Program Development and Modification Process

Modification of Substantial Modification of Existing Program

Description of Substantial Modification:

Proposing a new program title within an approved program.   This essentially translates to a name change that is not accompanied by a change in curriculum, e.g. Water Science to Applied Hydrology);

Proposing a new concentration or modifying an existing concentration within an existing program.  Tracks are a sequential arrangement of courses within a program which at the undergraduate level is less than 24 semester credit hours; at the master's level is less than 12 semester credit hours; and at the doctoral level is less than 18 semester credit hours;

Modifying the mode of program delivery.  Converting more than 50 percent of a program previously approved from one mode of delivery to another.

Adding a new location for program delivery. Creation of a new off-campus location occurs when an existing program offers more than 1/3 of required course work for the major or certificate at off-campus site during any 12 month period, or the institution advertises that course work at an off-campus site leads to award of certificate or degree, regardless of portion of program offered at an off-campus site; and/or

Modifying more than 33 percent of an existing program's course work.

Outlined below is the process required to substantially modify an existing academic programs at Towson University.

1.  Letter of Intent (LOI) - The department submits a completed LOI to the college dean for approval and signature. The dean submits the LOI to the Provost’s Office. The LOI is shared with the Deans' Council for feedback. If the LOI is approved by the Provost, the Provost's Office sends the signed LOI to the dean, department chair, and the Registrar.

2. The Provost’s Office submits the LOI to the USM Office of Academic Affairs. The LOI should be submitted 6 to 12 months before intended submission to Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and/or Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).  USM shares the LOI with the USM Academic Affairs Advisory Council (provosts and vice presidents). Institutions are asked to review and to respond directly to the proposing institution’s provost/vice president with comments, questions or objections within 10 business days. If there are no objections, development of the formal program proposal should proceed.

3. Curricular Approval Process and Development of the New Program Proposal -The department develops the Substantive Change Program Proposal according to USM and MHEC Requirements and submits it along with the ONLINE Program Modification form using CIM for approval to the college dean followed by the appropriate curricular approval bodies at the college and institutional levels. Departments should submit a draft proposal to the Provost's Office for guidance in developing the proposal, including budgets.

4. Undergraduate program proposals that have been submitted and approved by the dean and the College Curriculum Committee (CCC) should be forwarded to the University Curriculum Committee (UCC) for review and signature.

Graduate program proposals that have been submitted and approved by the dean of the college and the College Curriculum Committee should be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) for review and signature.

5. If approved by UCC or GSC, the department will be notified, and the UCC or GSC will forward the proposal to the Chair of the University Senate Executive Committee for inclusion on the next University Senate agenda for final approval.

6. Once approved and signed by the University Senate, the college dean will be notified by the University Senate. The University Senate submits the completed proposal and all curricular approval forms to the Provost’s Office.

7. In the Provost’s Office, the proposal is reviewed to ensure it is complete and consistent with institutional planning, USM, MHEC, and MSCHE requirements.  Approval by the Provost and the President is required before the proposal is submitted to USM and MHEC concurrently for approval. 

8.  Depending on the type of program modification being  requested, USM approval is either at the staff or board level.  If staff approval is appropriate, the USM Office of Academic Affairs prepares the proposal for review and approval by the Chancellor.  If board approval is required, the USM Office of Academic Affairs prepares the proposal with the Chancellor’s recommendation for submission to the USM Board of Regents Education Policy Committee (EPC) for its review at the next scheduled meeting. The EPC makes a recommendation to the Board of Regents at their next meeting.   Action is taken by the Board of Regents at their next meeting, which is within 60 days of the submission to USM.

9. Proposals will be reviewed by the MHEC Secretary within 60 days after submission. MHEC concurrently reviews the proposal. However, distribution of the proposal can not occur until the proposal is fully approved by USM.  Once this occurs, proposals are circulated among segments and institutions for comment (30-day comment period). When the proposal is approved, the Secretary of MHEC sends a letter to the Provost’s Office, which includes any changes to program inventory codes.

10. If the proposal requires approval as a substantive change by MSCHE, the department prepares the required  documentation using the Middle States Substantive Change Definitions and Instructions. The department submits the draft substantive change document to the appropriate dean for approval, and the dean’s office submits the substantive change documentation to the assistant vice president for assessment for review and approval. Once the substantive change request has been approved, the substantive change request, executive summary, and copies of the MHEC approval letter are submitted by the assistant vice president for assessment to MSCHE.

11. When the substantive change request is approved, MSCHE sends notification of the approval to the University.

12. The Provost’s Office notifies the appropriate offices of the program action, including the dean, department chair, Institutional Research, Registrar, Admissions, and the University Relations catalog coordinator.


Marketing for the requested program and admissions decisions must be delayed until approved by MHEC and MSCHE.

Division of Academic Affairs
Administration Building, Room 311

Phone: 410-704-2557
Fax: 410-704-3129

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