7 Tips For Getting A New College Course Approved

One of the great parts of being an instructor is the chance to enlighten young minds by sharing your knowledge and passion with students. But what if you are passionate and knowledgeable about a discipline that isn’t covered adequately at your university or isn’t covered at all? You may have a ridiculous passion for bagpiping but no one in your school’s administration sees a need for a course solely dedicated to those beautiful mellifluous pipes. What can you do?

Fortunately for you, there are still a lot of great tactics you can use to get your dream course approved and give you the chance to impart your musical wisdom to future generations. Here are seven tips for getting a course approved in your department:

Tip # 1: Show the demand for the course

Knowing the demand for a potential course is valuable to a department chair, so be ready to present evidence of student interest. Acquiring the number of students who want to take a given course may be a challenge, but you can start by asking previously- and currently-enrolled students concerning their interest. You may also want to send out a survey to students enrolled in specific degrees.

Michael Minor, marketing department chair at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, gave the following advice: 

The most compelling argument is a sheet of student signatures [from those] agreeing to take the new course. At a time I was not department chair, a student came to me with a new course request. I asked her to get 15 student signatures. She came back with 70. I took it to the then-chair, who approved it in seconds.
Michael Minor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley



Tip # 2: Explain the goal of the course

The department chair will need to know the purpose and goal of a new course you want to implement. Explain the unique benefits that your course will give students or the growing demand for the skills that your course will teach. For example, you might explain that digital marketing is a rapidly growing industry and you want to give your students digital marketing skills to compete in the marketplace.

Christine Seel, assistant professor and co-department chair at Delaware Valley University, gave the following advice: 


Always have relevant market research about job prospects, salary survey data, etc. to support the validity of your proposed course.
Christine Seel, Delaware Valley University



Tip # 3: Present how the course will fit into a program, department and university’s mission statement

Presenting specifics about a course will take you a step closer to approval. Take the time to show how the course will fit into an existing academic program, as well as how well this course will overlap with classes in other departments. Specify the course credit hours and name of the course, and provide a sample syllabus, schedule, and other details that a  university requires.

Explaining how the proposed course will help the university to fulfill its mission statement will add extra points to your proposal.

Yancosek Gamble, professor and department chair of  communication & media arts at Bethany College, said the following: 

Make sure the course is part of or adds to the integrated curricular plan the department should already have for assessment. Allow several drafts of the plan to be vetted by the department so they feel part of the process, the course and the outcomes. 
Yancosek Gamble
, Bethany College



Tip # 4: Clearly state the learning outcomes of the course

The department chair will need to know what it is that the students should be able to do at the end of a course that they could not do at the beginning. The outcomes should be student-centered rather than instructor-centred. The key to writing effective learning outcomes is the selection of active, measurable verbs. Words like recall, explain, create, and implement are perfect to outline very specific learning outcomes for a course. 

Jason S. Wrench, associate professor and communication department chair at New Paltz University, gave the following advice:

Here is my #1 piece of advice: Make sure that the learning outcomes are clear and measurable to ensure ease of assessment later on. Also, don’t forget that Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitivelearning is only one of the three domains of learning, so your course outcomes could have a combination of cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning outcomes.
Jason S. Wrench, New Paltz State University of New York




Tip # 5: Develop a Syllabus

Develop a syllabus early on in the process of creating a new course. The syllabus will help you structure the course and give the department chair a course overview.

Michael Tsiros, professor of marketing and department chair at University of Miami, said the following: 

Ask the instructor to develop a rough draft of the syllabus (benchmarking other institutions). Then, have some faculty in the department review it and provide feedback. The instructor then goes back and incorporates the feedback to develop a final syllabus that will go through [a school council] for approval before going in the books.
Michael Tsiros, University of Miami



Tip # 6: Be prepared to make sacrifices

Sometimes we need to give up one thing in order to gain another. This will not always be the case when going through a course approval, but letting go of wish-list items might be required in some situations. You might want to take the time to think about what are some of the tradeoffs you are willing to make in order to receive course approval. 

Christine Seel, assistant professor and co-department chair at Delaware Valley University, gave the following advice: 

Show that you are not trying to build an empire. Find something you might be willing to give up or forego in order to make the course possible (for example, can you make a tradeoff with a less popular class, [and/or] run it every other semester to compact enrollments?
Christine Seel, Delaware Valley University



Tip # 7: Find the right textbook or courseware

Finding the right material for a course can be a challenge on its own. However, the right material and resources can make all of the difference in the course approval process.

Stukent knows the pain professors go through when they need to create course material from scratch. That is why we offer courseware such as variety of business and marketing disciplines that provides everything you need to teach a course such as digital or social media marketing. Our courseware is loaded with free instructor resources, including customizable syllabi, student projects, quizzes, lesson plans, recorded video tutorials and lectures by industry experts. Click here for free instructor access.

Bonus Tip: Each university’s course approval requirements are different. Don’t forget to check out your university web page for course approval requirements and deadlines.

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