EFFECTIVE DATE: June 14, 2021
ISSUE #: 7
PRESIDENT: Loren J. Blanchard
This Policy Statement standardizes the procedures by which course alterations, new
courses, and new degree programs are developed. It outlines the processes by which
the curriculum changes are approved and added to the University catalog and the
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board inventory. The Policy Statement
describes how program changes are sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools-Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2.1 Relevant Faculty: All full-time faculty, including tenure, tenure-track,
instructors, lecturers, visiting, and clinical faculty within a teaching discipline
are members of the academy and have the right to participate in the discussion
and development of curricula. Such full-time faculty in a discipline are
considered “relevant faculty” in this policy for the purposes of sharing
information and gathering curricular ideas.
2.2 Responsible Faculty: Per the traditional standards of the academy, tenured and
tenure-track faculty are charged with the responsibility of owning the
curriculum. At a minimum, therefore, “responsible faculty” include any
tenured and tenure-track faculty in the teaching discipline, but may also
include any other full-time faculty as determined by the department or
comparable academic unit. In cases where a department or discipline has
fewer than three relevant tenured or tenure-track faculty, the responsible
faculty are defined as a group comprised of the available relevant faculty plus
additional tenured or tenure-track faculty with appropriate expertise from
outside the academic unit or discipline, as determined by the department or
comparable academic unit.
2.3 Course: A unit of instruction that includes a set of lessons, lectures, or other
assignments or methods of instruction lasting one academic term. A course is
formally defined by the combination of its title, description, prerequisites, and
learning outcomes as enacted by the University’s curriculum approval process,
although other elements, such as a syllabus, may contribute to the full
understanding of a course and its practical implementation.
2.4 Curriculum: A defined and prescribed set of courses, which students must
successfully complete to qualify for receiving a diploma or certificate of completion. In its broadest sense, the term “curriculum” may also refer to all of
the formal courses offered at the University.
2.5 Program: For the purpose of this Policy Statement, a program is the equivalent
of the curriculum required for an academic degree, a major, a minor, a
certificate, a badge or any other specialized area of study required as a part of
an academic degree.
2.6 Course Inventory: The complete list of courses, including course descriptions
and credit hour designations that are offered by the University and approved by
the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
2.7 Measurable Course Learning Outcome: The measurable activity confirming the
knowledge and skills a student is expected to acquire or achieve upon
completion of a course or academic program. Measurement may be quantitative
or qualitative, depending on the subject matter of the course.
2.8 Program Learning Outcomes: The broader learning goals of a program
establishing the intended knowledge and skills upon graduations.
2.9 Program Inventory: The complete list of academic majors and types of degrees
associated with each program. Program inventories have to be approved
periodically by the Board of Regents, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board, and the SACSCOC.
2.10 Unjustified Duplication: A duplicate course or program proposal is one that is
so similar to one previously established that there are no substantive
differences. For courses, a test would be whether a reasonable advisor would
accept the new course as transfer credit for the existing course.
2.11 Substantive Change: According to the SACSCOC substantive change policy, “a
significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited
3.1 All course changes, new course proposals, new academic programs, and
curriculum changes must be approved by an academic department curriculum
committee or by a curriculum support committee as per PS 03.A.34, Curriculum Support Committees for degree programs not housed within a
single academic department. New majors and degree programs must receive
subsequent approval by the Board of Regents of the University of Houston
System, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the SACSCOC
before they may be implemented for student enrollment.
3.2 All new curricula or curriculum changes must be approved by the Department
Chair or Program Chair (for degree programs not housed within a single academic department), by the academic college Dean, by the University
Curriculum Committee, and by the Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic
3.3 Program and courses that are duplicates of existing curricula (as defined in this
policy) must have a valid justification for this duplication that is agreed upon by
UCC and the provost. Faculty are highly encouraged to share proposal plans
widely ahead of their consideration in the shared governance process, and, in
particular, with other programs housing courses or programs that might meet
the definition of “duplicate”. Collaboration across departments and programs is,
when practicable, highly encouraged to allow for effective use of existing
curricula and faculty expertise.
There are legitimate circumstance wherein a duplication is preferred. For
example, a course may be superficially similar but have necessary elements not
found in the exiting curriculum that meets additional requirements.
Furthermore, the duplicate course may be needed at a location, at a time, in a
modality, with prerequisites, or to a volume that the academic unit offering
existing course is unable or unwilling to provide. However, faculty should
exhaust alternative for using an existing course before resorting to creating a
duplicate course, and must sufficiently and convincingly document the need for
the duplication in the proposal documents.
3.4 As required by state law or rules associated with external governing bodies and
accrediting agencies including the THECB and SACSCOC, the Office of
Academic Affairs shall submit course changes, new courses, new academic
programs, and curriculum changes to the appropriate oversight bodies for
3.5 The Office of Academic Affairs will maintain the Course Inventory and Program
Inventory for the University of Houston-Downtown.
3.6 With the approval of the college dean, a new course may be offered initially
under a “Special Topics” designation and course number. No approval is
required at higher administrative levels for a “Special Topics” course, but the
following limits apply.
3.6.1 Once a new course is taught under a “Special Topics” designation, it may
be offered in subsequent terms without additional approval.
3.6.2 Once a new course is taught under a “Special Topics” designation, it may
be offered no more than two more times within a five-year period.
3.6.3 After three offerings within a five-year period, a course designated as
“Special Topics” must be submitted for approval through the normal
process as a regular, permanent course to be approved for inclusion in the
Course Inventory, in order to be taught another time.
4.1 Approval of New Courses and Course Changes
4.1.1 The originating department or authorized curriculum support committee
prepares an online Course Inventory Update Form for each new proposed
course or course change and circulates the proposal to relevant
department faculty members. New courses to be offered as “Special
Topics” courses also must be described using the online Course Inventory
4.1.2 After verifying that all relevant faculty members in the department are
notified of the proposal, the Department Curriculum Committee or
authorized Curriculum Support Committee reviews and approves the
proposed new course or course change. The committee chair signs the
approved Course Inventory Update form electronically and transmits it to
the Department Chair or Program Chair for approval.
4.1.3 The Department Chair or the Program Chair reviews proposed new
course or course change, approves the Course Inventory Update form
online, notifying the college Dean. Course requests that are not approved
trigger the digital workflow to send an email to the Departmental
Curriculum Committee or the Curriculum Support Committee.
4.1.4 The Dean reviews the proposed new course or course change and
transmits an approved new course or course change proposal to the
University Curriculum Committee.
4.1.5 The University Curriculum Committee reviews proposed new course or
course change as outlined in 4.3.
4.1.6 “Special Topics” courses follow the same procedure for approval as other
courses except that the college Dean has final approval authority and is
not required to transmit a Course Inventory Update form for a “Special
Topics” course proposal to the University Curriculum Committee. The
approval goes to the Provost’s Office for filing. The college also will
maintain a file of all approved “Special Topics” courses.
4.2 Approval of New Degree Programs
4.2.1 All relevant faculty members are notified of any proposed new major or
minor degree program proposal.
4.2.2 An originating department or support area representative files a “Notice
of Intent to Plan” document with the relevant department chair or
program director, who will discuss the idea with the dean and convene a meeting within 10 semester weekdays. Upon agreement, the parties will
select a faculty liaison to the provost’s office, who will submit and notice
to the appropriate AVP. The AVP will inform the provost and convene a
meeting to go over the development process and answer questions about
new program requirements and support, as needed. If the faculty intend to
move forward, the AVP will inform the University Curriculum
Committee about the potential program and provide support to the
department for the next steps.
4.2.3 An originating department or support area representative works with the
department or program Chair, Dean and Provost to prepare a preliminary
request for a new program using the appropriate current forms and
systems provided by the provost’s office. The provost forwards the
request to the UH System Provost Council. If approved, the originating
department or support area representative works with the chair and dean
to produce a more comprehensive new program request for the internal
approval workflow in the appropriate system.
4.2.4 The department curriculum committee or curriculum support committee
verifies that the majority of relevant faculty members accept the proposed
new major or minor degree program. The department curriculum
committee or authorized curriculum support committee reviews and, as
appropriate, approves the proposed new major or specialized area. The
committee chair forwards approved proposals to the department chairs or
program chair for consideration.
4.2.5 The department chair or program coordinator/director reviews proposed
new programs or specialized area of study and, as appropriate indicates
approval to the college dean using the curriculum system. Program
requests that are not approved are returned to the departmental
curriculum committee or the curriculum support committee.
4.2.6 Proposals approved in the system by the dean are transmitted to the
University Curriculum Committee and the dean submits the UHD Compliance Change form to the SACSCOC liaison.
4.2.7 The University Curriculum Committee reviews the proposal according to
4.3. Program proposals that involve new or significantly changed courses
should have the courses reviewed before or simultaneously with the
4.2.8 Modifications to degree programs follow the process outlined in 4.1.
4.2.9 Approval of minors follows the procedure outlined for the approval of
new course and course changes as outlined in 4.1.
4.2.10 Approval of interdisciplinary majors or specialized area of study follows
the same procedure as outlined in 4.2 with the exception that such proposals must be approved by all relevant department curriculum
committees, department or program chairs and deans. Approval of
interdisciplinary minors follow procedures outlined in 4.1, but also
requires approval by all relevant department curriculum committees,
department or program chairs, and deans.
4.3 Role of the University Curriculum Committee
4.3.1 The membership of the University Curriculum Committee is governed by
PS 01.A.03, Academic Shared Governance Policy. The University
Curriculum Committee receives, reviews, and makes recommendations
pertaining to every course and program offered for academic credit by the
4.3.2 The University Curriculum Committee ensures that there are not any
unjustifiable duplications of effort among courses or programs. Through
discussion and deliberation the Committee recommends approval of
courses and programs that provide the greatest opportunities for
enrollment, retention, graduation, and student career success.
4.3.3 Each member of the University Curriculum Committee has the
responsibility to review courses and programs to ensure that adequate
communication has taken place between academic units, so that courses
and programs are not poorly designed, or that there is not unjustifiable
duplication or overlap with existing courses or programs. The Committee
has the responsibility for requesting additional information from the
academic units involved and/or bringing the units together to resolve
specific problems or issues.
4.3.4 The University Curriculum Committee has the responsibility of ensuring
that each course that they review is accompanied by a descriptive list of
measurable outcomes as required by Texas Education Code, chapter 51,Sections 51.96851 and 51.974(g). The descriptive list may be
accompanied with examples of the quantitative or qualitative metrics that
will be used to evaluate the outcomes.
4.3.5 It is the responsibility of the University Curriculum Committee to ensure
that each course that they review is accompanied by the major elements
of the course syllabus as required by Texas Education Code, Chapter 51,Section 51.974, Parts (1)(B) and (1)(D) and PS 03.A.29, Course Syllabi.
4.3.6 If the University Curriculum Committee approves a proposal for a new
course, a course change, a curriculum change, or a new academic
program, the Committee will forward the appropriate form to the provost.
Course and program proposals that are not approved are transmitted back
to the dean in the originating department.
4.3.7 The provost has the final authority to approve or reject a proposal for a
new course or course change. Changes that are approved will be
forwarded for inclusion in the UHD catalog. Changes that are not
approved will be returned to the dean in the originating college.
4.3.8 The provost forwards approved new undergraduate majors and new
undergraduate and graduate degree programs to the Provost’s Council of
the University of Houston System and the Board of Regents of the
University of Houston System for review. New majors and degree
programs must receive subsequent approval by the Board of Regents of
the University of Houston System, the Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board, and the SACSCOC before they may be implemented
for student enrollment.
4.3.9 The appropriate dean’s office, in consultation with the SACSCOC liaison
and with approval of Provost, will ensure a review of the SACSCOC
substantive change policy: ‘Substantive Change for Accredited
Institutions of the Commission on Colleges’ to determine substantive
change reporting and complete the UHD Compliance Change form.
4.4 Maintenance of Course and Program Inventories and University Catalog
4.4.1 The Office of Academic Affairs has the responsibility for maintaining
course and program inventories on campus and at external governing
agencies. The Office will maintain and make readily available to faculty a
repository containing proposal documents from the most recent approval
decision, including the tentative syllabi, the formal course definition,
including current description and approved learning outcomes.
4.4.2 The Office of Academic Affairs has the responsibility for ensuring that
the University Catalog contains an accurate list of courses, programs and
program requirements, including current course descriptions,
prerequisites and core requisities, and learning outcomes for each course.
4.4.3 Each department has the responsibility of ensuring that courses are taught
according to their approved formal definitions, as enacted through the
curriculum approval process.
4.4.4 The Office of Academic Affairs has the responsibility for maintaining
UHD compliance change forms, notifications, proposals and
recommendations/approvals in adherence to SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy.
Responsible Party (Reviewer): Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost
Review: Every five years on or before October 1st.
Signed original on file in Employment Services and Operations
Issue #3: 04/11/86
Issue #4: 01/29/14
Issue #5: 02/08/16
Issue #6: 08/15/16
PS 01.A.03 Academic Shared Governance
PS 03.A.29 Course Syllabi
PS 03.A.34 University College Curriculum Support Committee
PS 03.A.32 Monitoring and Reporting of Substantive Changes
SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy
Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, Sections 51.96851 and 51.974(g)
Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, Section 51.974, Parts (1)(B) and (1)(D)
UHD Compliance Change Form