Propose New Graduate Programs

As research advances and academic inquiry evolves, graduate faculty members may wish to propose new graduate programs. This procress is necessary to maintain relevant, cutting-edge graduate programs.


If you wish to propose a new graduate program, you should first consult the University Academic Planning & Policy Academic Program Development guidelines for an overview of the process. Visit University Academic Planning & Policy now »

If you are proposing a certificate program, the Guidelines for the Development of Certificate Programs outline criteria for certificate programs and steps for proposing new ones.

University Academic Planning & Policy’s General Matrix for the Administrative Approval Process for New Academic Programs details the approval requirements for new programs.

View the matrix »

Graduate programs must meet the requirements of the Indiana Commission of Higher Education (ICHE).

Writing Your Proposal

Check the University Academic Planning & Policy’s General Matrix for the Administrative Approval Process for New Academic Programs to determine whether your proposed program requires ICHE approval.

If so, your proposal must be organized according to the ICHE Guidelines, Policies, and Procedures for Developing Academic Program Proposals. Get the guidelines »

Whether it requires ICHE approval or not, your proposal should address the following elements of the proposed program:

  • Objectives
  • Features and strengths
  • Curriculum
  • Degree to be awarded
  • Admissions requirements
  • Who will be served
  • Student financial support available
  • Evidence of student demand
  • Employment possibilities for graduates—data from published reports or surveys of regional and national employers as to the demand for graduates with such degrees
  • Relevant faculty experience—relationship between faculty research profiles and the core curriculum of the program
  • Resources required—what resources are readily available and what new resources will be needed; if new resources are required, the proposal should include a clear commitment from campus administrators that these new resources will be obtained if the program is implemented
  • Impact on undergraduate and other graduate programs—how new courses and administrative work will affect existing curricula and faculty teaching loads and how these other programs may benefit as a result of the new program
  • Compatibility with university and campus missions
  • Implementation plan
  • Plan for administering the program—who will oversee the program, who will advise students, and how this will affect their workloads
  • Comparison with similar programs at other universities and at other IU campuses—where such programs exist at other universities in the Midwest and nationally; data on enrollment, graduates, number of faculty; and the program’s relationship to professional accreditation standards and accepted and emerging practices
  • Compatibility of proposed curriculum with accreditation established by governmental bodies or by relevant professional organizations

Letters of support from departments with related programs will strengthen the proposal. We suggest you send your proposal to departments with similar programs at other IU campuses. This is not required, but it can greatly improve your proposal and program.

Your proposal should include a cover sheet using the approved template. Get the cover sheet »

If you are proposing a certificate program, use the form and instructions in the Guidelines for the Development of Certificate Programs. Get the guidelines and form »

Planning Your Program

As you plan your new graduate program, keep in mind the differences between an undergraduate major and a graduate program. Graduate programs should be distinguished from undergraduate offerings—the purpose of undergraduate programs is to convey the fundamentals of accepted knowledge and critical thinking skills, while a graduate program should introduce students to reading, understanding, and critiquing advanced scholarly literature and doing routine research or making original contributions to the arts.

We strongly encourage you to develop a core curriculum of graduate-level courses only, rather than dual-listed or concurrent courses.

Degree Requirements and Curriculum

Look to existing programs at IU to develop requirements regarding credit hours, examinations, and written work. They should be consistent across programs.

If you’re using graduate courses that are already approved for IU, reference sample syllabi from courses that have been taught at other campuses.

Contact the University Graduate School early in your proposal process to ask for guidelines that may be relevant for certain types of programs.

Consider carefully relevant accreditation criteria and licensing requirements when developing your program curriculum. This is necessary to ensure employment opportunities for prospective graduate students.

  • Planning Dual and Combined Degrees

    Some graduate programs involve the conferral of two separate degrees.

    A dual degree is the combination of two degrees at the master’s level, whether two M.A.s, an M.A. and an M.S., or an M.A. or M.S. and a professional degree (such as an M.B.A.). Dual degrees must require at least 50 hours of credit and at least 21 hours from each department (of which no more than 3 hours can be derived from a thesis). The student must meet the core requirements of each degree.

    A combined degree is the combination of a master’s-level degree and a degree at a higher level than the master’s; for example, an M.A. or M.S. and a D.D.S.

    Students earning only one degree may still earn a double major, such as a Ph.D. with a double major in American studies and history.