10.1 Guidelines for the Approval of New Undergraduate Degree Programs
Proposals to create a new undergraduate degree program must be submitted to the MIT Faculty and its standing committees via an electronic form. The form is available at MIT Program Management (https://catalog-dev.mit.edu/programadmin/).
The following are the official guidelines voted by the Faculty, and also available at http://facultygovernance.mit.edu/.
I. Characteristics of Degree Program Proposals
Any degree program proposal should include the following:
- First and foremost, a discussion of why the program makes sense from an undergraduate educational perspective as well as from the perspective of the evolving intellectual trends in the relevant fields. This should include some estimate of reasonable expectations of both student and professional demand for this degree.
- A description of the program. This description should detail the proposed curriculum and other aspects of the students' educational experience, emphasizing the coherence of the overall program. At a minimum, it should include those elements required by CoC for its review of the proposed curriculum. This list will be developed by the CoC.
- An assessment of the anticipated impact of the proposed program on existing components of the undergraduate program including, but not limited to, other degree programs and minors.
- Identification of the core faculty who will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program and of any broader advisory group that might be required to provide ongoing oversight and assure continuity over time, and a plan to oversee, monitor, and evaluate the proposed program.
- A discussion of the academic and advising infrastructure that will be available to the program.
- Letters of support from heads and chairs of involved academic units (including reports on discussion by affected faculty) and letters of support from relevant Deans (including reports on relevant discussion by School Councils). These letters should discuss not only intellectual content, but also availability of resources (including faculty, administrative support, space, and fiscal resources).
- "Road maps" demonstrating how students entering as first-semester sophomores, second-semester sophomores, and first-semester juniors would be able to progress successfully through the program while adhering to faculty rules. The road maps must illustrate how the proposal is in compliance with the subject and unit requirements shown in Section 10.4.
II. Proposal Routing
- All proposals, once completed as described above, shall be submitted to the CoC staff in the Registrar’s office for consideration by the Faculty governance structure.
- Proposals for degree programs must be submitted to the CoC staff no later than the last day of classes in the fall term to be considered for implementation during the next academic year.
- The Chair of the CoC shall notify the chairs of the FPC and CUP of all proposal submissions ready for review and offer an initial recommendation for the expected path of review.
- The path to be followed by each proposal will normally be guided by the considerations articulated in section III below. Under these guidelines, the path followed by a given proposal should generally correspond to the degree to which the proposal differs from existing undergraduate degree programs. The Chairs of FPC, CUP, and CoC, acting jointly, have the authority to depart from these guidelines as they deem appropriate.
- The Chair of the Faculty shall notify the MIT community of each new proposal under active consideration by the CoC or CUP and all such proposals shall be posted on the Faculty website.
III. Guidelines for Proposal Routing
- Proposals routed directly to CoC.
- Revision of a current undergraduate degree program.
- New degree program from a degree-granting unit. This includes new programs to be offered under the same degree name and department number as well as degree programs to be offered with a new degree name or modified department number. Exception: If the proposal raises issues that “involve substantial changes in policies relating to undergraduate educational matters” (Rules of the Faculty 1.73.3.e), the proposal shall first be routed to CUP for review, comment, and approval before it is sent to CoC for approval of the curriculum. (See the CUP Review Process, below.)
- Proposals routed to CoC after CUP review. (See the CUP Review Process, below.)
- New interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program.
- New undergraduate degree program within an academic unit that does not already offer an undergraduate degree program.
- Proposals routed to CoC after FPC and CUP review.
- New degree type/designation (e.g., BArch, AB).
- New degree program that couples an undergraduate degree with a graduate degree.
In these cases, the FPC has original jurisdiction because of the “Institute-wide implications of concern to the Faculty” (Rules of the Faculty 1.72.a) and because of FPC’s mandate to “maintain a broad overview of the Institute’s academic programs” (Rules of the Faculty 1.72.c). The structure of the curriculum associated with the new degree must be approved by the CoC, which acts with power in this regard. After approval by FPC, CUP, and CoC, such a proposal must then be routed as described in Section IV.
The CUP Review Process
In reviewing curricular proposals, CUP may decide that the proposal should not move ahead, or it may approve the proposal in one of two ways:
CUP may decide that the proposal is acceptable as it stands. In such a case, the proposal shall be referred to CoC for approval of the associated curriculum. In cases where CUP has original jurisdiction, the proposal shall be referred to FPC for ratification of the decisions made by CUP and CoC. Because approved proposals will become permanent degree programs, approval of the full Faculty is also required.
In rare cases, CUP may wish to authorize a program on a provisional basis, subject to the condition that it should undergo further review before it is accepted as a permanent part of the undergraduate program. In such cases, CUP may decide that the proposal would be appropriate to implement as a “limited educational experiment” (Rules of the Faculty 1.73.2.c), and may authorize it for a period of 5 years, with responsibility for oversight by CUP. A proposal so authorized shall be sent next to CoC for approval of the associated curriculum. The proposal shall then be sent to the FPC Chair for communication to the Faculty (Rules of the Faculty 1.73.2.c) for discussion, comment, and advice.
CUP shall evaluate the experimental program during its third year to determine progress and recommend changes to enhance the program. Any changes to the curriculum are contingent upon CoC approval.
At the conclusion of the 5-year period, if CUP finds that the experiment has been a success, a proposal to make the program permanent shall be prepared and forwarded to CoC for review. With CoC concurrence, the proposal would then be sent to FPC for its approval and then follow the steps in Section IV. If CUP determines that the experiment has not been successful, the academic unit(s) operating the program will be asked to prepare a plan for and oversee its termination. Approval of the termination plan rests with CoC.
Note: No degree program proposal should be submitted with the specific intent of obtaining an authorization as an experiment. Any proposal for a new undergraduate degree program must make the case for approval of the program as a permanent addition to the undergraduate curriculum.
IV. Final Steps to Approval
Final approval for permanent degree programs of the types described in III.A, III.B and III.C, including those emerging successfully from CUP experimental status, requires two additional steps: (a) approval by the Full Faculty; and (b) approval by the Corporation, in sequence.
10.2 Guidelines for Proposals to Discontinue Undergraduate Degree Programs
Proposals to discontinue an undergraduate degree program must be submitted via an electronic form available at MIT Program Management (https://catalog-dev.mit.edu/programadmin/). Once submitted, the proposal will be routed through the appropriate Faculty governance channel(s).
If the academic unit(s) offering a program should decide to terminate it, the proposal will be reviewed by the CoC, which acts with power (Rules of the Faculty 1.73.3.e).
If a proposal to terminate a degree program is initiated by another entity, the Chairs of the FPC, CUP, and CoC shall jointly determine the most appropriate course of action to discuss and act upon the proposal through the Faculty governance structure. See the Appendix (Section 16) for the Table of Required Votes for Approval.
Proposals to discontinue existing undergraduate curricula should include provisions to:
- Enable students currently enrolled in the curriculum to complete their academic requirements;
- Give reasonable notice to all departments whose curricula may be affected by the termination; and
- Advise other relevant Faculty Committees of changes involving Institute Requirements.
10.3 Guidelines for Proposals to Revise Undergraduate Degree Programs
Proposals to revise an existing undergraduate degree program must be submitted via an electronic form available at MIT Program Management (https://catalog-dev.mit.edu/programadmin/)1
Proposals to revise an existing program must include:
- A concise rationale.
- A revised degree chart, which clearly shows the changes that are being proposed.
- “Road maps” demonstrating how students entering as first-semester sophomores, second-semester sophomores, and first-semester juniors would be able to progress successfully through the program while adhering to Faculty Rules. The road maps must illustrate how the proposal is in compliance with the subject and unit requirements shown in Section 10.4.
- A letter of approval from the head of the academic unit and the appropriate Dean.
1To obtain authorization to use the system, send email to email@example.com.
10.4 Requirements for Undergraduate Degree Programs
- When considering the amount of GIR overlap that is appropriate between the GIRs
(Institute Laboratory, HASS, and REST) and a program’s required and restricted elective
subjects, the CoC considers the general composition of the program and the type of overlap that occurs. These general guidelines apply to SB programs:
Source of overlap Maximum Overlap (in units)8 1 REST or Lab subject 12 1 REST + ½ Lab 18 2 REST subjects 24 1 REST + Lab 24 2 REST + Lab2 36 1 REST + Lab + up to 3 HASS 60 2 REST + Lab + up to 2 HASS 60 Lab or REST + up to 5 HASS 72 HASS only (6 subjects)3 72
- The following guidelines apply to the overall size of the departmental program portion of
the degree requirements. Departmental programs may include:
- Up to 132 units and the equivalent of 11 subjects, but with permission of the CoC, a maximum of 150 units and the equivalent of 12½ subjects. PLUS
Up to 3 additional subjects specified or expected from the General Institute Requirements (with the department allowing specified substitutions of closely related subjects in other departments where possible).
The following table shows the limits on the total number of subjects in departmental programs expressed in terms of the number of subjects in the departmental program that overlap with the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). Please note that regardless of the overlap that exists with the GIRs, no program can contain more than 15½ subjects.
Departmental program subjects that overlap with GIRs Limit on departmental program Normal Maximum 0 11 12½ subjects 1 12 13½ subjects 1 + ½ LAB 12 ½ 14 subjects 2 13 14½ subjects 2 + ½ LAB 13 ½ 15 subjects 3 14 15½ subjects More than 3 14 15½ subjects
In counting subjects, 6-unit subjects are counted as half subjects; subjects of 9-15 units count as 1 subject; 18-unit subjects count as 1½ subjects; and subjects of 21-24 units count as 2 subjects.
Graduate subjects may not be included in an undergraduate degree chart. This restriction is consistent with the established view that students must be able to fulfill the requirements for an SB degree by taking undergraduate subjects. In addition, because the CoC has no jurisdiction over graduate subjects, this restriction preserves the Committee’s ability to exercise its oversight responsibilities for undergraduate degree programs. However, departments retain the authority to approve appropriate substitutions for specific requirements in their programs, as stated in the final paragraph of Regulation 2.84.
Departmental programs must make it possible for students to:
- Include no fewer than 48 units of unrestricted electives (at least 12 in the freshman year) within the total of 180-198 units beyond the GIRs.
- Schedule their programs each year within a normal load of the equivalent 8 or 8½ subjects, and complete all degree requirements within the equivalent of 32 to 34 subjects.
- When considering the amount of GIR overlap that is appropriate between the GIRs (Institute Laboratory, HASS, and REST) and a program’s required and restricted elective subjects, the CoC considers the general composition of the program and the type of overlap that occurs. These general guidelines apply to SB programs:
10.5 Criteria and Process for Assigning Course Numbers
To be assigned a Course number, an entity should be primarily academic (i.e., its major functions should relate to educating students), have substantial faculty involvement, and have a size and permanence that allow it to carry out its educational function. As such, the following criteria have been established by the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) for assigning Course numbers to an entity.
- The entity must hire, promote, and tenure its own faculty. If there is a substantial number of joint faculty involved in the entity, it must be clear that the entity has a substantive role in their careers.
- The entity should have a clear place in the organizational scheme of MIT. This implies that the leadership of the entity should function in much the same way as a department head, i.e., sit on school councils, control space, submit budgets, etc. The entity should have sufficient administrative staff to carry out its function.
- The entity should be assured of reasonable permanence; the Dean of the School should attest to the permanence of the entity. Entities which seem to be the product of a few individuals do not display the necessary degree of performance.
- The entity should be authorized (by the Corporation) to grant degrees, preferably both graduate and undergraduate. The existence of undergraduate minor programs may substitute for undergraduate degrees.
- The entity should be authorized to admit graduate students and serve as the locus of registration for these students.
- The entity should not contain or be contained in another entity that has a Course number. The labeling function of the Course number would be seriously diminished if this were the case.
- The Academic Dean to whom the entity reports, after appropriate consultation with the Provost, must make a formal written request to the CoC. The request should refer explicitly to the above criteria and state how they are met by the particular entity in question.
- The CoC will consider the request, evaluate the degree to which the criteria are met and make a recommendation. If the recommendation is a favorable one, the committee must choose the number to be assigned in consultation with the Registrar. The recommendation should then be forwarded to the Chair of the Faculty for action by the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC). A copy will also be sent to the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) and the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) for information.
The FPC shall review the recommendation after receiving comment from the CUP and CGP. If the FPC endorses a favorable recommendation from the CoC, the proposal will go before the Faculty for a vote. If the Faculty approves the Course number, then the Registrar will take the necessary action, i.e., utilize the assigned number to identify degrees, curricula, subjects, and students. If the FPC endorses an unfavorable recommendation from the CoC, the matter is tabled. If the FPC does not endorse a recommendation of the CoC, the matter is referred back to the CoC with the reasons for rejection. The CoC will then resubmit a recommendation after further study. If the FPC endorses the resubmitted proposal, it will go before the Faculty for a vote.
1The criteria and process cited here were approved by the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) on October 17, 2005. These recommendations were originally drafted by the CoC in 1999 and forwarded to the FPC for review and approval.
10.6 Criteria and Process for Assigning Catalog Designations
For a group of subjects to be assigned a lettered catalog designation (e.g., EM, IDS, SCM), the following criteria must be met:
- The sponsoring entity should have a clear place in the organizational scheme of MIT, a recognized academic program, and sufficient administrative staff to carry out its academic function. The designated Dean must be able attest to the permanence of the entity and the sustainability of its academic program.
- The curriculum offered by the entity must be distinct from other subject offerings in the Catalog and include at least 10 permanent subjects at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
- The Academic Dean to whom the entity reports and the director of the entity must make a formal written request to the CoC, in consultation with the Registrar, to establish a new designation. The request must refer explicitly to the above criteria and state how they are met. The request must be submitted to the CoC no later than October 15 to be considered for implementation during the next academic year.
- The CoC will consider the request, evaluate the degree to which the criteria are met and make a recommendation. If the recommendation is favorable, the request will be forwarded to the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) for consideration. If the CoC rejects the proposal, the sponsors will be notified of the rationale for the decision.
- If the CGP endorses a favorable recommendation from the CoC, the proposal is considered approved; the Registrar will then take the necessary action to implement the new designation. If the CGP rejects the proposal, the matter is referred back to the CoC with the reasons for rejection. At its discretion, the CoC may resubmit a recommendation after further study. If the CGP endorses a resubmitted proposal, it will be implemented as soon as practicable. If rejected, the matter will be tabled and the sponsors notified of the rationale for the decision.