Approval Process for New/Revised Information

  • Each proposal must first be approved by the respective College Curriculum Committee (CCC).
  • After CCC approval, the proposal(s) is submitted for 15 day review to the Provost, University Registrar and all Colleges. (During this review, suggestions and comments on the proposal(s) may be directed to the initiating college.)
  • After completion of, or simultaneous with (upon committee request) the 15 day review, the proposal(s) is forwarded to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) for undergraduate items and the Graduate Curriculum Committee (GCC) for graduate items.
  • Following approval by UCC and/or GCC, final approval is granted by either the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies (CUSP) or the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGSP).
  • As items move through the governance system, we will provide approval status information on both undergraduate and graduate courses as well as undergraduate degree checksheets.
  • A detailed course proposal is available for use as an example.
  • Complete and return to our office as an e-mail attachment. Email:

Course Numbering System

First Digit of Course Number

The first digit of a course number indicates the academic level of the students for whom the course is primarily designed.

First Digit of Course Number Description of Student Level
0 Any level student- course is not for university credit
1 First-year undergraduate students
2 Second-year undergraduate students
3 Third-year undergraduate students
4 Fourth-year and fifth-year undergraduate students
5 First-year graduate students and second-year graduate students pursuing a masters degree
6 Regular graduate students beyond the masters level
7 Regular graduate students beyone the masters level
8 Professional degree candidates (DVM)
9 Professional degree candidates (DVM)

Second and Third Digits of Course Number

The second and third digits are established at the option of the department with the following conditions:

The combination must be identical for each course within a given sequence. Combinations which are dedicated throughout the university for courses of a specific type must be used only as defined. No number combination previously used may be reclaimed for a new course until five years has elapsed after the previous use.

Fourth Digit of Course Number

The fourth digit indicates whether the course is part of a sequence and its placement in the sequence.

Numbers authorized for use with the semester calendar style and their significance are listed below:

Fourth Digit of Course Number Significance of Fourth Digit
4 Not part of a sequence
5 First in sequence of two and three courses
6 Second in sequence of two or three courses
Numbers 0 through 3, 8, and 9 must not be used.

Course Number Combinations with Preassigned Meaning

The following course number combinations must be used by any department offering courses of the types indicated.

The course number combinations may not be used for any other course types.

Dedicated Numbers Types of Courses Courses Description
2964 Field Work/Practicum Lower division undergraduate
2974 Independent Study Lower division undergraduate (involving individual students)
2984 Special Study Lower division undergraduate (involving class groups)
3954 Study Abroad Undergraduate, taught by Virginia Tech faculty outside the United States
3984 Special Study Lower division undergraduate (involving class groups)
4964 Field Work/Practicum Upper division undergraduate
4974 Independent Study Upper division undergraduate (involving individual groups)
4984 Special Study Upper division undergraduate (involving individual groups)
5894 Final Examination Masters level
5904 Project and Report Masters level
5954 Study Abroad Graduate, taught by Virginia Tech faculty outside the United States
5974 Independent Study Graduate (involving individual students)
5984 Special Study Graduate, new course on trial or under development (involving class groups)
5994 Research and Thesis Masters level
6984 Special Study Graduate, new course on trial or under development (involving class groups)
7994 Research and Dissertation Doctoral level


Course Proposal Example

Below is a detailed example of a course proposal. It provides the information which should be included in the proposal and the appropriate format in which it should be completed.

Introduction to the Course Proposal Process
CPP 1014

I. Catalog Description

Brief description of the course as it will appear in the Catalog, preferably by semester for semester sequences, up to a maximum of ten lines. Complete sentences are not required. Description should coincide with syllabus. Indicate prerequisites, laboratory and credit hours. Indicate if P/F only.
Example Pre: 1004 (3H, 3L, 4C)

The departmental designation of a prerequisite course should not appear if the prerequisite is taught by the department proposing the course. DO NOT list prerequisites for prerequisites.

Course Number: 1014 Provide course number without department designation: specify cross-listing (if any) in parentheses. Course numbers of a multi-semester course are separated by hyphens if they must be taken in sequence, separated by commas if not required to be taken in sequence.

ADP Title: Intro Course Proposal Process Automatic Data Processing Title is an abbreviation in upper and lower case letters of the course title and MUST NOT EXCEED 30 SPACES. Use as many of the 30 spaces as is practical and arrange abbreviations to convey the maximum of unambiguous information. If the entire title is 30 spaces or fewer, do not abbreviate. This title should be comprehensible to non-specialists. It is used on grade sheets and academic transcripts.

II. Learning Objectives

What new capabilities, skills, and levels of awareness will students derive from this course? The objectives must be measurable. Action verbs such as define, make, explain, outline, construct, describe, identify, discuss, demonstrate, prove, write, program, show, apply, build, prepare, compose, etc. are desired. A preferred preamble for these entries might read:

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

  • Learning Objective 1
  • Learning Objective 2
  • etc.

III. Justification

Address each of the following, where applicable, in separate paragraphs.

Specify the reason why the proposed course should be taught: Arguments establishing the educational significance of the proposed course with respect to a curriculum or program of study are more persuasive than arguments which address staff competence, pressure and critiques from external entities or student dissatisfaction with existing course(s).

Justify the level of the course: The level (1XXX, 2XXX, etc.) of the course should be justified in a separate paragraph. Include a brief explanation of the rationale used by the department to arrive at the course level. The intrinsic value of the subject matter is not the question here, but rather, the placement of the course in a particular curriculum structure or program of study.

If proposal is for modification of an existing course: It should contain justification not just for the change, but for the course itself, in either the original or modified forms, whichever seems appropriate. (This format will ensure that the latest copy is self-contained, eliminating the need to file and consult several copies.) If a series of minor changes amount to a total of 20% or more, approval should be sought and the situation explained in the proposal. Often the change in content is so great that it becomes unclear if the department is offering a new course or proposing modifications to an existing course. If there is as much as 50% overlap with the existing course, so that it would be inappropriate for students to take both courses, a revision, retaining the same course number is preferable. If it is desired that students, who have taken the existing course, be able to take the proposed course, call it a NEW course and assign a new number (whether or not the existing course is dropped).

IV. Prerequisites and Corequisites

If a specific course or courses constitute the prerequisite, justify the selection by describing the material in these courses that is of significance. Justify any other prerequisite such as Junior standing, software proficiency, etc. In the absence of a prerequisite, indicate that the Catalog statements on prerequisites associated with course level is applicable. Graduate courses generally have prerequisites. A prerequisite does not, in itself, justify course level nor is a prerequisite necessary for an upper division course.

V. Texts and Special Teaching Aids

Clearly distinguish between required and recommended texts. If there is not a required text, a justification should be included. List author(s)--if there is more than one text, list in alphabetical order by author's last name, TITLE (in caps, do not underline), volume number, edition, place of publication, publisher, publication date, and number of pages in the following format:
Wilkins, John G. and Robert A. Jones. INTRODUCTION TO STUFF AND MATTER. II, xii, Billings Montana: Another Press, 1974, 364.

Make a separate category for additional course materials and teaching aids to be used. List in alphabetical order representative, special materials such as supplementary texts, periodicals, films, and courseware packets (with examples), websites, etc. Do not attempt to be exhaustive.

VI. Syllabus

List topics or major units by semester with percentage of time FOR EACH MAJOR TOPIC OR UNIT. If a topic or sub-topic contains over 20%, a breakdown is to be listed. Sub-topics should not show percentage of time unless greater than 20%. Percentage of time must total 100% for each semester. Topics for lectures and laboratories should be listed separately when two different course numbers are to be used. Otherwise, the material may be combined in a single listing. Keep in mind that the syllabus will be reviewed by many people not familiar with the subject matter. It is thus important to avoid jargon. It is also important that care be given to the organization of the syllabus, and that it be made much more detailed and complete than the catalog description. Times used for testing should not be included in the syllabus. Place percentages under the heading: Percent of Course.

VII. Old (current) Syllabus (in the case of a revised course)

The syllabus of the course(s) currently being taught must be included.

VIII. Curriculum for Liberal Education guidelines (if inclusion in the Curriculum for Liberal Education is desired)

Address all appropriate areas of guidelines (click here for CLE proposal guidelines).


Frequently Encountered Problems with Approvals

  • Missing or no resource letter with new course/program submission
  • Lack of support letter(s) from other department(s) and/or college(s)
  • Unable to determine if course has been sent out for the 15 day review period, as well as dates for the review period
  • Inappropriate Transcript (ADP) Title for courses - Maximum of thirty (30) characters allowed for short title and lack of match with the long title
  • No indication if course is new or revised
  • Missing effective semester or effective semester has already expired (lack of lead time)
  • Not clear if course replaces or duplicates another course
  • Inconsistency in university standard for lecture, lab contact hours and course credits
  • Incomplete approval signature(s) and dates
  • Non-measurable learning objectives listed
  • Incomplete text information
  • Lack of syllabus breakdown - no one topic or subtopic to exceed 20%
  • Lack of joint approval by respective department and/or college curriculum committees for "cross-listed" courses
  • Missing or incomplete information on checksheet, such as department, major, progress towards degree statement, etc.


Governance Approval

Course and Program Issues Requiring Governance Approval

  • New Degree Program
  • Degree Name Change
  • Departmental Name Change
  • New Course
  • Course Number Change
  • Request to Cross-List a Course
  • New Checksheet
  • New Major, Minor, Option, etc.
  • Course Title Change
  • Course Credit Hour Change
  • Request to Create Conjoint 4000-5000G courses
  • Course Content Revision > 20% (syllabus with matching catalog description)
  • Major Change
  • Checksheet Revision > 20%
  • Grade Mode Change

Course and Program Issues NOT Requiring Governance Approval

  • Course Prerequisite Change: may require a letter of support
  • Request to Drop Course from Catalog
  • Terms a Course is Offered
  • Minor Revisions < 20%
    (Requires clean copy with revisions included AND supporting documentation that revision is < 20%)
    • Courses
    • Checksheets


Helpful Hints

For extensive curriculum and program changes, an introductory letter explicitly stating the changes, background of proposal, and intent is advised with appropriate supporting documentation.

Only those program, curriculum and course-related issues, requiring governance approval should be submitted to the respective university curriculum committees for consideration:

  • Revisions > 20%
  • Course changes-titles, credits, descriptions
  • Degree checksheet revisions

Each course proposal should be forwarded to the university committee for consideration via Hokie CAPS.

Responses to concerns and/or objections to courses during the 15-day review period should be in the form of letter or memo and directed to the initiating college Associate Dean and the University Registrar. It is assumed that "no response" during the 15-day review period represents consent.

The appropriate cover sheet should be completed in its entirety.

Cross-listed courses must have approval of all cross-listed departments and colleges and come forward simultaneously to the university committee for review. The department serving as the "home department" should take the initiative to ensure the joint submission of such courses.

Each curriculum committee should assume that its primary role is to expedite the approval process.

College curriculum committees are encouraged to develop a tracking system, enabling them to follow the status of a course or program.

For presentations of lengthy program and/or curriculum revisions or new programs, a departmental representative should attend the curriculum committee meeting and be available to answer questions.

All areas of program check sheets and course proposals should be reviewed for completeness and inclusion of required information such as department name, degree and/or minor, option, course number, text pages, etc.

Errors, which frequently cause a course to be tabled or rejected for future action, are principally related to clarity and consistency between the catalog description, prerequisites and corequisites, course justification, learning objectives, and syllabus. If contradictory information is supplied and the college representative offers no clarification, the course may be tabled for action until clarification is available.

The Graduate Curriculum Committee will not act on requests for graduate credit for a conjoint 4000-5000G course until the 4000-level course is approved by the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies (CUSP), thus adding time to the process for obtaining graduate credit for the 5000G course. Submit the approved 4000-level course proposal with the proposal for the 5000G counterpart course.


Responsibilities of the University Curriculum Committees

The review of new and/or revised courses and degree programs is one of the major responsibilities of the University Curriculum Committees. The criteria considered in the review process include:

  • Compliance with established guidelines and procedures
  • Potential overlap and conflicts with other courses and/or programs
  • Academic quality and relevance
  • Statement indicating whether existing resources are sufficient to support the courses and/or programs.*
  • *Resources include but are not limited to faculty, staff/technical support, library and computer facilities, physical facilities, etc.

Each college representative is responsible for presenting relevant information to his/her respective curriculum committee to assist in determining whether the course and/or program meet the above criteria.

When appropriate, a committee may invite a representative involved with the specific course/program to provide information concerning the proposal.

Committee action is transmitted in writing (with a copy to the University Curriculum Committee chair) by the appropriate college representative back to the specific college, department, unit, or professor involved.

When only minor modifications are needed for course approval, the college representative informs the unit/professor involved that changes should be made "electronically" by the unit involved. The revised course proposal should be submitted via Hokie CAPS to the Office of the University Registrar or the Graduate School, as appropriate.

In other cases where the University Curriculum Committee deems it necessary to respond as a unified committee (i.e. rejection or tabling of program requests), the Committee Chair responds in writing to the appropriate unit.

Should a college representative be unable to attend a University Curriculum Committee meeting, an alternate should attend in the representative's absence.

University Curriculum Committees may assume additional responsibilities for other issues related to undergraduate or graduate education as deemed necessary by the committee, the Chair of the respective Commission (undergraduate/graduate), and issues as advised by the Provost or the Dean of the Graduate School.