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Program Modifications and New Academic Programs : A-010

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges, System Office


The purpose of this guideline is to establish the criteria and process for submitting Letters of Notification, Letters of Application, new academic programs or units, and for modifications of existing academic programs, policies, or unit by institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


  1. Developing Academic Program Modifications
    1. Academic programs currently approved for offering have a number of options to amend or reconstitute the approved program including the following using the 30 Review Process per the THEC Policy A.1.0 New Academic Program: Approval Process and the THEC Policy A1.1: New and Modified Academic Programs: Evaluation Criteria: 
      1. Name change for existing program.
      2. Change of degree designation for an existing academic program or concentration per written recommendation of a disciplinary accreditation body or to more accurately represent the title to the workplace. Documentation must accompany the change request.
      3. Change of degree designation for an existing academic program or concentration when the change involves a significant curriculum shift in redefining the program’s purpose.
      4. Consolidation of existing academic programs.
      5. Consolidation of existing academic programs within the same discipline regardless of degree designation for purposes of performance funding calculations only.
      6. Conversion of an existing on-ground program to a fully online delivery format, with or without termination of existing program.
      7. Substantive curriculum modification (see )
      8. Establishment of an undergraduate certificate program less than 24 SCH. Proposals for certificates of 24 SCH or more submit a Letter of Notification and the Letter of Application if approved for development. The community college must notify the Tennessee College(s) of Applied Technology (TCAT) within the designated service area to ensure there is no unwarranted duplication of effort. The Tennessee College(s) of Applied Technology (TCAT) must notify the community college within the designated service area to ensure that there is no unwarranted duplication of effort. Documentation must be submitted with the Letter of Application to identify actions taken to address the issue of any unwarranted duplication of effort.
      9. Establishment of a new concentration or minor. Newly proposed concentrations should be in keeping with the goals and mission of the existing program and must share the same core courses as all other existing degree concentrations.
      10. Establish a free standing degree program from an existing concentration. Any existing concentration with a steady enrollment and graduation rate for a period of at least three years may request to be recognized as a freestanding degree if the establishment of the concentration as a degree does not compromise the remaining degree and does not require new faculty resources.
      11. Establishment of a new academic unit or reorganization resulting in a net gain of an academic unit (i.e., department, on-campus center, institute, bureau, division, school, or college). This action also requires approval by the THEC Executive Director.
      12. Establishment of an articulation agreement between institutions.
      13. Establishment of an Off-Campus Site/Off Campus Center. In keeping with the THEC Policies, the THEC Off-Campus Site /Center Approval Forms must be submitted for review. No announcements may be made regarding opening new site or center until the THEC approval is granted.
      14. Revision of any admission, retention, and/or graduation policy (general or program specific).
      15. Extension of an existing academic degree to be fully offered at an off- campus location.
      16. Termination, inactivation, or reactivation of a program.
      17. Curriculum modifications which increase or decrease total hours required for a degree.
    2. Requests for academic action (other than new degree programs) received by 15th of each month (except December) will typically be reviewed by the end of the month and summaries prepared for consideration by the Board through the 30-day review process. Approval by the Chancellor, through delegated authority, will be given at the end the 30- day review period unless objections are voiced by the Board. Letters will be sent to the appropriate institution to authorize implementation of the proposed action.
    3. Requests for program, concentration and minor name changes should be submitted on the appropriate form and will be approved through delegated authority by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
  2. Developing New Academic Programs
    1. In order to propose a new academic program which is not covered under section I.A. of this Guideline and the THEC Policy A1.1 New Academic Programs and A1.0 New Academic Programs: Approval Process, two steps must occur: the Letter of Notification; and the Letter of Application.
      1. The Letter of Notification
        1. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the respective Associate Vice Chancellor should be electronically notified in advance that a Letter of Notification will be forthcoming. The Letter of Notification is the documentation for the System of the initiation of the planning stage for the proposed program and must include the following:
          1. Title of the proposed program (and any concentrations);
          2. CIP and SOC codes for the overall program (and any proposed concentrations);
          3. Fit with Institutional Strategic Plan and Mission;
          4. Proposed implementation date;
          5. Proposed location(s) where the program will be offered;
          6. Explanation of the resources available to support the program;
          7. Anticipated new cost;
          8. Duplicate programs offered at other institutions serving the same region or population;
          9. List of all comparable or closely related programs, regardless of assigned CIP and SOC code.
        2. The Letter of Notification must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the anticipated date for the submission of the Letter of Application.
        3. Academic Affairs will notify the institution if another institution is currently engaged in the development of a similar program in order to avoid duplication of effort and encourage collaboration.
        4. A Letter of Application for any new academic degree program or certificate (24 SCH or more) program proposed precedes the establishment of any new academic program (See THEC policy A1:0 and A1:1). Any required Letter of Application must be submitted electronically to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for any proposed community college programs. Current forms are available on the Academic Affairs website. 
        5. The Letter of Application will include the following:
          1. A letter from the President stating his or her support for the development of the Letter of Application.
          2. All information initially submitted in the Letter of Notification.
          3. PDF of the signed COVER page.
          4. THEC Financial Projections form. In keeping with the THEC Policy 1.1.20P, the benefit to the state should outweigh the cost of the program with detailed explanations of reallocation, grants, gifts, and partnerships accompanying the Letter of Application.
          5. Copy of signature sheets from approval committees (e.g., Institutional Curriculum Committees and Faculty Senate) verifying that the Letter of Application has cleared through all the appropriate campus approval committees prior to submission.
        6. The TBR and/or the THEC may take one of three actions in response to the Letter of Application. Based on THEC Policy A1.0, the Letter of Application may be awarded approval, disapproval, or conditional approval. Conditional approval is awarded only to temporary programs with specified terminations dates.
      2. Based upon the determination of the TBR and approval of the THEC (if required), the newly proposed program as supported by the external review will move forward in the approval process.
      3. Approved Letters of Application are valid for three academic years after which a new Letter of Application must be submitted if the program has not been approved for Implementation.
      4. All newly approved academic programs at community colleges are subject to post approval review by the TBR and the THEC. Per the THEC Policy 1.1.30, pre- baccalaureate programs are subject to post approval monitoring for five years on an annual basis.



T.C.A. § 49-8-203; THEC Rules


TBR Meeting March 5, 1976. Revised December 12, 1980 TBR meeting; November 8, 1982, May 29, 1984, February 10, 1987, and February 14, 1989 Presidents Meeting, Presidents Meeting, February, 2003, Presidents Meeting, May 20, 2003, Presidents Meeting, February 7, 2006; Presidents Meeting, November 8, 2006; Presidents meeting, February 12, 2008, Presidents Meeting November 9, 2010; December 8, 2011; Revisions approved at Presidents Meeting, February 4, 2014; Presidents Meeting February 11, 2015; Academic Affairs SubCouncil, July 19, 2023; Faculty SubCouncil, July 21, 2023; Revisions approved at Presidents Meeting, August 9, 2023.