UIC: Programs and Academic Assessment
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Timeframes

A question that is frequently asked by units proposing a change to an existing program or establishing a new one is the amount of time it takes for final approval. The answer depends on the type of program proposal.

Clearly, those proposals that require only Senate approval can be implemented in a relatively short period of time. Once the proposal has been approved at the college level and submitted to the Office of Programs and Academic Assessment (OPAA), the remaining approval steps (i.e., Graduate College, if required, the Senate Committee on Educational Policy, and the Senate) can be accomplished in a matter of a few months. The quickness in reviewing and acting on a proposal depends on whether further revisions are required by OPAA, the Graduate College, SCEP and the Senate, or on the scheduling of meetings of the various committees of the Graduate College and SCEP. In general, minor programmatic changes can be reviewed and approved at the campus level in a short period of time.

Proposals that require Board of Trustees or IBHE approval may take considerably longer, depending on the type of change being proposed. After a proposal has been approved by the Senate, it is submitted to and reviewed by the Senates Conference and then to the BOT. This can take another two or, perhaps, three months, again depending on the timing of the meetings of these two groups. All items for review and action by the BOT must reach the Board office at least a month before the Board meets. If the Senates Conference does not complete its work in a timely fashion, then a particular item may be delayed in reaching the BOT.

The speed with which a proposal works its way through all of the review levels is ultimately going to depend on how quickly the various review bodies can accomplish their work.

Proposals that require IBHE approval are, understandably, going to take a much longer time. This is especially true of proposals to establish new degree programs. (Changes that are considered reasonable and moderate extensions, such as changes to degree titles or unit names, are usually handled routinely by the IBHE staff and do not require Board action.) The length of time to get a new degree program or center/institute proposal approved will vary greatly, depending on how quickly the IBHE staff can get to the proposal vis-a-vis all of the proposals being submitted by other state universities, what additional information or clarification the IBHE will require (in the form of written questions submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs), how quickly the campus can respond to those questions, and how fast the IBHE staff can complete its final review. There are so many variables involved in the IBHE review process that it is difficult to predict just how long it will take the IBHE to act on any particular proposal. Certainly the process is extended in the case of proposals for new Ph.D. programs because there is an additional level of review - the outside consultants. Given all of these factors, it is safe to say that a proposal to establish a new degree program will minimally take two years from the time of submission for campus approval until final action by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Most probably the process will take longer and can be a frustrating experience for all.