of the General Education Revision form allows the revision of an approved course, addition of a course to the approved course list, or deletion from the list of approved courses. The SDBOR accepts revisions to the general education course list at their yearly December meeting This process does not include approval for the development of a new course. If the proposal includes the development of a new course, the new course process must be completed before the course will be considered for inclusion in any set of the General Education Requirements.

Interdisciplinary Programs

Each interdisciplinary program will follow the same process used for other curriculum development and requests.  One common question related to interdisciplinary programs is the determination of the “home” department/school or college. The program home will be determined in consultation with the affected faculty, department heads/directors, and deans, with the final decision made by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.