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Office of System Planning

Program Approval Process

The university program approval process is governed by ACAF 2.00. Each university has appointed an academic program liaison to disseminate information on process, procedures and forms. These liaisons work closely with the Office of Academic Programs and the Office of System Planning.

Campus Level
  • Faculty members design program.
  • Proposal drafted in format required by Commission on Higher Education (CHE).
  • Reviewed based on internal process and guidelines (ACAF 2.00).
  • Approved by leadership at respective university.
  • Proposal forwarded for Board of Trustees approval no less than seven weeks prior to the next Academic Affairs and Faculty Liaison Committee meeting.
System Level
  • Request for Board of Trustees approval sent via President's Office, Office of Academic Programs and Office of System Planning.
  • In preparation for inclusion on the Board of Trustees agenda, proposals are reviewed for clarity, consistency, projected enrollment and financial viability.
  • The Division of Administration and Finance review the budget.
  • The Office of Academic Programs and the Office of System Planning circulate proposals to similar programs for comment.
  • Submitted to the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs and Faculty Liaison Committee. The Academic Affairs Committee pays particular attention to the following issues: student demand, employability of graduates, cost effectiveness and distinctive characteristics of the program.
  • Approved proposals are considered by the full Board of Trustees.
  • With Board of Trustee approval, the Office of Academic Programs notifies the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) on behalf of the president.
  • Proposal is forwarded to the Commission on Higher Education by the Office of Academic Programs.
State Level
  • Proposals are reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Academic Programs (ACAP). This advisory body consists of chief academic officers of technical colleges, comprehensive universities and research universities. ACAP advises the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) on the academic merits of the program.
  • ACAP approved proposals are transmitted to the Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing Committee (CAAL) of the CHE.
  • The CAAL committee gives particular attention to demonstrated value to the South Carolina economy, sufficiency of resources and the expansion of programs that create direct competition within the state for scarce resources.
  • The president, the chancellor, the Office of Academic Programs, the Office of System Planning and SACSCOC are notified of CHE program approval.
Regional Accreditation
  • SACSCOC approval is acquired prior to publication of the program in the university bulletin or catalog.
  • All programs must be fully approved by SACSCOC before a major code is assigned and students are admitted into the program.
  • The process may take up to six months from the date of notification to SACSCOC, and may take longer if SACSCOC requests additional information.
Board of Trustees Follow-up
  • The Academic Affairs and Faculty Liaison Committee of the Board of Trustees requires an annual report (September meeting) showing whether or not a new program has met its enrollment targets.

ACAF 2.00 [pdf] is the primary university policy governing the approval process.

  • The Office of Academic Programs is the official liaison to CHE for all USC campuses.
  • The Columbia campus provost is the official liaison to the BOT Academic Affairs Committee.


Office of System Planning