GUIDELINE A-010: Academic Program Letters of Intent and Proposals
SUBJECT: Submitting Proposals for Letters of Intent, New Academic Programs or Units, and for Modifications of Existing Academic Programs, Policies, or Units
DEVELOPING ACADEMIC PROPOSALS
Section I. Process
Submitting a Letter of Intent is the first step for any new academic degree program or certificate (24 SCH or more) program proposal (See THEC policy A1:0 and A1:1). The TBR Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs should be notified that a Letter of Intent will be forthcoming. The Letter of Intent must be submitted to the TBR Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and include the following information:
- The title of the proposed program with proposed concentrations, degree designation, CIP Code, and proposed implementation date.
- Address how the proposed program will further the mission of the institution, meet the priorities of the State Master Plan for higher Education and follow the directives of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 relative to increased degree production.
- Address how the program will meet the goals of the system and the institutional strategic plan.
- Identify the location of the program within the organizational structure and if it will require the addition of a new organizational unit. If so, describe the nature of the unit.
- State if the proposed program requires a SACS Substantive Change Review and, if so, describe the scope of the substantive change.
C. Program Need
- Identify the academic, workforce development, and/or research needs the program will meet. Cite employment projection and supply/demand data appropriate to the discipline and degree level as justification. Cite THEC supply/demand analysis, as appropriate, for degree or certificate field.
- Explain why establishing this program at this time is an institutional priority.
- List newly approved and established programs (within the same CIP classification) at the same degree level offered at other public institutions in Tennessee (See THEC web-based inventory and grogram productivity analysis for state institutions: http://tennessee.gov/thec/Divisions/AcademicAffairs/aa_main.html). This includes certificates which may be offered at the Technology Centers.
a. Identify any low-producing programs among those listed. (See THEC annual program productivity reports.
b. If similar programs exist, describe any opportunities for collaboration with other institutions that will be pursued.
c. Identify campus and off-campus locations where the institution plans to offer the program.
- A statement of how the program will enhance racial diversity should be provided in keeping with the TBR approved campus Diversity Plan.
- Additional Requirements for Letters of Intent for Proposed Doctoral Programs:
a. Cite THEC data on productivity of existing doctoral programs listed in the same CIP classification and provide a rationale for the addition of a same-CIP program.
b. Provide letters from presidents of Tennessee institutions offering same-CIP doctoral programs within the same broad geographic service area certifying that the proposed program will not be perceived as duplicative.
- Project annual full-time, part-time and FTE enrollments and number of graduates for the first five years of program operation.
- Explain how these enrollment/productivity projections were derived.
- Describe the academic focus of the program and number of hours required.
- Project the date for program accreditation (where applicable).
- Identify the delivery methods for the program (online, on-ground, hybrid) and provide a rationale for the delivery mode(s).
- Provide letters of support for all cooperating institutions or agencies.
- Describe the articulation and transfer avenues projected for the proposed program in compliance with PC.§ 49-7-202.
- Describe the strengths of the existing faculty in credentials and available FTE (state number of full- and part-time faculty). Estimate additional FTE (specify number of full-time and part-time faculty) needed to support the program.
- Describe existing and needed library and information technology resources to be available to support the projected program.
- Describe existing or anticipated facilities and equipment needed to support the program.
- Describe student advising support.
- Describe the anticipated effect the program will have on existing associated degree programs or concentrations within the institution.
G. Financial Projections
- Attach the THEC Financial Projections form.
- Provide evidence of non-state funds (gifts, grants, awards) available to meet start-up costs.
- Provide a rationale for reallocation of budgeted funds.
a. Cite THEC annual degree productivity data where funds may be redirected from closed low-producing programs (A1:1.2OP) of relevant.
- Summarize the institution's program development plans and resource commitments.
a. List the institution's active Letters of Intent
b. List programs that are in Post Approval Monitoring and are failing to meet benchmarks.
c. List low-producing grograms at all levels.
d. List all programs terminated within the last 12 months.
e. The projected date for submission of the full proposal and the target date for Board approval.
f. The projected date for implementation of the proposed program.
Section II. Procedures
A. For Letters of Intent
Submit one copy of the Letter of Intent electronically with the President's signature to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Once a Letter of Intent is received, the proposed action will be reviewed by TBR and, when appropriate, THEC staff. In forwarding the Letter of Intent to THEC, TBR designates approval for the Letter of Intent.
TBR and/or the THEC may take one of four actions in response to the Letter of Intent based on THEC Policy A1.0. It may elect to award approval, disapproval, conditional approval or defer approval. Conditional approval is awarded only to temporary programs with specified terminations dates.
B. For Program Proposals Approved for Development
Subsequent to the approval of the Letter of Intent, the President will authorize any amendments to the Letter of intent within the final proposal and notification to SACS, as appropriate. A copy of the original Letter of Intent, the approval from THEC for the Letter of Intent, and the SACS approval letter should be submitted to TBR along with the final proposal.
The submission of a proposal should be carefully planned in order to assure timely staff review and approval by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs prior to submission for Board approval -- and, as may be required, THEC review and authorization. In doing so, the following considerations are relevant:
- The TBR and the THEC considers academic proposals for new degree programs at each of its quarterly meetings.
- The number of proposals received at any one time may determine whether or not the staff review of a particular proposal is completed in time for submission to the Board at the desired time. Proposals are generally reviewed on a first-come basis. Should the review of a proposal not be completed in time for the next meeting of the Board, it will be carried over with priority to the subsequent meeting.
- Other than for the establishment of new degree programs, the following schedule may serve as a general guide for all proposed academic actions:
a. For proposed new degree programs, a timeline should be discussed with the TBR staff.
b. Proposals will be accepted on a continuous basis.
c. Proposed new graduate degree programs will require considerably more time than undergraduate degree program proposals due to the external consultation process required.
C. For Other Requested Academic Actions:
Regardless of whether submission of a Letter of Intent is required, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs should be informed prior to the development of any proposal anticipated to generate new costs or that may duplicate similar programs offered at other institutions serving the same region or population.
- Academic action proposals (other than 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 of the 30-day review period unless objections were voiced by the Board. letters will be sent to the appropriate institution to authorize implementation of the proposed action. If THEC approval is required, the letter will inform the institution of the approval by TBR and explain that the proposal will be sent to THEC for its review.
- Requests for name changes should be submitted on the appropriate form and will be approved through delegated authority by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Section III. Proposal Forms for Academic Actions
Electronic forms are available on the TBR Academic Affairs webpage for “Publications and Forms.” Since forms may be revised by TBR staff as needed, all proposals should be developed using forms obtained directly from the website to insure that the most current format has been submitted.There is no specific form for a Letter of Intent. The letter of Intent should provide a narrative description of the items above. Specific questions related to the above criteria are listed in THEC Policy A1.0 Attachment B.
The President’s signature is required on all proposals and indicates that the proposal is supported and has been approved through the institution’s curriculum review process or other appropriate committee review. All forms must be submitted electronically to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Instructions are provided along with the forms on the TBR website.
The following actions require the submission of a proposal for Board approval:
- Establish a new academic degree.
- Establish a new certificate program. (Note: The community college must consult with the Tennessee Technology Center(s) within the designated service area to ensure there is no duplication of effort. Documentation must be submitted with the proposal to identify any concerns or to demonstrate there are no objections to the proposed program.)
- Establish a new concentration.
- Consolidate an existing academic program.
- Converting an existing on-ground program to a fully online delivery format.
- Substantive curriculum modification.
- Termination, inactivation, or reactivation of a program.
- Revision of any admission, retention, and/or graduation policy (general or program specific).
- Extending an existing academic degree to be fully offered at an off-campus location.
- 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).
- Develop on-line course(s) with cost in excess of $9500 or more.
Source: March 5, 1976 meeting. 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.