Sac State University Policy Manual

Projecting New Degree Programs on the CSUS Academic Master Plan: Regular, Fast Track , and Pilot Programs

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Effective Date:
Index Cross-References: Program Proposals, New; Fast Track Programs; Pilot Programs
Policy File Number: FSP00010.htm


The following procedures are for new programs involving major capital outlay and other significant additional new resources, programs involving degrees in areas new to the CSU, and programs involving separate specialized accreditation. For programs with no major capital outlay and which can be accommodated within the existing resource base of the campus, please refer to the Fast Track and Pilot Programs noted below.

  1. Regular Programs

The Academic Master Plan is the CSU Board of Trustees' approved list of degree programs that are currently offered by the individual campuses within the system. In addition, the Master Plan also carries a list of programs that are projected to be offered in the future by a campus. Projected programs are not approved programs, but programs the Board of Trustees will permit the campus to offer providing the program is subsequently approved for implementation at both the campus and the Chancellor's level. Normally, a program is projected on the Master Plan one to five years in advance of the planned date of implementation. Permission to project a new program requires the campus to indicate the purpose of the program and how it fits into the mission of the university, demonstrate the need for the program, show the anticipated student demand, and provide a resource assessment. However, detailed degree proposals and resource analyses are not required to be submitted to the Chancellor's Office at the time projection requests are submitted, but are required prior to the projected year of degree implementation.

    1. Initiation of New Programs
      1. New degree programs may be proposed by faculty by means of a new degree planning document:
        • detailing the purpose, scope, and content of the proposed program;

        • assessing the need for the new program, as it relates to the CSUS service area, and potential student demand for the program. Both substantial need and demand must exist to justify new degree programs; *

        • preparing, with the assistance of appropriate administrative personnel, an estimate of the resources (existing and new) required to operate the proposed new program in accord with acceptable academic standards. Proposed sources for funding the program are to be identified; e.g., department, College, university or other funds.
    1. * Justifying the need for a new academic program is becoming increasingly important in the review by the Chancellor's Office, for projection onto the Master Plan. If the campus later seeks approval of a proposal for the new degree program, need is a critical factor in both Chancellor's Office and California Postsecondary Education Commission review. Please work with the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs in the early stage of program planning to design an approach justifying programmatic need.

      1. New degree programs may also be proposed at the College level, generally by the deans and associate deans in consultation with department chairs and/or academic councils or other appropriate review bodies. New program plans should be incorporated into the College and Unit Plans. Although the review route is shorter for new programs proposed at the College level, the same documentation as in A above is required.

    2. Department and/or College Review of Proposals to Project New Degree Programs on the Academic Master Plan

      1. If the new degree program is initiated at the department level, the sponsoring department's curriculum committee, or other designated body, reviews the new degree planning document and prepares a programmatic impact statement including an assessment of:

        • the accuracy of the need and demand statements;
        • the soundness and adequacy of the proposed curriculum;
        • the match of the new program to the department's goals and objectives;
        • the relative priority of the new program in relation to existing programs, e.g., high, intermediate, or low priority;
        • competency of existing faculty to offer the proposed program;
        • additional resources (faculty, operating expenses, equipment, facilities, space, support services, and other) needed to operate the program in accord with acceptable standards.

      2. Based on the programmatic impact statement, the sponsoring department determines whether to request its College to consider placing the proposed new degree on the CSU Academic Master Plan. The departmental action, together with its programmatic impact statement, becomes part of the planning document.

      3. The College, through its Curriculum Committee and/or Academic Council, then determines whether to support the inclusion of the proposed program on the campus Academic Master Plan. Proposals that are not supported are returned to the sponsoring department with the reasons for the action. Departments may submit the proposal or modifications of the proposal in subsequent years.

      4. After a new degree proposal has been endorsed by the College, the Dean, in consultation with appropriate College bodies, prepares a Master Plan Projection Request for each proposed degree program. The request will include:

        • the importance of the proposed program to the College in relation to existing programs;
        • the ranking in relation to other programs proposed by the College, including those which it has projected in prior years but has not yet implemented;
        • the additional resources the College and other University units will need to implement and support the on-going operation of the program;
        • the estimated impact of the program, if any, on other University programs or units;
        • a proposed implementation date not more than five years in the future.

    3. University Review of New Degree Programs Proposed for Inclusion on the CSUS Academic Master Plan

      1. The Dean's Master Plan Projection Requests are forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The request is submitted to the Senate's appropriate curriculum committee for its review and recommendation.

      2. The Senate's appropriate curriculum committee recommends to the Senate changes in the CSUS Academic Master Plan.

      3. The Senate takes action on the appropriate curriculum committee's recommendations and forwards its action to the President.

      4. Campus requests for changes in its Master Plan are due in the Chancellors' office yearly (currently in October). The Board of Trustees acts on the Chancellor's recommendations for revisions to the CSU Academic Master Plan at one of its meetings (currently March).

      5. Projection on the CSUS Academic Master Plan does not carry with it a commitment of the campus to implement the proposed programs, nor does it carry campus or Chancellor's Office approval of program content. Projected programs may be subsequently removed from the Master Plan or their targeted implementation dates moved to later years.

  1. Fast Track Programs

    A campus may submit an implementation proposal for a new degree program that is not already projected on the campus Academic Master Plan if it meets the criteria for the "fast track" outlined below. The proposal will be reviewed just as if it were a second-phase implementation proposal in the two-phase process. After the normal process for approval of new degree program at campus level, fast-track proposals are submitted to the Chancellor's Office of Academic Planning, by the first Monday in January. If the proposed program raises no major issues it can be acted on by the Board of Trustees in March and receive full approval in July. Those that are submitted by the second Monday in June and which raise no major issues can be acted on by the Board in September and receive full approval in December. The goal for these fast track programs is to get them approved and implemented within one year from the time a campus first proposed the program, instead of the current two- to three-year time lag between proposal and implementation.

    A program could be placed on the fast track only if

    • it could be offered at a high level of quality by the campus within the campus's existing resource base, or there is a demonstrated capacity to fund the program on a self-support basis;
    • it is not subject to specialized accreditation by an agency that is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, or it is currently offered as an option or concentration that is already recognized and accredited by an appropriate specialized accrediting agency;
    • it can be adequately housed without a major capital outlay project;
    • it is consistent with all existing state and federal law and trustee policy;
    • it is a bachelor's or master's degree program;
    • the program has been subject to a thorough campus review and approval process.

      Timelines for Fast-Track Approval

    Campus approval process (As noted above for regular programs)

    End of December

    Proposal to Chancellor's Office
    Board of Trustees' approval
    CPEC endorsement


    Campus approval process (As noted above for regular programs)

    Early June

    Proposal to Chancellor's Office
    Board of Trustees' approval
    CPEC endorsement
    Limited Implementation
    Program description in campus catalog
    Full implementation

    Fast track programs are subject to firm deadlines for review by the Chancellor's Office and CPEC. Neither the Chancellor's Office nor CPEC reviewers can seek additional time. If no questions are forwarded to the campus by the end of the review deadline, then approval is automatic. For some programs, review by the Chancellor's Office and CPEC would be concurrent.

  2. Pilot Programs

    The Trustees have authorized a limited number of pilot programs (one or two per campus per three-year period) which campuses may establish without prior approval of the Chancellor's Office or CPEC. A pilot program must meet the following conditions:

    1. A pilot program would be authorized to operate only for five years. If no further action is taken by the end of the five years, no new students could be admitted to the program. The campus would be obliged to make appropriate arrangements for students already enrolled in the program to complete it.

    2. A pilot program could be converted to regular-program status and approved to continue to operate indefinitely if the following conditions are met:
      • The campus committed the resources necessary to maintain the program beyond five years;
      • A thorough program evaluation (including an on-site review by one or more experts in the field) showed the program to be of high quality; to be attractive to students; and to produce graduates attractive to prospective employers and/or graduate programs, as appropriate;
      • Approval by the board and the chancellor would be required after review and comment by the Chancellor's Office and CPEC.

    3. A pilot program could be established as a pilot program only if it met the criteria for fast track programs as noted above.

    4. The campus would be obliged to notify the Chancellor's Office of the establishment of the program and its curricular requirements prior to program implementation.

    5. A pilot program could be implemented without its having been projected on the campus Academic Plan. It would require the acknowledgement, but not the prior approval of the Chancellor's Office and CPEC, and it would be identified as a pilot program in the next annual update of the campus Academic Plan.
  3. Procedures for Requesting Projection of New Degree Programs on the CSUS Academic Master Plan -- Regular, Fast Track and Pilot Programs

    Proposals for initiating (projecting) new degree programs are to follow the format below. Submit fifteen copies of the proposal to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs.

    1. Complete Form B.

    2. State the purpose of the program.

    3. How does the proposed program fit into the mission of the University and the program responsibility of the College and the academic unit that will offer the program?

    4. Describe the need for the program with respect to student interest, interest in the community and the demand within our service area for graduates of the program.

    5. Indicate the anticipated student demand for the program. Upon what basis were these estimates derived?

    6. Describe the general scope and content of the proposed program. Detailed degree proposals need not be presented at this time, but the general scope and content should be outlined in enough detail to provide a basis for assessing the resource needs of the program.

    7. Estimate the resources (existing and new) required to operate the proposed program in accord with acceptable academic standards. Your estimate should include program faculty, program coordination or administration, space, equipment, operating expenses, clerical/technical support, and other support services. A detailed description of resources needed is not needed at this time.

    8. What is the proposed source of funding for the additional resource needs?

    9. What programmatic or fiscal impact will the proposed program have on the sponsoring unit's programs and other academic units within and outside the host College?

    10. Summary Statement for Submission to Chancellor's Office
    1. Attached to the above format (but on separate sheets for submission to the Chancellor's Office) a summary statement not exceeding three pages of the proposed new degree program. The summary statement should indicate the reason the program is being proposed and the anticipated student demand. There should be an indication of the kind of resource assessment used by the campus in the course of deciding to place the program on the academic plan. This summary will, of course, later be followed by a full degree proposal prior to the projected year of degree implementation.

      Under circumstances additional information is required in this summary. These are:

      • if additional resources will be required, there should be an indication of commitment to secure them and evidence that decision-making curriculum committees were aware of the source or resource support when they endorsed the proposal.
      • if the program is an occupational or professional one, the statement should summarize evidence of the need for graduates with this specific educational background.
      • if the new degree program is now offered as an option, the summary should include a brief rationale for the conversion.
      • if the new program is not commonly offered as a bachelor's or master's degree, the summary should provide a compelling academic rationale explained how the proposed subject area constitutes a coherent, integrated degree major which has potential value to students.
      • if the proposal does not appear to conform to the Trustee policy calling for "broadly based programs," rationale should be provided.