Academic Program and Course Development

Information and Resources for Developing, Modifying, and Closing Majors, Concentrations, Certificates, Minors, and Courses


Important Pedagogical and Academic Practices and Policies to Consider

Undertaking any curriculum change activity (e.g., course change, major change, etc.) should initially include a conversation about how learning outcomes are demonstrated or measured in your courses and degree programs. Learning goals by major can be found on the Program Goals and Reports page.

When beginning the process of assessing one’s courses and/or major, we recommend faculty consider every curriculum change through the lens of their major’s learning outcomes or, put another way, ask “what is being asked of students to learn or what do you want them to get out of their journey through your program?” Faculty can take advantage of the Assessment Subcommittee and its supports by contacting the Assessment Subcommittee chair or the Academic Success Director Jessica LaGrange. 

We also encourage faculty to utilize the Course Quality: Best Practices and Resources which provides information, tips, and helpful resources on how faculty can provide enhanced teaching supports and foster innovative teaching practices. As always, the Hub for Teaching & Learning Resources is available to assist faculty in their curriculum development efforts.

Cross-Listed Course Policies

Faculty should consult the campus definitions for cross-listed and equivalent courses when determining whether a new course should be created or linked to existing courses.

Course Numbering 

In developing a new course, faculty do not have to enter a course number in the course form (see Curriculum Inventory Management (CIM) System section below) – although they are free to include one. If faculty do want to enter a course number, please review the Definition for Course Numbering policy which is intended to provide a framework guide for the course numbering system at UM-Dearborn.

Credit-Hour Planning – In Person and Online

Another important consideration is how your teaching objectives measured through your program’s learning goals are connected to the University’s Definition of the Credit Hour. This definition primarily utilizes class time “blocks” in order to measure a credit hour. As a result, each 50 minutes of scheduled classroom or direct instruction (with instructional methods designated as “CLASS” for exclusively in-person learning) constitutes 1-credit hour of a course. Faculty are free to choose the dominant class format (designated as schedule type) the form of discussion, field, independent study, internship/co-op, laboratory, lecture, recitation, or seminar. Please see the UM-Dearborn standard time blocks page for additional information about how UM-Dearborn aligns its in-person credit hours to time blocks. 

Aside from measuring a credit hour based on classroom or direct instruction, a course can be developed utilizing an equivalent amount of work. At UM-Dearborn, faculty are guided by the federal definition of “substantive interaction” in distance education (see Definition of the Credit Hour). We also ask faculty to follow the Rubric for Online Instruction which was developed by the Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources and integrated separate college-level standards into a Rubric for Online Instruction, which consists of the following categories:

  • Learner support and resources
  • Course organization and design
  • Instructional design and delivery
  • Student outcome assessment
  • Online pedagogy
  • Faculty use of student feedback 

This rubric was constructed to guide course design using learner-centered instructional design principles; as well as to recognize instructors who have developed expertise in online/hybrid instruction as part of our commitment to high quality learning environments. The rubric was approved for campus use by the University Curriculum and Degree Committee - Digital Education Subcommittee. 

For courses utilizing the non-classroom or direct instructional method of measuring a credit hour, faculty must choose one of the following instructional methods: “HYB,” “ONMST,” “ONREG,” or “ONLN.” In brief, the instructional method designation selected is providing students an indication of the level of “onlineness” or how much online the course will be for a given semester. 

The University’s Office of Digital Education offers a number of services to support the development and enhancement of online course offerings. We recommend visiting the Digital Education webpage to explore the academic video and video recording services available along with helpful videos from the Digital Education Day and important academic policies to consider when developing a hybrid or online course. 

DDC (General Education) Considerations

Faculty who would like to have their course designated in one of the Dearborn Discovery Core nine categories should consult the DDC Course Application Process webpage. Responsibility for reviewing and approving all courses for the DDC program rests with the Dearborn Discovery Core Subcommittee. All DDC policies can be found in the Academic Catalog. For questions regarding the DDC or the application process, please contact Angie Hernandez ([email protected]) or the current DDC Subcommittee chair. 

Program and Degree Policies to Consider – Undergraduate and Graduate

It is vital for all faculty who are considering the creation of a new academic degree or major to review the necessary academic policies related to degree and graduation requirements. For the undergraduate level, please consult the Degree and Program Definitions page of the UG Catalog which includes definitions for all approved undergraduate degree types at UM-Dearborn along with major, concentration, certificate, and minor definitions. It is also important to take into consideration the University Undergraduate Degree Requirements to properly understand the requirements placed on students for completing a major and/or degree.  

At the graduate level, please consult the Graduate Degree and Program Definitions page; the Graduate Dual Degrees page; and the Graduate Certificate Policy page for information on the definitions for all approved graduate degree types at UM-Dearborn. 

Higher Learning Commission Considerations

As part of UM-Dearborn’s need to maintain accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, our campus must apply for prior approval or notify HLC of certain types of institutional changes which are considered “substantive changes”. The prior approval or notification process typically involves a “desk review” of the proposed change and might also involve a campus visit by an HLC review team. For example, UM-Dearborn must notify HLC of new academic degree programs or the opening of an additional location. Our institution is also responsible for tracking all program changes and reporting them to HLC when the cumulative total of changes reaches 25% of the total program. For more information about the substantive change process, please visit HLC’s substantive change website. There is a cost associated with HLC reviews that each college will be responsible for when submitting a new degree type or program approval. Typically, desk reviews are $1025 and campus visits for additional locations are $725 + expenses. More information can be found on HLC’s Dues and Fees website.

Academic Program and Curriculum Development Process

Designing a new curricular program should start with determining the program’s focus with the most important aspect of that being developing program goals. This process can and should include a basic description of the program. Faculty should consult the Assessment webpages to find support in developing student learning outcomes and program assessment. 

Once program goals have been developed, a market analysis of the field and industry and the viability of a degree program should be completed. Please fill out the following market research request form to request a research analysis. 

Based on the outcome of the market analysis, faculty should move to developing the curriculum which outlines the courses, assignments, and assessments that students will complete in the program. The curriculum should be designed to achieve the program's objectives and prepare students for the career or academic path the program is targeting.

Curriculum Inventory Management (CIM) System

Approval for all new and modified undergraduate and graduate majors, concentrations, certificates, minors, and courses begins at the discipline/program level. All course and program curriculum activity is processed through UM-Dearborn’s Curriculum Inventory Management (CIM) system. The linked webpage provides instructions for logging into CIM along with links to the course and program landing pages; helpful guides on submitting various proposals; and a tips/FAQ section. If faculty have any questions about CIM, please contact – [email protected].

Curriculum Approval Steps

Typically, one or more faculty will draft a program or course proposal to be considered by their discipline/program colleagues which if approved needs to be sent to the department executive committee for consideration. Once approved by the department executive committee, the program or course proposal will be forwarded in the CIM system to the college curriculum committee which will review and approve the proposals. 

After a curriculum proposal has been approved by the college, the next step in the approval process is for the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC) to consider all undergraduate program or course proposals. Graduate program or course proposals need to be sent to the Graduate Subcommittee of UCDC for endorsement. The Provost makes the final decision to approve all program and course proposals but only will do so if the UCDC's or the Graduate Subcommittee's support is documented.

Once approved by the Provost, course proposals shall be sent to the Registrar's Office for administrative processing into Banner.

If a faculty member seeks to have their course receive a Dearborn Discovery Core designation and if it is an existing course, it can go directly to the DDC Subcommittee for consideration. New courses must go through the regular curriculum review process (see above) before being submitted for inclusion in the Dearborn Discovery Core. For more details, visit the DDC Course and Application Review Process

UM-Dearborn has developed a Program Approval Matrix to help faculty determine where program proposals are sent after receiving UCDC or Graduate Subcommittee approval. All program proposals for new degrees (not new degree types) are sent to the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU), with the forms available on the UCDC Forms and Resources page, and Higher Learning Commission. The Board of Regents will receive all proposals for new degree types. Please reference the matrix for all other curriculum approvals. If you have any questions, please contact Associate Provost Sollenberger. 

Only after MASU meets and approves the program proposal will the Provost Office send the proposal to the Registrar's Office for administrative processing into Banner. Finally, new certificate proposals do not need to go to Michigan Associate of State Universities or the Board of Regents for review. However, they must be reviewed and approved by the Higher Learning Commission before being sent to the Registrar's Office. 

Curriculum Deadlines at the Campus Level

The submission deadlines for UCDC and Graduate Subcommittee for the 2023-2024 academic year can be found here. The deadlines for submitting course and program changes are indicated by an asterisk.