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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Policy Number: 
A-030
Topics Outline: 
Policy/Guideline Area: 
Academic Guidelines
Applicable Divisions: 
Community Colleges, Universities
Purpose: 

The purpose of this guideline is to provide for collegiate articulation among community colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents System. The provisions in this guideline are intended to promote the orderly process of students who transfer from the community colleges to baccalaureate degree programs in the universities, while protecting the integrity of the university and community college programs. The guideline supplements the provisions for transfer of credits in current policies of the Board of Regents.

Policy/Guideline: 
  1. General
    1. Each institution shall develop and maintain counseling services which shall include collecting and disseminating information pertaining to the structure and requirements of degree programs offered by the universities and community colleges in the System.
      1. The specific institutional office, or officer, designated to serve as the contact for transfer student advisement and for inter-institutional articulation shall be clearly identified in institutional catalogs and other appropriate publications.
    2. Each university shall work cooperatively with appropriate community colleges in developing and maintaining current course-by-course transfer lists and, when feasible, curriculum-by-curriculum transfer outlines.
      1. Where a transfer student has satisfactorily completed an associate’s degree designed for transfer to a university, all general education requirements will have been fulfilled and not subject to repetition at a university.
      2. Further, students who transfer without an associate’s degree designed for transfer but who have completed blocks of subject categories within the common forty-one semester-hour general education core distribution have fulfilled general education requirements in the affected subject categories.
    3. Relative to courses subject to transfer other than general education, each university shall accept those level one (freshman and sophomore) courses completed at a community college which have been determined to be equivalent to level one courses offered by the university, as creditable toward completion of relevant requirements for degree programs at the university, to the same extent that the courses would be creditable toward completion of the degree programs by the university's native students with the same degree major.
    4. The community college programs designed for transfer shall be clearly identified in the catalog of the community college. For career programs the community college shall include the following statement very prominently for each program: "This program is designed for the student who does not intend to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program."
    5. Each university and community college shall use one or more of the following criteria to determine the courses to be offered as level-one courses:
      1. Courses which build upon high school preparation in primary areas of knowledge and academic skills or courses which provide a next step in the student's formal study beyond high school;
      2. Courses which consist of an overview or introduction to a broad or general area of inquiry;
      3. Courses with survey content applicable to many areas;
      4. Courses which provide knowledge and skills fundamental and prerequisite for advanced study;
      5. Courses which are job oriented or technological in nature and are designed to aid in preparing students for employment at the beginning technician level after a maximum of two years of college study;
      6. Courses which are broadly established as traditional level one offerings at colleges;
      7. Courses which meet the standards for level one curricular offerings as specified by accrediting agencies.
        1. The credit offerings by community colleges shall be limited to level one courses within the above criteria.
    6. Courses classified as level two courses yet normally open to freshmen or sophomores at a university, even though taught at a community college as level one transfer courses, shall be transferable as satisfying that part of the student's requirement in the content area. The universities shall not impose additional admissions requirements upon transfer applicants who:
      1. Are not seeking admission to programs with special admissions requirements; and
      2. Meet the retention standards of the university.
    7. During the transfer process, the transcripts from sending institutions must include, or have attached, an explanation of the complete grading system.
    8. There shall be no limit to the number of credits transferred from a community college to a university within the System. However, the application of these credits to meet degree requirements will vary according to the degree sought, and the transfer student must meet the requirements for level-two work and residency at the university.
      1. Transfer students shall have the same privileges of catalog options as native students at the receiving institution, i.e., the option of complying with the catalog for the transfer student's freshman year to the extent that this privilege is provided for native students.
      2. The content of student orientation programs shall include information designed specifically for transfer students.
      3. Transfer students shall be afforded all the privileges and opportunities of native students at the receiving institution in the areas of awards, honors, housing, financial aid, enrollment in classes of limited size, and appointment to special positions, such as editors of the yearbook or college newspaper.
      4. Credit based on Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at another TBR institution will be accepted in transfer and applied toward the student's degree in the same way that any other type of transfer credit is accepted. The Recommended Standards in Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policy and Practice for Tennessee Public Colleges and Universities (August 7, 2012) Exhibit 1 to this Guideline.
      5. All institutions shall cooperate fully with the Board staff in developing research concerning transfer students.
Sources: 

September 6, 1978 TBR presidents meeting. Revised November 13, 1981 and August 23, 1983 presidents meetings; July 1, 1984. Revised February 12, 2008 presidents meeting; August 20, 2013 Presidents Meeting.

Note: This guideline was adopted initially to be effective for students who sought to enroll in universities through the transfer process for the 1979 - 1980 academic year and thereafter.

Contact: 
Policy Number: 
A-020
Policy/Guideline Area: 
Academic Guidelines
Applicable Divisions: 
TCATs, Community Colleges, Universities
Purpose: 

The purpose of this guideline is to establish the criteria and process for Interinstitutional relationships and off-campus offerings by institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Policy/Guideline: 
  1. Off-Campus Centers
    1. An off-campus instructional unit shall be considered an off-campus center (OCC) if it involves a significant continuing commitment of institutional resources as evidenced by faculty, staff, facilities, and equipment, and if it fulfills standards established for centers by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
      1. Each OCC's purpose shall be clearly defined in the institution's annual Role and Scope statement.
      2. Each OCC's degree and non-degree offerings must be consistent with the institution's Role and Scope statement. The non-degree offerings must comply with the guidelines as set forth in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission document, Guidelines for Awarding and Reporting CEU's. This document addresses the particular case when an institution may offer a non-degree program in an area in which it has no degree offering.
      3. Course and program delivery by joint institutional OCC's shall be determined by written agreement between participating institutions and approved by the Chancellor.
      4. A proposal for the establishment of a new OCC shall be forwarded to the Board for approval. Requirements for approval shall include:
        1. A "needs assessment" survey.
        2. Evidence of the OCC's ability to meet the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools standards.
        3. A five (5) year projected budget for continued operation.
      5. At five (5) year intervals, or upon request of the Board or Board staff, an evaluation of each OCC shall be made on the following bases:
        1. A current "needs assessment" survey.
        2. Demonstrated ability of the OCC to meet both institutional Role and Scope statements and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools standards.
        3. A five (5) year projected budget for continued operation.
  2. Off-Campus Degree and Non-Degree Offerings
    1. The president of each institution should designate a contact regarding off-campus offerings.
    2. Where thirty (30) mile territorial boundaries overlap, affected institutions will coordinate off-campus offerings of each, preferably a written agreement between the institutions should be consummated which covers the off-campus offerings of each institution.
    3. Prior to contracting (preliminary investigations and discussions may proceed on a unilateral basis) with client groups, an institution contemplating off-campus offerings within thirty (30) miles of another shall communicate its proposal in writing. The institution receiving the request shall respond in writing not later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the proposal letter. If the institution receiving the request does not wish to provide the service, it shall communicate same. If, however, the institution receiving the request rejects the proposal:
      1. The institution placing the request will not commence registration.
      2. The institution receiving the request must:
        1. Provide the course or program.
        2. Show just cause why the course should not be offered by either institution.
      3. In the event an accord cannot be reached by the representatives of each institution, the representatives should refer the matter to their presidents. If, ultimately, an agreement cannot be reached, the institutions shall refer the matter to the Board staff.
    4. Proposed contracts for regional or statewide delivery of courses and programs to business entities or special interest groups must be in accordance with Board policy.
    5. Off-campus courses and programs delivered by the media and which require initial and/or periodic group meetings are to be treated in accordance with paragraph II.D. of this guideline. If media delivery system does not necessitate group meetings, then formal communications are not required.
  3. Exceptions
    1. Exceptions to this guideline may be made upon recommendation of a president and approval by the Chancellor. 
Sources: 

February 10, 1978 TBR Presidents meeting; Presidents meeting July 1, 1984.

Contact: 
Policy Number: 
A-019
Policy/Guideline Area: 
Academic Guidelines
Applicable Divisions: 
Community Colleges, Universities
Purpose: 

This guidelines’ primary purpose is to provide a common academic calendar among system institutions in order to:

1. Facilitate student enrollment at more than one TBR College or university and in the collaborative programs offered by multiple institutions;

2. Enable institutions to share resources, including courses, faculty, and physical facilities;

3. Encourage and enable the formation of consortia among institutions;

4. Permit greater efficiency in system-wide information technology resources.

 

Policy/Guideline: 
  1. Effective Fall Semester 2014
    1. Academic Calendar
      1. All TBR colleges and universities will offer fall and spring terms that follow the Academic Calendar Template included in this guideline. Institutions may offer terms of alternate length in addition to the 15-week fall and spring semesters, but should be mindful of calendar conflicts and federal financial aid requirements.
      2. Each semester, the 14th day of class must be identified as the last date a student can drop a class (withdraw) without a grade designation, including a “W,” appearing on the transcript. When providing alternate class formats, the institution is responsible for documenting equivalence in terms of student outcomes and competencies.
    2. Template
      1. Fall Semester, Full Term
        1. Week 1 of Fall Semester begins with the first day of class.
          1. Classes begin the fourth Monday in August.
          2. Labor Day Holiday (1st Monday in September)
          3. Fall break for community colleges must be scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of week 8.  RODP will follow the schedule of the community colleges.
          4. Fall break for each TBR University must be scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of week 8 or can be moved to the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
            1. To accommodate flexibility for universities, faculty may want to consider the possibility of requiring no tests or assignments to be due on either of these two Mondays or Tuesdays. This will allow students and faculty in a collaborative environment to participate in the break even if they are engaged at TBR institutions that observe different midterm breaks.
        2. Thanksgiving Break (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)
          1. Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week may also be included if the fall break option described above is used. Wednesday is an extension of a break period where no classes will be held. (Administrative close days are not impacted.)
        3. Classes End
          1. Flexibility is provided at the end of the semester to allow institutions to address concerns with the number of class sessions, lab availability, etc.
          2. All grades must be submitted no later than the Monday of Week 17, except RODP grades which will be delivered to the appropriate “home” institution no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday of Week 16.
          3. Each TBR institution must establish and publish an end-of-term schedule for the last day of class and final exams. Appropriate time for completion of end of course assignments and preparation for final exams must be included in the schedule.
          4. The institution assumes responsibility for communicating any variations in breaks or end of term schedules to students and faculty engaged in collaborative programs.
      2. Spring Semester, Full Term
        1. Week 1 of Spring Semester begins with the first day of class.
        2. Classes must begin on Tuesday after MLK holiday with the exception of when MLK is on the 21st of January, when classes will begin on the Monday before MLK holiday.
        3. Martin Luther King Holiday (3rd Monday in January)
        4. Spring break must take place beginning Monday of week 8 at all community colleges. RODP will follow the schedule of the community colleges.
        5. Universities have flexibility to adopt an alternate spring break date.
          1. Each TBR institution will assume responsibility for communicating the impact to students and faculty involved in collaborative programs when there are differences in the scheduling of spring break.
        6. Friday before Easter Holiday (may be used to provide additional flexibility)
          1. Institutions have the option of requesting an exception to the TBR Policy from the Chancellor in order to take the Good Friday Holiday on the Friday of spring vacation rather than the Friday prior to Easter. This provides an additional Friday for instruction.
      3. Classes End
        1. Flexibility is provided at the end of the semester to allow institutions to address concerns with the number of class sessions, lab availability, etc.
        2. All grades must be submitted no later than the Monday of Week 17, except RODP grades which will be delivered to the appropriate “home” institution no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday of Week 16.
        3. Each TBR institution must establish and publish an end-of-term schedule for the last day of class and final exams. Appropriate time for completion of end of course assignments and preparation for final exams must be included in the schedule.
        4. The institution assumes responsibility for communicating any variations in breaks or end of term schedules to students and faculty engaged in collaborative programs.
    3. Registration
      1. The published registration schedule for each institution must designate specific registration deadlines for each phase of registration.  Late registration may be permitted through the seventh calendar day for regular fall and spring courses with late registration period proportionally adjusted for summer and alternate length courses.
    4. Exceptions
      1. Exceptions to the common calendar for specialized programs may be approved by the President, with notification to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
      2. Other exceptions to the calendar and registration guideline must be approved, in advance, by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. 
Sources: 

Presidents Meeting February 10, 1987; Presidents Meeting May 21, 2001; Presidents meeting August 13, 2002; Presidents meeting November 8, 2006. Presidents meeting November 7, 2012.

Contact: 
Policy Number: 
A-010
Policy/Guideline Area: 
Academic Guidelines
Applicable Divisions: 
TCATs, Community Colleges, Universities, System Office
Purpose: 

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

Policy/Guideline: 
  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 http://www.sacs.org )
      8. Establishment of an undergraduate certificate program or a graduate certificate program less than 24 SCH. Proposals for certificates of 24 SCH or more submit a Letter of Notification, the Letter of Application and Implementation Form, if approved for development. The University must notify the community college within the designated service area to ensure there is no unwarranted duplication of effort. 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 per THEC Policy 1.0.60B.
      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. If the THEC approval is required, the letter will inform the institution of the approval by the TBR and an explanation that the proposed academic action will be sent to the THEC for its review.
    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, or the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges, as appropriate. Approval through the THEC is not required per THEC Policy A 1.1.10D.
  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, four steps must occur: the Letter of Notification; the Letter of Application; the Implementation Portfolio; and the External Review.
      1. The Letter of Notification
        1. The Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges (in the case of community colleges), the TBR Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (for all universities), and the respective Assistant/Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges or Academic Affairs should be electronically notified in advance that a Letter of Notification will be forthcoming. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs should be notified additionally of all community college letters of notification. 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;
          10. Anticipated submission date of the Implementation Portfolio, if approved for development.
        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 and Implementation Portfolio.
        3. Academic Affairs will notify the institution f another institution is currently engaged in development of a similar program in order to avoid duplication of effort and encourage collaboration.
      2. The Letter of Application
        1. 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). The requirement for a Letter of Application may be waived by the TBR Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges in cases where the proposed degree program fully duplicates an already existing community college program.  If a waiver is requested and granted, the institution will be notified that it may proceed with development of the Implementation Portfolio based on delegated authority from the THEC, however, the THEC Financial Projection form must be completed and approval documentation and through all campus committees prior to implementation.  Any required Letter of Application must be submitted electronically to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for all proposed university programs and the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges for any proposed community college programs. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs should be notified of any proposed community college’s letter of application. Current forms are available on the Academic Affairs website.
        2. 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. Completed Letter of Application Form located on the Academic Affairs website with special attention to the THEC Policy 1.120L components for a diversity plan and the THEC Policy 1.120I call for a future sustainability need/demand.
          5. 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.
          6. Copy of signature sheets from approval committees (e.g., Institutional Curriculum Committees, Faculty Senate, Graduate Council) verifying that the Letter of Application has cleared through all the appropriate campus approval committees prior to submission.
        3. The Letter of Application will be reviewed by the TBR and by the THEC staff.
        4. Forwarding the Letter of Application from the TBR to the THEC indicates the support of the TBR for the proposed academic program.
        5. The TBR and/or the THEC may take one of four actions in response to the Letter of Application. Based on THEC Policy A1.0, the Letter of Application may be awarded approval, disapproval, conditional approval or defer approval to develop an Implementation Portfolio. Conditional approval is awarded only to temporary programs with specified terminations dates.
      3. The Implementation Portfolio
        1. For University academic programs, an Implementation Portfolio for a new university academic program is electronically submitted after approval of the Letter of Application by the TBR and the THEC.  For new community college programs, the Implementation Portfolio is submitted upon approval from the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges.
        2. The Implementation Portfolio (whether or not a Letter of Application is required) consists of:
          1. A completed Implementation Portfolio Form located on the Academic Affairs website.
          2. A copy of the THEC approval letter for Letter of Application development (universities) or the Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges approval letter for development based on the Letter of Notification or the Letter of Application, if required.
          3. The SACS-COC approval letter, if change of designation is required.
        3. The submission of an Implementation Portfolio should be carefully planned in order to assure timely review and approval by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges, when appropriate, prior to submission for Board approval -- and, as may be required, THEC review and authorization.
        4. The TBR and the THEC considers Implementation Portfolios for new university degree programs at each of its quarterly meetings. Community college Implementation Portfolios are approved by delegated authority to the TBR and forwarded to the THEC upon Board Approval.
      4. External Review
        1. All university programs (excluding certificate programs) submitted for development must undergo an external review. If an external review includes a site visit, the time necessary to arrange an external reviewer is generally 4-5 weeks. Upon completion of the visit, reviewers have 30 days to submit a report which is then submitted to the institution with an essential concerns for amendment identified by the TBR. Campuses have 30 calendar days to provide a written response to the Office of Academic Affairs and Community Colleges (if appropriate). Institutions may dispute or amend recommendations continuing along the approval path or determine to withdraw the proposed program for consideration.
        2. The external review for newly proposed undergraduate programs at the universities will consist of a paper review or a site visit by a disciplinary expert at the joint discretion of the TBR and the THEC.
        3. All graduate level programs will undergo a site visit.
        4. Community colleges must submit a report from their external advisory or industrial board or skills panel supporting all components of the proposed Implementation Portfolio. The external review report should be submitted at the time of the Implementation Portfolio with the exception of a graduate program or an undergraduate program which is determined to require a site visit. Those reports should be submitted following the submission of the Implementation Portfolio by the TBR staff upon completion and campus response to any recommendations prior to forwarding the final Implementation Portfolio to the THEC.
      5. 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.
        1. Proposed Implementation Portfolios must be submitted to the appropriate Vice Chancellor with sufficient time to allow for the external review process to occur before the desired Board approval. The time required for the review will vary according to the number and nature of the portfolios already under review, external review consideration, and the other workload issues of the Academic Affairs staff and may determine whether or not the review of a particular portfolio is completed in time for submission to the Board at the desired time. Implementation Portfolios are generally reviewed on a first come basis. Should the review of an Implementation ​Portfolio not be completed in time for the next meeting of the Board, it will be carried over with priority the next subsequent meeting.
      6. 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.
      7. All newly approved academic programs at universities and 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, baccalaureate and masters programs for five years and doctoral programs for seven years on an annual basis. 
Sources: 

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.

Contact: 

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