Program and Course Management
Overview of Curriculum Management
The curriculum is developed and modified by the faculty within a program and it is the program director’s responsibility to facilitate the process. This section provides guidelines for modifying your existing curriculum such as adding, revising, or deleting courses and for the addition of Special Topics courses. It also provides guidelines for making permanent changes to the curriculum such as adding tracks, deleting core requirements, changing the hours required for a degree program and for proposing new degree and graduate certificate programs.
Usually additions, deletions, changes to tracks, and course modifications in existing programs are first reviewed by the Program Graduate Committee, followed by the College Graduate Curriculum Committee, and finally by the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee. The Graduate Council Curriculum Committee then makes a recommendation to the Vice Provost and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies who, depending on the action, has approval authority or recommends the action for final approval by higher authority. The recommendation by the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee may be tracked in the Council Curriculum Committee minutes at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu.
If changes need to be made to courses, the syllabus, the prerequisites, the core curriculum, or the number of hours in a program, please submit the Course Action Request Form to your department and college graduate committees.
A Program Recommendation Form must be completed for all additions, deletions or revisions to tracks, programs or certificates. There are three different Program Recommendation Forms, so use the form appropriate for your request.
Authorization of a new degree program is a two-step process that begins with the faculty and ends with approval by the UCF Board of Trustees (BOT) or the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). Details of the process are located on the Academic, Faculty, and International Affairs (AFIA) website. Details of the process are included in the UCF Procedures for New Academic Degree Program Authorization. The procedures and the pre-proposal form are located at: afia.ucf.edu/new-academic-degree-programs/.
A request to establish a market tuition rate program, track, or certificate requires an additional step and appropriate approvals.
Under no circumstance can you advertise a new program or track without first obtaining university permission.
If you are interested in starting a new program, please talk with the College of Graduate Studies to get information about how to do this.
The University of Central Florida maintains compliance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) policy, Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges, through the appropriate and timely reporting on areas of substantive change.
Substantive Change is defined as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution as defined by SACS-COC.
Substantive changes include actions reviewed by the undergraduate and graduate curriculum committees. These include but are not limited to:
- significantly changing the length of a program
- initiating a degree completion program
- changing from clock hours to credit hours
- substantially altering the number of hours for successful completion of a program
- initiating courses or program at a different credential level
- expanding programs at the current credential level
- initiating or expanding off-campus sites or distance learning programs
- relocating an off-campus site, a main campus or branch campus
- initiating program or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium
- closing a program
At the time such changes are considered, the Undergraduate Program Curriculum Committee and Graduate Council are responsible for bringing the proposed actions to the attention of the dean of undergraduate or graduate studies, as appropriate. The undergraduate and graduate deans are responsible for notifying the UCF SACS-COC liaison in the Office of the Provost and Vice President about potential substantive changes. Certain changes require approval by SACS-COC prior to implementation and can also require a SACS-COC on-site committee visit. Thus, it is important that the internal reporting deadlines denoted in the UCF Substantive Change Procedures matrix be met (usually requires internal notification to UCF SACS-COC liaison 9-12 months in advance of implementation). The UCF SACS-COC liaison will review each proposal to determine if it constitutes a substantive change that needs to go through the notification and/or approval process for SACS-COC.
For additional information see:
UCF policy 4-505 Reporting of Substantive Change
UCF Substantive Change Procedures matrix
SACS-COC Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges
The UCF Course Action Request and Special Topics Request forms are the vehicles by which courses are proposed, revised, or deleted and routed through the program, college, and university levels. The forms may also be found at the Graduate Council website. Procedures for the consideration of Course Action Requests by the Graduate Council are located on the Graduate Council website. All minutes of the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee and their recommendations are located at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu. The Graduate Council provides guidelines for submitting recommended curricular changes to them for review. These guidelines can also be found at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum in the document entitled Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes. Refer to the graduate catalog for the UCF Credit Hour Policy.
The UCF College of Graduate Studies collects and reviews the Course Action Request forms for completeness, creates a report with course titles, descriptions, and other information, and forwards the forms to the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee for review and approval. A listing of all proposed changes will be circulated via listserv to the graduate program directors and college coordinators as well as the chairs and deans in all colleges for review prior to the Council meeting. The Graduate Council Curriculum Committee normally meets every two weeks so that program requests should proceed quickly.
Remember to attach a syllabus for each course addition and revision or the approved course cannot be forwarded to the state as described below. To receive a course number, the State of Florida uses the statewide Common Course Numbering Committees in each discipline that meet on an infrequent basis throughout the year. Courses sent forward by December of each year will more than likely get a course number from the state in time for publication in the next year’s catalog. For course additions, a prefix and level (5XXX, 6XXX, or 7XXX) must also be supplied, even though it may be changed after being processed by the state.
Scheduling of Graduate Courses
One of the biggest complaints from graduate students is that many courses listed in the Graduate Catalog are seldom offered. In fact, many students have difficulty graduating due to core and elective courses not being offered in a timely manner. Therefore, a realistic graduate course schedule should be constructed for three years at a time and located on the program website, so that graduate students and faculty can plan programs of study.
It is recommended that program directors and graduate committees review course schedules every two years and delete those courses that have not been taught in the last five years. A Course Action Request Form is located at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum and is required to delete a course.
Core classes are usually offered in the Fall term and/or Spring term of every year. The semesters in which the courses will be taught must be listed on the Course Action Request Forms and are recorded in the Graduate Catalog so that students can plan their study accordingly. It is also important to think about the target audience for each course and to provide courses for graduate students during times when they are most likely to take them. For instance, part-time students usually prefer courses at night or on weekends. High-school teachers are more likely to take courses during the Summer B term or a specially designed term, rather than during other semesters.
In scheduling your courses, please be cognizant that the Plan of Study Policy requires that at least 27 credit hours of doctoral programs must include formal coursework and at least 24 semester hours of master’s programs must be core and elective courses exclusive of thesis and research. Also, do not forget that at least half of the credit hours used to meet program requirements in a master’s program must be at the 6000 level. And at least one-half of the credit hours used to meet program requirements in doctoral programs must be in 6000-level or 7000-level courses, including the allowed number of research and dissertation hours. Therefore, please examine course offerings at least once every two years to assure that courses have the appropriate enrollment to be offered and that enough appropriate courses are offered so that students can graduate.
If your students are having difficulty in finding the appropriate courses in order to graduate, it will be necessary for your faculty to realistically reexamine the curriculum. You may want to consolidate or eliminate tracks if you no longer have adequate enrollment or faculty expertise in that track. You may also want to move your students as cohorts through the curriculum as much as possible to assure enrollment in those courses that are absolutely essential to the degree.
Scheduling flexibility is crucial to ensure that students who need to take courses are able to match their schedules to the course offerings. There are a variety of scheduling options available now so that courses can begin before the semester, after the start of the semester, and for various periods of time. Courses that last from three to eight weeks are now more common. Web-based and Web-enhanced courses and complete degree programs are worth developing to meet student needs. For off-campus courses, the UCF Center for Distributed Learning at online.ucf.edu/ can assist in offering courses in split sessions, sessions that begin early or end after the close of the term, classes that meet on weekends, and so on.
Adding, Revising, or Deleting Courses
The Graduate Council Curriculum Committee reviews new graduate courses and special topic requests, as well as proposed revisions and deletions of existing courses and makes recommendations to the Vice Provost and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. They also provide recommendations about all other course-related changes to existing degree programs, such as changing the hours required and adding, deleting, or modifying an option, track, or specialty area.
Normally, course changes are considered at regularly scheduled meetings, usually every two weeks, of the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee. Their schedule is provided at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu when it becomes available each September. Council members, department chairs, program directors, and academic deans will be supplied with course descriptions and corresponding proposed changes prior to the Council meeting through the listservs.
All new courses receive course numbers from the statewide Common Course Numbering Committee maintained by the Florida Department of Education. Therefore, because of time constraints in receiving the course numbers, only those requests for changes to courses made by December of each year will receive course numbers in time for the Graduate Catalog for the upcoming year. Course prefixes are not owned by departments, but are assigned by the statewide Common Course Numbering Committee on the basis of discipline and the numbers cannot be requested by individual programs.
Each college graduate office has a designated staff member who inputs course (and special topic) requests information to the online Course Database. College approval is required; university-level approval is granted by the College of Graduate Studies after Graduate Council Curriculum Committee recommendation. It is important that course action requests for adding graduate courses to the Graduate Catalog have graduate faculty members who are qualified to teach them.
Please make certain that the faculty member listed as instructor is qualified to teach the course by checking the graduate faculty database at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/GradFaculty.
When developing new courses or modifying existing courses, it is essential that the program graduate committee check with similar programs to ascertain if they have courses where an overlap of content may occur. You must determine the nature and degree of overlap and resolve the issues between the programs before proceeding further with your proposal. Failure to do so will result in a delay once the requests get to the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee, since they will usually be tabled, pending this discussion between programs.
If a good faith effort by the programs fails to achieve a resolution, the matter should be referred to the college level for assistance. If unresolved issues concerning other programs still remain, these should be indicated on the UCF Course Action Request form before forwarding it to the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee.
If courses appear similar to courses in other colleges or departments, the request may receive “contingency” approval and two notices will be sent — one to the originating department and one to the unit with a similar course — asking for a response. Usually these notices are sent with the understanding that if no responses are received within two weeks, the course will be approved. Changes that need further clarification to the Graduate Council or to other interested colleges will be returned or held for two weeks until these items are resolved. They may receive automatic approval at that point or be held for the next Graduate Council Curriculum Committee meeting, depending on the Graduate Council recommendation.
Should one program want to participate in or teach a course normally offered by another program, it is expected that discussions will occur between the parties to ensure their mutual cooperation and these should also be noted on the Course Action Request form.
Although generally discouraged, UCF allows departments to offer split-level undergraduate/graduate (4000/5000 level) classes, provided that the courses are only one level apart (not 3000/5000 or 4000/6000, etc.). All courses offered in split-level format require the approval of the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee, even if the 4000 and the 5000 level classes have already been separately approved. The intent of Graduate Council review is to ensure that the graduate level course has maintained the greater rigor and content expected in a graduate course. This level of scrutiny is required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC), which is our regional accrediting body.
All graduate split-level courses must be submitted for approval using the Course Action Request form along with separate syllabi for both the graduate and undergraduate courses. The syllabi must include a brief narrative indicating the different assignments and grading expected of undergraduate and graduate students, clearly demonstrating that graduate students are held to an advanced level of critical thinking. Failure to show this is the major reason to have these requests tabled by the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee.
Documentation of split-level class offerings must be maintained in the dean's office of the academic college. Student materials for both the undergraduate and graduate courses, including both syllabi, are required to be maintained each time the course is taught, to prove that the content and complexity are different. This content is required for review by SACS-COC.
The policies concerning split-level courses do not allow a student to take both the undergraduate and graduate levels of a split-level course for credit. The sole exceptions are for performance and seminar classes that can be taken for credit multiple times. If a graduate student has taken a non-exempt required split-level class as part of his or her undergraduate program, the graduate requirement should be waived and a related course be used as a substitution. As is true for all other graduate course requirements, graduate students must take the graduate level of a split-level course for it to count toward fulfilling graduate program requirements.
Best Practices for Split-level Courses
While certain factors necessitate the teaching of graduate courses in split-level format, because of the presence of undergraduates in these classroom settings, the potential exists for these courses to be taught more toward the level of the undergraduates, rather than the graduate enrollees. Programs, departments, and colleges should remain vigilant that the graduate students taking these classes are receiving graduate level instruction and that the number of split-level courses in their students’ programs of study (POS) are kept to a minimum.
Graduate Council Actions on Course Changes
Once the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee has made recommendations and they have been approved by the College of Graduate Studies, the Graduate College will send notices to the originating departments informing them of the action. Approval can be seen and tracked on the Course Database, which is available in college offices.
After Graduate Council action, course requests are transmitted to the state for assignment of common course numbering as described earlier in this section.
Approved Special Topics requests are sent to course scheduling so they may be made available for registration.
Permanent changes to the curriculum such as adding or deleting tracks, revising core requirements, or changing the hours required for the degree program all require a review and recommendation by the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee. The deletion of programs also requires a review and recommendation by the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee. Guidelines and details about how to prepare a proposal for Graduate Council consideration can be found at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum in the document entitled “Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes.” Use the Program Recommendation Form as the routing vehicle for your proposal. If making revisions or additions, pay particular attention to providing a catalog copy showing the track changes so that it is clear what is being changed in your program, track or option. Failure to provide the catalog copy will slow consideration of the proposal.
Requests to change existing degree programs must be received by the end of February to be included in the Graduate Catalog for the next year. Therefore, update all printed and Web information (including program handbooks) at the same time that the Graduate Catalog changes are made each year.
Normally, program changes are considered at regularly scheduled meetings of the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee. Their schedule is provided at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu each September. Council members, department chairs, program directors, and academic deans will be supplied with course descriptions and corresponding proposed changes prior to the Council meeting through the listservs.
If your master's or certificate program has stagnated in enrollment, or it has become difficult to offer, you may want to consider revamping your program. You might reexamine the delivery format or the focus of your program. For example, part-time students who are working professionals are demanding online programs for convenience and UCF is committed to meeting the needs of our region. Therefore, the university has resources to assist you in converting a program to an online format. The Center for Distributed Learning (http://online.ucf.edu/) will work with individual faculty to make the transitions to online. Contact the Center for Distributed Learning if you have questions about creating online offerings.
You may also want to consider reforming your program into a Professional Science Master's (PSM) or a Professional Master's in Social Sciences and Humanities (PMA) program. These programs are increasingly in demand among professionals seeking programs that are directly tied to workforce and economic opportunity. These are very practical and applied programs that have an industrial advisory board to help shape the curriculum and to provide internship experiences for students. They typically include a core of advanced disciplinary content as well as professional coursework in business, legal issues, regulatory issues, or other pertinent professional content prized by employers. In addition, the programs usually include an internship in an industrial setting, which often makes the student more marketable upon graduation. Information giving an overview of both PSM and PMA programs can be found at www.cgsnet.org/ or www.npsma.org.
Interdisciplinary programs are quite applicable to the needs of today’s workforce and thus are being encouraged by the UCF. If you have ideas for new interdisciplinary programs or incorporating interdisciplinary elements into existing programs, please let the College of Graduate Studies assist you in the discussion. Especially involve the College of Graduate Studies in the discussion if the interdisciplinary focus spans the expertise of more than a single college.
Tracks or Options
Many programs include tracks or options which possess a unique focus and a unique curriculum that allows students the opportunity to learn and develop skills in specialized areas that are often marketable. Although many tracks or options share several core disciplinary courses, they are unique enough to be published in the Graduate Catalog and are provided with their own CIP and Sub-Plan codes for identification and tracking of students. Tracks in general should not require additional resources or additional faculty in order to be offered. Tracks are generally designated to assist with marketing a specialization area consisting of a few courses that would be of interest and benefit to students.
For practical purposes, it is best to keep tracks to a minimum in most programs, so that numerous additional courses do not have to be taught and scheduled. Also, too many tracks confuse students about the real intent of the degree program and could possibly diffuse the faculty strength to such a point that it becomes difficult to sustain the tracks should a few faculty members leave the program.
Information about adding, deleting, or modifying a track or option can be found at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum in the document “Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes.” Use the Program Recommendation Form as the routing vehicle to accompany your proposal template. If making additions or revisions, pay particular attention to providing catalog copy showing the track changes so that it is easy to see exactly what is being changed in your program, track or option.
Adding New Degree Programs
Authorization of a new degree program is a two-step process that begins with the faculty and ends with approval by the University Board of Trustees (BOT) or the Board of Governors (BOG). Details of the process are located on the Academic, Faculty, and International Affairs (AFIA) website in "UCF Procedures for New Academic Degree Program Authorization." The procedures and the pre-proposal form are located at: http://afia.ucf.edu/new-academic-degree-programs/.
Departments should begin the initial planning for new programs at least three to five years prior to the anticipated implementation date. This will allow ample time to develop the plans and resources necessary to support the program. Refer to "Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes" on the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee website (www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum).
Request to Establish a Market Tuition Rate Program, Track, or Certificate
A request to establish a market tuition rate program, track, or certificate requires an additional step and appropriate approvals. Contact the College of Graduate Studies to obtain information on the process and appropriate forms to be completed.
Suspending or Inactivating Tracks and Programs
The procedures for inactivating (deleting) tracks and programs are given in “Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes” at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum and requires the completed Program Recommendation Form- Inactivations-Suspensions Only.
If you want to suspend applications for a single semester (for instance, you already have more applications than you can consider), you may do so by notifying the Graduate College (Leben Goldman at Leben.Goldman@ucf.edu) and asking for approval for this. The Graduate College will remove the program listing from the application system and we will also include a temporary note in the Graduate Catalog that applications are suspended for that semester.
If you need to suspend applications for more than a single semester, then a formal request must be submitted through the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee explaining the rationale for doing so, what is meant by the suspension, and what will happen to students currently in the program. This is used by a program that is either revamping their curriculum or awaiting the recruitment of a new cohort of students to be admitted in the near future. The suspension will be noted in the Graduate Catalog. The program is still obligated to provide the courses that are needed to allow the current enrollment of students to progress toward graduation in the program. If the suspension is not lifted within three years, the program will be inactivated in the degree inventory at ikm.ucf.edu/academic-programs/.
Program or track deletion may require that courses are offered so that students still enrolled in the program will have time to complete the degree. In this case, the program files the appropriate documents for deletion, marking on the form that students are still in the program and that they will be given a fixed time in which to complete the degree. Once the document has been approved by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate College, and then the Provost and BOT if a program, and the Provost if a track, the program or track description will be permanently removed from the Graduate Catalog and no additional students will be admitted. After the time period has been reached when students should have completed, the program will be inactivated in inventory of programs.
As you can see, one of the primary concerns when deleting tracks and programs is how to reasonably provide for those students who are currently enrolled in the program. While it may be your intention to delete a program or track as denoted on the Program Recommendation Form, it should take into account the students still in the program. Therefore, when submitting a proposal for deletion, please include a “teach-out” plan showing how the program will make the necessary provisions to allow the current enrollment to either graduate or transition into another program. This is always of great concern to the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee when reviewing these proposals, and they cannot make a recommendation about the inactivation (deletion) without it.
Graduate Certificates provide a shortened, condensed and focused course of study for nondegree and graduate students that supplements an existing bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The most popular graduate certificate programs are those that lead to licensure or certification, provide needed on-the-job expertise, or are focused on a timely area of discussion in a discipline. For a quick reference guide on policies associated with certificate programs, please see Graduate Certificate Policy in the Policy Guide and Graduate Certificate Program Policies in the Graduate Catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu.
Graduate certificates are often a way to entice potential graduate students into a formal degree program. It is up to the program as to how many of the credits taken from the graduate certificate can apply toward the degree, but the university allows all of them to be applied with the consent of the department. Since many of the students from a graduate certificate program will ultimately want to continue in a master’s program, the marketing and advising associated with the graduate certificate should be just as seriously considered.
Graduate certificates should be between 9 to 18 hours of course credit hours that are current in content. The curricula are not necessarily permanent but can come and go as the discipline changes (with Graduate Council approval of each change). No course substitutions or transfer hours are allowed. Course substitution is only allowed when there is course overlap between two related graduate certificates that share courses and substitutions are necessary to prevent the double counting of courses in the certificates. Therefore, petitions for extensions are seldom approved without exceptional circumstances.
With all characteristics considered, it is best to design the certificate program with some flexibility from the start with either a choice of courses, or recognition that you will closely monitor your content and request changes from the Graduate Council whenever the curriculum needs to be updated. Since student appeals for graduate certificate programs are limited, petitions for course substitutions are evidence that the curriculum needs to be updated.
The procedures for adding a new certificate are given in the "Graduate Policies for Curricular Changes" document at www.graduatecouncil.ucf.edu/Curriculum and requires a completed program Recommendation Form.
The participating departments must gain approval from their graduate committees and college committees before submitting their proposal to the UCF College of Graduate Studies for review. Interdisciplinary programs that have participation of more than one college must indicate approval of the involved colleges. The proposal is referred to the Graduate Council for evaluation and recommendation to the Vice Provost and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. The Provost will provide final approval.
The Graduate Council Curriculum Committee evaluates the admissions and completions in Graduate Certificate programs every 3 years. For programs without active admissions in the last three years, the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee will recommend that the program be deleted – those students enrolled will be allowed to continue but no new students will be admitted and the program will not be identified in the Graduate Application or Graduate Catalog. For programs with modest admissions and completions, the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee may send a recommendation to the college that the program be monitored and that program admissions and completions will be reviewed in another year. Sunset provisions for deletion shall apply to any graduate certificate program that has no student enrollment for three consecutive years.
In order to delete a graduate certificate program, a Program Recommendation Form must be submitted to the UCF College of Graduate Studies after prior consideration by the unit and the college. This request for deletion of a certificate program should provide a proposed termination date and justification for the request, which could include accreditation concerns, low student demand, lack of centrality to the university's mission, high cost, lack of sufficient faculty to offer the program, or a change of focus of the department or college that no longer supports the program. In addition, a plan must be included that explains how the program will reasonably provide for currently enrolled students until their graduation or if they choose to leave the program. The submitted request will be forwarded from the College of Graduate Studies to the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee for review.
Pursuant to Florida Statute, UCF conducts in-depth reviews of our programs at least every seven years. In 1999, the then Board of Regents gave the universities the authority to define their own process within some broader guidelines. UCF developed a process consistent with its strategic planning process. The primary purpose is to examine the quality and productivity of academic programs with a goal to develop recommendations leading to program improvement.
The Academic Program Review process is administered though the Office of Academic Affairs. For additional information about program reviews, please visit the Academic Affairs website at afia.ucf.edu/.