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Procedures for Proposing New Graduate Programs

The Graduate Council (GC) plays an important role in the evaluation of proposals to create or change graduate-level programs (degrees and program areas, major concentrations or certificate programs). The specific process by which different kinds of proposed graduate programs are reviewed and evaluated, as well as procedures for proposal submission can be found at the Faculty Senate website.

The Graduate Council typically meets monthly during the academic year. Proposals under review by the GC may be taken up at more than one meeting in order to address feedback and revisions. Proposers are advised to start this process early to increase chances of a successful beginning of a new program in the following academic year.

Navigating the Proposal Process

Recognizing that preparation of a full proposal is a significant, time consuming undertaking, the GC provides the following information about the process:

Pre-proposal Guidelines (1-7 below) in addition to the procedures outlined on the Graduate Council website for “Creating and Changing Graduate Programs” (

1. To discuss the draft, at the request of the proposer, an advisory meeting is arranged by the chair of GC. The advisory meeting is the necessary first step to formally start the proposal process. This meeting should be held by November 1 to ensure consideration during the current academic year.

2. A revised proposal addressing any concerns raised in the advisory meeting should be received by the GC no later than December 15 for full consideration during the academic year. The revised proposal is evaluated by a subcommittee of GC, possibly including further discussions with the proposer.

3. At a pre-arranged GC meeting, the modified proposal is presented to the full GC by the chair of the subcommittee and discussed formally with the proposer.

4. The GC votes on the proposal.

5. An affirmative vote from GC moves the proposal to the Faculty Senate’s Executive Council, and if approved, to the full Faculty Senate for approval, following their procedures.

Pre-proposal Guidelines

Faculty should have reflected on each of the following GC pre-proposal guidelines before the advisory meeting:

1. What is the intellectual merit of, and the rationale for, the proposed program as a useful and appropriate focus of graduate education, given the mission of the university as the President and the Board of Trustees have expressed it? Consider how the intellectual reason and merit of the new graduate program will be assessed.

2. Who will lead and oversee the proposed program and take responsibility for defining the curricular requirements to be documented in the General Announcements? The GC has preferred demonstrated redundancy in the leadership of graduate programs.

3. What are the instructional needs of the proposed program? Will new Rice for-credit courses need to be created and added to the Rice Course Catalog? If possible, consultations should include discussion of the specific individuals or groups that will take on instructional responsibilities (e.g., “faculty in the department of…”). The GC has preferred that the entire instructional load of graduate programs be borne by tenured or tenure track faculty, or by individuals holding advanced degrees in appropriate fields. Further, the GC has preferred significant continuity in the instructional faculty and demonstrated redundancy in the instructional personnel necessary to staff graduate programs.

4. What are the financial and material resources that will be necessary to support the proposed program? For example, if the proposed program is to be supported out of existing departmental or school budgets, this should be brought to the attention of the GC during consultation. If the proposed program will raise revenue, the anticipated amount and distribution of that revenue should be discussed.

5. What is the potential impact of the new program on competing programs and departments within Rice University?

6. Which deans, department chairs, center/program directors, and relevant other faculty need to be consulted about the proposed program? Does each support or oppose beginning the process of preparing a full proposal? The full proposal will require formal letters from relevant deans, department chairs, and center/program directors, and appropriate documentation that the participating faculty have been informed about the program. It is essential that these individuals be aware of the intent to start the process and that proposers have support for the new program.

7. Assess the risks for this new program (for example: sustainability of the program and staffing, reputation of the university, delivery of curriculum, impact on other existing department and university programs, financial risk, etc.). Provide information about how the risks for the new program are/will be mitigated.

8. All proposals for new programs should include the clause:

"For assessment purposes, the Graduate Council will receive from the current program director a self-evaluation of the program after three/five/eight* years of operation, to include information regarding staffing, faculty involvement, student admissions, student retention, quality of instruction, and budget overview.”

This self-evaluation will form part of the basis for periodic Graduate Council reviews of approved programs.

* Certificate programs must be reviewed after three years, Masters and Diploma programs must be reviewed after five years and PhD programs must be reviewed after eight years.