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Office of the Provost

Degree Programs and Certificates

Academic degrees are awarded to students in order to formally recognize a satisfactorily completed course of study.

Propose a Program Action

University of South Carolina programs that lead to formal recognition including the awarding of all degrees must be reviewed and approved at appropriate levels of curriculum responsibility within the university, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The Academic Program Proposal System (APPS) is used to propose new, modified, or terminated degree programs. Please note, in order to launch a new academic degree program or academic unit, faculty are first asked to complete a Program Pre-Authorization Request for Provost review. Similarly, substantive changes to an existing degree program or academic unit will also require pre-faculty-governance completion of the request form. 

Note: Learning Outcomes must be placed in the Academic Assessment Plan Composer. Please contact La Trice Ratcliff-Small in OIRAA with any questions regarding learning outcomes.

Please direct any other questions to the Office of Academic Programs at 803-777-6727 or acadprog@mailbox.sc.edu.


Common Program Actions

Select an option below to learn more about approval levels and timelines.

New programs require approval at all levels of the university as well as the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and, if applicable, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Educator-preparation programs require additional approvals by the State Department of Education.

The decision to begin a new program should be based on a careful assessment of anticipated student need or demand, sustainable faculty and staff resources, and impact on unit facilities. New degree programs can only be initiated by Academic Program Liaisons in the proposal system.

  1. The proponent must complete a Program Pre-Authorization Request form for Provost review.
  2. The APL must submit a new program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS) for approval.
  3. The proposing department must submit a completed CHE New Program Proposal Form to the Office of Academic Programs. Note: Programs requesting supplemental Palmetto Fellows and Life Scholarship awards require additional documentation. Contact the Office of Academic Programs for information.
  4. New programs that are considered a significant departure may also require the submission of a prospectus to SACSCOC. Contact the Office of Academic Programs for information.
  5. Educator-preparation programs may require additional approvals by the State Department of Education. 
  6. Please refer to the Calendar/Approval Timelines for important dates/deadlines.

Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to two years for full review are subject to Calendar deadlines.  New programs may be marketed after CHE CAAL approval and new programs will only be assigned a major code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACSCOC approvals have been received by the Provost’s Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Pre-authorization
  2. Academic Unit Head
  3. College/School Representative
  4. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  5. Board of Trustees (BOT AESEC and Full BOT)
  6. CHE (ACAP, CAAL, and Full CHE)
  7. SACSCOC Notification and/or Substantive Change Proposal (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs/OIRAA)

Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system.  The Faculty Senate and Graduate Council recommend program representation at meetings to address questions or concerns. The Board of Trustees and CHE approvals may require a program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program.


Bulletin Freeze Dates

Please consult the Calendar/Approval Timelines to determine when a program must be approved to be published in a specific academic bulletin.

Undergraduate Certificates

Undergraduate Certificates require a minimum of 15 credit hours beyond high school. Per ACAF 2.00, new undergraduate certificate programs are permitted only on two-year campuses of the USC system. Students in the two-year campus certificate programs are required to be matriculated at the campus where they are completing the coursework to receive their certificate. In the rare cases of pre-existing undergraduate certificate programs on the four-year campuses, students enrolling in these programs are required to either 1) already have completed a baccalaureate degree, and/or 2) be concurrently enrolled in a regular baccalaureate program. Pre-authorization from Provost is required.

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificates require a minimum of 12 graduate credit hours either post-baccalaureate or post-master’s. Please note: Certificates of Graduate Study must be a minimum of 18 Credit Hours to be eligible for Title IV Financial Aid. Post-baccalaureate certificates require the bachelor’s degree for admission, and post-master’s certificates require the master’s degree. Pre-authorization from Provost is required. 

The decision to begin a new certificate should be based on a careful assessment of anticipated student need or demand, sustainable faculty and staff resources, and impact on unit facilities.

New certificate programs require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE).

Initiating a New Certificate Program

The Academic Program Liaison (APL) must submit the new program in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS). The proposing department or unit must submit a completed CHE Notification of Change-New Certificate Form to the Office of Academic Programs. Please refer to the Calendar/Approval Timelines for important dates/timelines. Please note: Certificates of Graduate Study must be a minimum of 18 Credit Hours to be eligible for Title IV Financial Aid.

Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. New certificates may only be marketed and assigned a major code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACSCOC approvals have been received by the Provost’s Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Pre-authorization
  2. Academic Unit Head
  3. College/School Representative
  4. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  5. Board of Trustees (BOT AESEC and Full BOT)
  6. CHE Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)
  7. SACSCOC Notification, if applicable (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

Program modifications require approval at all levels of the university and may include the Board of Trustees, and the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) approval. In addition, if the modification is a substantive change or significant departure, a prospectus must also be developed for approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  If not a substantive change, SACSCOC notification may still be required. Modifications of academic degree programs generally fall into three categories: 1) changes involving more than 18 credit hours for undergraduate programs, or greater than 12 credit hours for graduate programs; 2) changes involving 18 credit hours or less for undergraduate programs, or 12 credit hours or less for graduate programs; or 3) other program modifications such as new sites, new concentrations, consolidation of concentrations, etc.

  1. Substantive degree program modifications require a completed Program Pre-Authorization Request form.
  2. Modifications to programs and certificates require the electronic submission of a Change to an Existing Program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).
  3. The proposing department or unit must also submit a completed CHE Program Modification Form or Notification of Change Form to the Office of Academic Programs. Contact the Office of Academic Programs for information about which form to submit given the modification. Please refer to the Calendar/Approval Timelines for important dates/deadlines.
  4. Substantive program modifications may also require a SACSCOC Notification and/or Substantive Change Proposal (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. Results of program modifications may only be marketed after CHE ACAP approval (as pending CHE and SACSCOC approval) and assigned a major code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACSCOC approvals have been received by the Provost’s Office.

Approval levels: 

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)
  5. CHE (Note: CHE has the right to elevate Program Modifications to New Program Proposals)
  6. SACSCOC Notification and/or Substantive Change Prospectus/Proposal (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs/OIRAA)

Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council may request program representation at meetings to address questions or concerns. The Board of Trustees and CHE approvals may require a program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program.

Program terminations require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  1. Terminating a program or certificate requires the electronic submission of a Terminate a Program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).
  2. The proposing department or unit must submit a memo to the Provost, from the Dean of the proposing college, requesting that the program termination be placed on the agenda for consideration at the Board of Trustees meeting. The memo should address the following:
    • Reason for the termination;
    • When and how faculty and students were notified of the program termination;
    • When the program will cease admitting students;
    • Provisions for existing students to complete the degree, including an explanation of how all affected students will be helped to complete their programs of study with minimal disruption or additional costs;
    • How will faculty in the program be effected;
    • When the last student will graduate from the program (the effective date of the program termination will need to be AFTER the last student graduates).


Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. Program and certificate terminations may only be implemented after CHE and SACSCOC approvals or acknowledgements have been received by the Provost's Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AESEC and Full BOT)
  5. CHE Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)
  6. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council may request program representation at meetings to address questions or concerns. Board of Trustees approvals may require a program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program termination.


Other Program Actions

Select an option below to learn more about approval levels and timelines.

All new programs are assigned a Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code by the Commission on Higher Education (CHE), based on the disciplinary content of the program.

CIP Code changes require approval at all levels of the university as well as the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE). CIP Code changes may only be implemented after CHE approvals have been received by the Provost's Office.

Approval levels (Note: CIP Code changes do not go through APPS)

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Unit must submit a New Program Proposal to Office of Academic Programs per CHE policy
  4. CHE (ACAP, CAAL, and Full CHE)
  5. Academic Programs will notify Registrar

CHE approvals require a program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program.

The Office of Academic Programs recommends Units review ACAF 2.05 and ACAF 2.06 prior to discussions about Dual/Joint degree programs with other institutions. New Dual/Joint degree programs require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). NOTE: Contracts over $250,000 are required to go before the Governance Committee for approval.

The following disclaimer statement must be used in any materials describing the relationship with a non-SACSCOC-accredited institution, inside or outside the United States. USC is responsible for reviewing, approving, and monitoring the non-SACSCOC partner institutions’ statements of relationship to ensure conformity with the disclaimer:

"The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Associate, Baccalaureate, Masters, and Doctoral degrees. [Name of partner institution] is not accredited by SACS Commission on Colleges and the accreditation of University of South Carolina does not extend to or include [name of partner institution] or its students. Further, although University of South Carolina agrees to accept certain course work from [name of partner institution] to be applied toward an award from University of South Carolina, that course work may not be accepted by other colleges or universities in transfer, even if it appears on a transcript from University of South Carolina. The decision to accept course work in transfer from any institution is made by the institution considering the acceptance of credits or course work."
 

Creating a New Dual/Joint Degree

  1. The proponent must complete a Program Pre-Authorization Request form for Provost review.
  2. The proponent completes the electronic submission of a Dual/Joint Program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS). See New Dual Degree Programs Approval Process for additional information. 
  3. The proponent must complete the following documents:
  4. Obtain signatures required on the forms noted above. 
  5. Send to the Office of Academic Programs Copies of the Consortial Agreement Review/Renewal Form, Contract Approval Form, and the Articulation/MOU Agreement (all with requisite signatures) for the Provost’s Review. Also send a completed CHE Program Modification Form. Please refer to the Calendar/Approval Timelines for important dates/deadlines.
  6. Office of Academic Programs will submit to Forms and MOU to UofSC General Counsel for review and approval and the Program Modification to the Board of Trustees for review and approval (AESEC and Full Board of Trustees).
  7. Dual/joint programs also require a SACSCOC Notification and/or Substantive Change Proposal (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs/OIRAA).

SACSCOC Definitions

For the purposes of review by SACSCOC, the following definitions apply:

  • An agreement by two or more institutions to grant dual academic awards is one whereby students study at two or more institutions and each institution grants a separate academic award bearing only its name, seal, and signature.
  • An agreement by two or more institutions to grant a joint academic award is one whereby students study at two or more institutions and the institutions grant a single academic award bearing the names, seals, and signatures of each of the participating institutions.

Approval Levels (if changes as indicated on Dual Degree Programs Approval Process.)

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Global Carolina Office (if international)
  5. Office of Academic Programs (if domestic)
  6. Office of Legal Counsel (for review of MOUs, contracts, etc.)
  7. Board of Trustees (Executive, BOT AESEC, BOT Governance if contract value over $250,000 and Full BOT)
  8. CHE (ACAP) (proposal must include signed MOU)
  9. SACSCOC (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs, if applicable)

Combination Degree: A combination degree is a situation where the same institution awards more than one degree from an overlapping course of study. Combination degrees often allow a shorter time for completion due to the “double-counting” of some coursework. When this occurs, institutions have an obligation to explain how the quality and integrity of each degree involved is maintained.

Adding a combination degree program requires the electronic submission of a New Dual Degree program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).

Approval Process

Approval levels

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)
  5. CHE ACAP  Program Modification Form (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

If a current program is adding 100% Online delivery to the program, a pre-authorization request must first be submitted for Provost review. If the program is an undergraduate program, an APPS proposal must then be submitted for review by Faculty Senate. Next, a memorandum from the Dean addressed to the Provost should be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs requesting 100% online delivery and explaining the justification for the delivery method change along with a notification of change form.

Approval levels

  1. Pre-authorization
  2. Faculty Senate (undergraduate programs only)
  3. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)
  4. CHE - Notification of Change (NoC) form
  5. SACSCOC Notification

General Approval Timeframes

This time frame may vary. Once program has received Board of Trustee approval, the Notification of Change Form will be submitted from the Office of Academic Programs and can take up to four months to receive approval.

Name changes require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Initiating a Name Change

Changing the name of a program requires the electronic submission of a Change to an Existing Program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).

Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. Name changes may only be implemented after CHE approvals or acknowledgements have been received by the Provost's Office.

Approval levels

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)
  5. CHE Notification (NOC) (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council may request program representation at meetings to address questions or concerns. Board of Trustees approvals may also require a program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program name or designator change.

Initiating a Designator Change

A designator change requires confirmation from the Office of the Registrar of a new selected designator. Departments contact the Office of Academic Programs of the approved designator for inclusion in Academic Program Proposal System (APPS). As the new designator is added, the course/program will require a change to existing course/program in APPS.

Center Name Change

Center name changes can be initiated by the College APL by sending a memorandum from the Dean to the Provost requesting a Center Name Change. This memo will be directed to the Office of Academic Programs for Board of Trustee approval. 

Approval Process

Approval level

  1. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)

The Office of Academic Programs will update the Office of Vice President for Research with the Board approval letter to update the list of USC Research Centers and Institutes webpage.

 

If 50% or more of an academic program is delivered at a location other than on the geographic site of the campus offering the program, it is considered “off-campus”. If this location is out of state or outside the United States, additional approvals by appropriate authorities at the off-campus location will be required. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) requires the University to maintain documentation of these approvals on file.

Because the traditional techniques for monitoring student performance and tracking contact hours do not always apply in academic programs offered at an off-campus location, campus/college/school officers responsible for academic affairs must uphold standards to ensure the quality of instruction remains equivalent to traditionally offered programs.

The University is required to keep SACSCOC updated in advance about all programs that can be offered 25% or more off-campus. The Commission on Higher Education (CHE) requires a program modification for all programs that can be offered 50% or more off-campus or for any programs offered at a new delivery site not previously approved by the CHE.

If a new off campus site is being requested, a Program Modification must be approved by CHE prior to offering courses at the site. 


Approval Process, 25% - 49% off-campus

For programs offered 25% - 49% off-campus, approval procedures begin with Program Change in APPS. Subsequent approvals are required at the department, campus/college/school, and university levels, before notification is forwarded to the Commission on Higher Education and SACSCOC. This process may take up to nine months until SACSCOC acknowledgement.

Approval levels

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. Campus/College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AE&SE and Full BOT)
  5. CHE (If applicable)
  6. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)


Approval Process, 50% or more off-campus or new site

For programs offered 50% or more off-campus or at a new delivery site not previously approved by the CHE, approval procedures begin with Program Change in APPS. Prior approval from CHE and SACSCOC is REQUIRED. Subsequent approvals are required at the department, campus/college/school, and university levels, before program modification is forwarded to CHE. For 50% or more off-campus programs, approval may take up to eighteen months from submission to the Dean’s office to the admission of first students.

Approval levels

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. Campus/College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT AESEC and Full BOT)
  5. CHE ACAP  Program Modification Form (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)
  6. SACSCOC Approval

General Approval Timeframes

For 25% - 49% off-campus programs, it may take up to nine months from submission to Dean’s office to admission of first students. For 50% or more off-campus programs, it may take up to eighteen months from submission to Dean’s office to admission of first students.

 The Office of Academic Programs recommends that Academic Units review ACAF 2.05 prior to developing agreements with other institutions. 

NOTE: Contracts over $250,000 are required to go before the Board of Trustees Governance Committee for approval in addition to the Academic Excellence and Student Experience Committee and full BOT.

Creating an Agreement (Articulation/MOU)

  1. The proponent must complete the following documents:
    1. Consortial Agreement Review/Renewal Form (ACAF 2.05) or International Agreement Request Form [pdf] (Required for Office of Academic Programs)
    2. Contract Approval Form (Required for General Counsel)
    3. Articulation Agreement/MOU 
  2. Obtain signatures required on the forms noted above.  Note: Signatures for the Articulation/MOU may be obtained after review by USC General Counsel.
  3. Send a memo from the college/school Dean (addressed to the Provost) to the Office of Academic Programs along with copies of all documentation for the Provost’s final review. Final packet will include copies of the Dean's Memo, Domestic Consortial Agreement Review/Renewal Form, Contract Approval Form, and the Articulation/MOU Agreement (all with requisite signatures).
  4. Office of Academic Programs will submit to UofSC General Counsel for review and approval.
  5. Office of Academic Programs will submit for approval of the Board of Trustees (AESEC and Full Board of Trustees).
  6. Once a letter of approval is received from the Board of Trustees, the unit must contact Susan Wilson (Undergraduate Admissions), the Transfer Agreement submitter to SCTRAC for USC if applicable.

Note about Additional Approvals for all Programs Actions
Any program related to P-12 educator preparation requires a letter of endorsement from the Dean of the College of Education. Educator-preparation programs may require additional approvals by the State Department of Education. Interdisciplinary program proposals or proposals that impact another unit on campus should include letters of concurrence from all involved units.


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