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Curriculum Development & Approval Process

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Curriculum Development & Review Guidelines

This section identifies and describes the individuals and groups involved in the curriculum development process. Also included are the primary responsibilities and recommended foci for each level and type of review. Also outlined are guidelines for how to make the curriculum review process rigorous, transparent and collaborative.

Curriculum Development process - 1) Curriculum request development & consultation process, 2) Department level approval, 3) College level approval, 4) University level approval, 5) SDBOR system level approval

Proposing Faculty Member(s)

While in the process of developing new curricular requests or curricular change requests, individuals must follow the guidelines outlined below:

  1. Work to ensure that the proposals are consistent with the missions of the program/department/school and college.
  2. Work to ensure that proposals are reasonable in the demands they will place on physical, fiscal and human resources.
  3. If the proposals have the potential to impact other programs/departments/schools or colleges, consultation with the other party must take place and be documented using the SDSU Curriculum Consultation Form.
  4. Work to ensure that proposals are intended for the benefit of students and the educational process of the university.
  5. Work closely with Department Head(s)/Director(s), Dean(s), and Office of Academic Affairs throughout the development process. The degree of involvement will vary depending on the type of proposal (minor vs. substantive).

Department/School Curriculum Committee

Department/School Curriculum Committee (highly recommended) or department/school as a whole review processes need to include:

  1. Detailed review by committee of instructional faculty, the composition of which to be determined by the department/school.
  2. The review body performs due diligence to address and verify the following:
    1. Consistency with university mission and strategic plan.
    2. That the discipline and/or specialized accreditation standards have been met (if applicable).
    3. The proposed course or program reflects intellectual rigor and teaching excellence.
    4. Program coherence. How does the proposed course fit into the curriculum? Does the course offer sequential or unique content? Check for redundancy.
    5. That the impact on the course and enrollment and classroom capacity can be managed.
    6. The availability of resources, including teaching personnel, space requirements and operating budget.
    7. That any cross-program or departmental/school implications have been identified, verified, and resolved.

Department Head/School Director

The department head/school director needs to confirm that all curricular requests have been reviewed and approved by departmental/school faculty. The department head/school director conducts a final review of any curricular requests prior to forwarding to the appropriate college dean(s) and college curriculum committee(s). The department head/school director also attaches the consultation form to the curricular requests prior to forwarding.

College Curriculum Committee

College Curriculum Committee review processes need to include:

  1. Detailed review by a committee of instructional faculty, the composition of which to be determined by the college.
  2. The review body performs due diligence to address the following prior to forwarding the proposal for campus-wide review:
    1. Consistency with university mission and strategic plan.
    2. The proposed course or program reflects intellectual rigor and teaching excellence. 
    3. Program coherence.  How does the proposed course fit into the curriculum?
    4. That the impact on course and enrollment and classroom capacity can be managed.
    5. The availability of resources, including teaching personnel, space restrictions and operating budget.
    6. That any cross-program or departmental/school implications have been identified, verified, and resolved.

College Dean

All curricular proposals shall be submitted to the dean of the college for approval. The dean’s approval is based on the determination that the proposal is consistent with the strategic plan, that all resource implications have been considered carefully and that the resources are available and committed for new courses and/or programs. The dean needs to confirm that all curricular requests have been reviewed and approved by the college curriculum committee. The dean conducts a final review of any curricular requests prior to forwarding to the Academic Affairs Office and confirms that any consultation activities and forms are in order. Every attempt should be made to resolve any objections at the college level, if possible.

Graduate School Director

All graduate curricular proposals received by the Office of Academic Affairs will be forwarded to the Director of the Graduate School. The director will review for clarity, appropriateness for the University, consistency with policies and guidelines of the University and SDBOR.  Following the director’s review and approval, graduate curricular requests are reviewed by the Graduate Council.

Graduate Council

Review of graduate curricular items includes:

  1. Review of intent to plans, program proposals, and all substantive course and program modifications.
  2. The Graduate Council is also provided updates on minor curriculum changes on a monthly basis.
  3. Review of brevity, accuracy, and clarity of all narrative, concision of student expectations, and degree requirements, conformity to Board and University policy and guidelines, availability of necessary fiscal, physical, human and library resources, and qualifications of relevant faculty.

Academic Affairs Committee/General Education Review Sub-committee

The Academic Affairs Committee is joint administration and Faculty Senate committee. This committee reviews substantive undergraduate and graduate curricular requests and is provided updates on minor curriculum modifications on a monthly basis. The focus of this level of review includes:

  1. Review for fit with mission.
  2. Check for completeness and accuracy.
  3. Review for completeness of due diligence on cross-program/department/school/college issues and work to resolve any remaining objections.
  4. Monitoring for unwarranted duplication. 

The General Education Review sub-committee of the Academic Affairs Committee manages the general education curriculum including review of courses for inclusion on the approved list and modifications/updates to goals and student learning outcomes.

Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate conducts the final internal review of the substantive undergraduate and graduate curricular requests by a SDSU governance body.  The Faculty Senate will:

  1. Review for fit with mission.
  2. Review for completeness and accuracy.
  3. Review for completeness of due diligence on cross-program/department/school/college issues.
  4. Monitor for unwarranted duplication.

University Administration

The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Office of Academic Affairs:

  1. Establishes reasonable timelines for phases of curriculum processes and procedures.
  2. Manages a system to track curriculum review proposals as they move through the review and approval process. 
  3. Provides consultation and assistance in the preparation of curriculum requests.
  4. Approves prior to posting for SDBOR system level review.
  5. Works to resolve any remaining objections to proposed curriculum requests/changes.           

State Approval

Academic Affairs Council (AAC)

This council consists of the academic vice-presidents of each of the institutions of higher education under the SDBOR’s control. The council is chaired by the System Chief Academic Officer as a non-voting member. AAC reviews existing and proposed courses, programs, departments, degrees, college, and academic policies and makes recommendations to the SDBOR through the Council of Presidents and Superintendents (COPS) with due regard to the quality of higher education in the state, the avoidance of duplication, and the attainment of economy and efficiency (SDBOR Policy 1:7.2)

South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR)

The SDBOR serves as the governing body of all institutions under its control, including SDSU. The South Dakota Board of Regents defines the educational missions of the public universities and special schools, plans and coordinates South Dakota’s state-supported system of public universities and special schools, approves/disapproves new academic programs, approves/disapproves new course requests, approves and disapproves substantive program and course modifications.  Committee A (Academic and Student Affairs) of the SDBOR typically reviews the majority of curriculum requests prior to taking to the full SD Board of Regents.

Curricular Review Summary

While this process is presented in a linear manner, consultation with others occurs throughout the curriculum change and development process in that draft copies are shared with others, reviewed, and returned for further work. Also, at any point in the review process, a proposal may be returned for additional editing, information and in rare instances, proposals may be disapproved.

  1. The Office of Academic Affairs accepts curriculum requests throughout the calendar year. The Curriculum/Catalog Coordinator, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs are available for consultation (688-4174 or e-mail) throughout the curriculum development and review process.
  2. The SDBOR forms must be completed and submitted for all course and program requests. Forms can be found on the SDBORs’ website.
  3. As part of the on-campus (internal) review process the SDSU Curriculum Consultation Form may also need to be completed and submitted. The SDSU Curriculum Consultation Form is used to inform other departments/schools and colleges of proposed curriculum changes.  The form includes two consultation sections:
    1. The Department/School/College Consultation section is used to provide documentation of communication with other departments and college potentially impacted by curricular changes.
    2. The Library Consultation section is used to facilitate and document communication with the Briggs Library in regard to the potential impact of proposed curriculum development/changes on library resources and services.
  4. The department/school curriculum committee and Department Head/Director must review and approve all curriculum requests prior to submitting the official curriculum request to the Dean and college curriculum committee. It is the responsibility of the department/school initiating the curricular change to assess the impact of the proposed change and consult with those who might be affected.
  5. The college curriculum committee and Dean must review and approve all curriculum requests prior to submitting the official curriculum request to the Office of Academic Affairs.  All curriculum requests (and any additional forms) must be submitted electronically to the Academic Affairs Office.
  6. Minor curriculum modifications are reviewed and approved by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs and Graduate School Director.  Approved requests move to the SDBOR for processing.  Most minor course changes can be implemented the following semester. Minor program modifications are implemented at the start of the next academic year.  All minor modifications are available as informational items to the Graduate Council (graduate level requests only), Academic Affairs Committee, and Faculty Senate.  A list of all minor changes is submitted to the SDBOR on an annual basis.
  7. Substantive curriculum modifications and new course and program requests are submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs after department/school and college approval and prior to official action at the Graduate Council (graduate level requests only) and Academic Affairs Committee. When approved by the Office of Academic Affairs, the requests are added to the appropriate agenda.
  8. Curricular requests are placed on the Academic Affair Committee agenda (and for graduate level changes, on the Graduate Council agenda prior to Academic Affairs Committee review) for substantive review and discussion. A representative from the program/department/school/college must be present to discuss the nature of the request and to answer any questions. At times, requests are returned for additional information and clarity or if communication/resolution with other programs/departments/schools/colleges needs to occur.
  9. Following Academic Affairs Committee review and approval, requests are moved forward to Faculty Senate (for the next available meeting time scheduled).
  10. Once approved on campus, substantive curriculum requests move forward to the system Academic Affairs Council (AAC), the Council of Presidents & Superintendents (COPS), and the South Dakota Board of Regents.
  11. Substantive changes need to be received at least three weeks prior to the appropriate meeting to be included on the agenda.  Meeting dates are indicated in the Curriculum Processing Calendar. (Note: Dates are subject to change.) It is critical that the curriculum processing calendar be referenced for key dates and workflow. Due to the need for review by both on- and off-campus governing bodies, the process for more substantive changes/requests will vary depending on the type of request. During the development process make sure to account for the time it will take to develop the proposal, complete the consultation process, and department/school and college curriculum deadlines prior to on- and off-campus approvals.

Start the Curriculum Development Process