V. Review and Approval Process: SFSU Course Review & Approval Guidelines

A. Department /Program and College Guidelines

The major responsibility for curriculum development and revision rests with the faculty who offer the specific program. It is recommended that each department/program and College form a curriculum committee to review and approve courses. The following questions should be addressed at both the department/program and College levels to determine if new and revised courses meet University guidelines.

  1. Does the title properly reflect the content of the course? Does the abbreviated title (used for Class Schedule and student transcripts) clearly and adequately identify the course?
  2. Is the description of the course (which must be 40 words or fewer) carefully worded to reflect the intent and content of the course?
  3. Is the course outline complete and clear in terms of objectives, content, experiences, requirements, and evaluation? Are the course objectives consistent with the award of University level credit? Are the criteria for grading stated clearly, sufficiently related to course objectives, and both rigorous and fair?
  4. Does the proposed number reflect the level of the course?
  5. Are the prerequisites appropriate and clearly stated (particularly for upper division and graduate courses)? (See Course Proposal Form, items 8a and 8e.)
  6. Upper division courses must have prerequisites.
  7. If it is a generic course, does the description include, "Topic to be specified in Class Schedule?"
  8. If the course requires enrollment concurrently with another course, does it include the statement, "Must be taken concurrently with ____. Students may not take this course a second time under an alternate prefix". (See Course Proposal Form, items 8b and 8e.)
  9. If the course is cross-listed, does it clearly state, "Also offered as ___" in both descriptions? See Course Proposal Form, items 8c and 8e.)
  10. If the course is paired, is it clearly stated in both course descriptions? Are the staffing classifications identical? (See Course Proposal Form, items 8d and 8e, and consult Academic Senate Policy S90-126, Policy on Paired Courses.)
  11. If the proposed course can be repeated for credit, are the number of times and/or the total number of units that can be earned reasonable? The course description must include a statement, "May be repeated for credit ‘X’ times" or "May be repeated for credit ‘X’ times when topic varies." (See Course Proposal Form, items 8e and 10c.)
  12. Is the unit value proposed appropriate for the expectations of the course (e.g., learning to be gained, contact hours planned, and required experiences)?
  13. Is the proposed grading method appropriate for the type of class and is it consistent with the University grading policy? (See Course Proposal Form, item 9.)
  14. Will the proposed staffing classification achieve the stated objectives of the course? Is it consistent with the systemwide usage for lower and upper division or graduate level courses?
  15. In light of the University policy which specifies that every department/program shares the responsibility that all written work meet literacy standards, is the writing component appropriate to the content of the course and has provision for the development of writing skills been included in the course outline?
  16. Is the department/program appropriate to offer the course? Is there any evidence that the material covered in the course will inappropriately overlap or encroach upon the interests of other departments/programs in the College or in any other College? If so, has consultation taken place? (See Course Proposal Form, item 11.)
  17. Has the appropriate consideration been given to assessing how the course fits into the total curriculum of the department/program?
  18. If the course directly affects the curriculum of the department/program, has a curriculum change proposal been developed for consideration as an integral part of this review and approval process? (New or revised courses that directly affect or change the curriculum must be accompanied by a request to change the program.)
  19. Is there evidence of sufficient student demand or need to make the course viable? Is it likely that the course can be offered with sufficient student demand at least once every two years?
  20. If the course is a new one, has the department/program considered dropping another course with infrequent offerings?
  21. Is there adequate space to house the course? Does the course require any special equipment?
  22. What demand does the proposed course make on the current resources of the College? What will be the continued or projected demand on College resources?
  23. Is the proposed implementation date appropriate for the needs of the program and does it allow enough time to complete the review/approval process?
  24. Have all relevant blanks on the course proposal form been completed, including all signatures?


B. Academic Affairs Review and Approval Process

The office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs has three major roles to play in the course review/approval process. They are: (1) to provide logistical support for the processing the proposed course forms both before and after being considered by the University Course Review Committee (UCRC); (2) to provide the College Deans/Associate Deans with professional staff reactions regarding the courses before consideration by the UCRC; and (3) to assist with the scheduling and offering of courses recommended for approval by the UCRC and approved by the Undergraduate/Graduate Dean as designees of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs.

To assure control and continuity, the Curriculum Coordinator is assigned the responsibility of coordinating the process from the time a course is received from the College Dean/Associate Dean until it is officially approved and placed in publications of the University.

  1. The Curriculum Coordinator is responsible for:
    • a. Returning courses to the College Deans/Associate Deans that are received beyond the deadline date or are found to be incomplete as submitted. (Arrangements may be made to hold late courses for consideration in a subsequent semester.)
    • b. Conducting a routine check to ensure that:
      • There are no obvious omissions in the information needed to process the course.
      • The proposed course number is consistent with the approved course numbering system.
      • The course description is appropriately worded in no more that 40 words.
      • The title of the course is of reasonable length and consistent with the intent of the course as suggested by the description and the proposed course classification.
      • The abbreviated course title clearly and adequately identifies the course
      • Prerequisites are properly stated and placed in the description.
      • The proposed staffing classification is appropriate for the level, purpose, and method of instruction.
      • Any limitation placed on the number of times the course can be repeated for credit, or on the maximum number of units a student can earn in the course, is properly stated in the course description.
      • The course proposal form is signed by the appropriate individuals.
    • c. Placing the course on the agenda of UCRC.
    • d. Forwarding the course to the Undergraduate or Graduate Dean for review.
  2. The Undergraduate or Graduate Dean is expected to review the course as far in advance of the UCRC meeting as possible. Any concerns or questions should be communicated to the appropriate College representative. If the question or concerns are not addressed before the meeting, the Undergraduate or Graduate Dean has the responsibility for seeing that they are addressed before the course receives final approval.
  3. After action by the Undergraduate/Graduate Dean, or his/her designee, the Curriculum Coordinator will transmit copies of the course form to the appropriate offices.
  4. The Curriculum Coordinator is also responsible for transmitting new or revised course information to those responsible for preparing the Class Schedule, Bulletin, and similar publications of the University.


C. University Course Review Committee

The University Course Review Committee (UCRC) is charged with the responsibility for reviewing all new and substantively revised courses. It is expected that the primary attention of this committee will be directed to concerns involving substantial duplication or overlap. Per the Senate Guiding Principles:

  • a. New or revised courses cannot substantially duplicate already existing ones. The data for determining "substantial duplication" should include but not be limited to reading lists, topics covered and disciplinary perspectives on the material.
  • b. In cases where no "substantial duplication" of an already existing course occurs, but the new or revised course is alleged to represent a new area or field for the proposing discipline/ department/program which overlaps the area of the objecting discipline/ department/ program, consultation between the two units is necessary. Modification of the new or revised course may be necessary to maintain the integrity of the units involved.

Other concerns regarding the quality of the course as reflected in the course outline, description, title, units, grading method, etc., should be brought to the attention of the College representative if it is apparent that they have not been addressed earlier in the review/approval process. All new or substantially revised courses proposed for General Education must first complete the UCRC consultative process before being considered for General Education approval by the General Education Council.

The UCRC membership is to include a designated representative, typically the Associate Dean, from each of the eight Colleges, and the Associate Dean of Extended Learning. The Undergraduate/Graduate Dean or his/her designee, serves as chair. Staff from the Office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs attend meetings and provide resource assistance as may be needed.

The UCRC typically meets once a month during the academic year, with weekly meetings during the peak periods. A special meeting schedule may be arranged by the committee for the Winter Session and/or Summer Session periods.

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Division of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning
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