Academic Program Development

The University of Massachusetts offers more than 200 degree programs (many with one or more concentrations satisfying degree requirements), scores of minors and certificate programs, and thousands of courses. It is largely through these offerings that the intellectual liveliness of the campus is experienced and described, and the curriculum constantly changes and adapts to reflect advances in knowledge and emerging student needs.

The Provost’s Office is responsible for managing this process of change in cooperation with the various schools, colleges, academic departments and programs (which organize and implement programs and courses) and the Faculty Senate (which provides advice on curricular matters under the system of shared governance). Academic program development has two main components: the creation and revision of courses and programs, and ongoing quality control and review to ensure that offerings meet the high standards of the University and others.

Program Approval and Revision

New programs and courses are approved through processes established by the University’s Board of Trustees and, in some cases, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Generally speaking, new courses, minors, and certificates are approved on campus with the advice of the Faculty Senate. New degree programs must have campus approval and also approval from the Board of Trustees and the Board of Higher Education. Most minor revisions to existing degree programs can be approved on campus, but "material and substantial" changes may require off-campus review, and all program name changes must be approved by the University President and the staff of the Board of Higher Education.

Because different kinds of changes have different procedural requirements, it is suggested that individuals contemplating program changes consult with the Provost’s Office or the Faculty Senate Office as early in the process as possible. A flow diagram of the program approval and revision processes (pdf document) summarizes the procedural requirements, and is a good starting point. The Approval Procedure Guide, developed by the Faculty Senate, provides detailed information and the necessary forms.

Program Review

Many of the University’s academic programs receive accreditation from disciplinary or professional organizations that set standards for educational programs in the field. The Office of Institutional Research maintains a list of campus programs receiving disciplinary accreditation.

Regardless of disciplinary accreditation, all degree-granting programs are reviewed on a cyclical basis through the Academic Quality Assessment and Development (AQAD) process established by the University’s Board of Trustees. The AQAD process requires a self-study completed by the program, an external review by a team of scholars in the field, and an "action plan" indicating the steps to be taken as a result of the review. Typically, each program is reviewed every seven years. The Office of Academic Planning and Assessment manages the process, and maintains the AQAD Procedures (PDF document) and the Department and Program Review Schedule (PDF document).

More Information

For more information on any of these processes, contact Bryan C. Harvey, Associate Provost for Planning and Assessment (413) 545-2554;

Useful Links

Approval Procedure Guide
Office of Institutional Research
Academic Quality, Assessment and Development (AQAD) Procedures