Proposing a New Major

Overview of the process
New major guidelines
Proposal requirements
Assessment of student outcomes in the major

Overview of the Process

Departments must consult the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum about a possible new undergraduate major during the initial planning phase. The Associate Dean will advise on an appropriate action and timeline.

Other involved or affected departments or areas must be consulted early in the planning phase as well and throughout the design and implementation process. Letters of support from appropriate departments and other universities are important and should be included with the proposal.

After a final review of the finished proposal for compliance with CLAS policy and procedures, the Associate Dean will place the proposal on the agenda of the Undergraduate Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee (UEPCC). If the proposed program has resource implications for the College, it also must be approved by the Executive Committee. If UEPCC (and if required, the EC) recommends approval, the proposal will be placed on the agenda of the Faculty Assembly. The Dean of the College will decide if and when to forward the proposal to the Provost. If approved by the Provost, the proposal will move toward final approval by the Regents.

Before moving to the Regents for approval, all proposed majors must be included on the Regents' planning list for a minimum of six months.

New programs may not be advertised until Regent approval of the program has been granted. Web sites may not be updated and prospective students may not be informed of the new program until approved. Faculty must refrain from updating publications, reports, and letterhead until the Regents have approved the request for a new academic program. All departments must adhere to this policy.

The Regents require detailed information for a new major and the completion of a number of forms. These forms should be completed and included with the proposal before it is discussed by UEPCC.

The entire approval process often takes two calendar years and must be completed in time for the yearly update of the General Catalog that begins in December and concludes in late January unless the College has granted a special extension to this Catalog deadline. New programs area always implemented after the publication of the Catalog which usually occurs by June 1 and with revisions and corrections completed by August 1. All new programs of study are thus implemented at the beginning of the fall semester.

The Catalog is an important resource for advising and contains the official requirements for all majors, minors, and certificates. The degree audit and the analysis of student records to verify the completion of graduation requirements are based on the information in the General Catalog and not on what might appear on a departmental website. Departments planning to propose a new major should work backwards from this fall implementation deadline to provide ample time to enter the materials into the Catalog by the deadline.

After a new major is approved by the Regents, the Registrar, Admissions, and the Academic Advising Center will be informed of the addition by the College. Close communication with these three areas is essential so that these offices are aware of the request for a curricular change and of the possible implementation date.

New academic programs may begin enrolling students on the implementation date set by the College. Traditionally, this is the first day of the fall semester following Regent approval of the proposal.

A department offering a new major should update its web site after final approval has been granted by the Regents and should include the appropriate start-date information. The requirements listed on the website for the new major must be identical to those listed in the Catalog, while keeping in mind that websites may not be updated until Regent approval of the new academic program has been given. Departments may not inform prospective students of the new program until approved by the Regents.

The Regents review all new programs five years after implementation.

New Major Guidelines

  • The proposal for any new major should conform to the general design of existing CLAS majors.
  • Credit hours to complete a major should comprise a reasonable proportion of coursework taken in residence at the University of Iowa. Departments may restrict the use of transfer credit that may be applied toward the requirements for a major and of credit by examination applicable toward a major. Such restrictions must be in the proposal and have CLAS approval.
  • Total hours per major and the ratio of courses offered by a department to cognate courses offered by other areas vary by discipline and should be reviewed before proposing a new major.
  • Ordinarily, a maximum of 56 semester hours of credit from one academic department is accepted toward the minimum 120 semester hours needed for a BA or BS. Note that the BFA and BM degrees do not fall under the 56-hour rule.
  • All students in CLAS must earn a cumulative 2.00 in courses indicated in the GPA  for the major in order to graduate.
  • Within the College requirements for graduation, departments may restrict the use of transfer credit that may be applied toward the requirements for a major and of credit by examination applicable toward a major. Such restrictions must be in the proposal.
  • The College does not allow P/N courses to count for the major (for exceptions in cognate areas, see the Academic Policies Handbook).
  • The College rarely approves selective admission or selective enrollment majors. Academic areas planning such a major must immediately discuss the matter with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum before proceeding and should review the CLAS selective and limited enrollment policies and guidelines.

Proposal Requirements

Proposals should be addressed to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum. Proposals must provide the following information:

  • Historical background material or the impetuous for the major.
  • An analysis and justification for the importance of the new major at UI with a statement about audience interest.
  • A comprehensive description of the proposed curriculum, with a list of requirements with all prerequisite courses for those requirements and a calendar of anticipated offerings
  • A comparison and contrast of the requirements of the major with other related majors offered by UI and at Iowa Regents institutions or other CIC institutions.
  • Evidence of continual and appropriate consultation with affected or otherwise involved units with letters of support included with the proposal.
  • Discussion of the impact on other UI programs and majors, including enrollment movement across programs.
  • Statements of current faculty expertise, such as research and teaching experience, in relation to the new major and the availability of such faculty to teach courses in the major.
  • New resources or faculty needed currently and over a five-year period or a discussion of current resource reallocations and related issues over a five-year period.
  • Expected enrollment and graduation numbers and growth of those numbers over a five-year period.
  • Anticipated frequency of course offerings.
  • Any issues involving duplication and regression.
  • A completed four-year graduation plan or a rationale for why the major is not included in the plan.
  • A sample plan of student showing the typical student's semester by semester course enrollment through graduation.
  • A plan for advising students in the proposed major, with specific faculty or staff indicated as advisors.
  • A plan and the curriculum for offering Honors in the major, if appropriate. keeping in mind Honors in 
  • A chart indicating courses to be calculated in the major GPA.
  • The impact of the new program on the University Libraries, Information Technology Services, the Office of the Registrar, and other central offices that may be affected, with evidence that such offices have been consulted, if appropriate.
  • A tentative plan for outcomes assessment of the new major.
  • An anticipated start-up date, noting that the traditional implementation date for any new CLAS program is the first day of the fall semester following approval.
  • Letters of support from appropriate sources, such as related and involved units; advisory committees; and other colleges and universities with an interest in the major (some noted above).
  • Letters of support from other Regents' institution showing consulting and collaboration.
  • Completion of the Board of Regents forms; see Proposal to Implement a New Baccalaureate Degree Program and ICCPHSE Notice of Intent to Offer a New Program or Location.

After Regent approval is given, units proposing a new major must disseminate information about the major to the campus community (the Registrar, Admissions, the Academic Advising Center, and faculty and advisors of other departments). Until this final approval is given, departments or programs may not advertise the new program of study or inform students about it.

Assessment of Student Outcomes in the Major

To comply with the Regents' Policy on Student Outcomes Assessment, each department has established a method of assessing the level of achievement of students completing a departmental major. New majors should be included in such a plan. The assessment is conducted each year, and the results are used when the department evaluates and revises its academic programs. A report on assessment activities is required whenever a program is reviewed.