New Undergraduate Programs: Majors, Minors, & Concentrations
Developing new undergraduate programs is an exciting but challenging process. This page provides some helpful resources to make sure your experience goes as smoothly as possible. From the very beginning of your project, become familiar with the formal guidelines for program development as outlined in the Academic Program Development Procedures, found on the UNC System website. Seek advice and guidance from others during the proposal process; meet with faculty and chairs of other programs who have developed similar proposals and obtain their advice on what to include and how to plan. It is appropriate to forward copies of draft proposal documents to the following individuals:
- Faculty colleagues in interested programs
- Departmental and program administrators
- Dean’s Office of the appropriate school or college
- The Office of Undergraduate Curricula, Curriculum Director
General Tips and Reminders
Faculty and units are encouraged to:
- Confer with your Senior Associate Dean prior to developing your proposal
- Consult with the Office of Undergraduate Curricula on drafts and planning
- Submit any new course proposals in CIM before submitting the program proposal; new courses can be submitted at the same time as new programs, but will appear as “pending approval” on the CIM Program form
- Consult widely, particularly for interdisciplinary programs
Reports on the progress of program implementation must be submitted twice to the UNC System Office. The first such report will cover the first 1-2 years of implementation and the second will cover the first 3-4 years of operation.
Departments are reminded that all content on the CIM-Program form automatically updates in the next edition of the University Catalog; this means that no additional program requirement modifications are needed during the Catalog editing cycle. Changes made to program requirements and new programs will be visible in the next published version of the Catalog.
New Undergraduate Majors
The process of developing new undergraduate majors is a challenging and collaborative process. It begins with extensive discussions among faculty and administrators to design the best program for the discipline, and then proceeds through the University committees who examine the proposal from a campus-wide perspective. After receiving endorsement by all appropriate University units, the proposal then goes to the UNC System Office where it must be justified and evaluated from the System and state’s perspective. Notification to the UNC System may be sent at any time, but programs should plan on a year-long planning process at minimum prior to the proposed date of establishment. Please see the sample timeline for the order and expected response times for the approval stages.
- Sample Timeline Undergraduate
- Request for Preliminary Authorization for New Academic Degree Program
- Request to Establish New Academic Degree Program
- Financial Worksheets
- UNC System Resources for New Degree Planning
The University has found that it is best if the Request for Preliminary Authorization phase, outlined below, is based on the guidelines for the Request to Establish. This allows many difficult questions to be considered and answered earlier in the process and allows stakeholders to ascertain a more realistic sense of what is possible at UNC Chapel Hill. The earlier questions of budget, program need, material resources, faculty affiliations, workload, staffing, student financial support and student services are addressed, the less likely it is that major revisions will be required between the Request for Preliminary Authorization and Request to Establish phases. It is also advisable to outline the curriculum and course offerings, both new and established, in a precise and realistic fashion; planning should be concrete and detailed.
This advice applies particularly to programs with significant interdisciplinary components. For further details on interdisciplinary, dual, or joint degree proposals, please review The Graduate School’s Policy on Transdisciplinary Programs of Study.
New undergraduate majors require the following documents/academic actions, which must be approved by the System Office:
Step 1: Request for Preliminary Authorization
Proposals for new undergraduate degrees must submit a Request for Preliminary Authorization for New Academic Degree Program, using the Request to Establish as a guide.
- The Department or Curriculum must create the proposal and have it approved through all internal, departmental, or program processes.
- The Dean of the appropriate College or School must approve the proposal prior to submission to The Office of Undergraduate Curricula.
- For degree programs housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Program Committee and the Administrative Boards of The General College and College of Arts and Sciences must approve the proposal prior to submission to the Office of the Provost.
- For degree programs administered in a Professional School, the Program Committee and the Administrative Boards of the General College and College of Arts and Science will review and provide feedback.
- The Office of the Provost will review the proposal, request any changes, and report on progress to the Faculty Council as appropriate.
- Upon approval by the Provost, the Chancellor will review, approve, and update the Board of Trustees as appropriate.
- The Chancellor will authorize submission of the proposal to the UNC System.
Step 2: Request to Establish
All Bachelor’s degree program proposals approved for planning must submit a Request to Establish New Academic Degree Program.
The proposal should be reviewed once again by the same campus units that reviewed the Request for Preliminary Authorization before it is submitted by the Chancellor to the UNC System. A report summarizing progress can be provided by the Chancellor to the Faculty Council or Board of Trustees as appropriate.
All proposals should ensure they address the following key areas:
- Budget information, especially addressing how the new program will be implemented, supported, and sustained if there should be no enrollment growth funding;
- Student demand for the program;
- Societal need for the program, such as, employment opportunities for graduates;
- Collaboration opportunities considered/investigated with other institutions; and
- How the proposed program supports the campus’ Institutional Mission.
The UNC System’s approval of the Request for Preliminary Authorization and permission to submit the Request to Establish does not constitute a commitment on the part of the Board of Governors to approve the program. UNC System Academic Planning maintains a listing of all programs being planned system-wide.
After collecting all feedback from the Office of Undergraduate Curricula and external reviews, where appropriate, the UNC System will recommend approval of the program to the Board of Governors’ Committee on Educational Planning, Policies & Programs, and through it, to the full Board. In general, reviews will be completed within three to six months. Once complete, the UNC System will notify the Chancellor, who will inform the University and campus offices involved. The program, the Office of Undergraduate Curricula, and the Office of the University Registrar work collaboratively to institute the procedures necessary to enroll students in the new degree program.
New Undergraduate Minors
The purpose of an undergraduate minor is to broaden a student’s educational experience or complement their major/s. Academic minors must meet the following criteria:
- Require no fewer than 12 credit hours – 15 credit hours is recommended
- Provide structure and coherence
- Contain some upper-level courses – above 400
CIM Program forms submitted for a new minor should include the following items:
- Departmental memo, on letterhead, signed by the chair, including a brief statement, several paragraphs, of the goals and rationale of the minor, evidence of demand for the minor and anticipated enrollment, student advising strategy for planning and completing the minor, and a list of majors or minors, if any, whose students are prohibited from electing this minor either due to significant overlap of requirements or proximity of subject matter.
- If the minor requirements include courses from other departments/units, the proposal must include letters of support from these department chairs.
A current list of minors, along with requirements and limitations that apply to all undergraduate minors at the University, can be found in the University Catalog. Students enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences who wish to complete a minor in a professional school must receive permission from the school prior to declaring the minor.
New Undergraduate Concentrations & Tracks
A concentration is generally a collection of 3-4 courses or requirements that focus on a specific subfield, usually optional. A track is a unique set of requirements for a major, usually required. An emphasis is somewhere in the middle. However, all three are approved and administered in the same way. The name of the concentration, here used to cover all three variants described above, appears on a student’s academic record, transcript, but not their diploma. Concentrations do not require UNC System Office approval, but still need to be submitted using the CIM-Programs form.
- Departmental memo, on letterhead, signed by the chair, including a brief statement, several paragraphs, of the goals and rationale of the concentration, evidence of demand for the concentration and anticipated enrollment, student advising strategy for planning and completing the concentration, and a list of majors or minors, if any, whose students are prohibited from electing this concentration either due to significant overlap of requirements or proximity of subject matter.
- If the requirements include courses from other departments/units, the proposal must include letters of support from these department chairs.
As a reminder, the total number of credit hours of the major cannot change when a concentration is added. For requirements and limitations that apply to all undergraduate majors, see the University Catalog.