Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Academic Program Approval, Review and Policies

When students graduate, it is important they have a degree that prepares them for employment in their chosen field. The Council’s academic program review process ensures that degrees awarded from Kentucky’s public universities and KCTCS help students compete in a global economy.

Council's Role and Process

Ensuring academic quality is a key responsibility of the Council. The process, which applies to Kentucky's state universities and KCTCS, ensures that academic programs are 

The Council does this through two processes: approving of new academic programs, and reviewing existing programs and institutional processes around programmatic decisions.


Guiding Legislation

Guiding Policy and Frameworks

Approved Academic Programs


Academic and Strategic Initiatives Committee

Organizationally, the Academic and Strategic Initiatives (ASI) Committee, a group of Council members and CPE staff, is tasked with the review and monitoring of the state's postsecondary academic affairs.

Review of New Programs

The first step of new program approval rests at the institutional level, with that institution's board approving the program. It is then submitted to the Council through the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Data System for CPE staff or ASI Committee review. Those programs that meet submission criteria are then presented to the full Council for approval at a regular business meeting.

If an institution must advertise or include in their catalog a new program prior to Council approval, the qualifier “pending Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education approval” is denoted until approval is received.

Review of Existing Programs

The ASI Committee also reviews the Kentucky's existing postsecondary program inventory with a special focus on meeting workforce needs and the state goals identified by the statewide postsecondary education agenda.

The process consists of three major components:

Each summer, institutions submit to the Council an annual report that describes their program review process, rationale for decisions and projected improvements or changes for the upcoming year. CPE staff use this information, along with environmental scans on market demand and workforce need, to propose efficiencies to the ASI Committee. The ASI Committee then presents this information for approval by the full Council at one of its business meetings.


Meetings and Documentation


New Academic Programs and Equal Opportunity Goals

An institution can lose its ability to offer new academic programs when it does not meet its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals on its campus diversity plan. If this occurs, the institution must submit a DEI performance improvement plan to rectify the issues. While under the performance improvement plan, the institution may request a waiver to offer a new individual academic program if it can provide sufficient assurance that the new program will not divert resources from it DEI improvement efforts. For more information, see the Council's DEI webpage.

Cultural Competency Credential Certification Process

Another DEI effort affecting academic programs is cultural competency certification. This certification can be integrated into degree programs to indicate that curriculum includes several DEI outcomes, including gaining the knowledge and ability to interact with those from other cultures. For more information, see the Council's Cultural Competency Certification page.

Academic Programs and Employability Skills

The Kentucky Graduate Profile is an effort focusing on the review of existing academic programs to integrate learning outcomes that graduates need to thrive in their careers. Separate from new and regular academic program review by Council staff, this effort is supplemental, grant-funded and conducted by the institutions themselves. For more information about the Profile, visit the Council's Kentucky Graduate Profile webpage.

In addition to the Graduate Profile, another Council initiative is Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT). This initiative, done through the QA Commons, aligns academic programs with key industry/business sectors in Kentucky. Programs approved for EEQ CERT have met 14 certification criteria to determine how well they support student employability. For more information, visit the QA Commons website.

Institution Processes for New Program Submission

An institution should follow its internal processes and gain approval from its local governing board before the proposal is submitted for approval to the Council as described by the processes outlined below.  However, the Council reserves the right to create special program approval processes for programs that require extraordinary consideration, such as responding to legislative requirements and administrative regulations.


Institution Resources, Access Links and Forms

Program Approval System

Documentation - New Programs


KCTCS

New Diploma and Certificate Programs

The KCTCS System Office completes a New Diploma/Certificate Form. Programs are approved by CPE staff upon receipt of the completed form.

New Associate Degree Programs

The KCTCS System Office posts a proposal to the online approval system. Institutions and Council staff have 30 days to respond to the proposal. If no issues are identified, the program is approved by Council staff and will be reported at the next Council meeting. If issues are identified, the system office will address those via the online program approval system, and the review period will be extended.

Universities

New Diploma and Certificate Programs

The institution completes a New Diploma/Certificate Form. Programs are approved by CPE staff upon receipt of the completed form. KCTCS Board of Regents must review vocational/technical occupational programs prior to submission.

All Degree Programs

The institution posts the notification of intent (NOI) to the online system. The notification is shared with the chief academic officers at other public universities.

The institution posts a proposal to the online approval system. Institutions and Council staff have 30 days to respond. If no issues are identified, the program is reviewed by Council staff and the Academic and Strategic Initiatives (ASI) Committee, and sent to the full Council for approval. If issues are identified, the institution addresses those via the online program approval system, and the review period is extended. 

Exemptions

Items that do not require new program approval:

Institution Process for Annual Program Review

Institutions are required to submit an annual report to Council Academic Affairs staff by July 15th that:


Institution Forms


For more information about academic program review, contact Stephanie Mayberry at stephanie.mayberry@ky.gov

Last Updated: 1/16/2022