Approval of New Academic Programs

Graduate and Professional Schools

Proposals for new degree or certificate programs in The Graduate School, or in any of the professional schools, must be approved by the faculty governance of the school as well as its dean. Further processes are detailed in the Duke University new program policy.

Flow charts for new degree program approval processes:


Requests for new programs as well as revisions to programs, are submitted to the Trinity College’s Office of Curriculum and Course Development, and reviewed by the faculty Committee on Curriculum, a standing committee of the Arts & Sciences Council. Learn more about the process from Trinity College.

Additional Information

Faculty Handbook Appendix K: Steps in the Process of Approving New Academic Degrees

Managing New and Existing Academic Programs

Substantive Change

Duke is required to notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes. In order to ensure our compliance with this policy, all proposers of new programs, degrees, and other major initiatives (see list below) should complete Duke’s Substantive Change Survey.

Proposers should direct questions to the University’s accreditation liaison ( regarding any significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of their unit. The accreditation liaison will proceed with the notification process as required by SACSCOC in accordance with their substantive change policy. Additional information is available at the link provided in Appendix K of the Faculty Handbook as well as the relevant portion of the SACSCOC website.

Substantive change is defined as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes:

• Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
• Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
• The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
• The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation 
• A change from clock hours to credit hours
• A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
• The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program
• The establishment of a branch campus
• Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
• Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
• Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
• Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
• Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

Additionally, the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs surveys the schools each semester to ensure all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion.


Molly Goldwasser:
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Phone: 919-684-0731