Program Information: Development, Approval, and Changes

The university faces the challenge of maintaining a vital, up-to-date curriculum, serving the needs of our students, the local community, and the state of California; while still operating within its available resources. Some changes can be accomplished by modifications to existing programs. Others require development of new programs to replace those that no longer serve their purpose or in addition to programs already offered.

The development of academic programs may consist of entirely new offerings; of new areas of concentrations, tracks, specializations, emphases, fields, hereafter referred to as sub-options; or of new, structured groupings of existing courses. Any of these may be offered by a single academic area or by two or more disciplinary programs. A defined program indicates that the university has imposed a structure that assures that there is an appropriate combination of breadth and depth in the field. Offering an academic program carries the implied commitment to offer the courses with sufficient frequency so that students may complete the program. Curriculum planning must consider both the question of whether the university should offer the program and the question of whether the university can provide sufficient resources to offer a high-quality program. Academic areas should review existing campus and system policies related to curricular planning and implementation before beginning new program development at the following websites:

Should a department or program want to add a new program onto the CSU master plan, the first step is to prepare a request to project a new program. These projection are now handled in Curriculog. Login to the system with your CSULB Credentials, click the "New Proposal" button and start a "Academic Master Plan (AMP) - Projected Degree Proposal Form". Contact with any questions on getting started.

The questions asked in this prospectus form will address the following:

  1. The need for the program or reason for developing the program, with demonstration of potential demand in the form of market surveys, employer needs, demographic trends, etc. If the new degree program is now offered as an option, the summary should include a brief rationale for the conversion. If the new degree program is not commonly offered as a bachelor's or master's degree, the summary should provide a compelling academic rationale explaining how the proposed subject area constitutes a coherent, integrated degree major that has potential value to students. If the proposal does not appear to conform to the trustee policy calling for "broadly based programs," an explanation should be provided.
  2. How the program fits within the mission and focus of this university, taking into account the university's Strategic Plan and information from reviews of existing or related programs in the area.
  3. Regional planning, considering the programs available at other CSU campuses and at UC campuses within the region. If similar programs are available at nearby institutions, why is the program needed at CSULB? How would our program differ from those already available? Go to the Cal State Programs Website to view existing programs at other campuses.
  4. Other curricula offered by the campus, either in the same department or in other departments, that are closely related to the proposed program. If they do exist, provide enrollment figures during the past three years in courses or programs closely related to the proposed new program. If a new degree program is being planned in an area where a formal minor, option, or sub-option is offered, how many students are enrolled in the existing program? If a proposed program has substantial similarity or overlap with an existing program, how do the programs differ? Why should the new program be offered by an academic area different from the one offering the existing program? How can students determine which program best suits their needs?
  5. Questions regarding if courses in other academic areas are to be used as part of the program, will there be room for students in the courses? Will the courses be offered frequently enough so students can complete the program? How will scheduling be coordinated?
  6. Providing estimates of the resources needed to offer the projected program. This estimate must include information about the sources of funds and the impact on other programs of moving resources to the new program. If additional resources will be required, the summary should indicate the extent of university commitment to allocate them and evidence that decision-making curriculum committees were aware of the sources of resource support when they endorsed the proposal.

The prospectus requires the approval of the department chair, college dean, as per normal items in the Curriculum Certification. These approvals are handled through Curriculog. Projection does not assure that the program will be approved.

Academic Master Plan

The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, specifies that the general mission of the California State University system is to provide instruction leading to the bachelor's degree and the master's degree in the liberal arts and sciences, in applied fields, and in the professions.

Academic planning for the system starts from the presumption that each campus is authorized to offer programs in the liberal arts and sciences and in certain professional fields. Each campus within the system will offer additional programs as determined by the mission of the individual campus, the resources available to support the program, and the needs of the particular region and of the State.

The CSU Academic Master Plan shows all degrees and options offered, or planned for future offering, by each campus within the system. New programs must be approved for "projection" on the Academic Master Plan before they may be proposed for implementation.

Each fall, each campus submits to the Chancellor's Office its Academic Master Plan for the following five years, with recommendations for addition, deletion, or rescheduling of projected programs. These changes in the Plan must be approved by the Chancellor's Office and the Board of Trustees, acting at their March meeting.

Decisions to approve inclusion of new programs in the Academic Master Plan are based primarily on evidence that there will be sufficient enrollment to ensure a viable program and on evidence that the program serves the needs of the State and the particular region.

Substantive Changes to Programs:

For CSULB, submit the Substantive Change Form (DOC - with notes) to Sharlene Sayegh.

It's important to think of these changes and submit this form in advance, as both internal and externals reviews may have a queue that slows down the process.

Curricular programs should possess certain characteristics. These characteristics are used in the evaluation of new programs. Whether a degree program or a sub-option within one, each instructional program must be internally coherent. The aggregation of courses must accomplish more than simply "covering" subjects within the discipline. The course work must establish an interrelated overview of the discipline and its methodology.

The program requirements should build upon and reinforce course work in basic intellectual skills and should take advantage of courses offered in other academic disciplines. The course requirements should be established so that a defined sequence of learning develops from basic and general courses to specific, advanced ones that integrate earlier learning experiences and that provide direction to further advanced study. Graduate programs should build upon strong undergraduate preparation. For undergraduate programs, the program requirements should provide for integration with the General Education program of the university. The pattern of courses and individual course structure must be planned to afford easy incorporation of new developments within the discipline. The course work must establish depth of understanding sufficient so that the student can appreciate the scholarship of the discipline and respond to it by synthesizing new facts, experiences, and opinions, including their own, or by original research and scholarship. The program must incorporate administrative procedures that provide for the following:

  1. Accurate and accessible student advisement
  2. Efficient use of physical resources
  3. Effective use of faculty expertise and faculty time
  4. Efficient and effective communication and record keeping
  5. A minimum of five full-time faculty members with the terminal professional degree available to participate in the presentation of a graduate program; a minimum of three full-time faculty members for an undergraduate program.

Information regarding Baccalaureate Degree Unit Limits can be found in Policy Statement 14-11 of the CSULB Academic Senate.

Whenever possible, departments or programs should create advisory boards to assist the faculty in developing new academic programs and meeting professional and societal needs. Advisory boards typically include prominent members who represent businesses as well as professional, educational, and government agencies. The functions of a board include the following:

  1. Providing first-hand information about the needs of the discipline- or program-related community, especially with regard to mid- and long-term curricular planning
  2. Providing exposure for the program to wider audiences
  3. Providing political expertise and insights in matters affecting the discipline
  4. Providing resource support for special events and projects, through endorsements and contributions
  5. Facilitating establishment and maintenance of internship opportunities
  6. Providing employment opportunities for graduates of the program


B.A., B.M., B.S., B.F.A., M.A., M.M., M.S., M.F.A., M.P.H., M.P.A., M.S.W.

Degree Program

Defined as the sum of : (1) General Education course requirements (undergraduate degrees only), (2) other University course requirements, (3) those courses required for the degree major program of studies (both within and outside of the discipline), and (4) electives. Degree programs vary in the total number of units required according to Title 5.

Degree Major

Defined as the sum of coursework necessary to establish (1) an understanding of the breadth of the body of knowledge in a discipline, or of several disciplines in interdisciplinary programs, (2) competence in the fundamental skills and methodologies of the discipline(s), and (3) understanding and skill at an appropriate depth in various aspects of the body of knowledge. Items (1) and (2) may be thought of as the "core" of the major.

Degree Major Option

Defined as a course of studies in which coursework required to establish understanding in depth in the named aspect or sub-disciplinary area normally exceeds 50% of the total coursework for the general major. In undergraduate programs there should be a common core of at least five courses. For graduate programs there should be a common core of at least three courses.

Concentrations, Tracks, Specializations, Emphases, Fields (Sub-options), and other aggregations of courses not specifically called options

All less extensive than degree options. Each such aggregation treats an area within a degree or degree/option program in some depth. While such aggregates will be internally coherent, they do not by themselves provide sufficient breadth of study to be identified as options. Normally, these aggregates constitute much less than 50% of the coursework required for the degree major. No mention is made of them on a student transcript.


Defined as an aggregate of at least 15 units of coursework, as specified by the department or program, at least six of which must be upper-division. The minor may be in a single subject or interdisciplinary. Students may not declare or receive a minor in the same subject as the major, and the major and minor may not have the same title. The description of each minor shall have a statement listing all majors, if any, which may not be combined with that particular minor. The minimum overall GPA in courses toward the minor is 2.0. A minimum of six units of coursework toward the minor must be taken at CSULB. A minor can only be taken by a CSULB undergraduate and must be completed with the rest of the degree. Although one major may require a minor in another discipline, a minor is not generally required for graduation.


Defined as a thematic grouping of courses from one or more disciplines, which define a significant educational accomplishment in an area other than the degree major or option. Both an undergraduate and graduate certificate are comprised of at least 18 units of coursework, but normally more. Undergraduate certificates are awarded only concurrently with or subsequent to a baccalaureate degree. Graduate certificates are awarded only subsequent to a baccalaureate degree. See Policy Statement 16-17 for specific criteria.


Defined as a specific aggregate of courses, completion of which is sufficient for licensing by the State of California to teach (or perform specific professional tasks) in the public school systems. No specific unit requirements are given for credentials generally; usually the curricular requirements are noted in the governing legislation as "competencies."


Defined as areas of concentrations, tracks, specializations, emphases, fields (see definition above).

New Academic Programs

Defined as new degree majors, new options within existing degree majors, new minors, new certificates, sub-options within existing programs and other aggregates of courses where a defined competency is intended.

Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae

Defined as a CV that contains education information, work history, teaching expertise, and selected recent scholarships.

Course Syllabi

Refer to Policy Statement 11-07. A model syllabus has been prepared by the Faculty Center and is available on the Center's website.

Degree and Degree Option Programs

Undergraduate Degrees

Program Type and Units
Total Units
Upper-Division (min.)
General Education (min.)
Major Specific Units (range)
Major Units U.D. (min.)

*At least one-fourth of these units devoted to theory and content as distinguished from studio, production, and performance.

Academic Certificate Programs

See CSULB Policy Statement 16-17

Graduate Degrees

Graduate Degree Type and Units
Total Units
Graduate Level
(Policy min.)
Graduate level
(units min.)


Certificate Type and Units
Type: Undergraduate Graduate
Total Units (minimum)
Upper Division
9 (upper div.)*
9 (500-600 level)

* Up to 6 units of graduate-level coursework may be included in the 9 units.


Total Units (minimum): 15
Upper Division Units (minimum): 6

(See Title 5 - Article 40500)

The U.S. Department of Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) have specific regulations and requirements that govern the offering of off-campus degree programs.

In order to offer new or existing degree programs at an off-campus site, approval must be obtained from the Office of the Provost 60 days before any student is admitted to the program.

An off-site degree program is defined as one in which 50% to 100% of the required coursework is delivered at the off-site location. For undergraduate programs, the requirement includes General Education as well as major coursework.

An off-site location is defined as any facility not located on the CSULB campus or owned and operated by CSULB (for example, the Residential Learning Community is not an off-site location).

To obtain approval to offer an academic degree program at an off-campus site, the following protocol is required:

  • The College Dean or designee consults with the Vice Provost for Academic Programs regarding the possible intent to offer an off-campus program to learn what approvals are required by the university and WASC
  • A request for approval must be submitted to the Vice Provost for Academic Programs no later than 60 days prior to admission of students to the proposed off-campus program
  • No student may be admitted to the off-site program until written approval has been obtained from the Vice Provost for Academic Programs
  • The Office of the Provost will work with the Director of Financial Aid to determine whether students at a given off-campus site are eligible for financial aid and to ensure proper reporting to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Any College that closes an off-campus site is responsible for the timely reporting of the closure to the Office of the Provost and Enrollment Services, including the exact date of the closure once instruction has concluded at the site
  • Each College offering off-site programs must report annually on the status of any off-campus degree  programs, including those that will be discontinued