Sponsor: Office of Academic Affairs
Contact: Provost, Academic Affairs
Effective Date: Feb. 23, 2018
Keywords: Pre-requisite, Responsible Academic Unit, Course Proposal, Course De-listing, Repetition, Primary subject code, Special Topics course, Totally Individualized Study, Course Review.
Background Information: The faculty of Empire State College are responsible for the development and implementation of the college’s academic program, working as a collective to create and review the academic program to ensure the integrity of its content. Proposals for new courses should emanate from thoughtful consideration of student interest, curricular fit, programmatic requirements, faculty expertise, strategic planning, and the college’s mission and core values. Empire State College provides a catalog of the courses it offers, typically available in more than one mode of study and more than one location. In addition, faculty may work with students to create Totally Individualized Studies in response to students’ interests, goals, and learning needs.
This policy fosters collective responsibility for the academic offerings of the college by providing definitions, principles and procedures that govern the proposal, listing, revision, and delisting of a course/study in the College Catalog. It also provides guidance on when to review a Special Topics Course for inclusion in the catalog.
The following definition(s) provide a precise understanding of terms that are key components of a course/study listing in the Catalog. Terms not herein defined are assumed to retain their conventional meanings, i.e. prerequisites.
Responsible Academic Units: the relevant departments, divisions, or school designated for a particular program or field of study that assumes responsibility for shepherding the course through the proposal process, maintaining the currency of the course’s catalog entry, and initiating the delisting of a course from the catalog.
Special Topics Course: A pre-planned, faculty-driven course that is in the term guide before it has been through the course proposal review process for listing in the catalog. Each subject code will have a placeholder number in the catalog at each learning level to prompt students looking at the catalog to search the term guide for additional offerings at the level they are seeking a course. This policy includes
information about how to get a Special Topics course listed in the catalog and when it is appropriate to do so.
Totally Individualized Study: A study created for and with a student, in response to a student’s particular interests, goals, and learning needs. A Totally Individualized Study appears in neither the term guide nor the catalog.
Each catalog course listing (existing, proposed, and revisions) includes the following information:
- Course title.
- Course level/Course number.
- The proposal will designate the level in accordance with the course numbering taxonomy; the Office of the Registrar assigns a specific number to be published in the catalog.
- Offerings with the same title cannot be submitted with different levels, excepting internships, which may be listed with variable credit.
- Number of credits:
- Course listings carry only one credit value as opposed to a range of credits; courses with more than one credit value have separate, distinctive listings for each.
- Liberal designation.
- SUNY General Education designation, if applicable.
- Course description.
- Three to four common learning outcomes: overarching learning outcomes common to all courses with the same title.
- Prerequisites if necessary or suitable.
- The responsible academic unit with primary responsibility for the course.
- Up to two additional departments or programs with which the course should be cross-listed, if any.
The Office of the Registrar may request additional information to facilitate searching, sorting and filtering of course offerings and generally support ease of use.
The responsible academic unit will recommend to the Office of the Registrar the primary subject code (or prefix) to be assigned to the course for the college catalog. If a particular course is relevant to multiple departments or divisions, cross listing should be considered. Designation of a responsible academic unit facilitates maintenance of an accurate catalog by indicating the provenance of a course.
This designation should not be used in any way to determine or prioritize teaching assignments, nor to preclude sharing of studies amongst mentors when such sharing is appropriately acknowledged in accordance with the SUNY Board of Trustees Policy on Intellectual Property.
Course listings are entered in the catalog only once they are complete.
Relationship Between Catalog Listing And Learning Contract
Catalog course listing information is to be stated verbatim in learning contracts designed for respective courses with the same title however, faculty may customize their specific offering as they see fit so long as their course aligns with the learning outcomes of that study’s title. See Learning Contract Policy.
Proposing New Courses For Listing In The College Catalog Or Revisions To Courses In The Catalog
The main work of reviewing a new course proposal happens within the responsible academic unit, and schools and departments shall establish procedures for review of proposed courses or substantive course revisions.
Proposals that are not approved by a curriculum committee may be sent back to their originators for additional consideration and revision prior to resubmitting.
Department chairs and associate deans may have specific roles and responsibilities that vary depending on the nature of a proposal. Department chairs or associate deans should distribute proposals to the relevant curriculum committee(s). For proposals whose content may span departmental or divisional boundaries, either department chairs or associate deans should assume some responsibility for facilitation of communication across the involved departments or divisions so that all stakeholders may be informed and may contribute to the proposal development appropriately and conflicts may thus be minimized.
In addition to facilitating cross-divisional communications when appropriate, associate deans are responsible for assessing the resources needed to develop and run a course. Associate deans may overturn faculty approval of a new course proposal, which is final and recorded in the relevant academic unit’s minutes, only in the event that adequate resources are unavailable.
New courses included in new program proposals must be approved by these same procedures before the program itself is submitted for review. The requisite course information must be provided before the course can be listed.
As an institution that values interdisciplinary studies, Empire State College encourages the appropriate cross-listing of courses. Cross-listing allows students to see available courses that might fit their needs, maintains a flexible, student-centered approach to curriculum, and fosters breadth in degree programs. Finally, it allows faculty to reach a wider range of students while integrating their own diverse teaching and research interests.
In consultation with their mentors, students design their degrees as part of their required course, or courses, in Educational Planning. All decisions about what courses will fit any particular degree should be made there, following the historical policies and practices of the college, including review and approval by an Assessment Committee. No catalog or term guide entry can guarantee that a student's degree needs will be met by any particular course, so cross-listing should be used to inform students and ease their navigation of the catalog and term guide, not to take the place of effective degree planning.
The catalog and term guide are not the places to advertise courses. A single course can be listed in no more than three locations in the catalog and term guide.
A course can be cross-listed only when all relevant departments/programs’ curriculum committees agree to do so.
All credits for enrollments in a cross-listed course go to the department/program funding the instructor. If a course is team-taught, the participating departments must determine how the credits are to be assigned or split.
Repetition Of Special Topics Courses
On a term-by-term basis, faculty may request that a special topics course not listed in the catalog be included in the forthcoming term guide. These may be nonrecurring or experimental offerings. A special topics course, that is taught three or more times within two years with at least nine students cumulatively completing it, must be submitted as a new course through the course proposal process
prior to being offered again.
Faculty design advanced-level courses in the expectation that students will come into the courses with the foundational knowledge that is necessary to progress, and one way to express that expectation is in the form of stated pre-requisite courses and/or knowledge. Such statements allow students to understand what is necessary and to create their educational plans commensurate with that understanding. However, since many ESC students are adults with expertise in the fields they have come to study, they can and do have knowledge without credentials. Prerequisites are used judiciously, but once stated should be attended to and enforced as necessary.
When prerequisites are used at Empire State College their purposes are:
- To incite a discussion between student and (primary) mentor and/or instructor about the background knowledge and/or skill needed to succeed in a course.
- To meet the requirements of professional licensing or similar regulatory bodies.
Where specific background knowledge is necessary for student success in a course, students may demonstrate that knowledge in one of two ways:
- Through successful completion of courses or prior learning that have been designated as prerequisites.
- By discussion with the instructor of record, who has the authority to override a pre-requisite. If the instructor of record is not available, the department chair or designee may override a prerequisite.
Delisting of Courses
Courses should be delisted from the catalog when they become outdated or obsolete, therefore courses listed in the catalog that have not generated student enrollments for three academic years will be reviewed for delisting. The Office of the Registrar is responsible for identifying such courses and for notifying the appropriate academic unit.
The academic unit responsible for the course will review it and notify the registrar of their determination within six months.
Applicable Legislation And Regulations
Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York; Title 8. Education Department; Chapter II. Regulations of the Commissioner; Subchapter A. Higher and Professional
Education; Part 50. General and Part 52.1 Registration of postsecondary curricula.
Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms And Appendices
Course Numbering Taxonomy document
SUNY Board of Trusties on Intellectual Property