Graduate Program Director Guide

Graduate Curriculum

Modifying or Creating Curriculum
There is a standardized process for making changes to your graduate curriculum. Each change has a particular form that details required information and documentation that must be included in a proposal for a curricular change. The Office of the University Registrar has a website which details the proposal submission process and has all of the forms necessary to curriculum proposals. For more information, see http://www.american.edu/provost/registrar/pdf/cp.cfm

Curricular changes are grouped into four categories:
1.   Minor Changes to Graduate Programs
2.   Significant Changes to Graduate Programs
3.   New Courses
4.   Creation or Termination of Graduate Programs

In all cases, proposals for curricular changes must pass review within the academic unit before moving to a university-level review. Unit-level reviews are performed by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) in each academic unit, but they may involve other participants as well. All curricular proposals are due by late April to be approved by the Board of Trustees (BOT) and for approved changes to be included in the University Catalog. The University Catalog is updated annually, so if the April deadline is missed, curricular changes made after the deadline must wait until the following year to be included in the Catalog. See the curriculum proposal website for more details.

Minor Changes to Graduate Programs
Minor changes do not significantly affect graduate programs or course offerings in other teaching or academic units. Minor changes include altering or updating existing courses, establishing new tracks, or adding or removing a comprehensive examination for a master's degree. Minor changes need the approval of the unit's EPC and the associate dean within the academic unit. Afterwards, minor changes can be sent directly to the Office of the University Registrar to be processed.

Significant Changes to Graduate Programs
Significant changes may affect programs or course offerings in other teaching or academic units. For example, if a change to a program alters a course that other teaching or academic units use in their programs, the proposed change is considered significant. If there is any question that a proposed curricular change may impact another programs, it is advisable to be conservative and reach out to associate deans from academic units that may be impacted. If the proposed change does impact other units, the significant changes form is appropriate to use. This form has more steps involved and it does take more time to obtain a review and approval of , the proposed change. This process includes a number of questions that need to be answered, a ten-day comment period for the campus community, review by the Graduate Curriculum Committee (GCC), and approval by both the Faculty Senate and the Provost. This is in addition to the academic unit review by the EPC.

For more information concerning which proposals are minor and which proposals are significant, as well as details about the review procedure, please visit http://www.american.edu/provost/registrar/pdf/upload/Curriculum-Review-Process-Apr13.pdf

New Courses
Much like significant changes to graduate programs, new courses need the approval of the Faculty Senate and the Provost. If your teaching unit has a course that is taught as a selected topics course, the selected topics designation may be used twice before it must be converted into a permanent course. However, you do not need approval to run the course as a selected topics class. As a result, if you have a selected topics course in your curriculum, it is a reasonable approach to test out the course as a selected topics and gauge its success. In the meantime, you will develop many of the answers to the questions asked on the New Course form.

Creation or Termination of Graduate Programs
Creation or termination of graduate programs must go through all the same steps as with significant changes, but must also have the approval of the President and the AU Board of Trustees. The creation or termination of graduate programs is reviewed carefully and must involve consultation of your associate dean and dean of your academic unit.

Assessment of Curriculum
Each degree program, both graduate and undergraduate, is expected to develop and implement detailed curriculum assessment plans. The website for all information on assessment plans is http://www.american.edu/provost/assessment/.

These comprehensive programmatic assessments involve:
1.   An articulation of expected learning outcomes for the program.
2.   Clear methods for assessing the degree to which learning objectives are being met.
3.   Standards for determining the degree to which goals are met.
4.   A summary of assessment activities and results.
5.   Evidence that results are used to improve and/or market programs.
6.   A timeline for implementing a complete assessment cycle.

Your program will have a current assessment plan. All plans are public and can be found at http://www.american.edu/provost/assessment. In the left hand menu, select "Program Assessment Plans" and then select your academic unit's assessment plans. There you will find the most recent plan for your program. Updates for these plans are due on October 1st of each year. If you are a new GPD, it is recommended that you meet with your predecessor, teaching unit chair, and, if applicable, the assessment committee to understand what has been accomplished by your program and what needs to be done for the next report.