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Policies, Rules and Guidelines


The date or term in which an approved proposal becomes effective usually depends on the when student registration takes place. No changes can become effective after students have registered for a given term. Other dates are established for approval of courses to be included in the university catalog. Refer to the Academic Affairs Web site for information about effective dates and catalog publication.


Courses numbered 100 and 200 are designed for students entering the university or a program. They are generally introductory in nature and build a foundation for more advanced courses. Courses numbered 300 and 400 are designated upper division courses and designed for advanced undergraduates, usually in the junior or senior year. Students must complete a minimum of 45 credits at this level in order to graduate. Courses numbered 500 and above carry graduate credit.

Course numbers with the same prefix may not be “re-used” until the original course has been eliminated for twenty years. This is to avoid problems arising from duplication of numbers for different courses on students’ transcripts and in degree audit reports.

Course descriptions should meet the following guidelines:

  • Contain no more than 50 words.
  • Be written in a concise, straightforward style that is easy for students to understand.

Explain what the course covers, but be general enough not to require revision when the class is updated or varied in emphasis. For example, the description for "Modern American Literature" is: "Representative American literature since the early twentieth century, studied against its intellectual, historical, and social background."

Federal Credit Hour Definition: A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally-established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

  • One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 2 hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different period of time.
  • At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward the award of credit hours.

Variable credit hour courses are those that are flexible in the number of credits for which a student can enroll in order to meet content area requirements. Typically, variable credit courses require a project completed by the student at the end of the semester in consultation with the faculty of record. The number of credits enrolled in and awarded is based on the scope of the project and typically reached in agreement between the faculty of record and student.

Variable credit courses carry a minimum and maximum number of credit hours for which a student can be registered in a given section. These limits are defined by the program faculty when the course is designed.

Courses that may be taken more than once for credit are designated as repeatable courses. Some repeatable courses have regularly rotating topics (see below). The faculty of the program determine how many times a repeatable course may be counted toward program requirements.

Topics courses function as an “umbrella” under which classes on various topics can be offered. They permit curricular and staffing flexibility, including the piloting of new courses. Topics should not be designated by letter (HIST 305 Y) as this, in effect, constitutes a separate course. Titles for individual offerings and sections of topics courses can be designated in the schedule of classes and will appear on students’ transcripts.

Courses should not be cross-listed unless there are compelling reasons, but in some circumstances, it may be appropriate to list courses in two or more departments (prefixes). All units involved must approve proposals of and modifications to cross-listed courses.

Existing courses may be designated “service-learning.” This designation provides a mechanism for tracking Service Learning course offerings and rates of student participation; it also allows students and faculty to easily identify such courses. Information and the Service-Learning Course Designation Form are posted at the Center for Public Service and Community Engagement Web site.

In addition to following the usual course approval process, courses carrying Foundational Studies credit must be approved by the Foundational Studies Council. The Council reviews proposals for new Foundational Studies courses once every three years as part of the program assessment cycle. If a department elects to re-activate a banked course which is also approved as a Foundational Studies course, the department must submit a foundational studies syllabus for review by the Council at the same time as re-activation or indicate if the department no longer wants the course to have Foundational Studies designation. See the Website. For additional information and instructions for Foundational Studies course proposals.

In addition to following the usual course approval process, courses that are part of the Honors Program must be approved by the Honors Council. For more information, refer to this document

Four hundred- level courses may have 500-level graduate equivalents. When this is the case, proposed changes for both courses must be submitted at the same time.

Courses proposed by units or individuals at an organizational level other than that of an academic department or equivalent unit within a college must be approved by CAAC. They must originate with and be approved by an established advisory group composed of at least 75% regular faculty. Proposals for such courses must include, as part of their rationale, an explanation of the circumstances that require their creation at a level other than academic department or equivalent, and how they will be staffed.

Proposals for course fees are submitted independently of curriculum proposals. Information on the course fee proposal process is posted at the web site of the Office of Academic Affairs. The Board of Trustees approves new or modified course fees only at its February meeting.

Courses that the department wishes to retain but does not plan to offer in the next three years should be banked. In most cases, they can be reactivated within a few weeks. Departments will be asked to justify the active status of courses they have not offered in three years, or allow them to be automatically banked. At the direction of Academic Affairs, Dean’s offices notify departments of courses subject to automatic banking prior to any action.

Proposals for new courses, Foundational Studies courses, and significantly revised courses must be accompanied by sample syllabi. Syllabi must include instructor contact information, course description, student learning outcomes, class policies, required materials, assignments and grading, and a representative class schedule. Certain types of courses may have special syllabus requirements. For Foundational Studies courses see templates at


New programs of 30 or more credits, and modifications to existing programs which increase the number of credits to 30 must be approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Major courses, Foundational Studies courses required for the major, all prerequisites, and teacher education courses offered by the program’s department are counted in the total number of credits for a program. For teacher licensure programs in subject areas offered outside the College of Education, required courses offered in that College must be listed in the catalog copy, including the total number of credits, though these are not counted in the total number of credits for the program. Undergraduate majors should be 31-71 of the 120 credits for graduation.  Because students typically have not taken upper-level directed FS UDIE courses and junior composition before choosing their major, these courses need not be counted in the 71 credits for this purpose.  The course requirements, including prerequisites, for the major program should be such that they can be completed in six contiguous fall/spring semesters.  The CAAC review will consider how the major is constructed and whether courses are scheduled with appropriate frequency. New program proposals must include a workable plan showing that the degree can be completed within these constraints.  Any program that requires a number of credit hours or a completion length beyond these limits must obtain full approval from all curriculum review and governance bodies. Programs that do not meet these criteria may be considered for an exception.  Compelling arguments for an exception may be based on accreditation requirements or recommendations from advisory boards (creditable external organizations that set standards for the field), and comparison with prevailing standards at other institutions.  In the case of programs with different concentrations, the ability of a student to switch from a large concentration to one that permits completion within the constraints may be considered for an exception.  Majors that have been previously granted an exception to these criteria and are currently making programmatic changes must demonstrate that the changes do not further lengthen the time required for a degree.

Records for all programs are maintained by Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code. These are established by the federal government and assigned by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Major codes are internal to ISU and determined by the Registrar’s Office. Each program title has a separate major code. Titles, major codes, and CIP codes are available from deans’ offices. When a program title is changed or a program is eliminated or suspended, its major code is made inactive, and, in cases of changes, a new one is assigned.

Program titles and major codes are significant for several reasons. Counts of majors and graduates and other important records are organized by program title and major code. Students are admitted into the University and specific programs by title and major code. The degree audit system is organized by program title. Students’ transcripts are labeled with the program title.

The maximum length of program titles allowed by Banner is 30 characters, including spaces.

A major is that part of an undergraduate or graduate degree program consisting of a specified number of hours from a defined group of courses in a primary discipline or field. A completed major is shown on a student’s transcript.

The total number of credits for an undergraduate major should be at least 31 and no more than 80 of the 120 credits needed for graduation. Any program that requires credits outside these limits must obtain full approval from all curriculum review and governance bodies. Majors containing more credits must include a plan demonstrating that a student can complete the major in eight semesters with 18 or fewer credits per semester.

A minor is that part of an undergraduate or graduate degree program in an approved secondary discipline or field. A completed minor is shown on a student’s transcript. The total number of credits for an undergraduate minor should be at least 15 and no more than 29 of the 120 credits needed for graduation.

A concentration is a set of courses within a major that defines a specific field of study in, or closely related to, that major. They are designated by a code assigned by the Registrar. Concentrations must contain at least nine credits and be approved through the curriculum approval process. Concentrations are coded, tracked in Banner and the degree audit system and shown on students’ transcripts. Departments may offer both a general major (BA in History) as well the major with a concentration (BA in History: Asia ) A concentration is constructed as a focused array of required courses articulating with a core of courses taken by all students in the major. Each concentration is coded to one departmental home; however, a major could link to a concentration in another department (for example, Health Education might link to a concentration offered in Nutrition).

Departments may use the terms tracks, emphases, options, etc., if appropriate. However, they will not be tracked in Banner or show on the student’s transcript.

ISU offers microcredentials to provide students with a variety of credentials to document their experience and knowledge.  Microcredentials are related to existing majors and minors but are more focused in their delivery and are targeted at specific audiences, often persons seeking specialized knowledge and abilities for employment.  Microcredentials stand alone as self-contained educational experiences, though they may be pursued in conjunction with a traditional degree.  Credit-bearing microcredentials are housed within existing academic units and generall consist of existing courses.

Definition of Terms (from Credential Engine and Lumina Foundation)

  • Microcredential: Credential that validates a subset of field-specific knowledge, skills, or competencies; often developmental with relationships to other microcredentials an field credentials.

    • Certificate: A type of microcredential that designates requisite knowledge and skills of an occupation, profession, or academic program.
    • Badge: Recognition designed to be displayed as a marker of accomplishment, activity, achievement, skill, interest, association, or identity. May be credit-bearing or non-credit bearing.  Uses digital technologies to represent competencies and various learning achievements.
    • Licensure: An academic program that leads to a credential (license) awarded by a government agency that constitutes legal authority to do a specific job and/or utilize a specific item, system or infrastructure and typically earned through some combination of degree or certificate attainment, certifications, assessments, work experience, and/or fees, and are time-limited and must be renewed periodically.
    • Certificate of Completion: Microcredential that acknowledges completion of an assignment, training or other activity.  A Certificate of Completion is awarded based on non-credt bearing experiences.
  • Certification: Time-limited, revocable, renewable credential awarded by an authoritative body for demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform specific tasks or an occupation. Not awarded by ISU.

For-credit microcredentials:

  • Have clearly stated student learning outcomes that are different from the outcomes of a major or minor.
  • Consist only of credit-bearing courses.
  • Consist of a minimum of 6 credits.
  • Consist of a maximum of 18 credits.  Exceptions may be proposed with justification.
  • May apply all credits toward a subsequent or simulatneous degree award.
  • Must have at least 50 percent of the credits from ISU courses.
  • Require admission to the University.
  • May be earned by degree-seeking students, as well as by those not pursuing an ISU degree. Guidelines and standards for performance are identical for both groups.
  • Do not include culminating experiences (i.e. thesis, dissertation, senior project).
  • Are maintained in the Office of the Registrar in the Student Information System.
  • Appear in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs.

Item 7 amended by CAAC: 9-0-0 3/9/2021; Graduate Council (8-0-1), 2/3/2021

8. Accelerated Graduate Programs

Programs are free to adopt more stringent rules or procedures. These are minimum requirements and programs are NOT required to adopt an Accelerated Graduate Program model; Accelerated Graduate Programs are an opt-in initiative. Admission to an Accelerated Graduate Program is NOT a “fifth year” extension to the four-year graduation guarantee; graduate study is not covered by that guarantee.

  • Accelerated Graduate Programs must be considered by Graduate Council and Faculty Senate as part of the Curricular Process.  Curricula will not be approved without evidence of rigor appropriate to a Master's-level program.
    • Programs interested in an Acceperated Graduate Program should consider modifications to their undergraduate programs, so they articulate with their graduate curriculum.
    • Programs can offer a regular AND accelerated graduate program option, but must submit regular and accelerated graduate degree maps to show the curriculum can be completed under both models.
  • Accelerated Graduate Programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA or 3.0 at time of admission.
  • Graduate admission is provisional until the bachelor's degree is awarded with a final cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (porograms may set a higher limit, so students should check program requirements).  All applicants to Accelerated Graduate Programs are subject to usual graduate admissions procedures.
  • To be admitted, students must have completed at least 80% of the total credits needed to earn their undergraduate degree (e.g. 96 credit hours of a 120-credit hour degree) by the start of their fourth year.
  • Students may be dual enrolled (undergraduate & graduate) for their last two semesters of their undergraduate degree, but must complete a dual enrollment agreement in order to do so.  Graduate Assistantships (GA, RA, TA, etc.) are not available to dual-enrolled students; to be a Graduate Assistant, students must have been awarded an undergraduate degree.
    • While dual enrolled, student status will be undergraduate for the purposes of financial aid and registration and records.
  • Students may count up to 9 hours of graduate courses (400/500 level) toward both degrees. The course must be taken at the 500 level to count toward undergraduate and graduate degrees.  
    • 500-level credits will be recorded on the undergraduate transcript and then transferred to the graduate transcript once the undergraduate degree is awarded.
  • Students will also be allowed to take up to 6 hours of 600-level courses during their senior year of undergraduate study.
    • Credits earned at the 600-level while dual enrolled will count only toward the graduate degree and be recorded only on the graduate transcript.

Graduate Council: 8-0-0, March 1, 2017; Executive Committee addition in red: 9-0-0, 3/7/2017, Faculty Senate: 30-0-0, 3/23/2017; Board of Trustees: Recommended for approval, effective Fall 2017 on May 12, 2017

Departments may suspend programs that they plan to substantially revise for the period of the revision, or not more than three years. This prevents students enrolling in programs that can no longer be offered. Departments who do not revise the suspended program within three years will be asked to eliminate it.

For a limited time, students may continue to pursue a degree in an inactive program or a program that has undergone a substantial revision. From the effective date of the elimination, suspension, or modification, the maximum amount of time to complete the old degree is three years for associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and specialist’s degrees, and five years for doctoral degrees.

10. Guidance for Developing New Cross-College and/or Cross-Department Programs

This section provides guidance for proposing new cross-college and/or cross-departmental programs beginning AY2021-2022. A well-developed memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an essential element in forming, launching, and maintaining such programs. An explicit, written account of agreements and expectations in the MOU helps all parties understand their commitments and expected benefits. The MOU will assist departments and colleges in allocating resources and faculty time. The MOU provides the basis for equitable and rational joint decision-making.

Cross-College programs are proposed programs requiring substantial (at least 20%) or essential course work in another college (other than directed Foundational Studies courses) to accomplish the program's student outcomes.

Cross-College programs are proposed programs requiring substantial (at least 20%) or essential course work in another college (other than directed Foundational Studies courses) to accomplish the program's student outcomes.

Cross-Department programs are proposed programs requiring substantial (at least 20%) or essential course work (other than directed Foundational Studies courses) in another department within the same college to accomplish the program's student outcomes.

As with all curriculum approval processes, the faculty, department chairs, and respective deans must work together to create the proposed program. The nature and extent of the collaboration should be one outcome of discussions with stakeholders.

Any MOU between the affected departments/colleges should be signed by their respective chairs and deans and uploaded into Curriculog as part of the curriculum approval process.

The following items should be considered when drafting the MOU:

  • Determine the home department to house the program (i.e. responsible for routing in Curriculog).
  • Determine which Dean will serve as the "lead Dean" for the program, based on which college houses the home department.
  • Program leadership/Curriculum committee membership should generally consist of a program director/graduate program director or designee of each contributing program (Note: some programs may not have directors and therefore a faculty member teaching in the proposed program would be appropriate).
  • Voting members must be Regular Faculty as defined in the Policy Library.
  • The MOU shall establish:
    • a schedule for meetings of the program faculty including agendas and minutes
    • the number of voting members to constitute a quorum
    • the majorities required for deciding policy and effecting changes to by-laws
    • program membership including voting and non-voting, e.g., clinical placement supervision
    • who will serve as program director and how will they be selected/evaluated
    • courses for the program to be offered by each department on a particular schedule
    • program admission requirements
    • additional work needed for the program (i.e., faculty workload) outside of course offering(s), including but not limited to:
      • attending program meetings
      • reviewing graduate student applications
      • interviewing prospective graduate students
      • advising students
      • serving as members of capstone project, thesis, or dissertation committees
      • creating assessment materials
    • resource distribution, including but not limited to:
      • instructional/scholarly resources
      • computing assets
      • labs/classroom space
      • specific number of faculty/staff (if applicable)
      • capital expenses/equipment
    • process for dealing with disagreements among faculty, chars, or deans
    • process/timeline for reviewing and/or revising the MOU
    • specific items (i.e., policies and bylaws) to be developed prior to admitting students into the program

      CAAC: 9-0-0, 4/27/2021



      Programs proposed by units or individuals at an organizational level other than that of an academic department or equivalent unit within a college must be approved by CAAC. They must originate with and be approved by an established advisory group composed of at least 75% regular faculty. Proposals for programs courses must include, as part of their rationale, an explanation of the circumstances that require their creation at a level other than academic department or equivalent, and how they will be staffed.


      Any licensure program, degree or non-degree, must be approved by the Dean’s Office of the College of Education and the Teacher Education Committee. Educational licensure is controlled by the state and is performance-based.


      Curriculum changes associated with a proposal to change the name of a program or unit may publish as approved independent of the name change.


      Since university-level governance bodies ordinarily concern themselves only with proposals for new programs or significant revisions, some types of program changes may be approved by an abbreviated process. These proposals include:

      • Elimination or suspension of a program this is taught only within the initiating department and has no courses included for any other unit.
      • Elimination or suspension of a major/minor code(s) when there is more than one program for a CIP code and degree level.
      • Modification to a program of 70 credits or less which changes overall credit requirements by 6 or fewer credits provided those course changes are wholly contained within the department and do not affect any other program or unit.
      • Editorial changes to a program that do not modify requirements.
      • Modifications to minors to match changes already approved in a major.

      Proposals for these kinds of changes follow the usual approval and review process through the department and college, including Registrar and degree audit consultation. After the dean approves the proposal, it is sent to Academic Affairs where it is published as proposed inAcademic Notes and CAAC or Graduate Council is notified. If no objections are raised within 14 working days, it may be sent to Academic Affairs for signature and published as approved. Note: Working days are defined as days during which regularly scheduled classes meet in the Fall and Spring semesters.


      Curriculum that has been determined to be of strategic importance and is deemed to require a more expeditious approval process to meet student and institutional needs, will use the follwing expedited review process.

      • Before a proposed curriculum can begin the Expedited Review process, a Memorandum must be jointly signed and agreed to by the department chair, college curriculum committee, Dean(s), Provost, and Faculty Senate Chairperson attesting that the program curriculum is sound (i.e. all courses already exist and are approved) and meets all other curricula criteria.
      • Once the Memorandum has been jointly signed, the department chairperson will initiate the review of the curriculum by entering it into Curriculog.  The curricular proposal will include a signed copy of the Memorandum.
      • The next level of review would be either Graduate Council (for graduate curricula) or the University Curriculum and Academic Affaris Committee (for undergraduate curricula), then to Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the full Faculty Senate for voting.  Once approved at these levels, Academic Affairs will present the proposal to the Board of Trustees and the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

      Item 5 amended by CAAC: 9-0-0, 3/9/2021


      Modifications to programs offered at an international or off-campus site or via distance education are approved by the same process as are on-campus programs.

      Approval from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association is required for:

      • An instructional site at which the organization provides one or more degree programs.
      • An off-campus site at which the organization offers 50 percent or more of the courses leading to one of its degree programs and at which it enrolls one hundred or more students (unduplicated head count) in an academic year.
      • Five or more courses a year at an out-of-state site or an international site.

      The Indiana Commission for Higher Education also must approve some off-campus programs and programs in which 50 percent or more of the courses leading to a degree programs are available via distance education.


      Proposals for the creation or reorganization (merger, division, relocation) of academic units, whether departments, schools, or colleges, are developed, presented, and approved through the same process as curriculum proposals. Complete proposals must include extensive documentation, including:

      • Rationale for the change.
      • Detailed description and diagram of unit structure.
      • If units are moving within a college, the plan must include the proposed college structure in chart form, demonstrating the location of all programs and personnel within the unit and lines of reporting.
      • A full record of all meetings, minutes, and votes at each level of approval.
      • When untis are moving from one college to another, a letter of support from each dean must be included, one dean agreeing to the transfer, the other dean agreeing to receive the programs and faculty. Letters of support from each college's governance unit must also be included, one unit agreeing to the transfer, the other agreeing to receive the programs an faculty.
      • An agreement on the transfer of funding from the present unit to the new or reorganized unit.
      • An agreement on the assignment of space and transfer of equipment, furniture, and supplies.
      • An agreement assuring assent of transferring faculty to tenure and promotion status and standards and procedures of tenure and promotion review. 

      Program changes associated with a proposal for departmental reorganization and administrative restructuring are published as approved only when the reorganization is approved and published.

      Editorial changes approved by CAAC: 8-1-0, 3/9/2021