Academic Program Proposals

Michigan Technological University follows process guidelines, which have been approved by the University Senate, for review and approval of new degree programs. The general Senate Proposal Approval process is governed by senate policy 104.1.1.

Academic program proposals may require several levels of internal approval, including Michigan Tech’s Deans Council, Graduate Faculty Council, University Senate, and Board of Trustees (BoT), as well as potential external approval from the Academic Affairs Officers’ Committee of the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU/AAO) and Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Proposals typically do not proceed to the next approving body without approval of the previous body. The overall approval process depends on the proposal type, as described below.

Approvals, Processes, and Policies

Note: Pre-proposal forms should be submitted before Nov 1 for the best chance of program approval that academic year (however approval is not guaranteed). The earlier the submission the more time is available to accommodate committee-requested edits.

Required Approvals by Proposal Type

Proposal Type: Senate



new degree program Y Y Y Y S
renaming programs
Y Y - D -
accelerated master's option - - - - -
graduate certificate Y Y  - - S
certificate Y Y -  - S
minor Y Y  - - -
concentration added to degree Y Y - - S
focus area / technical emphasis  - Y -  -  -
shelving programs Y Y -  - S
eliminating programs Y Y D D S

Approval overview; see provided flowcharts for more details.
(Y = yes, approval required, D= required for degree programs, S = approval sometimes required)

Questions regarding the approvals process should be directed to the provost's office.

Note on Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Approval:

Some proposals may require HLC approval which will delay implementation. The following are known instances where additional approval may be required:

  • program proposals that are not closely related to existing programs at Michigan Tech,
    • e.g., we do not currently offer other programs at the same degree level in the same general discipline (as defined by the first 2 digits of assigned program CIP code) or we plan to hire additional faculty with new expertise or need to acquire a new specialized accreditation. 
  • programs involve the awarding of a new degree type (e.g. a new professional degree rather than an MS), or
  • more that 50% of a certificate program's courses were developed specifically for the new program and not derived from courses in existing degree programs.

Please note that it can take up to a year between initial internal proposal submission and final approval if a new program proposal requires HLC approval. 


Program Modifications

All degree program proposals (for new programs and name changes) follow the same internal processes above.  However, at the state level, name changes and some new degree programs may be classified as “modifications,” a term used for proposals that are clearly related to an institution’s existing program, and therefore do not require the same level of review as new program proposals. This distinction does not ultimately affect the total time needed for approval.

Concentrations vs Focus Area/Technical Emphasis

Concentrations within an undergraduate major degree appear on the diploma.  When a new concentration is added to a degree program, it must be proposed as a new program.  Concentrations may later lead to entirely new degree programs; for example, the BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting became a BS in Accounting in 2010.

Unlike concentrations, a focus area or technical emphasis within a degree program does not appear on a diploma, and therefore is not considered a new program.  However, these are still approved by the provost through the normal curriculum change process (aka the “binder process”).

Please contact Amie Ledgerwood if you have questions.