New programs take time, degree approval process ‘vetting’

Graphic by Valerie De La O.

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As the Dixie State University campus continues to grow, new programs and degrees are added after being subject to an extensive approval process.

With the addition of DSU’s first graduate degree — a Master of Accountancy — and four new Master degrees currently under review, we wanted to help students and the community be more aware of information about the procedure.

Both graduate and undergraduate degrees go through this process, which first begins as proposals made to the Director of Curriculum by a member of the faculty — usually the department chair from the department proposing the new degree.

Pamela Cantrell, director of curriculum and graduate studies, said a new degree proposal can come from any faculty member, administrator, department or professor. People come to her with proposals throughout the year, with an increase in quantity at the beginning of the school year, Cantrell said.

When a proposal for a graduate degree reaches Cantrell, the approval process begins and is first reviewed by the department chair and Cantrell before going to the Provost office, then the Academic Council, she said. From there, Cantrell said a full template proposal is created by the department chair and goes through a five-day quality review. She said the proposal then must be approved by the College Curriculum Committee and Graduate Council before being sent back to the Academic Council.

“It is a vetting process,” Cantrell said.

The purpose for this process is so that DSU can make sure it is meeting the needs of the students and the needs of the region said Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs and provost.

“We need to be thinking about what degree programs are most relevant to current work force needs and future workforce needs in this region of the state,” Lacourse said.

There are several questions that are asked during the process of approving a graduate degree, said Nate Staheli, associate professor of accounting:

  • Will this degree enhance the mission of the institution?
  • Is there a demand by students for this degree?
  • Is there an ability to place students in appropriate employment after they obtain this degree?
  • Is there support from the profession or other outside stakeholders interested in this degree?

Going through the process does not mean that every degree proposed will be added to DSU’s curriculum.

“Not all Masters degrees that are proposed are always approved,” said Staheli. “Even if a full proposal is written after the white paper there are still other obstacles that may impede the process. For instance, all programs must be approved by [Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities].”

Whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the process for approval can take up to a year before completion, Cantrell said.

As DSU continues to grow and more students show interest in new degree programs, the administration and faculty are doing their part to ensure students and the community have programs in place which will enhance their ability to get jobs and have the education they need, Lacourse said.

The new program proposal information packet is available on DSU’s website. Click on Academics, then under Faculty Resources click Curriculum Management, then New Programs.