Sac State University Policy Manual

Instructional Programs Priorities; Academic Planning Resource Allocation and Enrollment Management

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Effective Date: July 1, 1991
Index Cross-References:
Policy File Number: UMI07100.htm


The intent of this policy is to serve as a framework for academic planning and a guide for both short-term and long-term resource allocation and enrollment management decisions. Current instructional priorities have been set forth as they relate to the central purpose of the institution, extant obligations to programs and students, and the desired balance and mix of programs. This also sets forth the bases for assignment of priorities among instructional program categories and the criteria/factors that shall be used in determining priorities within program categories.

This policy supersedes the policy document titled University Planning Profiles for Academic Units, adopted by the University Planning Committee in April, 1980. Instructional program priorities identified in this policy rather than those assigned in the referenced 1980 document (to program types, generally, and specific programs within school and departments), shall be used for program reviews and shall serve as guidelines for resource allocation. Some elements of the referenced 1980 document (e.g., degree unit limitations) have been retained in original or amended form in other policy and procedural documents, primarily those contained in the Fall 1990 policy compilation titled, Policies and Procedures for Initiation, Modification, Review and Approval of Courses and Academic Programs (a.k.a. "blue book"). Elements of the referenced 1980 document (e.g., core major programs) that do not appear in this or other policy or procedural documents are hereby declared void.

Priorities defined herein derive primarily from the application of existing campus and systemwide policies and State government provisions that pertain to the CSU. Documents cited in this policy statement or used as background information are listed in a bibliography at the end of this policy statement.



At the University level, instructional program priorities are defined generally (i.e., by program category, see section II below) and specify the desired balance and mix of programs (see section III.) offered collectively by the University's academic departments. Criteria/factors for determining priorities within category are also specified at a University level (see sections IV. and V.). Based upon criteria specified in this policy, schools and their academic departments shall establish priorities among programs and shall identify how the programs offered contribute to the desired balance and mix of university programs.


The Education Code, as amended in 1989 by SB 1570 specifies that the "primary mission of the California State University is undergraduate and graduate instruction through the Master's degree." At California State University, Sacramento, courses and programs that directly support and lead to the baccalaureate or master's degree in the liberal arts and sciences and professional fields, or the post baccalaureate credential in fields of Education, shall have funding priority over courses and programs that are peripheral to these purposes (e.g., certificate programs, in-service programs). The categories of priority programs include: undergraduate major programs, master's degree and post baccalaureate credential programs, service courses that support major programs, minors, testing and remediation programs related to the University's quantitative reasoning and writing requirements, and the General Education Program.


While CSUS is a predominantly undergraduate institution in terms of the undergraduate proportion of total enrollment, a condition that is to be maintained, this should not be interpreted as meaning that graduate degree/credential programs have a lower priority than undergraduate degree programs. On the contrary, in accordance with its mission, CSUS is equally responsible for offering graduate and undergraduate instruction (SB 1570, 1989). Consistent with its responsibility for graduate education, CSUS shall attempt to maintain graduate enrollments of at least 20% of total headcount enrollment. The proportion of graduate enrollment may be increased above this level in response to regional needs for graduate education and other factors (see section IV.B on graduate programs), but shall not exceed 1/3 of total University headcount enrollment.

Within undergraduate major and graduate degree/credential program categories, priorities shall be established in accordance with criteria specified in subsequent sections of this document (section IV.A and IV.B). In order to maintain quality undergraduate majors and graduate degree/credential programs that are most central to the mission and responsive to regional needs, it may be necessary to decrease resource support to low priority programs within the same or other program category. That is, resource support to low priority undergraduate major or graduate degree/credential programs may be decreased in order to maintain high priority undergraduate major or graduate degree/credential programs.

While CSUS offers a full four-year undergraduate program, its predominant enrollment is at the upper division level. Currently, lower division headcount enrollment constitutes only 26% of total undergraduate enrollment (Enrollment Fact Book, 1989), a proportion significantly smaller than the maximum of 40% permitted under the Master Plan for Higher Education (Master Plan Renewed, 1987). The maintenance of a complete lower division curriculum is essential to maintaining the quality of undergraduate majors and the General Education program since it provides a mechanism for ensuring that upper division and lower division elements of the curricula are appropriately integrated.

In addition, maintaining a substantial population of students at all undergraduate levels enhances the collegiate experience and contributes significantly to the intellectual and social life of the university community. For these reasons, CSUS shall, at a minimum, maintain a lower division headcount enrollment of at least 25% of total undergraduate enrollment. The proportion of lower division enrollment may be increased above this level (25%) but shall not exceed 40% of total undergraduate enrollment.

To maintain the minimum level of lower division enrollment specified above, CSUS shall implement fully systemwide policies pertaining to transfers that currently require that transfer students who were not freshman eligible complete the requisite number of units and G.E. requirements in writing and quantitative reasoning, and which, effective Fall 1991, shall require completion of the transfer curriculum. During periods when the number of eligible first time freshman and transfer applicants exceeds enrollment capacity, admissions shall be controlled in such a way as to maintain a lower division headcount enrollment of at least 25%.

The undergraduate degree program consists of two principal components: the major and G.E. These programs shall not be viewed as competing since they contribute equally to the degree objective. Rather, they shall be viewed as interdependent programs. Undergraduate enrollment shall be limited by the University's ability to provide a general education program that allows students to complete the degree program in a timely manner (see section IV.F, on G.E.). Since total undergraduate enrollment may be limited, priorities must be established within the undergraduate major program category to ensure an appropriate balance and mix of major programs (see section IV.A, for discussion of priorities within the undergraduate major program category).

While the University is obligated to devote sufficient resources to the G.E. program to meet the needs of students admitted to the University, the amount necessary is a function of admissions policy. Specifically, if admission of lower division students is increased, resources necessary to support lower division courses in the G.E. program must also be increased. Admission of transfer students who have not completed lower division G.E. requirements also increases G.E. resource requirements. Current systemwide policy pertaining to transfer students requires completion of quantitative reasoning and writing requirements prior to transfer. However, to date, this policy has not been implemented fully at CSUS. The policy shall be implemented fully to reduce resources needed to support the G.E. Program and remediation programs.

The place of remediation programs among University priorities is perhaps the most complex to address. The nature and extent of the University's involvement in providing remediation programs are dictated by a variety of systemwide policies and institutional goals (detailed in section IV.E, on remediation). While the University is obligated to provide remediation and has identified selected remediation programs as high priority programs, the University shall limit the extent of its involvement in offering remediation, and shall work actively at the campus, system and intersegmental levels toward decreasing student need for remediation.


A. Undergraduate Major Programs

The University has a commitment to offering a variety of undergraduate majors in the traditional liberal arts and sciences disciplines and selected majors in the professional fields of business, engineering and health and human services. Undergraduate degree programs cannot, however, all receive equal levels of support. Specifically, priority shall be accorded to degree programs that: are of high quality as evaluated by program reviews are responsive to regional employment needs are structured efficiently and derive appropriate levels of benefits for their cost contribute to an educated citizenry contribute to balance among programs for which there is sufficient student demand respond to the unique characteristics of our location serve a unique function

When the University decides to offer an undergraduate major program (or concentrations within major programs) certain minimum levels of support are mandated. Since the University currently requires that all undergraduate programs have at least five common core courses included as part of each degree program, each of the core courses must be taught (regardless of enrollment) during every four- semester time period. In addition, a "reasonable complement" of other required courses and electives must be offered on a specified schedule to allow for completion of degree requirements.

The definition of "reasonable complement" is problematic because of variability among degree programs concerning the number of required units. Difficulty is also created by the large number of undergraduate majors that have not just formal concentrations, but "emphases." These "advanced areas of study" are often structured with groupings of courses from which students can select a specified number of courses. Thus, many courses in a departmental curriculum have been described as critical because they can be taken to satisfy in degree program requirements. However, the commitment to offer an undergraduate major does not mean unlimited support of all courses in a departmental curriculum or even courses that are among those that can be selected by students in order to fulfill degree requirements or those specified in "emphases" or "advanced areas of study" groupings.

Rather, support is only assured at certain minimal levels. Departmental requests and University decisions to offer courses beyond those levels does not necessarily assure additional support. The school Dean, in consultation with departmental faculty, will determine the number of courses critical to the major and their schedule of offerings. For the core courses and those courses identified as critical, enrollment in the class will not be the prime consideration for offering the course. Conversely, high enrollment demand for courses other than core courses and courses identified as critical, does not guarantee that they shall be offered.

B. Master's Degree and Post Baccalaureate Credential


The University is committed to offering graduate programs leading to the master's degree or post baccalaureate credential in selected disciplines to prepare students to pursue doctoral studies and to enter advanced professional training programs and career fields. Graduate study is integral to the mission and responsibility of California State University, Sacramento. Graduate programs that identify the university, articulate its mission and identify the special strength/contribution of CSUS within higher education in California, inherently constitute priorities.
These include:
    K-12 Teacher Preparation Credential programs in Education;
    Applied/professional masters programs that are required to meet the regional needs of
    recognized professions;
    Master's degree programs, in a variety of disciplines that prepare students for doctoral
    studies and/or advancement in an occupation or profession, including careers in community
    college teaching.

While all graduate programs add to the collective strength of CSUS, not all current or potential graduate programs can receive equal levels of support.

Decisions regarding the mix, size, and level of resource support for all graduate programs shall be based on an assessment of factors related to program need, program quality, and program cost benefit. Order of listing does not imply relative importance.)

1. Program Need: the need for new or existing programs, enrollment levels, and level of resource support shall be determined using the following combination of factors (order of listing does not imply importance):
    a. Centrality to mission
    b. Centrality within discipline
    c. Labor Market--present and projected
    d. Student demand--present and projected
    e. Comparative Advantage--
        1) Locational/Regional Advantage
        2) Uniqueness of the Program--is it offered/not offered by other institutions in proximity
            to CSUS;

2. Program Quality: the quality of existing programs, or the projected quality of new programs, shall be evaluated in program reviews. Criteria for assessing
quality shall include:
    a. Curriculum strength
    b. Quality of Faculty--currency, degrees held, scholarly activity, teaching effectiveness,
    c. Quality of library holdings d. Quality of support facilities (and equipment as appropriate)

3. Program Cost/Benefit:
    a. Formula generation/actual expenditures relationship
    b. Other sources of income for program support
    c. Degree production rates (i.e., is the program producing an acceptable number of
        graduates and is the average time to degree within acceptable limits for the discipline)
    d. Developmental Costs
    e. Secondary effects (i.e., does the program benefit or detract from other programs)
    f. Cost efficiency (e.g., are program components necessary or replicative of components in
       other programs)

As in the case of undergraduate majors, a decision to offer a Master's degree or post baccalaureate credential program does not guarantee support for all courses offered as part of the program simply because they can be used to satisfy program requirements or because they are included in non- official "emphases" or "sub-specialties." Rather, certain minimal levels of support necessary to maintain program quality and ensure student progress toward degree completion can be expected. Under current University policy (Policy Relating to Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs in Policies and Procedures for Initiation, Modification, Review and Approval of Courses and Academic Programs, 1990), most Master's degree programs are limited to a total of 30 units and must include a minimum of nine units that are common to the degree program (exceptions must have formal approval). The above referenced policy further specifies the minimal level of support as follows:

"To maintain program viability, graduate programs are to be scheduled so that enough courses are offered to insure completion of a 30-unit program within two academic years. As a standard, graduate programs shall offer each year the nine units common to the degree program and at least nine units of degree applicable course work. Over a two year period, 18 units of 200 level courses shall be offered, exclusive of supervisory units, and these units shall not include repeated offerings of the same course. The offerings shall be varied enough to allow, and the scheduling pattern should permit, students to take at least 27 units of degree applicable course work, exclusive of supervisory units, over a two year period. Consideration shall be given to the diverse nature of programs and courses when evaluating program and enrollment viability."

The minimal level of support for programs granted exemptions to the unit limitation and/or 9 unit core requirement shall be based on the same principles applied above. In each case, regardless of total units required or whether the program includes a nine unit core, the School Dean, in consultation with departmental faculty will determine the number of courses critical to the program and their schedule of offerings. Enrollment demand (low or high) shall not be the sole determining factor for deciding whether a course is to be offered. C. Service Courses

Approved undergraduate major and graduate degree/credential programs often require coursework in other disciplines (service courses) to support the major discipline program. In some cases, the coursework taken outside the major discipline is substantial (and may be concentrated sufficiently in a single discipline to earn the distinction of a minor). The University is committed to offering a sufficient number of service courses to ensure completion of approved programs.

D. Minors

A minor is a pattern of coursework similar to a major, but less comprehensive. As noted previously, selected major programs require a minor in another discipline. A minor that supports a different major will be accorded the same relative priority as the major it supports. Most minors are offered by departments that also offer a major program and the minor consists of courses that are also included in the major. In these cases, the minor, unless specifically required by another major, shall receive no special consideration for resource support. In cases where a minor is not associated with a major program, resource support shall be determined on a case by case basis, using the same criteria established to determine the priority of undergraduate major programs.

E. Testing and Pre Baccalaureate Remediation Programs Related to Quantitative Reasoning and Writing Requirement

1. CSUS Policy on Remediation

Currently, CSUS has determined that it is necessary to provide remedial instruction to ensure that students admitted to the University, but who are not prepared for baccalaureate level courses in writing and quantitative reasoning, have the opportunity to redress these deficiencies. However, in accordance with recommendations of the Commission for the Review of the Master Plan (The Master Plan Renewed, 1987), CSUS shall establish and maintain clearly defined academic floors below which remedial courses will not be offered, set other limits on remediation programs, and shall work toward the goal of decreasing the need for remediation at CSUS. A discussion of the broad policy question that defines the nature and scope of remediation in the CSU will, of necessity, be undertaken at the system level.

2. Priority Consideration of Remediation Programs in Relation to Other University Programs Consistent with the principles articulated above, remediation programs shall be accorded the following priority placement in relation to other university programs.

    a. Remediation programs shall receive higher priority than:
        - Course offerings in discipline minors

        - Low enrollment electives for majors

        - Institutes and centers

        - Certificate programs

        - General Education Critical Thinking requirements

        - General Education second-semester writing requirement

    b. Remediation programs shall receive lower priority than:

        - Required course offerings in high priority undergraduate majors, and high priority
          graduate degree/credential programs

        - Priority course offerings in GE

3. Priorities Within the Remediation Program Category

The University currently offers a variety of course offerings and programs that serve a remediation function. Among these, the following courses/programs shall be accorded highest priority:

    - Pre-baccalaureate Level I and II courses designed to remediate student deficiencies in
    math and English, in which students are placed by approved placement exams (EPT, ELM,
    EDT). - ILE courses to the level that they are supported by systemwide funds.

4. Enrollment Priorities in Remediation Courses

Since resources may not be sufficient to satisfy demand for remediation courses, enrollment priorities shall be established as follows:

    - For pre baccalaureate courses in math and English, freshmen shall have highest priority
    and transfer students shall have lowest priority.
    - For pre baccalaureate courses in English, transfer students who have not completed the
    G.E. course requirement in writing shall have priority over transfer students who have
    completed the requirement.
    - For all remedial courses, and English 109 (preparation for the WPE), students enrolling for
    the first time shall have priority over students who are repeating the course. (Note: A small
    percentage of seats in pre baccalaureate courses may be reserved for students who have
    taken the course and have been assessed as making progress but are not yet prepared to
    advance to the next level.)

5. Policy Considerations Regarding Remediation Programs

While the University is committed to meeting its obligation to provide remediation programs, the extent of that obligation must be reduced. To accomplish this end, the University shall take steps to:

    a. Work with the community college system to decrease the proportion of ESL transfer
        students who have completed the G.E. requirement in writing but still require remedial
    b. Establish and maintain clearly defined academic floors below which remediation courses
        shall not be offered. Specifically, CSUS should not offer courses below pre-college level 2,
        except in exceptional circumstances, and then only in the case of special admission
        students or ESL students who have not completed the G.E. writing requirement and have
        been assessed by the EDT for placement below level 2;
    c. Implement fully systemwide policy that requires that transfer students complete GE
        courses in writing and quantitative reasoning prior to transfer;
    d. Limit the number of times that students may repeat remediation courses.

F. General Education/University Graduate Requirements

General Education and other University graduation requirements are established to ensure that all undergraduate students are provided the foundations of a liberal education. Resource support for the G.E. Program shall be sufficient to allow students to complete G.E. requirements in a sequential and timely manner.

As the University accepts first-time freshman eligible and transfer students with various portions of their general education programs completed, the priority for each category of general education shall be based on total student need for coursework in the category. The priority for upper division vs. lower division general education courses shall be based on total need for upper division vs. lower division general education courses.

The University has a responsibility to offer a general education program that is accessible to its students. Courses in the G.E. program must also be offered in a mode that is pedagogically sound. Student need for courses must be met within each GE category, although possibly not in individual courses, or possibly not in the semester of the student's choice.

Within the G.E. program, highest priority shall be accorded to:

    1. providing a sufficient number of sections of quantitative reasoning and written
    communication courses to comply with campus and systemwide requirements regarding the
    timing of completion of these requirements;
    2. providing a sufficient number of sections of other Area A courses to comply with
    sequencing requirements.

Among G.E. courses in categories where a variety of courses may be used to satisfy the same requirement, the following courses shall be accorded priority:

    1. courses that also serve a service function (see Section IV.C.) in accordance with the
    priority of the program that the courses serve;
    2. courses in the 1983-1992 G.E. program that also meet the requirements of the new G.E.
    program to be implemented in 1992 (i.e., include a writing component, satisfy the race and
    ethnicity requirement, are infused with multicultural content);
    3. courses that are in the "foundation" sub areas of Areas B and C.


The instructional program includes courses and programs, which, although valuable and appropriate to the mission of CSUS, do not directly support or lead to a degree. Courses and programs in this category include minors, certificate programs, elective courses, centers and institutes, and intercollegiate athletics.

A. Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in and of themselves shall receive no special consideration for resource support. Courses offered as part of a certificate program, shall be accorded priority only if they are critical to a major program or are accorded priority as a service or G.E. course.

B. Non-Critical Elective Courses

The University shall make an effort to offer a variety of elective courses that allow faculty to teach in their area of interest and special expertise and provide students the opportunity to take a variety of courses. However, the number of non-critical electives offered shall be subject to resource availability. The University may have to reduce the number of non-critical electives offered, even if student demand is high, in order to offer courses in the high priority categories (see Section IV.A and IV.B).

C. Centers and Institutes

Centers and Institutes may be established in accordance with PM 87-04 to enhance and extend the University's academic programs. PM 87-04 describes the conditions for funding of Centers and Institutes from instructional resources. Since courses offered in conjunction with Centers and Institutes are offered only as part of the University's regular academic programs, these courses should receive priority according to the criteria described in this document.

D. In-Service Courses

In-service courses shall receive no special consideration for resource support.

E. Athletics

Intercollegiate Athletics is evaluated for priority relative to academic programs, as it is a program that offers courses as part of the instructional program. Unlike many academic programs, however, Athletics also serves as a support program for students by attracting scholarships, contributing to the quality of student life, and offering an opportunity for a college education to nontraditional students. In addition, Athletics has a community relations role. These benefits notwithstanding, the academic portion of the Athletics program is a low priority program relative to other academic programs.


1. University Planning Profiles for Academic Units. Adopted by the University Planning Committee, CSUS, 1980.

This policy document set forth instructional program priorities for the University, generally, and assigned specific priorities for schools and departments. The document further set forth various policies pertaining to degree programs, some of which have been carried forward, in original or amended form, to other policy documents, some of which have been superseded by adoption of other policies.

The document has been included in the compilation of background documents solely for its historical significance. With the adoption of this policy on Instructional Program Priorities, the 1980 document shall no longer serve as a policy reference.

2. Policies and Procedures for Initiation, Modification, Review and Approval of Courses and Academic Programs, CSUS, 1990.

This compilation includes a variety of policies and procedures on the specified subjects, including program review procedures, policies pertaining to initiation of new programs and revision of existing programs, and policies pertaining to degree programs (e.g., unit limitations).

3. SB 1570, "Mission" Bill, Introduced by Senators Nielsen, Bergeson, Cecil Green, Kopp, Morgan, Seymour, Torres, and Watson, March, 1989.

The bill amends the Education Code to state the missions of each of the segments of higher education in a single provision (Section 66010.4) and also includes revisions to the mission statement for the CSU.

4. Enrollment Fact Book 1985-1989, Office of Institutional Studies, CSUS, November, 1989.

Provides an overview of enrollment trends at California State University, Sacramento from Fall 1985 to Fall 1989.

5. Background Papers for the Challenge of Change: A Reassessment of the California Community Colleges. Commission for the Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education, March, 1986.

6. The Master Plan Renewed: Unity, Equity, Quality, and Efficiency in California Postsecondary Education. Commission for the Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education, 1987.

SB 1570 (The Nielsen Bill), approved by the Governor in 1984, established the Commission for the Review of Higher Education to review the Master Plan and to formulate and submit (to the Legislature) recommendations regarding policies and the content of the Master Plan. The referenced document is the report of the Commission.

These documents have been compiled in a separate volume, copies of which are on file in the University Archives, Academic Senate Office, and the Offices of the President and Academic Vice